The Vello SUB Is the World's Lightest E-Cargo Bike

The basic design of it may well become the standard for e-bikes.

Vello SUB

VELLO / Leonardo Ramirez

After writing about how the e-bike world felt like it was going through a Cambrian explosion, filling our roads with an astonishing diversity of designs, a reader pointed out that after the original explosion, everything soon settled down to a couple of basic designs that cleared the field. And when all is said and done, I suspect the most popular e-bike design might well be the two-wheeled cargo bike, much like Katherine Martinko's Rad Power Bike, the Tern HSD, or this latest one, the Vello SUB, which is described as the world's lightest e-cargo bike.

The SUB (an acronym for Smart Utility Bike) comes in a flagship titanium version that weighs only 53 pounds and a steel version that is still a svelte 61 pounds—accomplished by taking a minimalist approach and stripping all unnecessary weight from the frame, and then matching it with some of the best components available on the market." It has ultrawide 20-inch tires that keep the center of gravity low and provide a stable, safe, and easy-to-maneuver bike.

vello set up for maximum cargon

VELLO / Stephan Doleschal

"The SUB is just as capable as much larger, heavier cargo bikes, with space for two passengers as well as a front cargo rack. With a total system load of 210 kg the SUB can act as a viable car replacement for trips to the supermarket, or for performing the morning school run."

Vello Sub folded up

VELLO / Stephan Doleschal

But because of the smaller wheels, it is no longer than a regular bike. The folding handlebars and pedals reduce its width to just under a foot for easy storage, and it's light enough to wrestle into an apartment. It's also multifunctional:

"A key part of the design process was to make the bike as versatile as possible. To address this, VELLO has developed a tool-free, quick-release accessory system that enables you to change the configuration of your SUB quickly and easily. Furthermore, child seats and cargo baskets can be quickly fitted and removed, tool-free, thanks to the MIK HD safety system that saves you fiddling with complicated brackets or mounting systems."
Bike with musical instrument

 VELLO / Leonardo Ramirez

This is why I think the evolution of the e-bike might settle on this kind of design as the standard.

Over at Bloomberg, Ira Boudway looked at 16 different bikes, identifying them for commuters, cruisers, jobbers, kid carriers, or enablers for older riders. Many of them shared the step-through frame and smaller wheels with cargo racks built in. The owner of all these bikes said of the RadRunner 2: “I call this one the standard. It’s the most popular bike that people try from my fleet. It’s versatile. They have accessories for carrying grocery bags or pets, or passengers."

If your bike is going to be your main mode of transport, this is what you want. It is like back when I drove, and we had two cars: I had the Miata that could only hold two people and a bag of groceries, and a Subaru for doing the heavy lifting and carrying the kids. You might have fun transportation, but you need the family hauler.

It's likely going to be the same with bikes. But just as Porsche makes SUVs, there is going to be a wide range of cargo bikes and prices, with the Vello SUB here topping out in titanium at 4,249 Euros or $4422 at the time of writing. It has the top European specifications, with the latest 600-watt peak (250-watt nominal) Bosch cargo performance line motor with 85 Newton meters of torque. American readers will complain the motor is too small for a total rated load of 550 pounds, but that's the European standard, and there are lots of hills in Austria where it is made.

bike with two batteries

VELLO / Stephan Doleschal

There are two 545-watt-hour batteries that could push it up to 155 miles. A Gates carbon belt drive connects to Enviolo internal gearing, and four-piston Magura MT-4 hydraulic disc brakes will bring it to a quick stop.

commuting on stripped down bike

VELLO / Leonardo Ramirez

The great thing about this bike is its adaptability. Strip off the kiddie seats and it will zip you along as fast as any light commuter bike. Load it up with groceries or guitars or kids, one bike can do it all. We have written that e-bikes will eat cars and that cargo bikes will eat SUVs, but bikes like these will eat the family sedan. And when the Cambrian explosion of e-bikes settles down, they all might look something like this.

kids and dad on the bike

VELLO / Leonardo Ramirez