New School Year Brings Big Shift to e-Cargo Bikes

Melbourne, Victoria

Victoria’s cargo bike community is making a mass migration to motor assistance if the experience of Melbourne store Cargocycles is any indication.

In recent weeks, the Brunswick East store has averaged three enquiries a week from conventional cargo bike owners looking to make the switch to e-cargo bikes.

One in three of those customers is getting an electric motor retrospectively fitted to their existing bike, but two-thirds of them are buying a new or second-hand e-cargo bike.

Cargocycles founder and director Gary Cookson attributes the trend to a couple of factors:

  • parents who bought cargo bikes a few years ago when their children were very small are now struggling with the weight of larger, school-aged children
  • parents getting tired of being overtaken by e-cargo bikes in their commute during the first few weeks of a new school year
  • people emerging from COVID restrictions with “lockdown bodies” and struggling with lost fitness

“In the past few weeks, we have seen this endless procession of old cargo bikes, three or four years old, being dragged out of the shed because people are returning to work, or they have to get their kids to school and then continue on to work,” Gary said.

“It’s also been very noticeable once the roads have become busy again and the traffic has suddenly become worse than pre-pandemic levels.

“People don’t want to go on the tram because ‘it’s full of people with COVID’ but when they then drive to work, they realise that’s not viable because the roads are so busy.”

That was inspiring a re-emergence of many old cargo bikes, as well as people deciding to get a cargo bike or a conventional e-bike for the first time.

Post-Pandemic Sales Surge

“The COVID surge in bike sales is now transforming into a post-pandemic surge.”

Gary said it was costing customers around $2,000 to have aftermarket electric motors fitted to their existing bikes, which they had purchased for $3,000 to $4,000 a few years ago.

That compared to current prices of around $7,000 to $8,000 for a new e-cargo bike.

“However, the level of sophistication for cargo bikes has changed a lot in recent years,” he said.

“A simple e-cargo bike a few years ago would have had a hub motor and a quite small battery.

“Now they generally have mid-drive motors with a Bosch-Shimano package. The commitment is higher as far as the initial purchase price but they’re getting a much better package.”

He said a significant proportion making the switch to e-cargo bikes were opting for second-hand bikes.

“The cargo bike market has matured to the point where there are a lot of second-hand bikes coming onto the market,” he added.

Cargocycles was established 11 years ago, during the very early days of cargo bikes in Australia.

“Some of the cargo bikes we sold during our first couple of years are probably on their third owners.”

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Have you noticed a similar boost in demand for e-cargo bikes?

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