Side view of a white Urban Arrow e-bike with cargo bin

The Best Cargo E-Bike for Commutes with Kids

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One of the things we are often asked by our friends and neighbors is what is the best e-bike to commute with kids. Maybe we’re asked about this so often because of the phase of life we’re in, since we have two small children, and our oldest is 2 years old as of the time I’m writing this. He started riding on our e-bikes with us when he was 9 months old and he absolutely loves it. He much prefers to be dropped off at daycare on the e-bike rather than our car. I also enjoy it because it’s fun bonding time with him that feels like an activity, rather than a commuting chore. We talk about the difference between turning left and right, we point out garbage trucks, we stop to look at construction sites, etc.

One thing to quickly note servicing any cargo e-bike is a bit of a chore. Make sure you have a dealer or bike shop close by that will service your cargo e-bike and take it in at least once a year for a general inspection and tune-up.

So, without further ado, here are our recommendations for the best family e-bikes for your commute with kids. Hope you can find the same joy I feel when riding my kiddo around on our e-bike!

Our Pick

Urban Arrow Family

Base price: $6,999

Est. price of additional accessories needed to carry two kids & their stuff: $0

Price of a rain cover: $400

What we like about it

The Urban Arrow is our top pick because it has great handling and is easy to maneuver while also having a ton of capacity to carry multiple kids and even groceries with no problem. The cargo box at the front of the bike can fit two kids, and there’s space to add a third Thule kid seat to the back. Having the kids in the cargo seat in front is super fun because they can see a whole lot more than if they’re sitting behind you. You can also keep an eye on them easily.

It has excellent high-quality accessories for the cargo box, like a rain cover, padded seats, seatbelts, etc. It comes with child restrain harnesses are lap and over the shoulder, which is much better at keeping the kids in one place. Since we’re writing to you from the Pacific Northwest, we’re all about the rain cover that provides complete coverage of the cargo area, unlike some others which only partially cover the kids.

Finally, we’re fans of the high-quality Bosch Cargo Line motor, which provides smooth power and a smooth ride so you aren’t jerking the kids around every time you accelerate.

Where it falls short

It’s not great for someone with a long commute since the average range is 30 miles. That said, that range should be reasonable for most people.

It is one of the longest bikes on this list at 107 inches, which takes a little getting used to. They do offer a shorter version, called Shorty, but it has a smaller cargo capacity.

It’s very heavy at 110 pounds, which means if you live in a walk-up apartment for example, it’s not your pick!

The saddle is not very comfortable, recommend that you switch it out for a Brooks saddle to save your butt.

What we’ve heard around town

  • “The saddle is uncomfortable, I switched mine out”
  • “Rain cover is amazing and easy to install/remove”
  • “Expanded foam box feels safer for kids in the city”
  • “Such a blast taking the whole family out together”

Runner Up

Yuba Spicy Curry

Base price: $5,199

Est. price of additional accessories needed to carry two kids & their stuff: $570

Price of a rain cover: $250

What we like about it

We like the Yuba Spicy Curry because Yuba has been designing and manufacturing cargo bikes since 2007, which means the bike has high-quality parts and quality frame construction. This is going to be one of the most reliable bikes.

Your kids can sit on the back bench, or you can also buy a Thule kids seat to add to the back. There are also lots of accessories to ensure the kids are comfortable on the back bench seat.

It has the same high-quality Bosch Cargo Line motor as the Urban Arrow, which provides smooth power and avoids a jerky acceleration for your kiddos. The Spicy Curry also includes a PowerPack 500 Battery which can handle up to 60 miles on a single charge. An impressive range for a cargo e-bike.

Finally, it has a very sturdy double kick stand to ensure the bike is stable when the kids are getting on and off.

Where it falls short

In general, we prefer the larger cargo box style bikes for commuting with kids due to the increased cargo capacity. For example, in the Urban Arrow you can carry three kids plus groceries, versus the Yuba Spicy Curry, which can handle two kids with limited carry capacity on a front rack for maybe a small kids backpack, etc. With this style of bike you can add rear wheel panniers and a front rack, but then the rear wheel panniers get in the way of the kids’ feet.

The rain cover for the rear bench seat doesn’t completely cover the kids, so if you live in a rainy climate this is probably not your pick. The rain cover leaves kids’ knees, shins, and feet exposed to the elements.

It’s also just less fun to have the kids on the back of the bike versus the front. You are sitting in front of them, which means you can’t see them and you’re blocking much of their view.

What we’ve heard around town

  • “Two kids on the bench seat consumes most of the cargo area of the bike”
  • “I like that it handles so much like a regular bike”
  • “Tackles the big hill on our commute no problem”
  • “The seat cushion is pretty hard and firm”
  • “The larger front wheel provides a smooth and stable ride”

All of the Rest

RadPower RadWagon 4

Base price: $1,999

Est. price of additional accessories needed to carry two kids & their stuff: $456

Price of a rain cover: $119

What we like about it

It’s hard to beat Rad’s affordability. This is a solid choice for commuting with kids on a much smaller budget than our top picks above. It would be a great first e-bike for a family with the entry level pricing. We like that it comes with built-in lights, a bell, and rain guards for the wheels. The kids can sit on the back by adding a bench or Thule seats.

It’s a versatile e-bike because it can carry a lot of weight (350 lb. payload capacity) and handles the weight well. It feels natural to ride and is easy to maneuver, very similar to riding their other bikes, such as the Rad City.

It’s frame is the low step-thru style, which makes it easy for people of all sizes to ride, which is especially handy if you’re trading off which parent commutes with the kids to and from school.

Where it falls short

They’ve had a recall due to safety issues with their tires on the RadWagon. Some customers have been able to get them swapped out, others have reported having issues returning the bikes. Granted, managing a recall is a complicated task and Rad seems to be doing their best and is communicating with their customers.

Similar to the Yuba Spicy Curry, the rain cover for the rear bench seat doesn’t completely cover the kids. Their knees, shins, and feet are exposed to the elements.

Also similar to the Yuba Spicy Curry, with rear bench seats, kids are on the back which means you block a lot of their view and you can’t see them while you’re riding.

Finally, some of their components are lower quality meaning that you’ll need to get it tune-up more often than others.

What we’ve heard around town

  • “Good range and great price!”
  • “Handles the bumps really well and feels like a tank in a good way”
  • “Their service department has been super friendly and responsive”
  • “The kids love riding it and waving to people”
  • “A bit worried about quality due to the recent recall they had for their tires”

Riese and Müller Packster 70 Family

Base price: $9,279

Est. price of additional accessories needed to carry two kids & their stuff: $281

Price of a rain cover: $324

What we like about it

This is the Mercedes Benz of cargo e-bikes. Super high quality but the price tag that comes with it. Similar to the Urban Arrow, the front cargo box can easily fit two kids plus a few bags of groceries. You can also add a Thule seat to the back rack meaning you can easily take 3 kids. The kids seats in the cargo box are more padded than other cargo bikes and include comfortable 5-point harnesses for the kids.

We love that the rain cover protects the entire front cargo area giving you year round riding. Its Bosch Cargo Line Cruise motor and dual battery give you great power and exceptional range, however they don’t publish the average range, so it will be highly dependent on what you are hauling in the cargo bin.

You also get smooth and silent pedaling with this bike, because there’s a belt drive instead of a traditional chain.

Where it falls short

The main thing is that it’s very expensive.The Urban Arrow has many of the same features but is a few hundred dollars cheaper. If you buy this bike, you’ll probably feel the need to lock it up everywhere you go. At our daycare dropoff zone you see lots of e-bikes and cargo e-bikes, and the only person to lock their e-bike when they go inside is the guy with the Riese Müller.

What we’ve heard around town

  • “The mid-drive motor and 75 Nm of torque means it will perform well on the hills”
  • “The full suspension belt drive is makes it so smooth to pedal”
  • “Looks like a really cool bike in a lot of ways”
  • “Great handling, good rain cover and seating options, not too wide”
  • “Feels very large which can make it seem awkward to maneuver”

Tern GSD 10

Base price: $6,799

Est. price of additional accessories needed to carry two kids & their stuff: $415

Price of a rain cover: $230

What we like about it

This is a solid e-bike for a family where several people will be trading off commuting with the kids. The small step-thru frame enables different sized people to ride it easily, which is perfect as a shared bike. Tern’s website says the bike will fit people from 4’ 6” to 6’ 5”. One of the largest spreads of any bike we’ve tested.

The kids sit on the back on a rear bench and you can add Thule seats for kids age 4 and under.

This e-bike is also great if storage is going to be an issue for you because it has a ”Vertical Parking” feature. Tern built the bike so that it could be parked vertically with it’s handlebars folded flat, meaning it takes up much less room. This is ideal for tight garages or apartments.

We also like it for its rain coverage. The rear bench rain cover provides coverage all the way down to the kids feet, unlike other rear bench rain covers that stop at the waist (or seat).

Tern touts that they make the toughest e-bikes out there and that one of Europe’s leading bicycle testing labs has tested the GSD frame and fork to 200 kg using “brutally demanding testing standards that meet and exceed the new German cargo bike standard.” We do like its Bosch Cargo Line motor, which gives it that smooth ride that the Yuba Spicy Curry and Urban Arrow also have, and its Bosch dual-battery gives it incredible range at 121 miles. It also has other high quality parts, such as disc brakes and a belt drive instead of a traditional chain. This means smooth and silent pedaling.

Where it falls short

The frame length is shorter than most longtail style cargo bikes. This means that for someone larger (6’2”) the front cockpit area can feel cramped with an upright posture rather than a more extended reach. In addition, as you extend your seat to a higher height it creeps back into the bench area, causing your butt and back to get close to the kiddos.

This comes with the rear-bench for the kids, which is not our preferred style (much prefer the cargo seats in front). You can’t haul as much gear when you have kids utilizing the back bench. If you are picking up groceries on your way home from school you can only really fit what would fit in a front cargo rack. The rear wheel cargo area that they tout are also where the kids feet will go, so they will stomp on all the groceries if they are back there.

What we’ve heard around town

  • “You feel every cent that you paid in it’s build quality”
  • “Great, high quality, accessories for it!”
  • “More fun to ride than other cargo e-bikes due to it’s shorter length”
  • “The wide tires make it comfy and stable to ride”
  • “It’s quickly become an integral part of our day-to-day routine”

Madsen Bucket Bike

An image of the Madsen e-bike with bucket

Base price: $3,905

Est. price of additional accessories needed to carry two kids & their stuff: $140

Price of a rain cover: $308

What we like about it

This is another cargo-box style e-bike and is considerably cheaper than the Urban Arrow. It has a pretty heavy-duty cargo box, tested to a max weight of 600lb. This can carry more weight than another cargo e-bike, and the box seems sturdy and indestructible. It’s great for carrying multiple kids and all their gear. Part of what helps keep the cost down on this one is that the cargo box comes with child seats so you don’t have to buy those as extra accessories.

We like that their pedal assist system offers 9 levels, much more than most e-bikes which vary from 3 to 6 levels. This means you have more flexibility with how much help you get from the pedal assist, depending on your mood, terrain, and how much you’re carrying.

This is also a great bike if you’re trading off which parent commutes with the kids to and from school, because it has a step-thru frame.

Finally, the rain cover for the cargo seats provide 100% rain coverage to the kids.

Where it falls short

Unlike the Urban Arrow, the cargo bin is on the back of the bike, so you can’t keep an eye on the kids while you’re riding. While the cargo bin is indestructible, it doesn’t have any padding (beyond the bench seat) so it can be a bit uncomfortable for kids on long bumpy rides. Also, the seat belt for kids is just a lap belt, not an over the shoulder harness to help keep them in place.

Madsen doesn’t publish the battery range or the total bike weight, which gives us pause especially when it has a single standard battery. It’s probably not the best choice for people with long (20+ mile) commutes.

What we’ve heard around town

  • “The bucket is really useful for storing all sorts of stuff you inevitably need to carry with you when you go around town with kid”
  • “Even with a lot of rainy days we’ve already used — and enjoyed — our Madsen SO MUCH”
  • “May be difficult to ride for shorter riders”
  • “Steep hills can get dicey if I’m carrying a lot”

Common Questions

What are the different styles of cargo e-bikes?

The two most common styles of cargo e-bikes are “Longtail” and “Bakefiets” (sometimes referred to as “long-johns”).

Longtails are long e-bikes that have a smaller rear tire with a bench seat above them. The bench seat can be used to carry up to two kids or used as cargo storage. Oftentimes Longtails come with cargo bags that run along the sides of the bench seat (sort of like panniers). This means you can have kids on the bench seat and the feet dangling above the storage bags with their gear in it. You can also add a front cargo rack for additional storage. Longtails are typically lighter and easier to maneuver than Bakefiets. We prefer being able to see what the kids are looking at, it makes it easier to interact with them. One downside of Longtails is that the kids are behind you, rather than in front. Another downside is if you add storage bags, your kids’ feet will hit them while they sit on the bench.

Bakefiets is Dutch for “Cargo bike,” and this style is most common in Europe. Bakefiets are long e-bikes with a small front wheel and a cargo box in the front of the e-bike. These cargo bins range in size but most can fit two kids easily with extra space for your gear or groceries. Some cargo bins can even fit four kids. Most Bakefiets have 5-point child harnesses which are ore secure than the lap belts typically found on Longtail bench seats. Most Bakefiets have better rain covers that provide 100% coverage than the Longtail bench seats (but not all).

One downside of Bakefiets is that they can be on the heavier side, but because they have a low center of gravity due to the cargo bin, they aren’t that much different to handle. They both take some practice to get used to. We recommend doing some rides and getting comfortable before you add your kids into the mix.

Are cargo e-bikes safe for kids?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between 12 months and 4 years ride in a child bike seat. In Europe, the recommended starting age for child bike seats is 9 months assuming the child can can sit well unsupported and their neck is strong enough to support a lightweight helmet.

Cargo e-bikes with a bin have a lower center of gravity and are more stable. Many of these style bikes also have 5 point harnesses for the kids, as opposed to the bench style seats which only have a lap belt, if that.

In our experience, we really like the Thule Yupp child bike seat, which we have used for our oldest (who is 2 years old as of the time I’m writing this). It provides him great stability while riding. With small kids on the back of our e-bike, we try to stay of busy arterials and stick to neighborhood streets where the speed of traffic is slow.

And remember, you and your kids should ALWAYS wear a helmet that fits properly. No big helmets pushed to the back of their head leaving their forehead exposed.

Can you put a child carrier on an e-bike?

Yes, in most cases, but you should double check with the e-bike manufacturer’s website before adding a child seat.

There are two types of child carriers. One that is a small saddle like seat that attaches to the frame in the front of the e-bike and one that is a seat that goes on the back of the e-bike. The back seat is most traditional and it’s wider acceptable weight range means it fits a wider age of kids.

We recommend the Thule Yupp seat. It’s made of very sturdy, but comfortable material, it’s easy to adjust the foot holsters and shoulder harness. It also comes in some great colors! We are partial to the blue.

Some e-bike brands, such as RadPower, have rear racks that are purposefully built for these bike seats, which make it a breeze to install and switch between e-bikes if needed. Other brands might require you make modifications to the rear e-bike rack.

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