What are cargo bikes for businesses?
Two-, three- or four-wheeled bikes, specially adapted to carry heavy or bulky loads, sometimes as much as a small van. There is a wide range of designs, but they are often longer and wider than standard cycles. They can come with, or without electric assistance. Electrically-assisted cargo bikes are popular as they reduce the effort required to transport heavy goods and increase average speeds.
Cargo bikes are used by a wide range of businesses, charities and public sector organisations, both large and small, as they can often reach destinations in urban areas faster than motor vehicles and are cheaper to run.
Businesses in Cambridgeshire use them to deliver food, drinks, flowers, post and laundry, among other goods. Increasing numbers of tradespeople, such as gardeners, decorators, cleaners, plumbers and carpenters, also choose to operate by cargo bike so they can travel to jobs more quickly, and there are a growing number of kiosk bikes selling refreshments on the go. In addition, some organisations use them for estate and facilities’ management. Some businesses opt to engage a cargo bike-based logistics company to carry out deliveries on their behalf.
Why choose a cargo bike?
- It’s usually faster to make deliveries by cargo bike in urban areas, so you can get jobs done more quickly. You can beat the congestion, using cycle lanes to travel past stationary traffic, or opt for paths and streets where motor vehicle access is restricted to avoid the queues.
- Drop-offs will be quicker and less stressful as it’s much easier to find a spot to leave a cargo bike than park a van or car. You can often pull-up right at your destination without impeding traffic.
- It’s often cheaper to purchase and run a cargo bike than a car or van.
- Cargo cycling is much better for the environment than driving. Using cargo bikes will boost your company’s green credentials.
- Cargo bikes are eye-catching. Bike boxes and trailers are great spaces for advertisements and you are much more approachable for new customers in the open air on a bike, than behind a door in a car or van.
- Cargo bike riders do not need a driving license (we recommend training – see below), so you can increase your employment pool
- Using a bike for everyday journeys is great for your employees’ physical and mental health.
- Using cargo bikes instead of vans make cities more pleasant for residents, which reflects well on your brand. They reduce noise pollution, congestion and air pollution and improve safety.
Types of bikes for businesses
There is a wide range of bikes for businesses, designed with different loads, use cases and cycle infrastructure in mind. Some businesses carrying compact loads use regular bikes with panniers or a front basket. Others use mid- or longtail cycles, which have an extended ‘tail’ or rack behind the saddle, enabling the transport of bulkier loads in a basket, box or panniers. So-called butcher’s or baker’s bikes are also common. These have an extended frame in front of the handlebars, which supports a rack, box or basket.
Bulkier and heavier loads can be carried in two-, three-, or four-wheeled cargo bikes. Two-wheeled cargo, front-loading cargo bikes have a rack, open box, or enclosed box cargo box in front of the rider. They are similar in width to a regular cycle, agile to manoeuvre and can access the majority of urban cycle infrastructure.
Three-wheeled cargo bikes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can be either front- and rear-loading. Some smaller models function as mobile kiosks or trade stands. Larger models have maximum loads similar to vans. The Urban Arrow Tender 2500, for example, can carry cargo weighing up to 300kg and has a platform sized to fit two Europallets. Four-wheeled EAVs are also designed to bridge the gap between bikes and vans.
Cargo can also be carried in a trailer, towed by a regular, mid- or longtail bike. Trailers have the advantage that they can can be detached when not in use.
Inspired to try a cargo bike?
Outspoken Cycles is running an electrically-assisted cargo bike Try-Before-You-Buy Scheme until at least May 2024 for Cambridgeshire County Council, funded through the Department for Transport’s e-Cargo Bike Grant Fund. They have a range of e-cargo bikes for both businesses and families to borrow at low cost. The scheme is an exciting opportunity to trial a two- or three-wheeled cargo bike to see how it can work for you over an extended period, before committing to buy.
Specialist retailers of cargo bikes for businesses
Visit a specialist shop for information and advice, as well as test rides, cycle hire and loan schemes.
High St, Longstanton, Cambridgeshire
Electric Bike Sales
Newmarket Rd, Cambridge
Babboe, Riese and Muller
Cowley Rd, Cambridge
AddBike, Babboe, Benno, Circe, Gazelle, Larry vs Harry, Raleigh, Urban Arrow
Power to the Pedal
Acrefield Drive, Cambridge
Bicicapace, Nihola, Triobike, Veloe, Winther
Barnwell Rd, Cambridge
Babboe, Cube, Raleigh
The School Run Centre
Gwydir Street, Cambridge
Azor, Bakfiets, Bertus, BSP, Gazelle, Nihola, Onderwater, Tern, Urban Arrow
Cargo bike training can help you to gain confidence and refine your technique.