Running Errands, Getting Groceries, Replacing the mini-van: An electric cargo bicycle is a new breed of vehicle, half bicycle, half electric vehicle. The Mundo Cargo Utility Bicycle rides like a regular bike and gives you the capacity to haul at least 6 large bags of groceries. You can then save money, conserve resources, stay healthy, change your mobility, and transform your world.
It’s impressive just how traditional a finish they’ve achieved for a pedal-assist bike, especially considering the motor uses Kinetic Energy Recovery to charge itself (like F1 Cars). Firing up the motor is achieved by back-pedaling three times (while travelling over 8mph). It’s a neat idea, and a clever way of doing away with those cables and switches, but in reality it’s fiddly. Riding in the city we occasionally felt ridiculous on a busy street pedaling backward rather than forward to kick off the assist. It’s also a chore getting the bike to speed and going through the motion to activate in tight spaces such as underground garages or on an incline.
This bike is designed for quick handling and high speeds, and not for comfort per se. The Focus is all about form following function. This is both good and bad: you have a bike that is sleek, powerful and nimble, but you also are going to be crouched over the front wheel for better control, gripping no-nonsense grips and riding a saddle meant for performance, not cruising.
This bike is designed for hauling. The Yuba Spicy Curry has a combined capacity of 500lbs (200lbs on the front including rider, and 300lbs of passengers or cargo on the back). To help move this weight, you’d expect a decent motor, and the Bosch Performance Line CX delivers. Normally only found on mountain bikes, the 75Nm of torque makes light work of hills, even with the heavy load.
Information about the company’s two co-founders is scant. Storm Sondors has left virtually no trail behind him on the Internet, save for a seldom-used YouTube account. Jon Hopp is a film editor working for a Los Angeles marketing firm. His Facebook account displays photos of two fat-tire bikes virtually identical to the Storm eBike, sporting logos from different manufacturers.
Prices have rarely been this low, with perhaps only the Xiaomi Himo electric bike that we covered costing less, at $261. Of course that e-bike is only available in China for now, unlike the Stark Drive Mini that can ship to the US, albeit for an extra $200 shipping fee. (Spoiler alert: I was able to procure a Xiaomi Himo via a friend in China, and assuming I can get it into the country, we’ll have that review coming up.)
Both land management regulators and mountain bike trail access advocates have argued for bans of electric bicycles on outdoor trails that are accessible to mountain bikes, citing potential safety hazards as well as the potential for electric bikes to damage trails. A study conducted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, however, found that the physical impacts of low-powered pedal-assist electric mountain bikes may be similar to traditional mountain bikes.
And then add in all of the other e-bike parts including motors, batteries, throttles, speed controllers, etc. All of these parts are mass-produced in China. They simply aren’t available in the US and no one is designing them or manufacturing them. The US would likely have to start by reverse engineering the Chinese products and learning how they produce them. How’s that for irony?
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.