In recent years, as the electrification of bikes has become more popular, so has the idea of replacing your car with a bike. Enter, electric cargo bikes.
The best e-cargo bikes will have plenty of carrying capacity and a high-powered motor to make lugging all that stuff around effortless. Businesses are even opening their eyes to the idea of using e-cargo bikes as last-mile delivery solutions, and if such a vehicle can replace a van, surely it can replace an SUV on the school run too.
There are two main types of e-cargo bike: front loading and rear loading. Rear loaders generally have racks behind the rider’s seat, upon which you can affix accessories like child seats or pannier bags for large items. Front loaders are equally as useful, and are often seen with bucket type carriers – again, ideal for ferrying kids around, or dogs, or the shopping. These are the ones you’ve likely seen local delivery firms using.
Because of the additional demands placed upon them, e-cargo bikes typically employ high-end motors. This combined with the extra load carrying capacity means they don't tend to come cheap - although they're certainly cheaper than a second-hand car, if that's what you're replacing as well as being hugely cheaper to run. Nevertheless, if you find that you baulk at some of the prices below, we've got a separate guide to the best e-cargo bikes under £3,000.
Best electric cargo bikes
- Tern GSD S10 - best overall | Buy for £5,100 from Surge Bikes
- Riese & Müller Load 75 - best for families | Buy for £5,494 from Electric Bike Sales
- Mycle Cargo - best sub £2k longtail | Buy from £1,999 from Mycle
- Orbea Katu-E - best compact cargo | Buy for £1,649 from Orbea
- Tern Quick Haul P9 - best GSD alternative | Buy for £3,100 from Tern
- Raleigh Stride 2 Family Cargo Bike - best mid-priced family cargo | Buy for £3,500 from Raleigh
- Babboe Slim Mountain - best for carrying kids | Buy for £4,199 from Electric Bike Sales
- Benno RemiDemi 9D - best for small spaces | Buy for £3,999 from Fully Charged
- Carla Cargo Trailer - best trailer | Buy for £4,000 from Manchester Bikes
A timelessly popular choice, the Tern GSD is what many consider to be the ‘gold standard’ of electric cargo bikes. It’s recently been updated, with a few improvements from our 2021 review, although those improvement have come at a cost.
This remains, though, the best option for nearly anyone doing normal things on a bike as well as wanting something capable enough to carry lots when you need it – assuming you can afford it. The other builds are even more expensive than the S10, which starts at £5,100, but for our reviewers, this is the model to go for – if you have the pockets for it.
For more detail, read our review of the Tern GSD S10 2021.
If comfort and durability are important to you when choosing an e-cargo bike, then the Riese & Müller Load 75 is worth a look. It’s one of the bigger e-cargo bikes on this list (and the market) so best for people with mounds of space (and cash). But, it’s versatile and powered by a Bosch mid-drive motor – you can customise the specific model when you buy it.
It’s also one of the few e-cargo bikes we’ve seen with full suspension, making it a very smooth and comfortable ride. We reviewed the Touring version from 2019, and it’s seen some upgrades since then but the spacious bucket remains, making it ideal for families who want to shuttle the kids about.
For more detail, read our review of the Riese and Muller Load 75 Touring.
Among the cheaper electric cargo bikes, the Mycle Cargo is the British based brand’s first foray into this type of e-bike, and it really impressed our reviewer, Richard. There’s a claimed total 'rider plus cargo' rating of 215kg, and you can choose between single or dual batteries – plus a load of accessories.
There are, of course, a few compromises, like the 7-speed Shimano Altus groupset and cable operated disc brakes, but for the price it’s an excellent starting point. Our tester even managed 70 hilly miles out of one charge of the dual battery model. For carrying lighter kids or medium weight loads, it’s a decent option to get into the world of cargo biking.
For more detail, read our review of the Mycle Cargo.
Orbea's Katu-E 10 is an urban e-cargo bike with great acceleration. A different proposition to some of the heavy long e-cargo monsters listed here, it is a compact bike with 20-inch wheels (like Tern's GSD S10) but with plenty of load-carrying ability.
Our reviewer was impressed with its acceleration, and although it's fairly light, it is capable of carrying heavy loads. It's specifically designed for front-load carrying, with the large basket attached to the frame, and it has the super powerful Bosch Performance line CX drive system. If you're after something a bit easier to store indoors that is nippier around town than most e-cargo bikes, the Katu-E is worthy of your attention.
For more detail, read our review of the Orbea Katu-E.
The Tern Quick Haul is a really capable compact alternative to the brand's other e-cargo bikes, the GSD and HSD. It's aimed at people who want the same versatility offered by those, but at a lower price. Its main selling point over cheaper rivals is a powerful Bosch Performance Line motor.
The Quick Haul can carry 150kg in total, with the Atlas Q rear rack rated for up to 50kg. It works with most of Tern's accessories too, including panniers, bars for passengers, toddler seats and seat pads for older children. Unlike its larger siblings, the Quick Haul looks and behaves like a city bike when unloaded. If you only need to take one passenger then this could be all the cargo bike you need.
For more detail, read our review of the Tern Quick Haul P9.
The Raleigh Stride 2 Family Cargo Bike is a highly practical, spacious, and powerful e-cargo bike. It's also massive. At 2.6m, it's the length of a small car – but then that is what it's designed to replace. The Stride 2 is fitted with Bosch’s top-of-the-line Performance Line CX motor and a large reinforced polystyrene ‘bucket’ at the front, which is protected by large metal bars.
This has a cargo capacity of 80kg and can be fitted out with harnesses, child seats and the like. There’s a rear rack too. One advantage of a long john design over a longtail is that you can more easily see your cargo, which may well be particularly appealing if they’re related to you.
For more detail, read our review of the Raleigh Stride 2 Family Cargo Bike.
The Babboe Slim Mountain is ideally suited to carrying small humans. The Slim Mountain has become quite a common sight on the continent, and if you primarily want a bike for transporting the kids, this could be the one. The bike has a long john design, with the cargo bay in front of the pilot. That means that the small front wheel is controlled by a linkage system.
The first time you hop on the bike you need to adjust your filter to take account of where the front wheel is, and how the bike steers, but it’s not a difficult machine to ride once you’ve put a few miles under your belt. Carrying cargo that isn't small people is a bit tougher than with some other options we've tested and we found the Enviolo shifter a little stiff, but the motor system is great and the transmission requires very little maintenance.
For more detail, read our review of the Babboe Slim Mountain.
The Benno RemiDemi 9D is a good quality compact cargo bike that can be built with a range of luggage options. It's a fun and versatile bike and just the kind of thing you need if you’re hankering after a cargo bike but really don’t have the space for one.
It’s not as versatile as its sibling, the Boost, or Tern’s GSD, but it’s quite a bit cheaper than either and will offer enough carrying capacity for many people in a compact package. It’s not a light bike, but the Bosch Performance Line motor helps to take the strain.
For more detail, read our review of the Benno RemiDemi 9D.
And if you don’t need the carrying capacity for every ride...
For those who perhaps don’t require a cargo bike every single day, but do need something a bit more capacious than a regular bike, the Carla Cargo Trailer might be your answer. It affixes to the rear axle of your e-bike via a towbar hitch and has a payload rating of 200kg.
It is hefty, and weighs 45kg on its own, so it’s only going to be suitable for those with a lot of storage space. In its current form it can be used with e-bikes but there is also an E-Carla, which comes with a front wheel motor, which can be used with non-electric towing bikes.
For more detail, read our review of the Carla Cargo Trailer.
How to choose from the best electric cargo bikes
Is an electric cargo bike eco-friendly?
If by using an electric cargo bike you have changed the way you’re travelling from driving a car, then yes! In fact, a lot of businesses are now jumping on board as not only is it more environmentally friendly to use e-cargo bikes than delivery vans, but within cities it can often be faster.
How fast can an electric cargo bike go?
This depends entirely on how fast you can pedal. But if you’re thinking about the motor speed limit, it’s limited to the same speed as all other e-bikes in the UK, and the assistance will cut out at 15.5mph. Whether or not you can ride faster than that will depend on the terrain, how much you’re carrying, and your fitness.
What are front-loader e-cargo bikes?
Also known as box bikes, or Long Johns, these two wheelers are probably what springs to mind when someone says ‘cargo bike’ to you. They have a front wheel that’s moved forward, with a low slung box in front of the rider. The steering is operated via cables or a linkage. First made in the 1920s in Denmark it is perhaps the most useful load lugger and most are capable of carrying two kids or a big supermarket shop.
Two bikes spin this on its tail by putting the box at the rear: the Madsen (no longer made), and the Mike Burrows 8 freight. The advantages and disadvantages are well-argued, but the consensus is that box forward is the preferred style because you can see your cargo. That’s especially important if your cargo is kids or dogs: it’s nice to have eye contact.
What are longtail e-cargo bikes?
Imagine a conventional bike with the rear wheel pulled back a bit, with a longer rear rack. This is originally an African load-carrying design, made popular by a group of young men in San Francisco who created the xtracycle and the Yuba Mundo (from a German design).
The longtail can take plenty of cargo in custom panniers, or you can strap stuff to the extended rack. It’s the most versatile bike for carrying two children once they are able to sit in a child seat, and you can easily carry another adult too.
Can I use my current e-bike as a cargo bike?
Many e-bikes can be put into service as e-cargo bikes, it could just be your daily ride with a rack on! We are used to pannier racks at the front and the rear but the porteur style rack – where the front rack is attached to the frame rather than the fork – is a way of adding a flexible platform on which to place a laptop bag or a few bits of shopping.
Because the load is separated from the steering it doesn’t affect the handling as much, and the rack gives useful extra capacity without adding to the bike length or much to the weight. Winora, Civia, Soma, Omnium and Bicicapace are some of the companies currently making porteur-style bikes.
What kind of motors are on electric cargo bikes?
Due to the volumes of stuff these bikes are generally required to move, mid-drive motors are generally favoured on electric cargo bikes as they apply power more effectively at lower speeds, such as when you're first getting moving. Mid-motor systems are generally smooth, powerful and a pleasure to ride. They will also work with any gearing system including hub gears, which you may see more of on electric cargo bikes – think Enviolo and Rohloff.