Beginner Tips for E-Cargo Bike Riders
Because of their compact size, Tern e-bikes ride much like standard bikes—especially compared to other types of cargo bikes. But if you’ve never carried passengers or cargo on a bike before, it may take a little getting used to.
In this article, we’ll offer some tips to help new e-cargo bike riders build up their skills and confidence.
1. Establish a positive mindset
The most important thing to know is that nerves are normal. Whether you haven’t ridden a bike in years, have had your confidence shaken by an accident, or are just anxious about transporting your kids safely—you’re not alone.
In particular, lots of smaller riders say they feel intimidated by the thought of carrying two kids on the GSD at first. There's nothing wrong with that—it's a big load, and a big change if you're not used to it.
That being said, all it takes is time and patience. Have a positive mindset and believe that in the end, using your e-bike will feel easy and intuitive, even with passengers or heavy cargo on board. No matter where you're coming from, you'll get there (sooner than you think!).
2. Prioritize safety
Safety first, always!
Wear a properly fitted helmet and bright or reflective clothing. Turn on your front light to increase your visibility. Only ride on busy roads once you’re sure you can focus your attention on traffic and not on controlling your bike.
3. Practice solo first
Even with compact, easy-handling bikes, it's a good idea to make sure you're 100% confident riding solo before adding kids or cargo.
Find somewhere with few distractions to practice on your own. Whether you choose a parking lot, dedicated bike path, or quiet back road, logging some one-on-one time with your e-bike will help you get ready for bigger and better things. You may be surprised how fast you get used to the way your new e-bike rides.
Here are a few things to focus on while you’re practicing:
- Balancing and turning at slow speeds
- Making tight turns (a parking lot with painted lines is great for this)
- Braking with control
- Downshifting as you come to a stop, so it’s easier to get started again (although if your bike features some level of automatic shifting—like the HSD S+ or GSD R14—you can skip this step!)
4. Experiment to find your optimal riding position
While you’re out practicing, take some time to nail down your most comfortable riding position—it really can make all the difference.
Make small adjustments to your seatpost and handlebars until you find the combination that works best for you. Learn more about finding your fit.
Here are a couple of things to try out:
- Using the Andros Stem to move the handlebars forward and down a little may make the steering feel less twitchy and more predictable.
- Some riders say that bringing the saddle down a little lower than they would for a standard bike helps them feel more in control. As you gain confidence, you can raise the seat for better pedaling ergonomics.
5. Build up to carrying kids and cargo
Once you’re feeling good about riding on your own, gradually work your way up to carrying kids and cargo.
For cargo, you can just add weight a little bit at a time, working your way up to heavy loads. Make sure to distribute weight evenly on either side of the bike for better balance.
Kids are a little trickier since they tend to wiggle around on the back of the bike. Start by riding with something heavy strapped to the rear rack to get a feel for how the balance of the bike changes. Then try riding with just one kid at a time. When you’re comfortable with that, go ahead and add a second passenger. Make sure the heaviest passenger is sitting closest to you to keep most of the weight near the center of the bike.
6. Get support
Meeting up with other riders, either in person or virtually, can be a huge confidence booster (and lots of fun!).
You may be able to find a cargo bike riders’ group in your area by asking around or searching online. And if you’re interested in connecting with other Tern riders and hearing their success stories, the Tern GSD Facebook group, Tern HSD Facebook group, and Tern Quick Haul Facebook group are great places to start.
If you need more intensive support, look into bicycle skills classes available in your area. In some places, local governments even provide safe riding lessons for free.
7. Relax and enjoy the ride
Your Tern e-bike will be with you for the long haul, so you don’t need to master it all at once. Just enjoy the process—soon you’ll be looking back with wonder at how far you’ve come.