Mycle are a UK based company. They say, "Our bikes are built by local engineers in our UK-based workshops. These workshops run off 100% renewable energy and dispatch every order directly to you, meaning we can avoid extra costs and extra air miles too." One of their recent model launches is the Mycle Cargo, a longtail e-cargo bike with a claimed total 'rider plus cargo' rating of 215kg.
The Mycle Cargo
Mycle's other models cover the more conventional e-bike designs of folder, trail and commuter style e-bike. The launch of a cargo longtail is a brave move, as it's not an area many e-bike companies with budget-priced machines venture into.
But just on paper the Cargo looks outstanding value for money. We tried the double battery option which retails at £2,299 (single battery option is £1,899). Each battery packs in a huge 720Wh of energy and the total of 1440Wh is certainly one of the biggest we've ever tested.
On a bike with a 215kg load rating, that's no bad thing. There's nothing like a combination of heavy loads and steep hills to flatten e-bike batteries in short order. The batteries are frame-mounted on the down tube and behind the seat tube, helping to distribute their considerable weight evenly and low down - both very good ideas for stable handling.
This is a big and heavy bike, but that's par for the course with longtails, and if all longtail designs look like clones, it's likely to be because the basic design works so well rather than any deliberate copying. The front of the bike looks conventional enough for a 20" bike with the exception of the fat tires, but the stretched rear end is of course what makes it a longtail and frees up all that carrying space for passengers and cargo, providing a seating area cum rack top loading deck, plus acres of space for extra roomy rear panniers or awkwardly long objects (surfboards are a favourite for longtail marketing shots).
Modern fat tyres are ideal for a longtail as they provide ride comfort and help spread the load whilst providing plenty of grip too - and the CST 20" x 3" slicks on the Mycle are good examples.
Much of the production budget has clearly gone on the huge frame which uses several metres of aluminium tubing and comes with a plywood veneer deck and bolt-on footrests as standard. So it's not surprising that you get ultra-budget Shimano 7-speed gearing and cable operated disc brakes rather than the huge-range hub gearing and hydraulics found on much more expensive electric longtails. The large electric fat bike specific geared rear hub motor certainly looks more than up to the job too.
The bike is fully equipped with suitably practical 'extras' too, including mudguards, rear wheel guard, hardwired lighting (the rear light has an integral brake light) and even a steering dampener. The only thing missing is a digital display with speed etc, though in practice it wasn't missed that much. The power control button shows what power level you have selected and gives a rough indication of remaining battery capacity, which is really the most useful info after all. The spring steering dampener proved most helpful in evening the steering out with a load on the back.
Carrying accessories are really the only area the Mycle Cargo is perhaps a bit light on. There are third-party child seats available that will fit and I tried out a very solid alloy rear box holder that bolts on to the top of the rear rack. There are no oversize panniers as yet (I used my own wicker baskets) and one pillion passenger commented they would have liked some extra attachment as a hand hold, instead of relying on the handle that is built into the rear of the seat. They also said that the cushion seats provided moved about a bit on the plywood veneer decking. The bolt-on footrests provided for the passenger worked well. Note however that none of these accessories are included in the RRP and at the time of writing Mycle were still working towards having them available on their website.
On the road
The Mycle Cargo's riding position is just want you would want from a bike you are going to be carrying a fair old load on; it's upright and comfortable and the range of height adjustment on the seat and an adjustable-angle handlebar stem mean the one-size frame will suit a good range of riders.
When you start pedalling the Mycle Cargo, nothing much seems to happen for a second or two until a powerful push arrives from the sizeable rear hub motor. In the two lower power levels this quickly fades away, but in level three the power keeps coming and simply eats up hills until at grades around 12-13% you start to slow down a little. With so much power on board, it's not surprising it came joint second on our extended hill climb test (out of many, many times recorded by test e-bikes over the years). On our short ultra-steep climb, it posted a respectable but not groundbreaking time - powerful mid-drives excel at steep hill climbing, so you wouldn't expect the Mycle to excel at this particular test.
There is also a switched, twist grip style throttle control, but this was clearly there only as a walk assist function for low speed manoeuvres. Even then, it only seemed to put a minimal amount of power through to the motor, so in reality it was little used. This is a great pity as it would have been great for starting with a heavy load or for hill starts where there is a lot of inertia to overcome.
The cadence sensing system uses a 12 magnet disc, which generally provides quick and smooth power, so it was surprising to find a delay between starting pedalling and the power arriving - which it does with something of a rush. A nicely graduated throttle would have been a great way to ease on the power as your pedalling picks up enough speed to activate the motor on its own, but the current throttle setup just doesn't command enough low speed power for the rider to be able to do that. In short, it takes a bit of getting used to and is not as intuitive to use as some other e-bikes are, but once you have picked up speed it's mighty effective.
With a 95kg passenger on the back, handling was the main concern, rather than lack of hill climbing ability. Steering felt light and somewhat wandering. Your riding brain and reflexes gradually adjust to some degree, but going on busy roads or anywhere at any great speed with anything approaching the max permitted 125kg on the rear is perhaps not advisable. But with smaller, lighter passengers on the back, handling is much more predictable and the bike seems happy to handle loads up to at least 60kg.
The Tektro Aries cable brakes were simply the best the test rider had tried. Reasonably progressive and very powerful, they provided plenty of stopping power, even with heavy loads on board. The 7-speed Shimano Altus gears were also very effective, with low enough gearing for most hills around the testing Calder valley in West Yorkshire. Lower gearing for very steep hills and a faster top gear for long descents would have been nice, but within the constraints of a budget gearing system, Mycle have the current system spot on. The gear changer was great for quick changing; it's easy to go from seventh to first gear with one long push of the change down lever.
Such a big heavy bike with large tyres is always going to be heavy on the battery usage and even with only moderate loads I managed around 70 hilly miles from the dual battery setup, which at nearly 20Wh per mile means it uses twice as much power as the most efficient e-bikes. All entirely predictable and not a criticism - after all it weighs more than twice as much as some of today's lighter e-bikes.
The battery capacity display is slightly misleading as it relates to the particular battery in use at the time. When this runs out the system stops and you need to turn the battery off in order to use the other full battery. It's not like the much pricier Bosch dual battery system that uses both batteries equally at the same time. Again though, it's got to be viewed as an acceptable cost compromise when you look at the Mycle's remarkable price tag.
There's a small but interesting range of longtail electric cargo bikes available in the UK but most are nowhere near the Mycle's extremely competitive price point.
There's plenty of similar designs that will do much the same thing at higher price points. The Yuba Combi E5 was retailing at £2,880 at the time of writing - so for several hundred pounds more you get only 418Wh of battery, though you do get a more accomplished and efficient Shimano Steps E5000 motor. Even pricier is the Benno Boost, but the gold standard for electric longtails is Tern's GSD range. Ebiketips have tried several over the years and we thought the last iteration we tried was the best so far in terms of spec and performance - but again these are many times the price of the Mycle.
The real competition on price comes from Rad Power's RadWagon 4 which we tried back in Dec 2020 and liked for its competitive price tag and myriad carrying accessories. The Mycle is in a similar price bracket but lacks the wide range of accessories. Crucially though, it features a far punchier motor for making heavy load hauling up hills an easier proposition. The dual battery system option is another big bonus over the RadWagon 4.
At such a relatively low price there will be compromises in spec such as those cheap derailleur gears, but everything works well enough and the motor and brakes are certainly star performers. With any budget specced bikes, e-bike or otherwise, parts are likely to need replacing sooner than on higher spec bikes. With a cheap Shimano derailleur this shouldn't break the bank but a replacement battery is likely to be a much costlier affair. It's notable there is only a one-year guarantee on the bike when many other brands offer two years on electrical components. You can extend the warranty to two years for an extra £100 and very heavy e-bike users might consider that money well spent.
In summary though, even if the Mycle Cargo lacks the performance finesse and range of accessories of competitors, it does much the same job very effectively. Longtail e-bikes claim to be able to replace car journeys in many circumstances; whether they actually can is the acid test and the Mycle Cargo certainly passes it.