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10 Best Family Cargo Bikes For Hauling Your Kids

Author: Kristen Bonkoski

Updated:

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.  Our family does the vast majority of our around town trips via bike, from the school commute, to playdates, to library outings. The bikes on this list are ones that we have tested, reviewed, and would recommend to other parents.

Our top pick is the Radpower Radwagon. It’s not THE fanciest option, but it’s incredibly affordable and doesn’t cut a lot of corners. Ours has THOUSANDS of miles and is still going.

Once you’ve picked out a bike, make sure to read our guide to bike commuting with kids for tips. And review our list of the best kids bike helmets and child’s bike seats to keep your child safe.

Biking with the Yepp Maxi

Top Picks

BikePriceStyle
1RadPower Radwagon$1,999Longtail
2Xtracycle Swoop$4,999Longtail
3Madsen$2,645+ Bakfiets (kind of?)
4Bunch Bike$5,399Front Load Trike
5Flyer $1,999Longtail
6Riese and Müller Packster$8,799+ Bakfiets
7Tern GSD$4,999+Longtail
8Surly Big Dummy$2,249+Longtail
9Yuba Spicy Curry$4,999+Longtail
10Bike Friday Haul-a-Day$1,995+Longtail

Video Overview – Our Top Picks

RadPower Radwagon

Price: $1,999

Reasons To Buy

✅ Tons of value for the price
✅ Adjustable to fit different size riders
✅ Throttle helps to get you started
✅ Budget, but durable components

Reasons To Avoid

❌ You want local bike shop support
❌ Budget isn’t an issue and you want higher end componentry

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. Ours has THOUSANDS of miles on it now, and is still going strong. It’s not the fanciest and it doesn’t have the highest end components, but that hasn’t stopped us from getting years of use out of it.

It’s easy to mount up to two bike seats on the rear deck AND panniers. Or, older kids like mine can just use the open deck. I use the Radwagon for dropping the kiddo off at school, but I don’t feel silly using it afterward to run errands solo (like I do with our Bunch bike for example).

As with all direct-to-consumer bikes, the one drawback of the Radwagon is not having local bike shop support. That said, we’ve never had any major issues with our Radwagon and when we did have an issue with my sister’s Radpower bike, their customer service was top notch and they got us the replacement part and walked us through the repair.

Read Our Review: Radpower Radwagon

Xtracycle Swoop

riding the xtracycle swoop

Reasons To Buy

✅ Highly customizable
✅ Can fit up to 3 kids
✅ Top notch components
✅ Excellent customer service
✅ Rear platform is super comfortable

Reasons To Avoid

❌ No throttle
❌ Power button is in an ackward location

Want a high quality cargo bike that can be endlessly customized? Check out the Xtracycle Swoop

This longtail cargo bike fits two or three kids depending on the configuration, hauls bikes, and can 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 through 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. There are endless ways to set this all up, and the Xtracycle team can help as well. Their customer service is top notch.

Every single part on the Swoop is top notch. Compared to the Radwagon, it has a mid-drive motor rather than a hub-drive motor (which is much smoother), it has hydraulic disc brakes rather than mechanical disc brakes (better stopping power), and the rear deck padding is way more comfortable. It’s also more than double the price, so that’s the tradeoff.

And despite being nearly perfect, there are a few cons. There is no throttle which makes getting started a challenge when loaded up with kids AND the power button is at the back of the bike rather than on the handlebar. More than once, I rode down our hill with the bike off only to discover the power wasn’t on and I had to pull over to the side of the road to turn the battery on.

Read Our Reviews: Xtracycle Swoop OR Xtracycle Edgerunner (older version)

Price: $4,999

Madsen Cargo Bike

kids in madsen cargo bike

Price: $2,645+

Reasons To Buy

✅ Fits 4 kids w/ seatbelts
✅ Fun, bright colors
✅ Heavy duty kickstand for easy loading/unloading
✅ Fits riders of different heights

Reasons To Avoid

❌ No throttle, hard to get going from a stop
❌ Limited range of gears

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 (in addition to the black pictured here), 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.

It fits up to 4 kids, with seatbelts, and can hold up to 600 lbs. That means you can even fit an adult in the bucket. (Yes, of course we did this).

Like the Xtracycle, my biggest complaint is that it doesn’t have a throttle and when it’s fully loaded with passengers, it’s REALLY hard to get going. Additionally, the bike feels under geared to me when going full speed with the electric assist.

You can get it with or without an electric assist, but it’s heavy enough that I would highly recommend the electric version (which starts at $4,305).

Read Our Review: Madsen Cargo Bike

Bunch Bike

bunch bike review

Price: $5,399

Reasons To Buy

✅ Tons of storage space
✅ Very stable
✅ Plenty of braking power
✅ Fits riders of different heights

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Bumpy ride for passengers
❌ Wood gets beat up over time

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 seat belts 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. This makes it more versatile than the Madsen which does not have removable seats.

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. On the way down, the hydraulic disc brakes offer plenty of stopping power which is appreciated.

The fact that it is a trike rather than a bike means that it is super stable. I’ve never tipped this thing, nor come close to tipping it, which I can’t say for my other cargo bikes. It does take a bit of getting used to the handling compared to a bike, but it only takes a couple of rides to become second nature.

The ride is a bit harsh. There is no suspension and passengers will definitely feel some bumps. I have to slow way down for speed bumps and potholes.

And while I love the wood (which holds up well even in wet weather), it has gotten beat up over time. There are plenty of scratches and knicks, although they’d all be able to be refinished if you wanted to spend the time.

Read Our Review: Bunch Bike

Flyer L885

riding the flyer cargo bike

Price: $1,999

Reasons To Buy

✅ Wide tires and small rear wheel provide stability
✅ Affordable
✅ Rear basket can unzip for passengers or zip up to carry cargo
✅ Throttle makes starting from a stop easy

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Noisy
❌ Lower end components

Like the Radwagon, the Flyer is a more budget oriented option. Also like the Flyer, we’ve gotten a ton of good use out of ours and it has held up well despite the more entry-level price tag. 

The wide tires provide more stability than the Radwagon or the Xtracycle, and they can handle a little bit of gravel or grass as well. The rear wheel is smaller than the front wheel, which keeps the center of gravity low for your passenger and adds to the stable handling.

Our favorite part of the bike is the rear basket that can be transformed from a kid hauler to a grocery hauler in seconds. All you have to do is zip up the sides. We can fit a TON of groceries in there. And thanks to the throttle, you don’t have to worry about getting bogged down by weight at stop signs.

My only serious complaint with the Flyer is that the motor makes a whining noise when pushed to the max. It’s never actually caused any issue, but it is noisier than most.

Read Review: Flyer L885

Riese and Müller Packster

bike camping with the packster 80

Price: $9,069+

Reasons To Buy

✅ Top of the line components
✅ Suspension makes for a comfortable ride
✅ Adjustable to fit multiple adults
✅ Lots of cargo capacity

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Expensive
❌ Larger size means a wide turning radius and difficulty storing or transporting it

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.

The biggest drawback of this bike is the price tag. It’s crazy expensive, BUT it’s still certainly cheaper than a minivan. It’s also BIG which means a large turning radius and difficulty transporting or storing it.

Read Our Review: Riese & Muller Packster

Tern GSD S10

Price: $4,999

Reasons To Buy

✅ Small footprint makes handling and storage easy
✅ Belt drive is low maintenance
✅ Stable handling
✅ Suspension fork

Reasons To Avoid

❌ No throttle
❌ Small wheels don’t roll over obstacles as well

Has ever 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.

tern gsd

Like the rest of the bike, the 20 inch wheels are smaller than most. This is both an advantage and disadvantage. It keeps the center of gravity low and helps the bike feel stable. On the flip side, it makes it harder to maneuver over obstacles.

While the bike may be small in size, it’s nothing if not powerful. While it’s a similar size as the Cero One, for example, it can haul more weight (up to 400 pounds).

Read Review: Tern GSD


Surly Big Dummy

Surly Big Dummy
Photo by Timothy J

Price: $2,249+

Reasons To Buy

✅ Durable steel frame and quality build
✅ Off-road capable
✅ Comes in multiple frame sizes for a good fit
✅ Available in both non e-assist and e-assist versions

Reasons To Avoid

❌ You want all the bells and whistles
❌ High top tube

The Surly Big Dummy is popular amongst mountain bikers, and folks who hope to ride dirt with the kiddo in tow. If you have dirt or gravel on your family commute, this is your best option.

Surly is known for making quality, durable steel frames and the Big Dummy is no exception. It doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of some of the other bikes on this list, but it comes with quality components that will last a long time.

two kids loaded on the surly big dummy
Photo credit: Madi Carlson

The Big Dummy does NOT have an e-assist, but it’s brother the Surly Big Easy does. Since very few longtails are offered these days without one, if you want to save some money and go old school, the Big Dummy is a good choice.

Speaking of old school, the frame is offered in multiple frame sizes (small, medium, and large). This is fantastic for single riders wanting a perfect fit, but less ideal for two parents of different heights that would like to share a cargo bike. Additionally, it has a traditional non-sloped top tube design which makes it harder to get on and off the bike particularly for shorter riders.

Read Review: Surly Big Dummy

Yuba Spicy Curry

yuba spicy curry

Price: $4,999+

Reasons To Buy

✅ Smooth riding experience
✅ Long but stable rear end
✅ Easily customizable
✅ Fits a wide range of heights

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Needed accessories jack up the price
❌ No throttle

The Yuba Spicy Curry is one of the original electric longtail cargo bikes. It reminds me a lot of the Radpower Radwagon but with an upgraded Bosch motor and higher end brand-name components.

Like the Flyer, it has a smaller rear wheel and larger front wheel, to keep the center of gravity low at the rear but still allow the front wheel to make it up and over obstacles. The back end is long and provides plenty of space for your passengers.

yuba spicy curry

There are tons of accessories with which you can customize the bike. Unfortunately, almost none of them come included. Even the rear deck has to be added. This can jack up the price in a hurry.

Read Review: Yuba Spicy Curry

Bike Friday Haul-a-Day

Bike Friday Haul a Day

Price: $1,995+

Reasons To Buy

✅ Disassembles for transport or storage
✅ Good fit for shorter riders
✅ Stable and low center of gravity
✅ Build package is customizable

Reasons To Avoid

❌ Small wheels make it difficult to get over obstacles

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.

The unique design keeps the center of gravity super low and makes this a very stable bike even when fully loaded. However, hit a curb or a speed bump on this thing and you’ll feel it!

bike friday haul a day

The unique design also allows the bike to be broken apart for transportation or storage.

The build package is highly customizable allowing you to pick out your drivetrain, handlebars, and even cable colors. You can also choose to get the bike with or without an e-assist.

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

  • Pedego Stretch ($4,295)
  • Yuba Kombi ($1,199)
  • Yuba Mundo Lux ($2,499)
  • Yuba Boda Boda ($3,800)

Longjohn/Bakfiets Family Cargo Bikes

  • Virtue Bikes School Bus ($2,149+)
  • Larry vs Harry Bullit ($3,300+)
  • Urban Arrow Family Bike ($5,950+)

Front Load Trikes

  • Nihola Family ($3,999+)
  • Butchers & Bicycles MK-1E ($4,995+)
  • Christiana Bikes

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

Even if you’re not a big fan of e-bikes, it’s hard to argue with the value of an electric assist when you’re dealing with a cargo bike.  If you plan on using it as a primary source of transportation, have a long commute, live in a city with a lot of hills, or have multiple children to haul, an electric assist will make your life so much easier. 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 motor. 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 bikes 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 them in small spaces. Examples of these are the Bike Friday Haul-A-Day and the Tern GSD.

Things To Consider When Choosing A Family Bike

xtracycle in the golden light

How Many Kids You’re Hauling And How Old They Are

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.

Finally, consider how old your kids are and how long you want to be able to use the bike. Little ones will be best served on a bike where you can mount a child seat, while bigger kids will be happy on bikes with an open rear rack setup.

Our favorite companies, like Xtracycle, provide tons of accessories so that you can adjust the seating arrangement as your child grows.

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

When choosing an electric cargo bike, 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. Additionally, the heavier your children or overall load will be the more helpful it is to have a throttle to help you get started from a stop.

bunch throttle

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 address 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.

Financing And Warranty

Cargo bikes are anything but cheap. If you can’t afford to pay for the bike outright, look for a company that offers financing (many do!).

I’d also recommend finding out what the warranty is like BEFORE you buy. Don’t just assume that because the bike you’re buying is expensive that they will have a great warranty and customer service. And some of the cheaper companies–like Radpower–do a great job of warranting parts when they break (we know from first hand experience).

More Articles You Might Find Helpful

About Us

The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.

Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.

If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!

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20 thoughts on “10 Best Family 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 am just looking at the different Babboe models. Their Flow and Carve model design fit my use the most out of all the ones I have researched. I have 3 kids, and like the option of having all of them in 2 benches in the front, and 3 wheels so that our nanny who does not know how to ride bikes can also use it. But you comment about the battery is making me think again. I am currently in Switzerland, relatively flat, and drivers seem very respectful to bikers and pedestrians. Can you recommend other brands that might fit my usage? and do you know if there is a main difference between the Flow and Carve model?

      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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