For over a century, people have relied on the durable design of cargo bikes to deliver everything from tulips to milk and mail. And it’s not hard to figure it out: They hold a ton, are easy to navigate, and, when compared to a car, have substantially lower maintenance costs. (Bonus: They don’t burn fossil fuels, instead settling on igniting your quads.) These days, there are plenty of family-friendly options available — and improved electric motor technology makes it easier than ever to leave the car at home. Need to pick up groceries, pedal your kids to school, carry a surfboard, or transport a cello? A cargo bike can do it all, and it does it with ease.
If you live in an area with mostly flat roads, you may be able to get away without an electric motor. For that reason, we’ve included a human-powered option below. But load multiple kids and a bag of supplies or two, and you’ll likely want a little help with the pedaling, which is why the rest on this list provide an electronic assist. (Just make sure the bike you choose has enough battery range to cover your daily routine.) We’ve also noted which bikes can be outfitted with a backup battery, which is godsend if you have a lot of ground to cover.
Most cargo bikes are designed so that you can configure them to meet your specific needs, but accessories can add up quickly: Be sure to factor in the cost of child seats, racks, utility bags, and the like when choosing your bike.
Best Electric Bike on a Budget
When riding a loaded bike, a low center of gravity improves stability. With that in mind, Blix designed the Packa with 24-inch wheels, which are a size smaller than your classic beach cruiser. The step-through frame is convenient for urban riding, where stopping at intersections or hopping off to run errands is unavoidable. Blix uses a motor on the rear wheel, rather than the bottom bracket, and a basic 7-speed drivetrain handles shifting. Tektro mechanical disc brakes, rather than hydraulic-powered brakes, should provide ample stopping power in most conditions and help keep the price down. The Packa ships with a basic rear rack and footrests, and Blix uses a “smart mount” system to ease the process of customizing your ride. Additional accessories such as child seats, additional racks, handrails and cushions for the rear rack, and baskets are sold separately. The Packa has a range of 70 miles per battery charge and an optional upgrade makes it possible to run two batteries. The Packa has a maximum cargo capacity of 200 pounds. Buy this bike if: You are on a budget and want to customize your set-up.
Best Bike for Hilly Terrain
An experienced player in the ebike market, Rad Power has refined their signature RadWagon cargo bike. The latest edition, the RadWagon 4 includes a more powerful hub-mounted motor with a 45-mile range. This upgrade makes the RadWagon 4 a good choice if you live in a hilly area. While the RadWagon 4 is priced similarly to the Blix, the motor offers a bit more oomph for grinding uphill. For the RadWagon 4, Rad Power keeps it simple with reliable 7-speed shifting and cable-actuated disc braking. In an effort to lower the center of gravity, Rad Power chooses 22-inch tires for the RadWagon 4. At three inches wide, the tires should add stability on the road. The tires are a non-standard size, and you will need to order replacements from Rad Power. Ample stand-over and a telescoping seatpost make it easy for riders of all sizes to hop on the RadWagon and head out. Additional accessories, such as bags, child seats, and footrests, are sold separately, so you can build out your RadWagon to suit your specific needs. The RadWagon 4 has a weight capacity of 350 pounds. Buy this bike if: You want a reliable, affordable cargo bike, and have some hills to climb.
Best Bike for Large Loads
With the Spicy Curry, Yuba set out to create a cargo bike that will carry just about anything. Pack it up with your kids, your groceries, Jaxton’s string bass: It will most likely fit on this long hauler cargo bike. The Spicy Curry ships with a 30-inch long rear rack, which you can customize to suit your needs. Add a child seat or foot rests, and you’re ready to go. Quality Shimano 10-speed components provide accurate shifting, and a Bosch motor built into the bottom bracket brings the power. The Spicy Curry also includes Magura hydraulic brakes, which should offer secure braking even when the bike is fully loaded. A 20-inch wheel in the rear helps keep the center of gravity low, and the Spicy Curry rolls on 2.4-inch tires for added stability. Yuba offers a full range of accessories to build out your dream bike, from child seats to baskets. The Spicy Curry might just replace your car entirely. Buy this bike if: You plan to carry large loads and use your cargo bike instead of a car.
Best Human-Powered Cargo Bike
Maybe you live in an area where hills are few and far between, or you have a plan to improve your fitness this year. Enjoy putting in the effort and aren’t at all afraid to sweat? Skip the motor, and get this. The XtraCycle Swoop XPP boasts all the capacity of a cargo bike, but it runs on human power. A small rear wheel keeps the center of gravity low, even with a full load on the back. We like that the Swoop ships ready to ride: The stock set-up includes a padded bench, handrail system, footrests, and two cargo bags. A child seat for younger kids is sold separately. A center kickstand keeps the bike stable while loading and unloading, and we like the convenience of a step-through frame for urban riding. This frame design can also more readily accommodate shorter riders. And if the thought of pedaling your kids around town sounds daunting, XtraCycle offers two electric-assist models of the Swoop starting at $5115. Buy this bike if: You want a cargo bike that’s ready to go out of the box, and you aren’t afraid to sweat.
Best Bike for Carrying Kids
The distinctive front-loaded silhouette of the Urban Arrow is a common sight on the bikeways of Amsterdam. This design places the cargo weight close to the ground, which helps improve stability, and in wet or cold conditions, it makes it easy to keep the elements out. Urban Arrow constructs the passenger compartment from EPP, which is similar to the material used in bike helmets and offers some protection from impacts. The passenger compartment also includes a three-point safety belt, and there are mounts for a child seat. A Bosch motor on the bottom bracket provides the power, and the Urban Arrow Family comes equipped with front and rear lights. The Urban Arrow Family has a maximum carrying weight of 275 pounds for the rider and 275 pounds for the passenger compartment. Accessories such as a rain cover, rear rack, and baby seat are sold separately. Buy this bike if: Your main goal is to carry your kids, and you plan to ride, rain or shine.
Best Cargo Bike for Small Spaces
A tricked-out cargo bike can be a cumbersome beast, and urban living can place storage at a premium. Tern understands, and has designed the GSD S10 to fit in small spaces. The GSD is roughly the same length as a regular bike, but it has enough space to carry up to two child seats or a solid haul of groceries. The Tern GSD S10 also folds when it’s not in use, so it’s easy to stash in a closet or slide it in the back of a compact SUV. Shimano is the gold standard for shifting components, and 10-speed Deore offers accurate and quick shifting. The GSD S10 features an industry-leading Bosch motor with a max speed of 20mph. Tern includes Magura disc brakes with 180mm rotors. The larger-sized rotors offer increased stopping and are a nice addition for carrying heavy loads. The GSD S10 is rated up to 400 pounds, and a dual-battery option increases its range to 120 miles between charges. We especially like the integrated locking system. The GSD S10 ships with a rack and bag, additional accessories such as child seats are sold separately. Buy this bike if: You want the advantages of a cargo bike, but you have limited storage space.
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