Just before we arrived in Seattle, G&O Family Cyclery reopened their doors about a mile away from our new place. So of course one of the first things we did once we got the most important stuff unpacked was visit! Although we ordered our Packster through Splendid Cycles in Portland because we didn’t know G&O were carrying them we were very excited to see that they have R&M bikes and that we’d have a local dealer to work with for maintenance and repairs on the bike. When we arrived we found out that they were carrying a R&M bike we hadn’t seen at Splendid – the Load. My initial impression of this bike was that the suspension was complete overkill and the box was too small for two kids. But T was drawn in by it.
Over the next couple of weeks we stopped by a few more times, eventually both taking it out for test rides. T had been considering a cargo bike (primarily the Yuba Spicy Curry, though he’d also test ridden the Mundo and Edgerunner) as his commuter but had dropped the idea in favor of a more standard e-bike, the Wallarang M-01. The Load rekindled his interest in having a cargo bike of his own, though. And I had to admit that on the short ride up and down the street it was amazingly smooth. G&O didn’t have the kid kit in for it yet but they decided to go ahead and order it and we decided we would rent the bike for a few days once it came in. Theoretically that was a great plan. In reality it took longer than expected to come in (I think it ended up being something like a month?) and we had some nice weather sooner than expected. So we just rented it anyway on Easter weekend. The plan was that we’d pick it up Saturday evening just before the shop closed and return it Wednesday morning when they opened back up for the week. We’d let H ride in it since she’s old enough to say put (and regularly rode on the deck of the BodaBoda) but save Little T riding in it for a later date after the kid kit came in.
Things didn’t exactly go according to plan. We did pick it up Saturday evening, but things were a bit rushed with us getting out the door (our fault as we showed up unannounced 20 min before closing on a holiday weekend) and we ended up with two keys for the frame lock and none for the battery. And because it wasn’t a planned rental and we were going to have it overnight before doing much riding with it we walked out with it only having ~60% charge and a plan to charge it that night. We didn’t realize until Sunday evening that the charger hadn’t actually charged the bike at all Saturday night. We weren’t sure if that meant that the charger was bad or the charging port on the bike was bad since we couldn’t remove the battery to plug it directly into the charger. The bike was down to ~20% charge by the time we noticed this, and the store wasn’t open, so we didn’t get to do any riding from Sunday evening through Tuesday morning when the folks at G&O got back to us and offered to let us bring the bike in (on a day the shop is not fully open) and figure out what was up and get things working again. That was a bit fun, because T wouldn’t be home from work until after the shop closed and I had two kids with me and no kid kit for the bike. So I walked it to G&O with the kids sitting inside as though it were a giant, very expensive stroller. Also it rained on us for at least 10 minutes. But it was warmish and the kids thought it was great fun to be sitting in the bike and G&O is not so far and only requires climbing one steep hill. I did find out that walk assist was not enabled on the bike and it was definitely something I missed!
Once we got there it was quickly determined that the charger was the issue and after hanging out for a bit to let the battery charge we headed back out, with the rental extended a bit to compensate for the time we lost due to the charger issue. We mostly walked on the return trip but did coast along at walking speed on some of the very quiet sections of the route. Little T was completely enthralled by being in the bike and never tried to move. Once we had the battery charged we were able to do a bit more with the bike. In addition to a zoo trip on Sunday, T used the bike to commute in on Wednesday and I did a grocery run and a couple of small errands with H on board before returning it on Thursday morning.
Not as intensive a test ride as I’d have liked on the whole but I think we were able to get a good feel for the bike. At some point we’d still like to test it for a day with the child seat kit in place.
- The Bosch Performance CX drive system that the model we rode comes with is a great assist. It’s what our Packster has and is also used in
the Xtracycle Edgerunners and(**Edit: the Edgerunners actually use the standard Performance motor, which is a little lower torque, not the CX**) the new version of the Yuba Spicy Curry. I had no trouble taking H up some very steep hills even though I am not a particularly powerful rider. This included having to start out on a fairly steep incline at a traffic light, which I’d been a bit worried about due to the lack of a throttle. The assist kicked in very quickly and it wasn’t an issue.
- The suspension makes the ride unlike any other cargo bike I’ve ever been on. It’s amazingly smooth without feeling bouncy or overdone. At 30 mph on a downhill it becomes glaringly obvious that pretty much no other bike you’ve ridden was anywhere near this smooth. H absolutely loved how little she got bounced around in the box of this bike, and she is one to complain about bumps on other bikes.
- The rear rack is very solid given that this is a full suspension bike and adds some carrying capacity, though I’m not sure the weight limit as none was marked (**Update: I’ve confirmed that the weight limit is 20kg**). I also couldn’t get our grocery pannier to work on it.
- It’s very adjustable for the rider and has a fairly tight turning radius compared to some other box bikes.
- The box is small and because it’s a part of the frame you can’t just get a bigger one made like for most box bikes. For my needs it is too small. Especially with somewhat limited options for rear rack due to the suspension. At 19 months and 4 years old our kids were willing to sit in the box together, but there’s definitely less space for them than in the Packster and I would anticipate more fighting. And once you have two kids in the box nothing else is really going in there. Grocery getting will require panniers if you want to do it while you have the kids.
- Price: This is not a cheap bike by any stretch. It’s even about $1000 more than the Packster, which is already fairly expensive.
- There is a rain canopy option but it’s very similar in design to the one for the Packster, which I’ve used for a day and was not a fan of. Expect to need to get a custom one made if you buy this bike.
So will we get it? Still unclear. It’s not in our budget right now and there are arguments to be made that we either don’t really need a second cargo bike or would be better off with a longtail to complement our Packster. This bike is still our top choice though, when it does become financially feasible. Even if it’s not the most practical choice it’s honestly one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden in any category. It’s a much cooler bike than my initial impression left me thinking.