Family Bikes: 9 Best Cargo Bikes For Hauling Your Kids

Imagine a world in which it is convenient and practical to forgo the minivan and pick up a bike instead.  Of course, a family cargo bike won’t magically improve the bicycle infrastructure and culture in your city, but it will allow you to easily haul kids, groceries, soccer balls, school backpacks, and whatever else parenthood may throw your way.

There are lots of cargo bike options out there, but some are better than others for hauling your most precious cargo: kids.  Here are our top picks for family bikes, and some tips on how and why to choose a cargo bike for cycling with your offspring.

Biking with the Yepp Maxi

Why Choose a Cargo Bike For Cycling With Kids

Cargo bikes are ideal for families that do a lot of bike commuting, who try to minimize car use (or live car free), and who need a way to haul kids.  Unlike most child bike seats or trailers, cargo bikes can be used for babies and “big” kids which means that the investment can be recouped over a lot of years. 

They are also great for hauling all that stuff that comes along with having kids–library books, backpacks, balance bikes, groceries, Christmas trees, you name it.

xtracycle edgerunner cargo bike

Who shouldn’t buy a family bike?  If you are new to bike commuting, and just want to get your feet wet, you might want to consider a bike trailer or child bike seat first before you spend a lot of money investing in a cargo bike.

To E-Bike or not to E-Bike

While I am generally not a fan of e-bikes (call me a good old fashioned luddite), the one case in which I think they make a lot of sense is cargo bikes.  If you plan on using your cargo bike as a primary source of transportation, have a long commute, live in a city with a lot of hills, have multiple children to haul, or are just otherwise motivated by an electronic assist, go for it. I personally use an e-cargo bike on a daily basis, and can’t imagine life without the electric assist.

That said, there are reasons to stick to a traditional bike without a motro. A couple of downsides of an electronic assist is the extra maintenance involved, needing to store and charge the bike indoors, extra weight, and the price.  But when you consider the cost of an e-bike compared to a car, they are downright cheap.

Types Of Cargo Bikes

There are three general styles of cargo bikes: the longtail, the longjohn, and the front-load trike.

The longtail is generally the most agile and lightweight of the three types of cargo bikes.  It generally can fit one to three children on the rear in either a bike seat or via a “cage” on the deck. Examples include the Xtracycle and Radpower Radwagon. A longtail with a shorter deck is often referred to as a midtail.

The longjohn is the most traditional family bike, and is also commonly referred to as a “bakfiets.”  These aren’t seen a ton in the United States, but are very popular in the Netherlands and other European countries.  They can be heavy for pedaling uphill, but can fit lots of kiddos and gear. 

For parents wanting to bike with babies, you can even strap a carseat in. Examples include the Riese and Muller Packster and the Urban Arrow. The front-load trike is ideal for parents who aren’t super comfortable on a bicycle and want a lot of stability or have a lot of kids to transport.  Again, the biggest downside to these bike is that they can be heavy. Examples are the Bunch Bike and Christiania.

Some cargo bikes are also folding bikes. These make it easier to take them on public transportation or to store in small spaces. Examples of these are the Bike Friday Haul-A-Day and the Tern GSD.


Our Favorite Family Bikes

BikePriceStyleE-Assist Option?
1Xtracycle (Swoop or Stoker)$4,999LongtailYes
2Riese and Müller Packster$8,799+ BakfietsYes
3RadPower Radwagon$1,999LongtailYes
4Madsen$2,645+ Bakfiets (kind of?)Yes
5Bunch Bike$4,999Front Load Trike Yes
6Tern GSD$5,399LongtailYes
7Surly Big Dummy$2,249+LongtailYes (Big Easy)
8Yuba Spicy Curry$4,750LongtailYes
9Bike Friday Haul-a-Day$1,850+LongtailYes

Xtracycle Swoop or Classic

Xtracycle Sizing

Want to keep things simple? Check out the Xtracycle.  It can fit up to three kids, haul bikes, and go almost anywhere. All Xtracycle models now include an electric assist.

The Stoker version has a higher, more traditional top tube, while the Swoop has (you guessed it) a downward swooping top-tube that allows you to easily step thru and get on or off the bike.

For young kids, you can easily install the Thule Yepp Maxi on the rear deck, and for older kids the Hooptie cage provides a fun ride.

Read Our Review: Xtracycle

Price: $4,999


Riese and Müller Load

bike camping with the packster 80

Is there anything you can’t carry in the Riese & Muller Load? Not much. With the child seat, you can haul two kids in safety with the 5-point harnesses, plus all their stuff.

One of our biggest complaints about bucket bikes for kids is that they tend to be a bit of a bumpy, rough ride. The Riese & Muller has addressed this by offering FULL suspension. Much more comfy for both the passengers and the riders, particularly on pot-holed or gravel roads.

Sound heavy? No fear. The bike has a Bosch Performance CX electric assist system that can handle all but the steepest hills, even fully loaded.

Read Our Review: Riese & Muller Packster (older version)

Price: $8,799+


RadPower Radwagon

If you’ve decided you want an electric cargo bike for hauling the kiddos around town, but are struggling to stomach the necessary investment, check out the Radpower Radwagon. It’s WAY more affordable than most electric longtails, but doesn’t cut a lot of corners to make it happen.

Our family owns and uses a Radwagon nearly daily and we love the bike. It’s easy to mount up to two bike seats on the rear deck AND panniers. I use it for dropping the kiddo off at school, but I don’t feel silly using it afterward to run errands (like I do with our bakfiets).

Read Our Review: Radpower Radwagon

Price: $1,999


Madsen Cargo Bike

kids in madsen cargo bike

We’re partial to the Madsen bike because they are based out of our (previous) hometown of Salt Lake City, UT.  They also happen to look really, really cool. 

The Madsen is unique in that it comes in lots of pretty colors and that the “bucket” is located at the rear of the bike instead of the front.  If you want to bike around town with the kids, and look good doing it, the Madsen is your bike.

Read Our Review: Madsen Cargo Bike

Price: $2,645+


Bunch Bike

bunch bike review

The Bunch Bike is a haul-everything machine. Our family uses ours for hauling our kiddo (plus his friends), bikes, scooters, camp chairs for watching soccer practice, soccer balls, tennis rackets, etc, etc, etc.

There are two benches with seatbelts for up to 4 kids in the bucket (and you can add a seat on the rear rack as well). There is also storage under the benches, and they can be removed all together if you want to carry additional cargo.

The bike currently only comes in an electric assist version, and the bike is heavy enough that you’ll need it to get up the steep hills.

Read Our Review: Bunch Bike

Price: $4,999


Tern GSD S10

Has every there been a cargo bike with more cult-like enthusiasm than the Tern GSD? I think not!

Of course, this loyalty is well deserved and hard won. The Tern GSD S10 can carry two kids, but only fits the footprint of a regular bike.

This makes it super convenient for families who want to take it on the train or bus, store it in a small apartment, or who want to be able to maneuver the bike in tight city spaces. The bike folds up for transport or storage.

While the bike may be small in size, it’s nothing if not powerful. It can haul up to 400 pounds, and has a 250 watt motor.

Price: $5,399

Read Review: Tern GSD


Surly Big Dummy

Surly Big Dummy
Photo by Timothy J

The Surly Big Dummy is another long-tail that should be on your shortlist of options.  Like the Xtracycle, the Big Dummy accepts the Thule Yepp Maxi seat on the rear or allows passengers to sit on the deck with a rail system. 

This one is popular amongst mountain bikers, and folks who hope to ride dirt with the kiddo in tow. In fact, you can also opt for the Surly Big Fat Dummy which is even better suited for off-road riding, or the Big Easy with electric assist.

Price: $2,249+

Read Review: Surly Big Dummy


Yuba Spicy Curry

yuba spicy curry

If you are looking for an e-bike, consider the Yuba Spicy Curry.  The popular bike has recently been upgraded with a Bosch motor so you can speed up steep hills. 

The Spicy Curry isn’t cheap, but compared to a car it is–and it comes with all the extras: lights, fenders, kickstand, wheelskirt, etc. It also has hydraulic disc brakes which are a step up from the mechanical disc brakes found on most cargo bikes.

Price: $4,999

Read Review: Yuba Spicy Curry


Bike Friday Haul-a-Day

Bike Friday Haul a Day

Smaller riders and cyclists in hilly cities, rejoice.  The Bike Friday Haul-a-Day is a lightweight and nimble family bike option. 

The 24-speed drivetrain provides plenty of allowance for big climbs, and the low standover height is awesome when juggling a bike and kiddos. It also means that riders as short as 4 foot 6 inches will fit on this bike.

Need an electric assist? That’s an option too.

Price: $1,995+

Read Review: Bike Friday Haul-A-Day


Honorable Mentions (By Type)

Want even more options? All of the following bikes are popular with families with kids.

Longtail Family Cargo Bikes

Longjohn/Bakfiets Family Cargo Bikes

Front Load Trikes


Things To Consider When Choosing A Family Bike

How Many Kids You’re Hauling

The number of kids (and pets!) you’re hauling will help determine what kind of bike you need. With a longtail cargo bike, you’re pretty much limited to 2 kids. You might be able to add a front mounted bike seat until your youngest gets too big, or haul a trailer–but neither of those situations are ideal.

MADSEN bucket bike seats

For more kids, choose a bucket style bike. Look for one that has as many seats and/or seatbelts as you have children.

How Far You’ll Be Biking, The Number Of Hills, & How Heavy Your Load Is

Before buying a family bike, consider how you’ll be using the bike. Are you riding 1 mile to preschool and the library? Do you live at the top of a steep hill? Do you plan on carrying groceries plus kids? Do you hope to replace your car?

The further you’ll be biking, the more kids you’re carrying, and the more hilly your city is, the more likely you’ll need a bike with an e-assist. (We discussed this a bit earlier).

madsen motor

That said, you also want to pay attention to the power of the motor (watts), the battery storage, and the range of the whole system. The more you plan on using the bike, the more it makes sense to invest in a high-quality electric setup.

Do You Need To Carry Cargo Also?

Do you plan on only carrying kids, or will you be carrying cargo as well? Will there be times you’re carrying both at the same time.

If you’re looking at a longtail cargo bike, consider if you can mount both a seat and panniers. Or maybe there are mounts for a front basket.

radwagon panniers

Bucket bikes are a little easier to carry both kids and gear, but again consider the design. Do the seats have storage space underneath them, for example.

Is There A Local Dealer?

I’m certainly not afraid to order online. Many of the direct to consumer brands (like Radpower) are putting out bikes at a price that is just too good to ignore.

That said, if you aren’t bike savvy at all, it can really help to have a local bike dealer nearby that can help addresss any issues you might have. Buying from a local dealer also gives you the opportunity to test ride the bike you’re considering before making the big purchase.

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18 thoughts on “Family Bikes: 9 Best Cargo Bikes For Hauling Your Kids”

    • I just saw that earlier today! I feel awful for yourself and others that lost their money in this. Will definitely be updating the website in the next couple of days–this post and others that reference Taga.

      Reply
  1. Same here with the Taga bike. It’s a major disappointment, expecting it April 2018 and they don’t answer my emails.

    Reply
  2. We did receive our Taga 2.0, but very quickly outgrew it. So the next step for us has been the Bunch Bike tricycle. Bunchbike.com (formerly known as the Urban Tribe). We loved our Taga, but we love our Bunch even more!

    Reply
  3. My husband and I highly recommend the affordable RadWagon from Rad Power Bikes for $1,599.00 as a versatile electric cargo bike for kids and cargo of all shapes and sizes (including Christmas trees!). Rad Power Bikes is a direct-to-consumer company, which allows them to keep their costs down and still deliver an excellent product. You can find local owners who may be willing to offer test rides in case you’re not in the Seattle area to stop by their show room.

    https://www.radpowerbikes.com/products/radwagon-electric-cargo-bike

    Reply
    • I second the RadWagon! We purchased ours sight unseen about six months ago. 700 miles later, we are so happy with our purchase! It handles two kids and hills with ease.

      Reply
      • Do you know if the Rad will fit boys aged 5 & 9? I emailed them to ask because I wonder if they just sit on that flat back and have to hold on or is there a different system for hauling them. Afraid my 5 year would zone out and fall right off!

        Reply
  4. What bikes are compatible with infant car seats? I saw that you mentioned the long-John style bikes work for babies but I’m not sure which brands have that style.

    Reply
  5. Hello, Need some advice here. I have been reading about Bunch cargo bikes and the new ones are priced at almost the same as 5-7year old Christiania cargo bikes. Is it the frame that is expensive? What should I look far in a cargo bike?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Subha,
      That’s a big question that’s probably deserving of its own article….First off, Christiania bikes have a semi-cult following and are going to have a higher resale value than other cargo bikes. As far as what’s expensive on a bike, it is a combination of the frame itself AND the components. Higher-end components (drivetrain, wheels, brakes, etc) can raise the price substantially. If a bike is e-assist that’s obviously going to raise the price a ton too…..When choosing a cargo bike, I would look at weight (especially if it’s not electric), quality of components, and style (longtails vs bakfiests, etc–what’s going to work best for your family/the type of riding you do).

      Reply
  6. How are these types of bikes in rain and snow? I used to commute on bike years ago, but now I’ll be biking with my almost 2 year old and I worry about handling and protection against the elements. How do you handle inclement weather?

    Reply
  7. I thought I should add from experience using the Babboe Curve for 3 years in Germany that this bike is *incredibly* heavy, even with the engine, not good with slight inclines (much less hills) which makes it perfect for Europe but I’m guessing less so for many areas in America. Lastly, the battery used by Babboe is known to have defects and we had to actually trade in TWO due to a faltering battery which would push our bike forward when it was stopped (very scary when you are stopped at an intersection!). The bike dealer where we got the Babboe said they were going to discontinue carrying the brand due to the battery being an issue for the whole brand. But if you are in Europe or in the city with flat terrain and no car like I was, it was great. I could often fit 4 kids and even 3 kids bikes inside the Babboe. It is a serious horse.

    Reply
    • I clicked your link and ended up having the nicest chat with a rep Inessa who has set up a test drive for me in their LA showroom. Looking forward to trying this one out! Thanks for the recommendation.

      Reply
  8. I love all of these recommendations. When thinking though about bringing a cargo bike with us on vacation, to explore around, are there any options that fit onto a hitch rack, or do people just switch to using a trailer?

    Reply

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