There are 2 main types of electric cargo bikes either the ones where the additional cargo or passengers sit behind the rider or the ones which carry the passengers or load up front. They are referred to as long– or short-tail cargo bikes or front-loader or front-box cargo bikes respectively.
Which style suits you best will depend on your purpose, your family make-up, your storage options and your rider confidence and/or skills.
If you are considering an electric cargo bike because it will replace your 2nd vehicle, then the cargo bike needs to be suitable for use in all those circumstances where you would usually use a car. Shopping, taking kids to school, getting to work, visiting friends. The size of the bike needs to accommodate all these applications and have the ability to customise the configuration to fit that purpose. Look for suitable accessories for carrying passengers, shopping, your other luggage including backpack or handbag etc and how that impacts the overall look and feel of the bike.
Rider confidence and/or skills
some cargo bikes feel just like a normal bike to ride (mainly the short-tail or long-tail Tern models for example) when ridden by the primary rider only but can require some practice when riding fully loaded. With these bikes, the weight of the cargo, whether shopping or passengers, is higher, with passengers sitting close to the height of the rider. Cargo can be split below the passengers, using panniers and located at the front using front racks. Front-loaders take a bit more getting used to as you have to anticipate the length of the bike when riding and taking corners. Considering the size and abilities of the primary rider is important when test-riding and selecting your electric cargo bike but either design can suit most riders with patience and practice.
Some customers require a cargo bike to carry 1 additional passenger and some shopping, others require a bike to transport 2 children, others have 2 children plus a baby, some even want to include the family dog(s) in the mix. Whatever your need, you have to consider how this cargo can be transported, which seat options are available, whether you can extend the space using rear racks, trailers or panniers. There are many configuration options available with both types of electric cargo bikes.
Cargo bikes for passengers with a disability
If riding with a passenger living with a disability, electric cargo bikes can be an ideal way to enable your passenger to enjoy the outdoors without needing the energy, skills or cognitive abilities to ride independently or under supervision. Although the passenger doesn’t pedal, this can mean the family is able to ride longer, further and more frequently and as a complete family unit. Cargo bikes can make a huge difference. We have different seating options as standard and can also modify the seating arrangements to offer improved back and lateral supports and safety features.
Electric cargo bikes are a lot cheaper than a car to both purchase and maintain but they still need to be looked after and stored safely. A short-tail is similar to a standard bike in terms of space requirements and the Tern range can be stored standing up and with the handlebar dropped down to save space. The long-tails are slightly larger format but similarly can be stored with limited requirement for space. The Bakfiets or Urban Arrow front-box cargo bikes are bigger units and need to be stored horizontally so space needs to be considered both when at home and when parking.