eCargo bike frequently asked questions

1. What is a cargo bike?

Cargo bikes are specially designed bikes and trikes for carrying heavy loads and large or bulky items. They come in a variety of sizes and designs depending on the intended use with two to four wheels. All of our fleet have electric assist which really helps with carrying heavy loads, travelling distances and getting up hills.

2. What can cargo bikes be used for?

Cargo bikes can be used for all sorts of things and they can be a great replacement for cars and vans for your local journeys. Businesses can use cargo bikes for

delivering to customers, carrying bulky items between sites or to jobs and collecting items and equipment. Our business cargo bike champions include a carpenter, a juicy bar, a café and a bakers. Elsewhere in the UK and Europe cargo bikes are commonly used for last mile deliveries, courier services and on-site distribution among other things.

Residents can use cargo bikes for carrying children, collecting shopping, trips to the recycling centre and carrying any other bulky or heavy items.

3. What is the weight capacity of the bikes and what can they carry?

The weight capacity of the bikes varies depending on the size of the ‘box’ at the front. The larger bikes can carry up to 100kg and as much bulk as you can fit in the box so long as your load is secured, or the lid is closed if it has a box.

If you add a Carla trailer to your bike you can carry considerably more weight and bulk – up to 200kg in the trailer alone. In Colchester, the Carla trailer has been used to carry armchairs, shelving units, fridges and even a cement mixer. Carla trailers are specifically designed to fit Euro Crate boxes for efficient stacking.

4. Who can use them?

Anyone who can ride a bike can use a cargo bike. You do not need a driving licence and you can ride them everywhere you can ride a bike including roads, cycle lanes and bus lanes.

Our cargo bikes come with 2 or 3 wheels. As the bikes are bulky and heavy, we insist that you complete the advanced adult cycle training so we are assured that you can ride to national cycle standards before we loan you one of our bikes. This is offered for free by Essex County Council.

5. How fast can they go?

All of our fleet is pedal assist which means you have to pedal but you can adjust the amount of electrical assistance you need – up to 250 watts. Legally the pedal assist can only assist up to 16 miles per hour however with your own added pedal power higher speeds can be reached.

6. How should I look after my battery?

Try not to let your battery get flat – aim to recharge it with between 30-60% capacity remaining. You should never let your battery get too hot or too cold, that means 0 to 20 degrees celsius for charging and storage, and -10 to 60 degrees celsius for riding.

From empty to full generally takes about 4 hours. Most of our chargers switch off when the battery is full, but you should unplug it when it is full to preserve battery health.

7. How far can I ride on a single charge?

This depends on which bike you are using and how you use it but you can expect a range of 15-90 miles. Making best use of the gears and different assist levels will maximise your range – for example trying to stay in lower assist modes and only using the ‘turbo’ modes for pulling away or hills.

The cargo bikes are easy to ride so in most cases, you should be able to stay in eco or tour mode most of the time therefore maximising the range of the battery. Every bike has a screen showing an estimated range at any given time so as long as you keep an eye on that you will not be caught short.

8. I would like to buy my own eCargo bike, how much do they cost?

Cargo bikes, like all vehicles, vary in price depending on your particular needs. The one thing you can be sure of is a greatly reduced fuel and maintenance bill in comparison to a car or a van (and no tax to pay either). 

Generally, the entry level cargo bikes without electric assist cost between £1,200 and £1,900. Additional or bespoke boxes or seats can cost between £500 to £1,000.

You can expect to pay an additional £1,500 to £2,000 for an electrically assisted cargo bike depending on power and range.

  • Entry level: pedal only cargo bike with open box or seats, £1,200 - £1,900.
  • Mid range: pedal only cargo bike with kids seats and rain cover, £1,400 - £2,300.
  • Top range: extended range electric assist extend with secure flight case or family seats, £3,900 - £6,000+.
  • Specialist: for highly specialised or very large bike and trikes £10,000+.

Retailers also offer rental or finance schemes with monthly payments so that you have more options when it comes to using a cargo bike.

9. Where can I get one?

We recommend that you purchase a cargo bike from a retailer as close to Colchester as possible, so if there are any warranty issues, your retailer is not too far away to help.

The nearest retailers with a range of cargo bikes are in Brentwood, Cambridge and London. However we do have local retailers in Colchester that can offer some options. Get in touch if you are thinking about buying an eCargo bike and we are happy to make introductions and recommendations to the retailers we already have connections with.

Every cargo bike rides differently, we strongly recommend you go and test ride your preferred cargo bike before you purchase.

10. Why are they more environmentally friendly than cars and vans?

eCargo bikes have zero tail pipe emissions so they do not contribute to air pollution or carbon emissions while they are being used.

eCargo bikes cut carbon emissions by as much as 90% compared with diesel vans. Although manufacturing and disposing of an eCargo bike creates some carbon emissions, over an eCargo bike’s lifecycle the overall carbon emissions are significantly lower than cars or vans by multiple tonnes.

Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to their corporate social responsibility by looking at what car and van journeys are generated by their business and the potential to replace them with cargo bikes either through their use directly or through using an eCargo Bike delivery service. Cargo bikes can deliver up to 60% faster than cars and vans in busy city centres. 

11. Does Colchester have its own cargo bike delivery service?

Yes. Colchester has its own home grown cargo bike delivery service, operating within a 5 mile radius of the city centre.

You can book a collection or delivery online and know that you won’t be contributing to carbon emissions or air pollution.

The cargo bike service has a variety of different sized bikes and a Carla trailer as mentioned in question 3 for carrying furniture and other large and bulky items. 

Find out more about the cargo bike delivery service 

12. Where can I park my eCargo bike and how can I keep it secure?

We recommend that you always secure your cargo bike when parked to an immovable object. You can use standard cycle parking, though be aware as the bike is longer and potentially wider you need a little bit more room.

Most cargo bikes come with a built in frame lock which is great for quick stops, however we also recommend that you lock your cargo bike with two sold secure gold locks when leaving it for more than a few minutes. All of our bikes come with a D lock, chain lock and frame lock. Remember to follow bicycle locking best practice.

Page last reviewed: 5 February 2024


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