If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact [email protected]

Can an electric cargo bike replace a car?

  • 18-02-2023 2:51pm
    Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭

    I know that replacing a second family car with an electric cargo bike is becoming more common. I was wondering whether anyone has any experience of replacing a single family car with an electric cargo bike? How is that working out? Any unforeseen problems?



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,190 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    I have a cargo bike but i kept my car. It is impossible to really answer your question without knowing family situation, living urban / rural, how far to work / school etc? How often you travel around is also relevant as a cargo bike is good for a radius of max 40-50km and public transport in Ireland outside of cities is terrible or non existent, and taking a bus between cities is also a terrible experience.

    I live in a large city with public transport alternatives to the car and I have one child. In my case it definitely would be possible, I just kept the car for weekend day trips and things like that. There are many places that I go on a semi regular basis that are too far for a cargo bike and not quick to reach by public transport

  • Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭blueandgreen

    Hi, thanks for your response. We are a family of 3- my partner and I have a 5-year old son. I've been researching (and trying out) various electric cargo bikes recently. We have a family car- we use that on the weekends and my partner sometimes uses it for work. We are all keen cyclists and generally use our bikes for leisure, shopping, school trips, commuting, etc. We live in Dun Laoghaire- in general, cycle facilities are, relatively speaking, pretty good in the area (and are generally getting better).

    Our car is on its way out (it's a 2007 Japanese import- I've been finding it difficult to get parts). One option is to replace it. I've been wondering whether we could, as an alternative, choose a high-end electric cargo bike (something like the Riese and Müller Load 75) instead of a car- it would still be a significant investment- probably €8-10K. Of course, sometimes a car is handy- I was thinking of signing up to a car share scheme, like GoCar, for Dublin journeys and using standard car hires for longer trips. My motivations are quite standard- i.e. reduce congestion, improve our health, help the environment, etc.

    I'm thinking of trying it for a year and seeing how it goes. If it doesn't work out, we could look at getting a car then

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,727 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    I've never owned a car, but my situation sounds like your plan: use a (non-electric) bakfiets cargobike, a variety of other bikes, public transport and GoCar (folding bike handy for this). Works out well for us. Family of four, Dublin 16. For longer trips I used Hertz when I lived in Dublin 8.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,727 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    The kids are ten and twelve now, but still give the ten yo lifts a lot for busier roads and longer trips.

  • Registered Users Posts: 36 batyushki

    I sold my car 7 years ago. We still have a family car but my wife uses it 90% of the time (she has to travel weekly to an area difficult to reach by public transport). I work at home and for a few years, got by on public transport and my folding bike. Eventually I wanted to be able to cover more distance quickly, and to haul things, so I got a cargo e-bike (Radwagon by Rad Power Bikes, they ship from NL). It is a heavy bike but very stable and can take a small person on the back. My kids have now outgrown it so I use it mostly to haul things - I have a big basket in the front (one of those that the bread companies deliver bread with), and I have a set of very large panniers for the back. I also have a small trailer that attaches to the back for hauling larger or bulkier loads. I can do a grocery run with the bike, or haul things back and forth to our smallholding. I can also use it when travelling to an event where I need to get there quickly or without getting sweaty. If I'm in a hurry and using a lot of the battery, I can get about 35km round trip. If I'm going slow and pedaling more, I have reached up to 65km but this is only if you have a lot of time.

    Disadvantages of a large cargo bike like mine are that it can't go on the train, so it's no good for combining with train journeys. It's also very heavy so maneuvering it through the side passage requires some strength. On the other hand, it's extremely stable and I can ride it one-handed when necessary with no vibration. It's good at hauling but a trailer is a must if hauling heavier or bigger things. If I needed to just transport myself, I would get a lighter, more compact bike that could go on the train bike racks since I do enjoy travelling around Ireland on trains.

    For me, it has replaced my car, though I still use the family car occasionally. If I lived in an area that was closer to GoCar I would definitely use that as well.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 4,708 ✭✭✭BabysCoffee

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,280 ✭✭✭Ferris

    I don’t have a cargo bike but I’d say range is one of the limiting factors. I’d consider a twin battery setup if it’s an option. R&M and Urban Arrow have the option I think. I believe the Urban Arrow has the best rain cover. I tried an Urban Arrow and was impressed, big bus to get used to however.

  • Posts: 2,799 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]


  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,421 Mod ✭✭✭✭Cabaal

    We have a family car, my wife uses it for work and I use it at weekend sometimes.

    When our little lad started in childcare we thought about a second car but instead I went down the road of a cycle trailer but I found it murder on the hills locally so eventually outlaid on a Bakfiets Crusier Long. As well as not getting a second car my aim was to replace most shopping trips in the car, picking up dry goods etc from local hardware/co-op stores and so far 6 months in its a success. Locally I can honestly say I can often beat cars to my chosen destination as I can use shortcuts around the town to avoid one way systems.

    It's mainly used for trips within 5miles of home but I do occasionally do longer trips of around 10miles (20 in total as 10 there and back). Range is not an issue mostly if I stick to normal or eco mode as I've manage 55miles+ previously out of the battery. Turbo mode really kills the battery especially on hills.

    In all honesty if we lived in a city I'd be seriously considering getting rid of the car if we could but as we're semi-rural its sadly not an option.

    Obviously everyone's needs are different but being in Dun Laoghaire should make it very do-able

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,221 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    We got rid of the second car a few years ago, we didn't go down the cargo bike route (although I wanted too) and think it would have made life easier. Takes a bit more planning on occasion and rarely its a bit more awkward but generally its not made a huge difference. My partner uses it to get to work a few days a week and I rarely drive outside of work. We do one big shop a week and anything missed I pick up on the bike as part of my commute. We are rural and the kids get the school bus, I am hoping in a few years my son gets more into cycling for after school activities.

    Living in DL, as Cabaal says, you should have no issues. I have never seen a kid in a cargo bike on my commute who isn't happy (I actually go through DL daily for work and there are loads of them).

    Only issue with cargo bikes that I have seen is storage, make sure you have that and its not too awkward but other than that you are golden. See a guy with an eletric Larry vs Harry coming from Bray to Foxrock daily as well, have to say, not only were his kids happy but it looked pretty nice.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 2,000 ✭✭✭Colonel Panic

    We dropped to one car before the pandemic because I cycled to work 99% of the time and recently got a cargo bike instead of a 2nd car.

    It's early days yet, but I'm finding it a game changer for childcare drop-off, then on to work, or shopping trips. My son loves being in it.

    Storage is a massive pain though, It JUST fits down the side of my house so I can put it in storage. I guess with a chain, ground anchors and a cover, it would be fine outside from an elements and security point of view.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,840 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    how often are both cars in use simultaneously? is it a 'standardised' scenario, so somewhat predictable (e.g. daughter at camogie training, son at soccer training in the opposite direction)?

    might be worth paying heed over the next few weeks as to when both cars are in use, and track whether one of the two trips could be done by bike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,814 ✭✭✭what_traffic

    I'd be interested in how you get on OP, somewhat similar scenario. Family of 4 - 4yr old and 2yr old. 20yr old Toyota car sits outside the house most of the time but is starting to cost money for repairs even though we do low KM's for years now as most of the local trips can be done on the cargo bike

    Have used the GOCAR/GOVAN recently when house moving - very handy with the foldup bike as tomasrojo said earlier

    Unforseen stuff is what I reckon is stopping us going car less.

    Funerals & going to removals is the one thing that having our car is very beneficial; if your family social networks are just the Dublin/local area this might be a moot point but I am from rural West of Ireland but living in Galway City. Nearly everything else can be planned.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,221 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    I missed the single family car bit. If you are all based around Dun Laoghaire (family etc. ) with gocar and public transport, definitely doable, as for you @what_traffic , have to say, it will be tough. At a minimum, if it were me and we had family nearby, I'd at least get insured on the parents or in laws car, in case of emergency. What is gocar like in Galway, is it prevalent, I pass loads in Dublin so it's easier ot visualise it working.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,814 ✭✭✭what_traffic

    Ya GOCAR have a few bases here in Galway City. Anytime needed van or car been available.

    Good point re family @CramCycle. Probably my best bet here is a car share with my brother who lives nearby in the City. He moved down from Dublin and got a car to learning to drive - but probably is going to be a" weekend" driver; so one car between both households could work for sure.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,767 ✭✭✭Alkers

    As above, storage is an issue where you live but you also need to consider security at the places you regularly stop or visit. Are there sufficient bike stands and will they work well with whatever cargo bike you end up with?

    I would be carrying multiple locks, have a tracker on the bike and definitely cover it on house insurance under all risks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 54 ✭✭usual_suspect

    this guy always writes a great annual story from Holland of collecting his Christmas tree with the three kids in the cargo bike at the same time. Holland of course so the bike lanes are better set up, however, we're going in the right direction.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 11,727 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Think this was the biggest thing I carried. Pretty much the practical limit for that setup. Garden slide from Woodies in Carrickmines.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,708 ✭✭✭BabysCoffee

    New speaker added to the Cargo Bike Talk Event

    It's on this evening - online and in person

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,221 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    I did wonder why you didn't have a car, now I presume that you got rid of your car after it was used as a toilet by the local homeless community.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,727 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    Ha ha!

    They assured me that had teams working in shifts on my case.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,000 ✭✭✭Colonel Panic

    Underwriters tend to be a bit "computer says no" on bikes that cost north of €5000.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,814 ✭✭✭what_traffic

    What tracker do you have? Can you recommend it?

  • Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭blueandgreen

    Dave Spencer - Car free living

    14 MAR • 11 Mins • The Ryan Tubridy ShowWith all the talk of saving the environment. Dave and his family decided to do something about it by going car-free.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,153 ✭✭✭JMcL

    Coming late to this one, but I'll throw in my experience over the years. I lived in Dublin for years, always reasonably central, and never owned a car, getting around by bike, foot and public transport. Since I grew up in Donegal, I'd have been making regular trips there - via a combination of Bus Eireann (lots of time in a bus for a weekend), or hiring a car. I usually could talk nicely to friends with cars when I needed to move stuff occasionally, but otherwise, not having a car was never something I regretted.

    Now that said, I was single when in Dublin, and am now married with 3 kids and living in Co. Waterford with 2 cars. We are in a town, so I do almost all my shopping on foot. I'm also working mostly from home and weather permitting will usually cycle to work (about 28km round trip) when I have to go to the office. The killer though is ferrying the kids around to activities or, when I was in the office more, collecting them after school. They're ranging in age from 8 to 14, and not having a car to truck them about just wouldn't cut it. My wife drives to work (I've tried singing the praises of an e-bike to her, but she's not having it) so I have the other one for the ferrying around. I'd dearly love to ditch one of them, but at this moment in time, I don't think it's possible. Little of the above is doable by public transport - the routes just aren't there. Same for me to get to the office. Also as others have mentioned storage would be a major issue as we live in a terraced house, and there's no feasible way to get a cargo bike out the back. I'm trying to rationalise something like a Tern that could be stored inside, but I still can't get to the point where we could ditch a car.

    So all that to say, with cargo bike, PT, and access to GoCar your circumstances would probably mean you'd get by fine. As has been said, think about how you use the car currently and see if you'd be majorly inconvenienced, but also try to consider what might happen in a couple of years time when your son will be getting into activities. Will you need to truck him off to hurling/football/rugby etc.? Will the transport options available to you allow that?

  • Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭blueandgreen

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 5,961 ✭✭✭The Continental Op

    Nice piece on cargo bikes today from 18 minutes 26 seconds in.

    Wake me up when it's all over.