Are Cargo Bikes the Next Big Thing?

Industrial Management Consulting
Industrial Management Consulting

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – It is called the next major trend after the e-bike: cargo bikes, regardless whether it is electrified or not. Last month’s Eurobike picked up the trend and paid special attention to this market development. In Eurobike’s hall A1 one corner was dedicated to this trend and for this occasion renamed ‘cargo area’.

Are Cargo Bikes the Next Big Thing?
Radkutsche from Germany is a logistic bikes pioneer. – Photo Peter Hummel

The compact overview allowed visitors to study this topic more intensively for the first time and to get to know new facets such as heavy-duty bikes. However, cargo bikes are not new at all though it is a category which comes with a lot of innovations.

Cargo bike types

Quite apart from the traditional use in Asia and Africa, the bakers and postman wheels with expansive porters have been around in Europe for ages. For almost a hundred years, the Longjohn has been on the market and thanks to its small front wheel it has become one of the most distinctive types of cargo bikes. Also the Dutch bakery bike, called the Bakfiets, has even become an own brand. This cargo bikes with a wooden box in front nowadays is synonym for child transport in the Netherlands. Babboe and Johnny Loco followed with a more elegant interpretation also in wood, while Urban Arrow made a version of modern materials. Babboe is on the market in 22 countries today and describes itself as the market leader in Europe. Their owner, the Velosophy Group, was recently acquired by Accell Group who already hold a minority stake.

The other home market for children’s and cargo bikes is Denmark with Christiania Bikes as the iconic original brand and with Bullitt, Butchers & Bicycles, Nihola and Winther as modern developments. Xtracycle and Yuba are pioneers in the USA, while Douze holds the leading position in France. In contrast, in Germany a large group of small suppliers such as Bernd, Gobax or Pedalpower share the market with some major bicycle brands like Gazelle or Herkules.

Cargo bike market

Several of these specialists have already presented themselves before at Eurobike; however, their small decentralized booths, some still in the outdoor area, had a small impact. Therefore Messe Friedrichshafen wanted to put this category in the spotlight and created a dedicated area. With the support of the German cargobike lobbyist Arne Behrensen of, they created the ‘Cargo Area’ in hall A1. About two dozen companies took this opportunity, thus representing the main market participants. Ben Sarrazin from Yuba already exhibited for 18 years ago at Eurobike with his Xtracycles.

“The breakthrough for the transporters came clearly with their electrification,” says the pioneer from California. He currently sees a trend away from the longtail type to the longjohn one. However, quite a few companies are also start-ups, or at least for the first time at Eurobike – for example Wike from Canada or Muli from the German Westerwald. Both were immediately honored an Eurobike Award: Wike for the first foldable Longjohn child carrier, Muli for the very compact size; at 195 cm, it’s not longer than a normal bike. Thanks to 60 cm wide cargo basket, which can be folded to only 28 cm, it fits through every front door. In addition to such innovations in the children’s and transport bike the heavy-duty or logistics bikes were new to many visitors.

Last mile container bikes

German pioneer Radkutsche and newcomers such as Bikelecing, Maxpro or Veleon continue what Rytle recently started to practice with UPS: the distribution on the (car-free) last mile with container bikes. DHL or Deutsche Post are in the starting blocks already as well: Streetscooter presented an electric delivery van, which deposits its four containers in a Microhub, from where they are taken on apart by e-tricycle for home delivery.

Not represented in the cargo area were the relatively small number of mainstream exhibitors in cargo sector, such as Hartje, Kona, Riese & Müller and Tern. Obviously, they preferred to show their full range their main booths. According to Arne Behrensen, the ‘Cargo Area’ has created the attention as expected and his daily tours were well attended. However, for a successful continuation of the project, several exhibitors wish that Eurobike would no longer put this special area on an empty spot in the back of a hall, but rather give it a more prominent place, probably with a small stage for events.

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