The Rising Popularity of Cargo Bikes
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The Rising Popularity of Cargo Bikes

Although cargo bikes have been in use in one form or another for over a hundred years, there has been a sudden increase in the popularity of cargo bikes in recent years. What are cargo bikes being used for, and what are the reasons for their sudden popularity?
Published: Mar 08, 2022
The Rising Popularity of Cargo Bikes

Cargo Bikes, a Growing Trend

Perhaps you have noticed lately the new cargo delivery bikes, stacked with packages, effortlessly making their way through busy city traffic. Or you have some happy kids kids sitting in the front of a cargo bike enjoying a ride through the park with mom or dad at the peddles. Maybe you have wondered, “What is it that has made cargo bikes so popular recently, and would a cargo bike be suitable for me?”

According to the European Cargo Bike Industry Survey Results for 2021, total sales of cargo bikes in Europe reached over 33,000 bikes. That number grew to nearly 45,000 bikes in 2020, and was expected to reach over 75,000 bikes for 2021. That meant that cargo bike sales had an annual increase of over 38% in 2020, and was projected to have a 66% increase in 2021.

Another recent trend has been towards electric powered cargo bikes. Survey results also showed that presently 92% of cargo bikes are E-cargo bikes, and only 8% are non-motorized. Comparing the number of cargo bikes to traditional two-wheel bicycles, cargo bikes accounted for 2% of the total bikes sales in the German market in 2020.

Cargo bikes are quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. as well, and the past few years has seen a marked increase in the number of electric cargo bicycles in the U.S. The bike industry forecasts that despite recent supply chain constraints and components shortages hampering the industry, cargo bike sales will continue to grow rapidly.

Cargo Bikes for Business and Family

Cargo bikes are fulfilling both economic and recreational purposes. In city centers, electric cargo bikes are able to deliver parcels faster than delivery trucks and vans. With the increase in online shopping prompted by the pandemic, home deliveries have soared in recent years. For quick delivery, especially in urban centers, cargo bikes can bypass traffic jams, take shortcuts through narrow streets, and more easily find parking, all leading to quicker deliveries. Cargo bikes greatly reduce carbon emissions compared with gas- and diesel-powered delivery vehicles. Air pollution is also significantly reduced.

For the bicycle enthusiast who wants to take the kids along, heading out for a ride through the park or down to the beach could be complicated. But now safe cargo bikes come with soft padded carrying compartments that make the ride fun and safe for all. The kids will love it if they get to ride along in comfort in the front of a cargo bike.

Buying a Cargo Bike

A cargo bike can open up a whole new world of business opportunities, and can make for fun outings with the family, but due to their design and construction, in order to maximize performance and safety, a cargo bike will have enhanced features and require a bigger investment than a traditional bike, so you will want to consider your purchase carefully. While basic models can start at around US$700, larger, professional, electric models can go up to US$5,000 or more, so you will want to consider your budget, how are you going to use your bike, and where you will be storing it.

You will want to consider carefully what you will be carrying. If you will be carrying light parcels for delivery, you will want a bike that is light and quick to maneuver. If you will be carrying heavier boxes, or taking your kids out over the trails, you will want to choose a sturdy bike, that can handle the cargo, have the strength to be safe on the road.

As many retailers realize that their customers will be new to cargo bikes, they will often let you rent one to try out, and offer a deduction of the rental cost on an eventual purchase. Whatever you do, it is highly recommended that you test drive a few models, and get a feel for a few different bikes before you choose the one you want to buy.

Types of Cargo Bikes

There is a range of ingenious designs and engineering features that allow cargo bikes to be adapted to different uses, but cargo bikes are commonly divided into two general categories.

  • Front-box:
    Where the cargo compartment is in front of the handle bars and behind the front wheel. These look somewhat like a wheelbarrow combined with a bicycle.
  • Long Tail:
    Where the cargo box is behind the rider. Both designs have their pros and cons. A front-box type, with its lower center of gravity, can carry larger loads, but is not as maneuverable, and will take practice to learn to ride at slower speeds. A longtail maneuvers more like a regular bicycle, but because the weight is carried higher up, the cargo can be more difficult to control.
  • Three wheel/tricycle:
    Cargo bikes are also available. These front-box bikes have two wheels at the front, on either side of the cargo box. They are more stable than two-wheel bikes, but are heavier, and because they handle differently, will take a little getting used to.

When taking corners with a three-wheel bike, the steering mechanism will control the leaning of the front tires. It is more like steering a car than leaning into a turn like on a regular bike. Having a third wheel will give extra stability, which is an advantage when riding slowly, or stopping in traffic. When parking, it will remain stable, which can be very helpful when organizing your cargo.

Electric Cargo Bikes

With the added weight in a cargo bike, it is no surprise that over 90% of cargo bikes are now electrically assisted. With the addition of electric assist, cargo bikes have become extremely practical in improving delivery services. Especially in hilly areas or when carrying heavier loads, electric cargo bikes allow cyclists to make deliveries farther and faster. With improvements in battery technology, amazing battery lifetimes allow for very long periods of use before needing recharging or battery exchange.

The downside of e-bikes is that they are still quite high-priced. They will generally be about twice the price of a similar size and style bike without the electric assist.

Is a Cargo Bike Easy to Ride?

If you are confident at riding a bicycle, you should adapt easily to a cargo bike. The most difficult part of the getting used to a cargo bike is learning to maneuverer the cargo basket. With a front-box bike, the center of gravity is very low and close to the front of the bike, which makes riding very stable. With a little bit of practice, you will get used to riding a cargo bike very quickly.

One important thing you will want to pay attention to when loading your bike is the weight distribution of your cargo. If the cargo is not centered it will cause your bike to feel unsteady and pull to one side, making it harder to control and ride in a straight line. So, it is important to always distribute your cargo as evenly as possible and secure it so that it does not shift while riding.

When carrying heavier loads, you should also allow for a longer braking distance. Be sure you know the weight limit of your bike, and don’t exceed the weight limit determined by the manufacturer. With the longer the wheelbase of a cargo bike, you will also need to allow for wider turning.

Tips for Cycling with Children

When carrying children, think ahead and be prepared to compensate for any unexpected movements. Know your route ahead of time, especially riding on off-road paths. Unexpected events could cause sudden shifts, which might make handling difficult. Watch for bumps and changes in the road surface and be prepared to maneuver around them. When slowing down or stopping, apply the brakes gradually, to avoid sudden shifting. With extra weight on-board, it may take longer than you think to stop.

Trends for the Future

With the increased emphasis on green and sustainable energy, cargo bikes are offering a significant solution. With the political landscape changing, many countries have or are considering offering financial incentives in the form of subsidies for bicycles and electric powered vehicles. In Germany for example a proposal was put forth by the Green Party to give a €1,000 subsidy on every cargo bike. With the increasing popularity of cargo bikes, and increased government support, expect to see further expansion of cargo bikes, and especially electric cargo bikes in the future.

Published by Mar 08, 2022 Source :cyclelogistics

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