Cargo bikes: what you should know

Berlin The cargo bike is, in short, a mule pack on two wheels. Cargo bikes are booming: “Cargo bikes are growing in popularity in Germany. Last year, we were able to record over 60 per cent growth in cargo bike sales,” says Anke Schäffner of the Federation of the Bicycle Industry (ZIV) in Berlin. You still see “a lot of potential for this sector” – in the private sphere as well as in the commercial sphere.

With a load capacity of sometimes several hundred kilograms, cargo bikes are suitable for trade and handicrafts, equipped with seats and belts as daycare taxis. You only need to do your weekly shopping at the supermarket, they manage that perfectly as well as taking young children and luggage on bike rides in one go. “The diversity of designs is now almost unmanageable,” says the press service bike (pd-f). An overview of types, property, acquisitions and legal.

loader: The range is very wide. For example, there are heavy-duty bikes whose load areas can sometimes accommodate up to 300 kilograms and, depending on the chassis, have a capacity of 2,500 liters. The classic “baker bike” is also available with a large basket on top of a smaller front wheel. A distinction is made between single-track and double-track cargo bikes.

The classic among single-track vehicles is the Long John with a low load area between the steering column and front wheel. It is longer but rarely wider than a classic bike. Payloads of around 100 kg are common. Accessories include double child seats, Maxi-Cosi infant carriers or lockable boxes. On the other hand, a loading area behind the saddle can be found on the long-tailed singletrack, also known as a backpacker.

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There are two variants: one with an extended wheelbase and loading area in front of a rear wheel that is moved to the rear; Another with an extended luggage rack. If the luggage rack is shorter, it is called a medium tail cargo bike. Among the two-track vehicles, a three-wheeled vehicle with a box between two front wheels is common. According to pd-f, up to six children can be accommodated here. The combined payload is 150 kilos.

to cut: The driving characteristics are generally better the lower the center of gravity. Single-track cargo bikes are similar to a traditional bike. “You can make quick progress with them, you can also go through jams and negotiate curves as usual,” says Rene Filibeck of the German General Cycling Club (ADFC). If they were taller, like Long Jun, they were less maneuverable.

Solo track limitations: her donkey’s characteristics are generally lower compared to triples. One reason: their loading areas are usually not wider than handlebars. And despite the sturdy dual foot mounts, it’s not as stable as a tricycle. Tricycle riding behavior takes some getting used to. Because of the two front wheels, Filippek says, it’s not possible to bend into the curve. Leisurely driving is the daily arrangement “so you don’t tip over when you turn over”.

Some manufacturers equip their tricycles with tilt technology on the front axle to improve cornering characteristics. For many, priority should be given to the electric motor. “Especially with cargo bikes, electric motor support makes sense,” says Filippek. It’s easy to move heavy loads with the engine, and going uphill is easier, too.

When transporting children, parents should make sure that the belts are tight. “As a result, cargo bikes with transfer boxes react less sensitively when a child is moving,” says Dirk Zeidler of the Zeidler Institute for Bicycle Testing.

Pay: Cargo bikes are among the most expensive types of bikes. ZIV does not collect average prices for single model groups, but they are estimated at €3,000 for non-motorized cargo bikes and €4,500 to €5,000 for e-freight bikes. Lots of money to keep for now.

However, the investment can be reduced through financing. The Federal Office of Economics and Export Controls (BAFA) encourages the purchase of e-freight bikes through its guide to promoting e-freight bicycles. Corporations, freelancers, municipalities, and associations are eligible to apply, but not private individuals. 25 percent of the purchase expenditure is eligible, but a maximum of 2,500 euros per e-bike can also be funded, via installment purchase or rental.

There are also state and municipal funding programs – individuals are not excluded – for example in Lower Saxony and Thuringia. Cities also continue to launch programs that are open to all. However, bikes with extended racks are excluded from many forms of support, so bikes with long tails are excluded.

Leasing and Sharing: Instead, renting through an employer is an option. A monthly rate must be paid, and a company bike like a company car must be taxed as a non-cash benefit because it can be used at your leisure. This currently means that 0.25 percent of the bike’s new list price must be taxed per month for the salary transfer.

According to the Bundesverband Zukunft Fahrrad (BVZF), rentals are becoming more and more well established, and there are hardly any freight bikes on subscription. The exception is Green Moves, which is locally limited to Düsseldorf, Bonn and Cologne. On the other hand, sharing offers can be found in many cities nationwide – some freight bikes can even be borrowed for free, and donations are welcome.

But unlike all other purchase models, you have to return the bike after a few days at the latest.

legal: Cargo bikes are bikes and, as two feet, they are legally equivalent to them. This means that cargo bikes have to be on mandatory cycle paths just like other bikes. According to consumer organization Geld und Verbraucher (GVI), an exception applies to multi-track cargo bikes – because they are often wider.

They are allowed to switch onto the road if they obstruct other road users on the bike path. When it comes to parking, the following applies: “There is parking space for all vehicles, including bikes and cargo bikes,” says Annika Meenken of Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD). In Germany there are no parking spaces reserved exclusively for cars.

Parking is generally permitted on the side of the road or in designated parking spaces if the pavement is very narrow – unless places are reserved for certain types of vehicles by signs. Parking there “is not very attractive, because the bikes are not locked there, so they can easily become prey for thieves,” says Filipek.

And another impractical limitation: unlike cars, roadside bikes must be lit in the dark or equipped with a parking warning sign. There are also rules when taking children with you: anyone who rides a bike must be at least 16 years old. The Road Traffic Act (StVO) states that children traveling with you must be no more than 7 years old.

However, older people can also be transported if the bike is built or pedaled and set up – for example, these could be long-tail bikes with a bench seat. In any case, it must be ensured that there is a “rollover of wheels or equally effective devices” so that occupants are protected from rotating amplifiers.

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