Benno’s Boost E is a really nicely put together long-tail cargo bike that’s well-designed for carrying kids or loads, or a bit of both. In this build it’s very well specced with a powerful motor, and you can choose the bits you need to make it perfect for your riding.
“A typical ebike offers a nice ride, but not much utility. A cargo ebike carries heavy loads, but can be difficult to maneuver”, claims Benno, and we wouldn’t disagree. “We believe what people really need is an everyday ebike engineered with the perfect blend of ride dynamics, cargo capacity and good looks”, it continues. “Awesome agility with the ability to carry exactly what you need. We call it Etility® Design and it’s at the heart of every Benno ebike.”
A month ago if you came to me and told me you had £4,500 to spend on a cargo bike, I’d have told you to scoot off and get a Tern GSD; and in a lot of cases I still would, but the Benno Boost E is a genuine contender for your money if your use case matches up with its particular strengths. It’s impossible to look at this bike and not directly compare it to the GSD, so there’ll be quite a lot of that, but the bottom line here is that the Benno is maybe not as versatile, but a bit more fun to ride. And a bit cooler.
The bike is a long-tail design based on an alloy frame and fork rolling on 24” wheels. In terms of size it’s barely any longer than a standard city bike, and will fit in most places a standard utility bike would. The main load-carrying area, the rear rack, isn’t part of the main frame structure, instead bolting on a bit like a standard rack. The default rack is fine for various panniers, including Benno’s Utility bags which hold 30 litres of shopping each. It’ll also carry two Yepp child seats. If you want you can swap to a rack with integrated running boards and stick a seat pad on if you’re carrying bigger kids (the rack has a 60kg limit so it won’t accommodate bigger adults). There’s a number of rails available for them to hold onto, including a single-sided rail so it’s easier to get on and off. The high rail can also hold a trunk bag that will swallow a huge 170 litres, enough for a pretty big family shop. Rack mounts at the front can extend the Benno’s capacity even further.
One accessory you’re definitely going to need to factor in buying is the double kickstand. The bike comes as standard with a single kickstand, and definitely shouldn’t; this is a bike you’re going to stick your kids on, or load up with shopping. A single stand that tilts the bike over just isn’t going to cut it, and shouldn’t even be offered.
Once you’ve specced the bike up to your needs it’s time to head out, and you’ll find that the bike is easy and fun to ride. There’s no suspension fork, but the custom 2.6” tyres and 24” wheels roll really well over a wide range of surfaces. It’s a more engaging ride than the heavier GSD, with its smaller 20” wheels, and there’s no learning curve like you get with a bucket bike: it’s just a nice, simple ride that’s easy to get on with. I gave it to my 15-year-old daughter to try on her commute to school and I haven’t really had a look in since. It’s heavy, sure, but with a fourth-generation Bosch Performance Line CX motor kicking out 85Nm, it’s not an issue unless you need to lift the bike over something.
Out on the road it never struggles, even on steep climbs: the wide-range cassette and chunky tyres make sure of that. As standard the Boost E comes with a 500Wh battery, and that should be enough for your daily use unless you’re delivering fast food or commuting to the next town. It’s possible to extend the range with a second battery; Benno claims a range of 40-240km depending on how many batteries you’re packing and what the terrain is like. It’s possible to run the battery dry in less than 40km round here, pointing the bike at Bath’s numerous hills in Turbo mode, but even then it wasn’t massively short of that number. The bike comes with Bosch’s 4A charger that’ll get you back up to full battery (assuming you just have the one) in about 5 hours.
In terms of adjustability, this is a bike that will fit a wide range of people – Benno claims from 5’1” to 6’3”, and we’ve covered most of that range – but is at its best when being used by a single rider, or at least multiple riders that are about the same size. The slack seat tube angle means that it’s possible to put your feet down easily even when you have your saddle up to full height, and it also means that the reach of the bike grows as the seat height increases, to accommodate taller riders more easily. The bullhorn bars can be rotated to make quite an impact on the ride position too. It’s not like the GSD though, where you can easily adjust for a new rider with a few flips of a quick release. You’ll need tools if you want to change the setup. If you want the whole family to use the bike that might be an issue; if it’s just you, not so much.
Apart from the sub-optimal stand the city-friendly kit is all excellent. The Supernova lighting system is great, and the front light at the front of the mudguard looks neat and kicks out enough light for easy navigation on unlit lanes. There are side panels available for the rear mudguard to keep splashes off your kids’ school trousers. The chain is a long one, and there’s no chainguard above it, so you need to be a bit careful with your clothes when you’re riding.
At £4,599 – plus a bit more for a proper kickstand – the Benno is basically competing directly with the new Tern GSD, which is the next incarnation of our favourite bike here at ebiketips. I’ve not reviewed the new bike but I have ridden it a bit, and there are lots of improvements over the old bike which was already brilliant.
So, can the Benno compete against such esteemed competition? Well, yes it can. It can’t carry quite as much, and it’s not as easily adjustable for different riders, but there’s plenty of people for whom neither of those things will be an issue. Take them out of the equation and the Benno is a nicer bike to ride, as the larger wheels and Chopper-style bars make it easy to control and comfortable on broken UK roads. It’s also hugely versatile; you can have two kids or a big weekly shop on the back, a crate of beer on the front and still make it up the hill back to your house thanks to the excellent motor system, and it also looks pretty cool. Overall it’s not quite as good as a GSD overall, taking everything into account. But it might be the cargo bike for you nonetheless.