The New Tern HSD Could Be the Future of Urban E-Bikes

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©. Tern

It's got something for everybody in a compact and clever e-bike that can carry a big load.

One of my favourite images of anyone on a bike is from the Tern GSD video, with the wind blowing through the hair of that very happy child. (See it on Derek's review page.) Of course, this couldn't happen in much of North America where children have to wear helmets, or in places like New York or Ontario, where children under sixteen are not allowed on e-bikes. But in some more enlightened parts of the world, e-bikes play a major role in moving all kinds of people, carrying all kinds of things.

Now, Tern has introduced the HSD, a really interesting all-purpose e-bike with another wonderful video from Finland, showing how it works for all kinds of people – the older boomers hauling a dog, the bearded hipster going very long distances, the mom taking the kid to school and going shopping. Because these bikes can do all that.

boomers on bikes

© Tern

The HSD is really well thought out. It is relatively small, shorter than a standard bike, low to the ground so that it is easy for people of almost all heights (4-11" to 6'-5") to get on to and has a really low centre of gravity for stability. Yet the 56 pound bike has a gross weight of 374 pounds, so it can carry a lot. Tern says "it'll carry a week's worth of groceries or camping equipment for the weekend. It even has a dedicated trailer hitch mount, so adding extra cargo is a cinch." It's designed from the ground up for these tasks:

"Many ebikes on the market look like standard bikes with motor systems and batteries wedged in," stated Josh Hon, Tern Team Captain. "We started the HSD project with the goal of designing a better, more useful, ebike. That meant wiping away pre-conceived notions for things like frame design, riding geometry, and wheel size. The result is the HSD, a small bike that is just much more useful."
Internal hub and belt drive

© Tern

Tern knows where the market is going. People want a bike that is flexible and easy to use by every generation, for any purpose. So it has integrated lights, a belt drive and internal gear hub on the fancier models, all low maintenance and easy to use. I am also a fan of the Bosch Active Line Plus drive, which is so smooth and intuitive that you don't know it's there until you need its 600 watts of peak power. It's not the most expensive hauler out there either, starting at about US$3099. According to Eric Lin, Director of Product Development:

[The HSD is] an ebike designed not for the niche but for almost everybody. It doesn't fold to a tiny size or carry 200 kg, but simply does the standard stuff better. Finally, there's a bike that you and I will want to use daily, a companion for greener transportation. The HSD is the future of urban ebikes, now.”
Hipster with standing bike

© Tern

I suspect he's right. It pushes all the boomer and family buttons with its easy entry and low, stable ride, and the ability to fold flat or stand up on its end make it a great hauler for the millennial in the small apartment (as long as it has an elevator, since this is still a heavy bike).

Tern with cargo

© Tern

There is a real logic to this well-resolved, capable design that works for so many people. The more I ride my own e-bike, the more I realise how they are such a great alternative to cars most of the time. Throw on a week's worth of groceries and a couple of kids, and it becomes apparent that, for many people, it could replace a car almost all the time. Eric Lin says this might be the future of urban e-bikes, but it might also be the future of urban transportation.

Read more at Tern.