The new Tern GSD looks to be a perfect blend of electric and cargo bikes, as it can carry several passengers & a total of about 400 pounds, without being any longer than a standard bike.
One of the more common comments emailed to me about the e-bikes I cover is a request to write more about the carrying capacity of the bikes, as the ability to haul stuff with you is essential to being able to replace car miles with bike miles. Sure, an e-bike can be fun to ride all on its own, and can be an effective and clean way to get from one point to another, but if you can't bring home the groceries on it, or make a trip to the hardware store or post office with it, it's not going to displace as many fossil-fueled trips as if it can handle not only "deliberate freight decisions (grocery store) and spontaneous pick ups (from six pack to fixed vacuum cleaner)."*
In this latest e-bike launch, the Tern Bicycles GSD is looking to fill that not-so-apparently-obvious gap in the market, with a folding compact utility electric bike capable of carrying a total load of almost 400 pounds (or several small passengers), while still fitting in the same space as a conventional bike. According to the company, folding the bike reduces its overall size by 30%, so "it packs down small enough to fit in a VW Touran or an urban apartment," and even when unfolded it can fit into small elevators or other compact spaces that aren't very manageable with a long or wide cargo bike.
"The GSD is designed to carry two kids, a week’s worth of groceries, or 180 kg of cargo, but it’s only 180 cm long—the same length as a standard ebike."
With its Bosch mid-mounted Performance line electric motor, which is fast becoming the go-to electric drive component for some major e-bike builders, coupled with two lithium ion batteries (one is standard, but two can be mounted), the GSD has a range of up to 155 miles (250 km) per charge. It rolls on smaller diameter tires than other full-sized bikes, which gives it peppier acceleration and increased agility, but those tires are designed for comfortable commuting, as they're the rather fat 2.4" Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires.
“One of our guiding insights was that cargo bikes are most useful in city centers, but they’re correspondingly difficult to manage and store. Dense urban centers bring cargo bikes to life—where groceries, schools and work are all within a bikeable distance—but they’re also where houses are small, and where bike theft is a persistent problem. We’re creating the compact utility ebike category to let people in cities enjoy the benefits of cargo bikes without the limitations." - Galen Crout, Communications Manager at Tern
The GSD can fit two Thule Maxi child seats on the rear, and can have up to 6 Ortlieb pannier bags mounted on it (4 on the rear rack and 2 on the front), as well as optional front and rear racks, plus a rear seat pad for carrying the occasional adult passenger behind the rider. The bike is designed with a comfortable upright riding position in mind, and has a step-through frame for easy mounting and dismounting, while a large Hebie double kickstand provides for stability when parking or loading the bike. It also includes dual fenders, an integrated lighting system, and two large lockable Cargo Hold panniers, and has top-notch components throughout its build.
The Tern Bicycles GSD isn't a bargain-basement e-bike, by any means. It's got great components, is built from the ground up to be an electric bike with a big cargo capacity, and comes with the company's standard 10-year warranty. The GSD will debut at Eurobike 2017 and other fall trade shows, and will be available in the first quarter of 2018 at an estimated MSRP of $4,000. Obviously, a $4,000 bike isn't an option for many riders, but for those looking to replace some of their family errand trips in the minivan or station wagon, it could very well be an e-bike to take a closer look at.
*Shoutout to reader JA from Missoula, who requested I highlight the cargo capacity - or its lack - on e bikes "ever more prominently."