Transporting one person with minimal gear on a bike is simple, and just about any bicycle can handle it, but if you want to carry kids, a load of groceries, the family dog, or other stuff along with you, a cargo e-bike is the answer.
Cargo bikes aren't nearly as common for personal transport in North America as they are in some European cities, but that may be more due to cultural differences than to availability, as the large capacity 'loadbike' and electric bike sector has been on fire lately, with offerings on the market now for just about any budget or bike hauling needs. And cargo bikes, especially when coupled with an electric assist drivetrain, could be the missing piece for getting more people into a low-car or car-free lifestyle, as they enable the quick and easy transport of shopping bags, children, pets, and more, while still being a low-carbon mobility option.
Riese & Muller, a German company that designs and builds premium e-bikes and folding bikes, has just launched its latest e-cargo bike, dubbed the Load, which offers a host of features that could help families to ditch the minivan or station wagon for at least some of their daily trips. One of the distinctive elements of the Riese & Muller e-bikes is the option to mount a second battery on the frame, which essentially doubles the range per charge, and the Load cargo bike looks to be a prime candidate for opting for the dual battery scheme as it's more of a workhorse than strictly a pleasure bike.
The Load is a bakfiets-style cargo bike, meaning that it is a two-wheeled bicycle that carries the load down low and out in front of the rider, which offers a stable riding experience and a large cargo capacity without obstructing the view for the cyclist. The cargo area can be outfitted with low sidewalls, high sidewalls, dual child seats with 5-point seatbelts, a mount for a baby seat, a tonneau-type tarp cover, an all-weather cargo canopy, an all weather child canopy (with windows), or other accessories, so it can be configured to meet the hauling needs of the rider. The step-through frame ensures easy mounting and dismounting, and full suspension helps keep the ride comfortable and the tires in full contact with the ground on rough roads.
The electric pedal assist function comes from a mid-drive Bosch Performance motor, with several different options available, ranging from the basic Cruise model to the high-torque CX model, which can deliver assistance of up to 300% of the rider's physical effort. Top speeds on the Load can range from 20 mph to 28 mph, depending on the model, and the bike features dual hydraulic disc brakes for consistent and reliable stopping power.
The electric motor, display, and high-performance headlight are powered by a 500Wh Bosch lithium-ion battery, which can be augmented by mounting a second battery on the frame for a total capacity of 100Wh. For the drivetrain, the Load is available with either a Shimano 10- or 11-speed derailleur gearset or a NuVinci variable hub gear. The addition of front and rear fenders helps keep dirt, dust, and water off of the rider and cargo, and an integrated ABUS Protectus 5000 frame lock secures the bike with a 9mm thick locking clasp.
The Riese & Muller Load e-cargo bike looks to be a solid contender in the utility bike scene, as it's packed with features to make it as practical and safe as possible, but this bike doesn't come cheap. Granted, it's less expensive than a new car by far, but with prices starting at about $6,479 depending on the model, buying the Load is more of an investment than an impulse buy. However, you tend to get what you pay for, and if it could replace a number of daily and weekly car trips, while adding a pedaling session to our daily habits, the Load might be a wise choice for both health and environmental reasons.