What are the different types of electric cargo bike?-A Guide You Need To Know

What are the different types of electric cargo bike?-A Guide You Need To Know

Reflect for an instant; the mean duration of a motorized vehicle trek in the UK is scarcely 10 miles. This is a distance that, from our perspective, could be comfortably traversed via a bicycle. Imagine emancipation from the tiresome gridlock of road traffic, the unending quest for a parking slot, all while indulging in a soothing, yet invigorating exercise regimen. This idyllic scenario is what the cargo bike brings to the table.

Generally, cargo bikes are supplemented with an electric motor, obviating the necessity for Herculean endurance or the distress of reaching your destination in a state of exhaustion. At its core, a cargo bike offers a substantial carriage capacity: progeny, sundry groceries, packages, the list goes on. Its utility is nearly on par with a motor vehicle, but the experience it offers is substantially more thrilling.

We aren't suggesting a hasty discarding of your vehicle followed by an impetuous acquisition of a cargo bike. Instead, it is a call to deliberate over the prospect of gradually incorporating a cargo bike into your routine, thereby reducing your dependence on your vehicle, enhancing personal fitness, and playing a part in preserving our delicate planet. This is by no means an unthinkable prospect.

 To jumpstart your journey, we offer an exhaustive guide to cargo bikes.

Concerned about protecting your cargo bike from theft, wreckage, and myriad other unforeseen circumstances? We provide a customized cargo bike insurance that's designed precisely for such contingencies.

Table of Contents

  • Assorted Genres of Cargo Bike
  • The Financial Commitment for Cargo Bikes
  • Is Insurance an Absolute Necessity for a Cargo Bike?
  • The Coverage Broadness of Cargo Bike Insurance
  • Additional Considerations While Investing in a Cargo Bike
  • FAQs

Varieties of Cargo Bike

Predominantly, the cargo bikes obtainable in the current marketplace are augmented with a motor to aid in the haulage of your cargo. The 'Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle' or EAPC, which powers on upon pedalling initiation, is notably the most ubiquitous type of electric bike in the UK. This attribute is fondly termed 'pedal assist'. As per existing UK e-bike regulations, the motor can provide up to 250 watts of assistance, up to a speed ceiling of 15.5mph. Upon exceeding this speed or engaging in freewheeling, the assistance is instantaneously discontinued.

In most instances, we recommend the adoption of an electric cargo bike (e-cargo bike). This selection is likely to elevate your overall biking experience and extend the potential of your bike. Despite the myriad variations saturating the market, the three key categories of cargo bikes are front-loading cargo bikes, rear-loading cargo bikes, and commercial cargo bikes.

1. Front Loading

Fore-loading Configuration
Front load cargo bike can be bifurcated into two distinct types. The first one resembles the quintessential town bike, equipped with a basket up front, while the second type is engineered for more hefty tasks.
Fore-loading cargo bikes offer a hassle-free cargo loading experience as the weight placement marginally influences the bike's maneuverability. The "town bike" front loaders are comparatively effortless to stow away. However, the bucket-style bikes rapidly escalate into a storage conundrum due to their larger dimensions. They are usually longer and broader than other cargo bike types, rendering storage or transportation somewhat challenging.

There are numerous iterations of the fore-loading configuration, such as:

Utility/City Bikes

These are conventional bicycles, bolstered with reinforced frames to shoulder heavier loads. Imagine a Dutch-style city bike with a front basket but with a smidge more room. These bikes are crafted for daily usage and are more apt for transporting smaller loads, such as a rucksack or groceries. In most instances, the need for an electronic variant is negligible.

Cycle Trucks

Picture a flat-back truck in reverse and you get the idea of a cycle truck. These are specifically designed with a smaller front wheel to accommodate a flat rack, which can either house a box or carry any other type of cargo. These cycle trucks bear a strong resemblance to utility or city bikes but feature a slightly divergent geometry, typically accompanied by more storage space.

Long John/Basket Bicycles

'Long John' cargo bikes are robust, fore-loading bicycles traditionally designed with basket-style storage in the front. They are particularly adept at carrying bulky items. They are also an optimal choice for transporting children, with a myriad of modifications available to ensure a safe journey for the young riders. If you pedal through all weather conditions, a fore-loading bike is preferable, as it simplifies the task of protecting your valuable cargo, be it children or your weekly groceries, with a weatherproof cover.

Basket bicycles are hefty, but their potential for carrying a myriad of items is boundless. Should you contemplate acquiring a basket bike, it would be prudent to consider the electric variant!

 Tricycle Cargo Bike

Cargo tricycles are merely tri-wheeled adaptations of the Long John model. The three-wheel configuration provides enhanced stability during rides and they have swiftly risen in popularity among parents for the school run with their children.

2. Rear Loaders/Extended Tails

Extended tail cargo bikes bear a striking resemblance to your regular bicycle, merely distinguished by an elongated rear. For those constrained by storage space, they serve as superior options due to their narrower width compared to their front-loading peers. Furthermore, sans cargo, they provide a more conventional cycling experience, amplifying their versatility.
Rear loaders are engineered to transport both cargo and children, however, it's worth noting that they can't shoulder as much weight as front loaders. Laden with substantial weight, they might feel a tad unsettling to navigate initially.

This genre of cargo bike is ideal for children who have mastered the skill of maintaining their balance but aren't yet capable of embarking on lengthy rides. 

 3. Commercial Cargo Bikes/Trikes

Commercial cargo bikes are beginning to permeate urban landscapes with increasing frequency. Most commonly designed in a tricycle format for enhanced stability, these cargo bikes embody the concept of "micro-mobility," superseding traditional petrol-fueled vehicles. Despite their formidable size, they still fall within the legal definition of "e-bikes."

In the year 2020, close to 2,000 cargo bikes were procured for commercial purposes. They come in a diverse array of designs and dimensions. Ranging from the local bakery transporting their freshly baked goods in a bucket-style front loader, to giants like Amazon employing what can only be described as miniaturized delivery vans.

How Much Do Cargo Bikes Cost?

As you venture into the world of cargo bikes, one question may prominently cross your mind: How much will it set me back? The cost of cargo bikes, often referred to as utility bikes, varies dramatically. From the price of a budget laptop to that of a compact family car, this range typically depends on the type and features of the model.

The costs for smaller, city-friendly cargo bikes, or compact cargo bikes as they are commonly known, hover around a few hundred pounds. On the other hand, more extensive, heavy-duty cargo bikes command a price tag upwards of £1,000.

Electric Innovation and Its Price

Introduce electric assistance into the mix, and you're looking at an entirely different ballpark. An electric cargo bike, or an electric bakfiets as it's traditionally known, may cost you anywhere between £1,500 and £8,000. These include specialized designs such as the three-wheel cargo bike and the electric cargo tricycle, both of which offer enhanced stability and increased cargo capacity.

The True Value of E-Cargo Bikes

Despite the seemingly high upfront cost, it's worth considering the potential savings these bikes provide. By replacing the majority of your short car journeys with an e-cargo bike, you can substantially cut costs related to fuel, parking, insurance, and general vehicle wear and tear.

So, while the initial price may seem steep, it's important to remember the long-term financial benefits. An electric bike with extra seat, for instance, not only allows you to carry cargo but also an additional passenger, doubling up as a cost-effective, eco-friendly transportation alternative.

Affordable Cargo Bikes: A Reality

In addition to high-end models, the market also offers affordable cargo bikes. These options, while lower in price, still deliver in terms of functionality and reliability, making the dream of owning a cargo bike attainable for many. 

 Electric Bikes with Storage and Their Advantages

Adding another feather to their cap, many cargo bikes come equipped with built-in storage solutions. Electric bikes with storage not only simplify cargo transport but also make for a handy companion for grocery runs, school drop-offs, and even picnics in the park.

More Than Just Savings

Beyond financial considerations, the value of a cargo bike extends into the realm of personal health and well-being. Using one regularly provides ample exercise and gives you more time outdoors – a feature that's undeniably priceless!

In summary, while the costs of cargo bikes, especially full suspension cargo bikes or e-cargo models, may vary greatly, the long-term benefits they offer in terms of cost savings, health, and environmental impact make them a worthwhile investment.

Is Insurance Required for a Cargo Bike? 

Cargo bikes, owing to their unique nature and use, come with a set of regulations and guidelines, especially when they are equipped with electric assistance. In the UK, there is no legal obligation to obtain insurance for a cargo bike as long as it complies with the stipulated requirements for an 'Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle' (EAPC).

The key conditions that define an EAPC include:

  1. The maximum power output from the motor should not exceed 250 watts.
  2. The motor's assistance to pedalling should not exceed 15.5mph or 25kph.


Navigating the Rules for E-Cargo Bikes

When it comes to electric bikes, there are additional considerations. Hence, it's crucial to understand the rules before investing in an e-cargo bike. Most models available through UK retailers adhere to these regulations.

However, there are exceptions, especially with the emerging popularity of 'High Speed' or 'HS' models. These variants often offer motor assistance up to 45kph, potentially pushing them outside the EAPC rules. Therefore, always ensure to review your cargo bike's specifications with the seller to avoid unforeseen issues.

Motor-Powered Vehicle Classification: What Does It Mean?

If your e-cargo bike doesn't fit within the EAPC parameters, it might be classified as a motor-powered vehicle. This categorization implies additional responsibilities such as registration, taxation, licensing, and, yes, mandatory insurance to legally use it on public roads.

Cargo Bike Insurance: An Optional Safety Net

While insurance isn't a legal requirement for standard cargo bikes, it's still a consideration many owners take seriously. Given the significant investment involved, many choose to secure their cargo bike with specialist insurance. This type of coverage serves to protect the owner from unexpected repair or replacement costs.

Moreover, considering the substantial size of cargo bikes, public liability insurance is another layer of protection that many owners opt for. This type of insurance provides coverage in case an accident leads to injury to others or damage to property.

In conclusion, while insurance may not be legally required for cargo bikes under specific regulations, it is often deemed a wise investment by owners. The financial protection and peace of mind it offers are seen by many as invaluable.


Decoding Cargo Bike Insurance: What's Included?

Specialised cargo bike insurance, such as the one offered by Pedalsure, provides comprehensive coverage tailored to the unique needs of cargo bike owners. With a potential replacement value up to £15,000, this type of insurance covers various aspects, allowing you to customise your coverage as per your requirements.

Theft Protection

Firstly, this insurance provides coverage against theft. Should your cargo bike be stolen, whether from your home or while you're out, you can claim its value from your insurance provider. This offers a level of financial security that can provide much-needed peace of mind.

Damage Coverage

In addition, cargo bike insurance also offers coverage for any damage to your bike. If your cargo bike has been accidentally damaged or vandalised, the insurance will cover the repair costs, saving you from unexpected expenses.

Accessory Insurance

An often overlooked but valuable feature of cargo bike insurance is the coverage for accessories and personal items. With protection up to £1,000, this includes items like your helmet, lights, panniers, and more. This way, even the smaller yet essential components of your cycling experience are protected.

Personal Injury Compensation

In the unfortunate event of an accident on the road leading to personal injury, cargo bike insurance can provide compensation. This financial support can help manage medical costs and other related expenses, helping to ease the burden of the incident.

Public Liability Coverage

Finally, an essential aspect of cargo bike insurance is public liability coverage. If another individual gets injured or their property gets damaged while you're riding your cargo bike, and they decide to claim against you, this coverage ensures you're protected.

In conclusion, cargo bike insurance is a comprehensive safety net that covers various aspects, from theft and damage to personal injury and public liability. It offers a highly customisable approach, allowing you to select exactly what you want in your coverage, providing you with the peace of mind you need to fully enjoy your cargo bike experience.


Key Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Cargo Bike

Embarking on the journey of buying a cargo bike comes with a variety of factors to contemplate. From assessing the battery life to storage and safety, each of these aspects plays a pivotal role in your overall cargo bike experience.

Assessing Battery Life

The battery life of an e-cargo bike can be quite varied and depends on multiple elements. While technological advancements continue to enhance battery performance, factors such as the weight being carried, the level of assist used, and the terrain play a significant role in the battery's lifespan. As a ballpark figure, a fully charged e-cargo bike is typically expected to deliver a range of approximately 50km, or around 30 miles.

Storage Considerations

Given their substantial size, cargo bikes do pose certain challenges when it comes to storage. They are not designed to be carried up and down stairs and therefore demand a spacious and accessible storage area. A garage is an ideal spot, but in its absence, it's advisable to adopt a "motorbike-like" treatment. Investing in a Combination Lock and a protective cover can go a long way in ensuring your cargo bike's longevity. Certain local councils also offer designated storage spaces for cargo bikes, although these can be somewhat sparse and inconvenient.

It's important to note that your insurance provider may have specific requirements for the lock and storage of your cargo bike. For instance, Pedalsure necessitates the use of a Gold-rated Sold Secure lock. Always make sure to read your insurer's policy meticulously to avoid any breaches in the terms.

Safety Measures

While riding a cargo bike isn't drastically different from riding a regular bike, it's vital to adhere to best practices to ensure your safety on the road. Although not legally binding, recommendations such as wearing brightly coloured clothing, equipping your bike with front and rear lights (regardless of day or night), and wearing a helmet are strongly advised.

To summarise, buying a cargo bike involves considerations beyond just the price. Factors such as battery life, storage, and safety should be equally weighed to ensure you make the most informed decision and enjoy a fulfilling cargo biking experience.


To round off our discussion on cargo bikes, let's tackle some of the most commonly asked questions.

Are cargo bikes frequently stolen?

Regrettably, cargo bikes, much like regular bicycles, are susceptible to theft. Given the high value of these bikes and their components, especially the batteries in e-cargo bikes, they have become appealing targets for thieves. To safeguard your bike, always lock it properly when using it away from home and consider secure storage options, especially in spaces with limited room.

Do you require a license to ride a cargo bike?

As a general rule, you don't need a license to ride a cargo bike. However, an exception to this applies to certain e-cargo bikes, specifically those not classified as 'electrically assisted pedal cycles' (EAPCs) under current UK laws and regulations. These are usually 'high-speed' models, providing assistance beyond 15.5mph or equipped with a motor producing more than 250 watts of power. Bikes that don't meet the EAPC criteria will likely be classified as motorcycles or mopeds, requiring a driving license for operation.

What is the maximum speed of cargo bikes?

By law, the motor of an e-cargo bike must disengage once the bike hits a speed of 15.5mph or 25kph. However, non-compliant 'high-speed' variants are available, capable of assisting pedal power up to 45kph.

Navigating the world of cargo bikes can be complex, but armed with this information, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions, ensuring a safe and enjoyable cycling experience.

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