For more than a year, GearJunkie cyclists have been testing a multitude of amazing electric cargo bikes. We’ve hauled everything from babies, kids, dogs, wood, tools, all kinds of outdoor gear, and even huge Costco and farmer’s market hauls. We went on e-cargo bikes if our destination was within 15 miles.
Our errand runs shuttled us across smooth tarmac, broken chip seal, and occasional dirt roads. Some bikes in the test fleet have throttles, while other’s electric assist only functioned while pedaling (this is a function of the e-bike class). The electric cargo bikes ranged from small and nimble bikes to e-bike versions of a freight hauler.
The e-bike market has drastically expanded over the last few years, with brands popping up out of nowhere. We sifted through clunky, unwieldy, and wholly unreliable makes and models alongside bikes from established bike and e-bike brands. We noted any assembly woes or anything that compromised safety or long-term reliability. E-bikes are a significant investment, and we approached our testing and editorial angle with this in mind.
Below, we highlight, categorize, and review the best electric cargo bikes we tested. They were all standouts in their own unique way. Mom and endurance athlete Chelsey Magnus and Gearjunkie Cycling Editior Seiji Ishii have pedaled, throttled, and weighed in on each model, assessing day-to-day usability and extolling the best uses for each model. If you’re new to Electric cargo bikes, check out the lingo in our buying guide below, which helps explain the different styles of e-cargo bikes on the market today. For a side-by-side rundown of price and specs, check our comparison chart.
Editor’s note: For our October 27, 2023, update, we’ve added the Specialized Globe Haul LT, Velotric Packer 1 and the Tern HSD P9 to round out our lineup.
The Best Electric Cargo Bikes of 2023
- Best Overall Electric Cargo Bike: Specialized Globe Haul LT
- Budget Electric Cargo Bike: Rad Power Bikes RadWagon 4
- Best Compact / Daily Commuter Electric Cargo Bike: Tern HSD P5i
- Best Kid-Hauler Electric Cargo Bike: Bunch Original Family Cargo Bike
- Lightest Weight Electric Cargo Bike: Tern HSD P9
- An Awesome Value Electric Cargo Bike: Velotric Packer 1
- Class 3
- Weight 88 pounds, 3 ounces
- Length 53.4 inches, wheelbase
- Carrying capacity 441 pounds
- Range 60 miles
- Large carrying capacity
- Can haul three kids comfortably
- Has throttle for easier stop and go riding
- Fits multiple sized riders
- Long for even a longtail cargo bike
- No integrated lock
- Value pricing
- Lower carrying capacity than other electric cargo bikes
- Large carrying capacity
- Breaks down and folds quickly
- Fits into small spaces
- Has in integrated lock
- Cannot carry passenger
- Comes fully assembled
- Has a secure lockbox
- Durable, flat-resistant tires
- Can haul up to 5 kids
- Hard to back up
- Takes up a lot of storage space
- Not an electric cargo bike for quick trips
- Carries large load while being small
- Folds to fit into small areas
- Pricey for what it is
- Can only haul one child
- Class 2
- Weight 75 pounds
- Length 82 inches
- Carrying capacity 440 pounds
- Range 52 miles pedal-assist, 45 miles throttle-only
- Good carrying capacity
- Easy assembly
- Stable ride when loaded
- Extremely versatile rear cargo area
- Bars felt narrow for how long and heavy the bike is
- Power cuts in abruptly
- Tires only good for paved surfaces
- Great price
- Easy to maneuver
- Visually attractive
- Baskets are a little small for groceries
- One size doesn't fit all riders
- Weight 60 lbs. (without any of the add-ons)
- Length 6′
- Carrying capacity 300 lbs.
- Range 25-55 miles depending on mode and capacity
- Best for Around town errands, kid pickups and dropoffs, dogs, big grocery or hardware store buys
- Rides like a normal bike
- Can fit a wide range of people
- Can be hard to store
- On the pricey side
- Stem/handlebars/seatpost can fold down in 5 seconds, allowing it to fit in many vehicles
- Can carry a ton of gear and people
- Compact for e-bikes
- 20″ wheels can be a little harsh on bumpy ground
Electric Cargo Bike Comparison Chart
|Electric Cargo Bike||Price||Throttle?||Weight||Carrying Capacity||Range|
|Specialized Globe Haul LT||$3,500||Yes||88 lbs., 3 oz.||441 lbs.||60 miles|
|Rad Power Bikes RadWagon 4||$1,999||Yes||76.7 lbs.||350 lbs.||45 miles|
|Tern HSD P5i||$4,599||No||61.5 lbs.||397 lbs.||76 miles|
|Bunch Original Family Cargo Bike||$4,965||Yes||152 lbs.||350 lbs.||30 miles|
|Tern HSD P9||$3,699||No||57 lbs.||375 lbs.||69 miles|
|Velotric Packer 1||$1,999||Yes||75 lbs.||440 lbs.||52 miles|
|Flyer L885||$1,999||Yes||73 lbs.||400 lbs.||50 miles|
|Yuba Spicy Curry||$5,199||No||60 lbs.||300 lbs.||55 miles|
|Tern GSD S00 Folding Bike||$4,999||No||70 lbs.||440 lbs.||62 miles|
How We Tested Electric Cargo Bikes
Chelsey Magness and Seiji Ishii did the bulk of our electric cargo bike testing. Magness is an adventure racing world champion and mother of two. She lives a two-wheeled life at home, both training and running family and business errands via pedal power. She is a long-time contributor to GearJunkie in the cycling category and draws from an extensive and deep well of experience and knowledge in both the competitive and lifestyle branches of cycling.
Ishii has been involved with cycling for nearly four decades, starting with road racing in the 1980s. He watched mountain biking explode, road racing implode, and witnessed the emergence of both gravel bikes and e-bikes. And through it all, he has been a cycling dork through and through. He started as a freelance cycling and climbing contributor to GearJunkie and now resides as the cycling and climbing editor.
Both Magness and Ishii have tested and continue to test countless bicycles and all related gear at GearJunkie, including e-bikes. For this buyer’s guide, our experienced cyclists ran personal, business, and family errands aboard as many electric cargo bikes as they could get their legs over.
They ran short errands across smooth pavement in urban areas to longer missions in remote areas (Ishii had to ride over 2 miles on dirt to get his mail and five times further to get groceries). Magness often carried multiple children and pets, while Ishii hauled tools all over his property while maintaining wells, fences, and outbuildings. The electric cargo bikes proved to be insanely useful and appreciated.
Some bikes operated flawlessly and smoothly for the test duration, while others fell apart or failed within the first few miles. This curated list represents thousands of miles of cumulative riding, hundreds of hours of assembly and maintenance, and equal amounts of frustration and joy. We did the hard work for you, suffered the disappointments, and reported the good finds so you can spend your hard-earned money wisely. We realize any bike on this list is a significant investment.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose an Electric Cargo Bike
Before delving into our buyer’s guide, it’s wise to discern how you will really use a cargo bike. The type, size, and weight of your intended cargo will help determine the style of electric cargo bike that will suit you best. The terrain, road or off-road surface, time of riding, urban versus rural, and weather also impact significant choices like wheel size, tire type, lighting needs, seating, and security. Storage space is also a concern, especially in urban environments.
The first thing to consider, though, is the style of electric cargo bike you need.
Electric Cargo Bike Styles
Long-john bike: These have the cargo box up front with the front wheel stretched out in front of you. Some also have the capacity for another passenger to ride on the back. This style takes some practice when you first get on, as it handles a little differently than a traditional bike.
Longtail bike: These ride more like traditional bikes and can fit up to three small passengers (kids) riding on the tail. Most can also fit a clip-on seat for younger kids (9 months and up).
Front-load trike: These have two wheels and the cargo box in front. This stable style can fit as many as four kids in the box and sometimes an extra kid or panniers on the back. We tested the Bunch Original Family Cargo Bike and really appreciate the utility, though the three-wheel design limits its maneuverability.
What Are You Hauling?
Before starting your search, ask yourself what you will use the bike for most. Grocery shopping? Kid pickups and dropoffs? Delivering pizzas? Taking your dog to the dog park? Hauling the boards to the local surf wave? All of the above? When you narrow your search down in this way before you start looking at the options, it makes it less overwhelming.
The size of what you are hauling can determine the type of e-cargo bike, while the total weight of passengers and items plays into the carrying capacity. You will need both the ability to hold the sheer volume of your items and the weight of intended cargo plus passengers.
New electric cargo bikes can range from as low as $1,800 to as high as $8,000.
Cargo boxes, panniers, front boxes, kickstands, and kid seats can cost extra and add to the total cost quickly. However, after doing a quick search of our local Craigslist and Facebook online market groups, we found accessory options being sold at significant savings over new.
Identifying your longest average commute will give you a good idea of what kind of range you will require to avoid running out of battery life before the next planned charge. Endless combinations of battery capacity and motor current draw produce the stated range. It’s best to err on the conservative side when calculating the range, as load, wind, and other factors can all have an effect.
More electric cargo bikes are coming out with the option of either attaching or hot-swapping an additional battery to extend the range between charges.
An often overlooked factor is the storage space an electric cargo bike will require, which can be more than a standard e-bike. Outside of folding cargo bikes, many electric cargo bikes occupy a lot of space. Some, like longtail versions, require substantial length, and front load trikes are much wider.
Some electric cargo bike brands like Bunch understand that their models demand significant storage space and offer an outdoor cover to protect them while being stored outside.
Security of both the bike and cargo can be an issue, especially in urban centers. Many electric cargo bikes can be virtually locked via the app; this means the bike is electrically actuated to prevent someone from either riding it or rolling it away. Some bikes include a built-in security cable and lock for physically and visually protecting the bike from theft. Of course, you can always use a standard bike lock and cable.
Electric cargo bikes can also have locking cargo areas.
Commuting in Adverse Weather
Die-hard cyclists and dedicated commuters know that the weather makes no guarantees. What starts as a dry ride can quickly turn into a downpour. There are a couple of accessories and features you should consider if you plan to roll, regardless of whether the sun shows or not.
Regardless of the electric cargo bike type, you will undoubtedly, at some point, need to protect whatever it is that you are hauling from precipitation. Some brands offer dedicated and fitted covers for the storage area of their bikes. If not, the bike will need a way to attach some type of cover or secure a dry bag, etc.
Some brands have accessories that can help protect passengers from the elements as well, such as canopies. It’s worth noting that such accessories can create a lot of drag, reducing both speed and battery life.
Electric cargo bikes can carry more volume and weight than a standard e-bike. They have baskets, platforms, and other means to accommodate cargo. The frames, motors, wheels, and other components must be able to handle the added stresses from carrying potentially hundreds of pounds more than a single passenger e-bike.
The assistance provided by the electric motor of an electric cargo bike makes riding with heavy loads much easier and feasible, especially over longer distances. The baskets, platforms, seating arrangements, and the large carrying capacity of electric cargo bikes truly open up possibilities that cannot exist on a standard bicycle or e-bike. Many electric cargo bikes can replace cars for daily errands, especially in urban environments. There are more electric cargo bike options than there are standard cargo bikes for these reasons.
The additional and higher quality chassis and wheel materials, larger battery and motor capacity, and extra features and accessories to handle the higher load ratings and passengers greatly add to the costs of electric cargo bikes.
Most e-bikes can go 20 mph, but some can go as fast as 28 mph. Some brands limit the speed of cargo bikes for safety reasons beyond what the class rating demands. For instance, the Bunch Original 3.0 is limited to 15 mph by the factory but can be changed by the user.