Electric cargo bikes: versatility for your transport needs

The electric cargo bike allows you to transport heavy things and/or people thanks to its front or rear loading space.

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What is an electric cargo bike?

An electric cargo bike is designed for transporting small, bulky goods, pets or people, especially children. It features pedal assistance, enabling the rider to move forward with little effort. It is also commonly referred to as a "cargo bike".

The cargo bike has been around since the early 20th century, when it was used by travelling salesmen to transport their goods. Today, it has become totally democratized in the Netherlands, and is tending to become so in France too, thanks 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 offers real advantages: professionals (delivery drivers, itinerant merchants...) and families. Here's a closer look at the respective advantages of these two types of cargo bike.

The electric cargo bike for families

Families are the biggest fans of electric cargo bikes! This fully-fledged means of transport is ideal for speeding around town or country. Other road users are generally amused to see them go by.

Depending on the model, cargo bikes can safely accommodate up to 4 children of all ages. Children really enjoy riding them: it's a comfortable way to enjoy the scenery while being right next to the driver. In the event of bad weather, there are protective covers to keep your children out of harm's way. By opting for 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 struggling to fasten seatbelts is a thing of the past...

The electric cargo bike for the pros

Electric cargo bikes enable delivery drivers and other professionals (tradesmen, shopkeepers...) to save precious time on their journeys. Thanks to pedal assistance, they can go faster, with less effort. The impact is also financial, since recharging an electric bike costs less than filling up a car. Last but not least, riding a cargo bike allows you to get around easily in small, car-free streets and pedestrian zones.

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 use. Cargo bikes are particularly well suited to electric power. They offer you considerable assistance to get around in this heavy vehicle (between 30 and 55 kg), to which you can add loads of up to 200 kg on some models!

Electrically powered two-wheelers

Two-wheelers have two wheels and a loading area located between the steering column and the front wheel. The trailer is generally located at the front, offering a low center of gravity. It is comfortable and equipped with seat belts. The main advantage of an electric two-wheeler is its maneuverability: it's easy to maneuver around town. On the other hand, its length can be a problem (it's usually over 2.50 m long), especially when parking.

The Babboe City electric cargo bike is one of the best-known models, thanks to its excellent maneuverability. It's ideal for both long distances and city trips.

Electric scooters

Three-wheelers (or cargotrikes) are the most common electric cargo bikes: they have three wheels, positioned differently depending on the brand. Models with two wheels at the front offer greater comfort and stability, and are ideal for carrying passengers. Models with two wheels at the rear are more suitable for transporting goods.

The Amsterdamair brand from Vendée specializes in the design of electric scooters. Its models have an easily recognizable Dutch frame that can be straddled.

The electric longtails

There are also longtails, which have no cargo box, but only a reinforced rear rack capable of accommodating a secure seat (to be added). This longtail bike offers plenty of space for up to 3 children or bulky luggage. It's the easiest cargo bike to handle.

Finally, you'll also find compact electric cargo bikes, up to 170 cm long. These models have two loading areas: front and rear. They're ideal for transporting both children and goods, making it easy to weave your way through traffic and find a parking space.

Yuba Electric Bikes, a Franco-American brand, suggests electric cargo bikes. Its Yuba Spicy Curry longtail is one of its best-sellers. It's appreciated for its stability (thanks to its low center of gravity) and sturdiness, particularly of the frame. This extended bike can accommodate two children, as well as your shopping bags.

How to choose your electric cargo bike

Your choice of electric cargo bike will depend not only on what you intend to carry with you, but also on the nature of your daily routes. As a guide, here's a look at the 10 best electric cargo bikes of 2023 on the market will be useful if you want to get informed and compare models comprehensively.

If you're wondering which electric cargo bike to choose to transport your children and you're moving around town, we'd recommend a cargo bike with front bucket. It has the advantage of being narrow and therefore easy to maneuver, especially when slipping into traffic or climbing kerbs.

If you want to transport up to 4 children, or have groceries next to your 2 children, opt for a cargo bike, which offers greater loading capacity.

Finally, the longtail is the perfect in-between if you're hesitating between a classic bike with child seat and a cargo bike. It's less expensive than an electric cargo bike, easier to handle and takes up less space. On the other hand, it's less easy to balance than a cargo bike with a trailer at the front, and can't protect your little passengers from the rain.

Type of electric cargo bike Description Benefits Model example
Twinjets Two wheels with front loading area Maneuverability, low center of gravity Babboe City
Rides Three wheels for greater stability Comfort, large load capacity Amsterdamair
Longtails Reinforced rear luggage rack Large loading capacity, easy to handle Yuba Spicy Curry

What autonomy for your electric cargobike ?

You can get an idea of the range of your electric cargobike by looking at its battery capacity, expressed in Wh. But depending on the weight you're carrying, the route you're taking (gradients, descents, climbs...), the weather (headwind or tailwind, temperature...), your riding style and the condition of the battery, range can vary.

A rough estimate is that a 375 Wh battery will last between 40 and 60 km. The greater the capacity of your battery, the longer it can travel without needing to be recharged. To choose the right electric cargo bike, you need to take into account the range you need, and refer to the number of Wh in 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 fitted with a 250 W motor, enabling speeds of 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 minimum torque of 40 Nm is preferable. If you live in a hilly area, opt for a higher figure.

A motor on the rear wheel activates the electric assistance when you start pedaling. It's ideal for giving you a boost when you start off (or after stopping at a traffic light, for example).

A central motor adapts to your pedaling. If it senses that you're having difficulty, for example climbing a hill, it activates. This makes for a smoother, more powerful ride, but is better suited to longer distances.

Motor position Benefits Recommendation
Rear wheel Start-up assistance, ideal for starting up after a stop City use
Central Adapted to pedalling, smooth and powerful ride Long distances, hilly terrain

The best electric cargo bike brands

Some brands specialize in the design of cargo bikes. Such is the case of Babboe, the Netherlands' No. 1 cargo bike brand and leader in the field of two- and three-wheelers. The manufacturer's first electric model, the Babboe Big-E, was launched in 2009. Such was its success that all models now feature pedal-assist.

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 over 26 countries worldwide. Cargobikes Urban Arrow are powered by Bosch Performance or Bosch Performance CX electric assistances, and offer a wide choice of customization options.

Also based in the Netherlands, the young electric cargo bike brandCarqon designs electric cargo bikes and has won several international awards for the design of its models. They are also robust and high-quality, while providing trailer passengers with comfort and safety.

Franco-American manufacturer Yuba specializes in cargo and longtail bikes. Its colorful world is resolutely ecologically oriented: the brand's aim is to make it easier for families to get around, without having a negative impact on the environment. Getting around on a Yuba means doing your bit for the planet!

Last but not least Riese & Müller electric bicyclesThe popular German brand Riese & Müller offers a number of high-quality electric cargo bikes. These are two-wheeled bikes offering a wide range of configurations and accessories (60 or 80 cm body, child seat, additional battery...).

Useful accessories for an electric cargo bike

To personalize the use of your electric cargo bike, there are numerous accessories, more or less useful depending on your situation. For example, depending on the age of the children you're transporting, it may be important to add a maxi cosy support, a baby shell, a toddler seat or a child seat for electric bikes. For added comfort, you can also add seat or backrest cushions.

The must-have rain cover is, of course, a protective tent, which you can easily attach to your trailer. Usually transparent, these covers keep your children dry. For professionals (deliverymen, merchants...), protective b'ches can be adapted to your trailer.

For cargo bike trailers not equipped with one, it's also possible to add one or more benches. Finally, to protect your cargobike when parked, protective covers are available in a range of sizes. They are useful for protecting 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 electric cargo bikes and longtails

The Highway Code requires that children under 5 years of age sit in an approved seat fitted with a restraint system and footrests. From 5 to 12, only helmets are mandatory. But at present, there are no standards for transporting children on electric cargo bikes, and depending on the manufacturer, seatbelts 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 to the left and right of the widest points, so that you're clearly visible to other road users.

Can we put a baby in an electric cargo bike?

It's possible to put your baby in the trailer of your electric cargo bike from the age of 3 months, as long as it's equipped with a maxi-cosy baby carrier and your child's neck is sufficiently strong. Don't forget to cover up your little ones with warm clothing, hats, mittens, scarves or a footmuff for babies... as speed increases the sensation of cold tenfold. Finally, protect them from the rain with a protective cover.

Up to what age can children be taken to school on a cargo bike?

To determine the age at which you can take your children to school with your cargo bike, you first need to consider their weight and the maximum load supported by your EAB. You should also take into account the size of your children, who may be unsuitable for your rain tent. But, generally speaking, there's no maximum age for sitting in the cargo bike box!

Maintaining an electric cargo bike

To increase the durability of your electric cargo bike, maintenance is essential. Like a conventional or simple electric bike, it's important to ensure that the transmission is well lubricated and the tires properly inflated before each ride. You should also regularly check the tightness of the various components, as well as the wear and tear of the transmission elements (chain, sprockets, chainring), c'bles and 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 trailer screws are sufficiently tight.

How much does an electric cargo bike cost?

The purchase price of an electric cargo bike ranges from around €2,000 for an entry-level model, to almost €10,000 for a top-of-the-range cargobike. The main reason for this price difference is the quality of the electric assistance contained in your ebike cargo bike. The higher the torque of the motor (enabling it to tackle hills without difficulty) and the longer the range of the battery, the higher the price of the electric cargo bike. The care taken over the finishing touches, particularly on the trailer, also plays a role, as does the place of production.

Good reasons to buy an electric cargo bike refurbished Upway

Upway offers you a selection of inexpensive electric cargo bikes, with models reconditioned by our specialist mechanics based in the Paris region. Treat yourself to the ideal cargobike for taking your children to school, transporting your shopping or delivering to your customers, thanks to our models of used electric bikes reconditioned. What's more, many of our longtails, two- and three-wheeled cargo bikes are eligible for government subsidies! Enough to significantly reduce the purchase price of your EAB! Don't hesitate to consult our article detailing the 5 good reasons to choose an electric cargo bike when you're a parent.

Buying a refurbished cargo bike from Upway also means reducing your environmental impact, by giving a second life to a VAE that's still in perfect working order! We meticulously select the models we sell, and reconditioning experts go through 20 checkpoints, ensuring you enjoy an electric cargo bike in near new condition.