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What is an electric cargo bike?
An electric cargo bike is a bike designed to transport small, bulky goods, pets or people, especially children. It has pedal assistance, which allows the driver to move forward with little effort. It is also commonly referred to as a "cargo bike".
The cargo bike is not new: it has been around since the beginning of the 20th century and was used by street vendors to transport their goods. Today, it has become totally democratized in the Netherlands and is also becoming so in Belgium, due to its great practicality.
The advantages of riding an electric cargo bike
There are two main categories of people for whom riding an electric cargo bike has real advantages: professionals (deliverymen, street vendors...) and families. Let's zoom in on the respective advantages of these two types of cargo bike use.
The electric cargo bike for families
Families are the first fans of electric cargo bikes! This full-fledged means of transportation is ideal for speeding around town or in the country. Other road users are usually amused to see them go by.
Depending on the model, cargo bikes can safely accommodate up to 4 children of any age. Children love to ride on them: it is a comfortable way to enjoy the landscape while being next to the driver. In case of bad weather, there are protections that will keep your children safe. By choosing an electric cargo bike, dropping the kids off at school becomes a real pleasure for the whole family! The chore of getting everyone into the car and fighting to fasten seatbelts is over...
The electric cargo bike for the pros
Electric cargo bikes allow delivery deliverymen and other professionals (craftsmen, shopkeepers...) to save precious time on their journeys. Thanks to the pedal assistance, they can indeed go faster, while providing less effort. The impact is also financial, since recharging an electric bike costs less than filling up a car. Finally, riding a cargo bike allows you to easily get to small streets where cars are not allowed, as well as pedestrian areas.
To meet all types of needs, there are different electric cargo bikes, with trailers of varying sizes, conveniently equipped, and can be refrigerated or even used as freezers.
The different types of cargo bikes with electric assistance
There are different types of electric cargo bikes, to suit all types of uses. Cargo bikes are particularly well-suited to electric bikes. They offer you a significant assistance to move around on this heavy vehicle (between 30 and 55 kg), to which you can add loads up to 200 kg on some models!
Electrically powered two-wheelers
Two-wheelers have two wheels and a cargo area located between the steering column and the front wheel. The trailer is usually located at the front, offering a low center of gravity. It is comfortable and equipped with safety belts. The main advantage of an electric two-wheeler is its maneuverability: it is easy to get around town. On the other hand, its length can be awkward (it generally measures more than 2,50 m), in particular for the parking.
The electric cargo bike Babboe City is one of the most popular models, due to its excellent maneuverability. It is ideal for long distances as well as for city trips.
Three-wheelers (or cargotrikes) are the most common electric cargo bikes: they are equipped with three wheels, placed differently depending on the brand. Models with two wheels in the front offer more comfort and stability and are ideal for carrying passengers. Models with two wheels in the back are more suitable for transporting goods.
The French brand Amsterdamair is specialized in the design of electric scooters. Its models have an easily recognizable Dutch frame and can be straddled.
The electric longtails
There are also the longtails, which do not have a cargo box, but only a reinforced luggage rack, placed at the back and able to accommodate a secure seat (to be added). This extended bike offers a large space, practical to take with you up to 3 children or bulky luggage. It is the cargo bike with the easiest handling.
Finally, you will also find compact electric cargo bikes, which are no longer than 170 cm. These models have two loading areas: front and rear. They allow you to transport children as well as goods, and to get through traffic easily, but also to find a parking space more easily.
Yuba is a French-American brand specialized in electric cargo bikes. Its longtail Yuba Spicy Curry is one of its best-sellers. It is appreciated for its stability (thanks to its low center of gravity) and its robustness, especially the frame. This longtail bike can accommodate two children, as well as your shopping bags.
How to choose your electric cargo bike
The choice of your type of electric cargo bike will depend on what you intend to carry with you, but also on the nature of your daily routes.
If you're wondering which electric cargo bike to choose to transport your children and you're riding in the city, we recommend a two-wheeled cargo bike with a front bucket. It has the advantage of being narrow and therefore easy to handle, especially for getting through traffic or getting on a sidewalk.
If you want to transport up to 4 children or have groceries next to your 2 children, opt for a scooter instead, which offers a larger loading capacity.
Finally, the longtail is the perfect in-between if you are hesitating between a classic bike with a child seat and a cargo bike. It is less expensive than an electric cargo bike, easier to handle and less bulky. On the other hand, the balance is less obvious than with a cargo bike with a trailer at the front and it does not allow to protect your little passengers from the rain.
What autonomy for your electric cargobike ?
It is possible to have an idea of the autonomy of your electric cargobike by looking at the capacity of its battery, expressed in Wh. But, depending on the weight carried, the route taken (unevenness, downhill, uphill...), the weather (headwind or tailwind, temperature...) as well as your driving and the the state of the batterythe autonomy can be variable.
We can roughly estimate that a 375 Wh battery will allow you to travel 40 to 60 km. The higher the capacity of your battery, the longer it can travel without needing to be recharged. To choose your electric cargo bike, you must therefore take into account the range you need and refer to the number of Wh of the battery of your future model.
Which engine for your ebike cargo ?
To meet the requirements of European legislation, electric bicycles (including cargo bikes), are equipped with a 250 W motor, allowing them to travel at speeds up to 25 km/h. The torque, delivered by the motor, is expressed in Nm (Newton-Meter). The higher the torque, the easier it is to climb hills with little effort. For a cargo bike, a torque of 40 Nm minimum is to be preferred. If you live in a hilly area, a higher number is better.
A motor located on the rear wheel activates the electric assistance when you start pedaling. It is ideal to give you a boost at the start (when you start or after a stop at a traffic light for example).
A central motor, meanwhile, adapts to your pedaling. If it senses that you are having difficulty, for example, in climbing a hill, it is activated. It allows for a smoother and more powerful ride, but is better suited to long trips.
The best electric cargo bike brands
Some brands have specialized in the design of cargo bikes. This is the case of Babboe, the number one cargo bike brand in the Netherlands and leader in the field of two- and three-wheelers. The manufacturer's first electric model was launched in 2009: the Babboe Big-E. It was so successful that now all its models are equipped with pedal assistance.
Urban Arrow is a Dutch brand. It has established itself as the world's leading manufacturer of electric cargo bikes and is currently sold in more than 26 countries around the world. The cargobikes Urban Arrow are powered by Bosch Performance or Bosch Performance CX electric assistants and offer a wide range of customization options.
Also established in the Netherlands, the young brand Carqon designs electric cargo bikes and has won several international awards for the design of its models. They are also robust and qualitative, while providing comfort and safety to the passengers of the trailer.
The French-American manufacturer Yuba specializes in the design of cargo bikes and longtail bikes. Its colorful world is resolutely turned towards ecology: the brand's objective is to facilitate family travel, without creating a negative impact on the environment. Traveling with Yuba is a way to help the planet!
Finally, the popular German brand Riese & Müller offers among its classic and electric bikes some very qualitative electric cargo bikes. These are two-wheeled bikes offering many configurations and accessories (60 or 80 cm body, child seat, additional battery...).
The different useful accessories for a cargo bike
To personalize the use of your electric cargo bike, there are many many accessoriesDepending on your situation, there are a number of accessories that are more or less useful. Depending on the age of the children you are transporting, it may for example be important to integrate a maxi cosy support, a baby shell, a toddler seat or a child seat into your trailer. For more comfort, it is also possible to add cushions for the seat or backrest.
The essential thing to have in case of rain is of course a protective tent, to be fixed very simply on your trailer. Most of the time transparent, these covers allow your children to travel dry. For professionals (deliverymen, merchants...), protective tarpaulins can be adapted to your trailer.
For cargo bike trailers that are not equipped with one, it is also possible to add one or more benches. Finally, to protect your cargobike when it is parked, protective covers exist, with an adapted format. They are useful to protect it from rain, but also from dust.
If you want to drive your cargobike with your dog, a non-slip mat is recommended.
Child safety on cargo bikes and longtails
The Highway Traffic Act requires that children under 5 years of age be seated in an approved seat with a restraint system and footrests. From age 5 to 12, only helmets are required. However, at present, there is no standard for transporting children on electric cargo bikes and, depending on the manufacturer, the belts are more or less secure.
If your cargobike is not equipped with reflective stickers on the transport box, don't hesitate to add some. If your cargobike is more than one meter wide, attach reflectors on the left and right sides at the widest points to be visible to other users.
Can we put a baby in an electric cargo bike?
It is possible to put your baby in the trailer of your electric cargo bike from the age of 3 months, provided of course that it is equipped with a maxi-cosy baby carrier and that your child's neck is strong enough. Don't forget to cover your little ones with warm clothes, hats, mittens, scarves or footmuff for babies... because the speed increases the cold sensation tenfold. Finally, protect them from the rain with a protective cover.
Up to what age should I take my children to school with a cargo bike?
To know until what age it is possible to take your children to school with your cargo bike, you must first refer to their weight and the maximum load supported by your EAB. Also take into account the size of your children, which may not be suitable for your rain tent. But, in general, there is no maximum age to sit in the cargo bike box!
Maintenance of an electric cargo bike
To increase the durability of your electric cargo bike, its maintenance is essential. Like a classic bike or a simple electric bike, it is important to make sure that the transmission is well lubricated and the tires properly inflated before each ride. Also remember to regularly check the tightness of the different elements as well as the wear of the transmission elements (chain, sprockets, chainring), the cables and your brake pads.
As for the cargo area, protect your bike as much as possible from the elements and store it in a dry place. If you've ridden in the rain, quickly wipe the tray clean with a cloth. After a ride in the snow or sand, hose it down to remove any remaining material that could damage it. Regularly check that the screws on the trailer are tight enough.
What is the price of an electric cargo bike?
The purchase price of an electric cargo bike ranges from about 2,000€ for an entry-level model to nearly 10,000€ for a high-end cargobike. What explains this price difference is first of all the quality of the electric assistance contained in your cargo bike. The higher the torque of the motor (allowing it to tackle hills without difficulty) and the longer the battery life, the higher the price of the electric cargo bike. The care taken with the finishing touches, especially on the trailer, also comes into play, as does the place of production.
Good reasons to buy a cargo bike refurbished Upway
Upway offers you a selection of cheap electric cargo bikes with models reconditioned by our specialized mechanics based in the Paris area. Treat yourself to the ideal cargobike to take your children to school, transport your groceries or deliver your clients thanks to our reconditioned second-hand models.
Buying a cargo bike refurbished by Upway is also reducing your environmental impact, by giving a second life to a still perfectly functioning EAB! We carefully select the models we sell and our reconditioning experts go through 20 checkpoints, ensuring you enjoy an electric cargo bike in near new condition.