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Bike review: Urban Arrow Family

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With Dutch smarts, this electric motor assisted cargo bike delivers the goods for a household. Simon Vincett test rides.

The grocery shop seems an unlikely occasion for an enjoyable cycling experience but this is the bike to make this mundane chore a triumph. I could park just outside the door, unload straight from the trolley into the enormous box and then ride right up to my front door to unload. No fastidious packing of panniers required; no careful avoidance of bulky, heavy or fragile items is necessary. This is the bike equivalent of a ute. No worries—just load up the tray.

For the school run, there are harnesses for two kids and a step for them to climb in. The bike is very stable on its stand. My son clambered in excitedly for his first ride and the bike didn’t even shudder under the assault. An optional extra is a clear cover to keep the rain and wind off the billy lids. This is also flexible to minimise how much it catches the wind.

Though it’s a big bike, it’s surprisingly easy to ride. This is largely due to the extra help from the Bosch motor providing assistance to your pedalling. This is a very sophisticated system that sensitively but firmly provides the extra oomph you need to get started or get up a hill.

The Bosch Classic Line motor fitted in this bike has more torque than the more common Bosch Active Line motor, which is welcome on a heavy bike with capacity to carry 100kg more. It’s a sophisticated system that comes in gently but firmly and provides a little or a lot of assistance depending on the setting you choose.

Steering dampening reduces much of the twitchiness inherent in the steering systems of this format of bike. The seat post is set back considerably to allow the rider to put a foot on the ground when stopped and still have good leg extension when pedalling. While unconventional, this laid-back position is desirable for stability in stopping and going and with a motor to assist there’s no need for any more aggressive geometry.

Despite seeming very large, the bike was fine on all my normal riding routes, with the exception of a couple of sets of chicane bollards. The turning circle seems unworkably big until you learn the trick—the seat has a handle to lift the back wheel to pivot the bike on the front wheel. Voila—instant turns. For security it comes with an ABUS ring lock, with a socket for a chain extension but I always found a street pole to use my D-lock.

In Australia we’ve become accustomed to Bosch ebikes coming with the larger capacity battery, but this Bosch set-up comes with the 300 amp hour Powerpack 300 battery. This provides about a 40km range (or more on lower assistance levels). This should enable most riders to top up the battery at home after each day of riding. You can upgrade to the bigger Powerpack 400 battery if you want to. The battery is stashed under the child seat. It releases using the key from the wheel lock.

The perfect pairing with the Bosch motor on this hefty bike is the NuVinci variable transmission, with its ability to change under load. This amazing system makes gear changing extremely simple, with a twist grip and a very clear display to choose more help for a hill or more speed for the flat.

I did overbalance the bike one time in my driveway just before setting off. My load was slightly too much to one side and I put the bike down on an angle after taking it off the stand. It was a heavy load to haul upright and the incident that showed me that this bike would be too heavy for some riders, who might prefer a three-wheel cargo bike for greater stability.

The hydraulic disc brakes have no trouble with the weight of the bike. They pulled me and my cargo up quickly and surely every time, with lovely braking modulation in the meantime. It’s reassuring to have good brakes on a bike with such considerable inertia.

The Urban Arrow is a modular system. You can take the box off and fit a shorter wheelbase front with a tray or you can swap the family box into a cargo box. There’s also a range of accessories, such as fabric box covers, child seat adaptors and rear rack.

This is a bike with enormous potential to take the place of a car. If you live in urban Australia, there’s no reason why the Urban Arrow couldn’t be your main load carrying vehicle. Along with a conventional bike, a public transport pass and a sharecar membership you’ve got your transport covered.

We have more about the versatility and potential of cargo bikes in our article ‘Smiles per hour’.

Frame Aluminium

Fork Steel

Gearing NuVinci N360 continuously variable planetary hub gear

Brakes Shimano hydraulic disc

Motor Bosch Classic Line with Powerpack 300 battery (Powerpack 400 upgrade available)

Wheels SRAM front hub, Schwalbe Big Apple Plus tyres 20×2.15 front, 26×2.15 rear

RRP $7000

97%

Function 39/40

Quality 40/40

Appearance 9/10

Price 9/10

More details www.urbanarrow.com/en/family

To buy myspokes.com.au

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