cargo ebikes, a guide

Cargo ebikes

The most interesting aspect of ebikes is that they have the power to make bikes more popular. One of the fields that can benefit from an electric motor are cargo ebikes. Up until now, they haven’t been very popular and nowadays they are a very small niche in the ebike market.

In Central and Northern Europe though, it’s easy to see ebikes used to carry people or goods. Using cargo ebikes instead of noisy pickup trucks can turn busy neighborhoods into liveable areas: less noise and less pollution in the city centres. These cargo ebikes can transport up to 300kg: it’s easy to see how useful an electric motor can be for this specific field.

Cargo ebikes are made to transport big and heavy goods so it’s possible to use batteries with a high capacity. These batteries are bigger and heavier, but that is not a problem in a cargo ebike designed to transport heavy loads; they will grant a good range even with a full load.

Cargo ebikes are easy to steer even if full-loaded. The assistance of the electric motor makes things easier as it allows for easy starts. The only problem is parking: the volume of these bikes is more similar to a big scooter than a regular bike.

A cargo ebike can be the perfect solution for people that own a garage and must transport voluminous goods, or children. Think about how much you’d save: no more money spent for petrol, insurance and car taxes.

There are various cargo ebikes on the market: read the following paragraphs for more info about them.

Main Types of Cargo Ebikes

1) Ebikes with Trailers

cargo ebike with trailer

This is the simplest solution: you just add a trailer to your ebike and there you have it, a cargo ebike! Pros are it’s very cheap and it’s a flexible solution. In fact, you can detach your trailer at any given moment and go back to your regular ebike.

Cons are that you don’t have a lot of space for your load and your bike becomes less maneuverable especially on uneven surfaces, in small spaces and when you have to park it.

A trailer is a good solution when you need to carry light loads every once in a while, or if you don’t have the space needed to store a “real” cargo ebike.

2) Cargo Ebikes with Spacious Front and Rear Cargo Racks

cargo ebike rack

These bikes are similar to regular bikes – though the wheelbase is longer than normal – but they have more space and load capacity. The back cargo rack is long and solid and the front cargo rack is often “oversize” too. When the latter occurs, the front wheel is often smaller (20″) to allow for more visibility.

This kind of cargo ebike can tranport up to 50kg on the back and 15kg on the front. This is the most common cargo ebike at the moment: the German post (and many other countries’) chose it to deliver parcels and letters.

3) Cargo ebikes with central cargo rack and long wheelbase

cargo ebike long wheelbase

This kind of cargo ebike has the maximum load capacity a (two-wheel) ebike can have: these ebikes have a full-load capacity of 80-100 kg. Some models can transport up to 250kg. As you can imagine, this load capacity comes at a high cost. The bike is heavy and it’s not easy to steer. It also needs much more space in the parking slot.

 4) Cargo Electric Tricycles

cargo electric tricycle

Electric tricycles are extremely solid and stable and they can transport up to 300kg. The cargo rack can be both on the back and on the front, and with it the two wheels. The latter solution (cargo on the front) is ideal when transporting kids: you have them in front of you so you can always check on them. The three wheels help a lot with keeping your stability even if the children start jumping around.

Ebike Pedalling Sensors for Cargo Ebikes

For cargo ebikes as well as for regular ebikes there are two big categories: vehicles with a simple pedalling sensor and vehicles with a torque sensor. With the first ones, you just have to pedal to have the motor’s assistance; you can just turn the pedals without any real effort and the motor will push you along. With a torque sensor you have to put an effort on the pedals. The sensor will pick up the effort you are putting into pedalling and multiply that through the motor, delivering a higher amount of power (check out this article on pedalling sensors to understand the difference).

Which sensor is the best? It’s hard to tell because it’s mainly about personal preferences. The torque sensor allows a more natural interaction between pedalling and the motor’s assistance and it allows for easier starts, too. It can be hard to obtain the maximum power though, because you have to really push on your pedals to have the motor deliver its maximum power (this can be quite hard with a heavy cargo ebike).
The simple pedalling sensor forces the cyclist to start on his own because the motor only starts after about a third to a half turn of the pedals. After that, it gives you all the Watts it can possibly give you when you select the maximum assistance level.
We suggest the torque sensor when you have light loads. If you have to transport 50kg or more then a cargo ebike with a simple pedalling sensor can grant an easier pedalling experience, even if starts will be harder (think about it when choosing one sensor over the other, because if you have to ride in traffic when you are forced to stop often it could be a key factor).

Cargo Ebikes and Motor’s Power

Cargo ebikes and regular ebikes are considered bikes when the motor has a 250 Watts power and a maximum speed of 25 km/h (at least in Europe). If you have to transport very heavy loads you might think of getting a more powerful motor (especially if you have to go uphill often).

You have to take these factors into considerations when thinking about cargo ebikes. When you have a more powerful motor your vehicle is not a regular bike anymore. In the eyes of the law, you own an electric moped and therefore need to register your vehicle, get an insurance and so on – again, this is valid in Europe, check our page on the law concerning ebikes to see what the regulations are in other countries.


Cargo ebike
You can transport pretty much anything with a cargo bike

Cargo ebikes are a serious alternative to small  trucks, especially in the center of big cities where you often have to go through limited traffic zones. Expenses and costs are lower than those of traditional solutions. It would be the perfect solution when you only need to deliver small and medium sized parcels in a small area. It could be a revolution: think about how more liveable and enjoyable our streets would become.

What about you?  Do you use cargo ebikes to bring the kids to school or to transport voluminous packages? Tell us your story, we could publish an article that talks about you!


Cargo ebikes last modified: 2015-03-12T11:17:39+00:00 by Paolo

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