- There are three types of cargo bikes, longtails, front loaders, and trikes.
- There are plenty of options for families on budgets
- Riding with children can be a great bonding time
This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
One of the best ways to get a workout is through bicycling, but it can be tough hauling children and gear everywhere. What are the best bikes for families?
The best bikes for families are:
- Best Non-Electric Longtail Cargo Bike: Yuba Kombi
- Best Budget Cargo E-Bike: Rad Power RadWagon 4
- Best Frontload E-Bike: Urban Arrow Family
- Best High-End Cargo E-Bike: Tern GDS
- Best Front Load E-Trike: Bunch Original
So many families are turning to bicycles to reintroduce their kids to the great outdoors. After a global pandemic, many younger children have simply not been exposed to the wonders of being outside for any time. While the benefits of bicycling are well known, one of the joys it creates is the time parents spend with their kids building great memories.
What are the Different Types of Family Bikes?
There are three different types of cargo bike configurations that have been developed over the years.
The longtail is a bike that fits one to three children in a bike seat, safety seat, or cage behind the center seat (usually where a back rack would be). The bike is the most agile and easy to handle because it mimics a normal bicycle. The child or children ride behind the rider on a padded seat or strapped into a child carrier. If there is only one child, the bike is usually called a mid-tail.
The long john is also known as a “bakfiet” or a frontloader. This bike stretches the frame to accommodate a large basket or “boat” in front of the rider, right behind or near the front wheel. The rider pedals like any bike. They just push a heavier load. These bikes can be heavy to move, especially uphill, but they can also accommodate larger toddlers or groceries.
An option that is increasing in popularity is the trike. The three wheels offer excellent stability for either front loader baskets or rear cargo areas. For beginner riders, the tricycle can be an excellent way to keep everybody safe.
Why are Most Cargo Bikes Electric?
While many companies make bicycles that are old-fashioned pedal pushers, the growing trend is toward the electric bike. Sales for e-bikes are expected to double in five years, growing from 49 billion to almost 100 billion dollars by 2029. As you might expect, sales of regular bikes have been declining for years.
Electric bikes offer a lot of advantages for cargo carriers. They allow the rider to rest; if needed, the bike’s motor can kick in to keep up speed and momentum. The e-bike can often travel further in less time than an ordinary bike.
Considering that moving three children and their additional weight on a bike is hard work. While it might be a great way to exercise, the tradeoff is that it is much more difficult than e-cycling. Most parents would instead let the bike do some of the work so that their attention can be focused on their children rather than picking their tongues off the pavement from exhaustion.
What are the Best Bikes for Families?
There are a lot of options for families to choose from when deciding what bike best fits their needs.
Best Non Electric Longtail Cargo Bike: Yuba Kombi
The Kombi is one of America's most popular models of cargo bikes. The bike is an old-fashioned pedal pusher with added cargo space behind the rider for small passengers. The cargo area is built for 1 - 2 passengers and has a weight limit of 440 lbs, so it can handle groceries, kids, or both.
Yuba took all the best qualities of their bikes and “kombined” them into an entry-level cruiser. The bike has 24-inch tires that are wide enough to support the additional weight and are perfect for pedaling around town. The bike works best on flat terrain, but the 9-speed Altus Shimano derailleur helps navigate slight inclines.
The bike is equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes, which help when stopping power is needed.
The bike is made to be compatible with several accessories to help protect riders in the cargo area. The rear rack area is large enough for different cool components, like a set of handlebars, a popover rain guard, a v-frame with cushions for larger kids, or a regular basket.
The absolute best thing about this bike is the price. At less than $1500, the Yuba Kombi fits many family budgets. (There is an electric model also, but it is more expensive).
Yuba has been making bicycles since 2007. They are based out of California and are very committed to helping people live eco-friendly and sustainable lives. Their passion for constantly improving their bikes means that this company will lead the way for a long time.
- Very affordable bike
- Various options for different needs
- Made for flat terrain
- Pedaling means harder uphill but better workout
Best Electric Budget Cargo Bike: Rad Power - RadWagon 4
The RadWagon is a reasonably affordable e-bike (under $2000) that has plenty of power to motor around town. Rad Power has a wide selection of e-bikes designed for all kinds of riders, but this cargo hauler is one of the best for the money.
The bike has an elongated frame that sits lower than most e-bikes, but this lower center of gravity helps stabilize the bike when loaded. The 750 W motor has more than enough power, and the bike’s range is up to 45 miles fully charged.
While the bike has a weight limit of 350 lbs, this is still enough to haul most families and cargo, depending on how far you need to travel.
RadWagon has a 7-speed Shimano derailleur and five levels of pedal assist. The pedal assist kicks in automatically when the bike senses that a rider needs assistance.
The braking system is a Tektro Aries which is relatively common for entry-level bikes, and the steel fork handles bumps without any trouble.
The RadWagon comes with a front headlight and rear taillight (believe it or not, many e-bike manufacturers make you pay extra for those). The LCD isn’t anything high-tech, but it gets the job done, informing the rider of the level of pedal assist, charge left on the battery, as well as other vital info.
RadPower gets its name from its owner, Mike Radenbaugh, who has always had a lifelong passion for building electric bikes. For over fifteen years, the company has been growing into the largest maker of e-bikes in North America. There seems to be an understanding of e-bike riders in the company culture, and as long as they continue to put out bikes like the RadRover and the RadWagon, they will continue to dominate the market.
- For an E-bike, it is very affordable
- Most popular - sells out quickly
- It has very high ratings
- A Low Center of Gravity provides increased stability
- It may sell out quickly - so popular
Best Front Loader E-Bike: Urban Family
This is one of the best-looking front loaders on the market. Although it is a bit expensive ($5999), the front area is comfy, and padded and comes with three-point seat belts for up to four kids. The bike has plenty of room for anything you want to haul.
The basket is situated in front of the rider (this configuration lets you keep an eye on your kids at all times). The basket is lower on the bike, which helps stabilize it and makes it easier to maneuver. In addition, it is made of polypropylene, which is tough as nails, and will hold up well for a long time,
The Urban Family e-bike has a capacity of 550 lbs (which is terrific), and the 500 W battery is more extensive than most e-bikes. The range is 15 - 35 miles, which is significantly less than many other cargo bikes, but depending on how heavy a load you have, you might squeak a few extra miles out of it.
The Bosch Motor handles inclines reasonably well by offering four levels of pedal assist, which is very helpful when the box is fully loaded. The company offers a variety of gadgets to go with the cargo box, like rain covers and the like. The company also offers a short version, which seats 1-2 kids instead of 4.
In short, this bike looks almost as good as it rides. It does not have the bulky squareness of other bikes, like the Bunch Original Trike, which is also very popular as a front loader.
Urban Arrow is a large e-bike manufacturer based out of the Netherlands. They recently incorporated into the PON family (2019), and the increased international exposure makes them a significant player in the global cycling community.
- Very stylish bike - that has an athletic look
- Great weight load
- The bike has good balance and handles well.
- The battery is larger than most e-bikes
- Not American made
- Heavy Bike may have trouble finding a place to park it.
- Moderately expensive - may push some families to purchase other models.
Best High-End Midtail E-Bike: Tern GSD LX
This is a beast of a work bike that happens to haul kids or cargo. At close to $5500 ($6299 for the double battery), the bike isn't cheap. While the bike folds up, which makes it easy to store or ideal for people who live in apartments or urban areas, I think for the price, it should brush my teeth or give me a haircut while I ride. (It doesn’t).
The bike has a more than the capable motor and a 500 W, which produces a top speed of 20 mph and a range of up to 63 miles (which is higher than many other e-bikes). There is an option for a second battery, which would double the range.
The weight limit of the GSD is 440 lbs, and the bike is designed to accommodate taller riders, which I like.
The GSD’s 10-speed drivetrain is more than enough for all kinds of inclines, and the stiff frame handles imperfections, bumps, and cracks in the pavement without rattling the rider's teeth constantly.
The bike has a lot of nice touches, like hi/lo headlights, auto-lock kick stand, and reflective sidewall tires. In addition, there are a lot of accessories, like the Storm Cover, the Clubhouse Fort, and even trailers that you can hook to the bike.
Tern is headquartered in Tapei, Taiwan, with subsidiaries in the US and other places around the globe. The company employs about 70 workers. Tern makes premium bicycles with quality parts and is known for building lightweight, capable bikes.
- The bike can handle almost anything or any terrain
- Well-built, but you will pay more, too,
- I loved the two beam headlights
- Long range (up to 63 miles).
- Expensive bike
Best Cargo Front Load Trike: Bunch Original 3.0
This looks like an e-bike with a square box attached to the front, which is precisely what it is. But this e-bike has taken the world by storm because of its versatility. You can haul cargo, kids, or even pets in the front box. Many businesses are using the Bunch Original as a part of their food vending or delivery business. (Think food vendor on a bike).
The bike looks like an oversized shopping cart on three wheels. The handlebars are not what you would expect, but they allow the rider to ride the bike in a more upright position. There is also the advantage of keeping an eye on kids and pets as you pedal.
The Original 3.0 is powered by a 500 W 45Nm hub drive, and a 653 Wh lithium-ion battery. The 7-speed derailleur helps riders navigate various terrain, and the wider tires (24 x 3) and disc brakes keep the bike grounded even on wet road surfaces.
While the e-bike is pretty expensive ($4199), it does everything right. The box shape does offer a bit more wind resistance, which cuts down on the range of other front loaders, but the difference is hardly noticeable. Even though the bike looks like it might be heavy (and it is), the added third wheel doesn’t affect its ability to corner or move along.
Bunch Cycles started in 2017 with the idea of building a premium bike with quality materials. In 2021, the owner made an appearance on Shark Tank and got two sharks to infuse cash into the program.
- One of the largest makers of front loaders in the country
- Premium materials, solid construction.
- Built in Denton, Texas
- It looks like a large grocery cart
- Fairly expensive - might motivate families to look elsewhere