Improved Urban Arrow E-Cargo Bike Will Eat Ford F-150s

Whether you are moving kids, dirt, or anvils, it can do the job.

Urban Arrow in City

Urban Arrow

We here at Treehugger are believers that e-bikes will eat cars and cargo bikes will eat SUVs. This is especially the case when you take the current gas prices into account.

Over on Electrek, e-bike expert Micah Toll crunched numbers to calculate how many tanks of gas it would take to afford an e-bike. If you drive a Ford F-150 pickup truck with a 26-gallon tank, a tank full of gas costs $130 at five bucks a gallon. It would take just five fill-ups to get a cheap e-bike, and maybe 10 fill-ups to get a fairly nice one like a $1,300 Aventon Soltera. So at current gas prices, e-bikes are eating F-150s.

But no doubt many will complain that, unlike the Ford F-150, an e-bike can't carry a week's worth of groceries, can't deal with a trip to the garden center, or deal with the classic question of, "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BRING AN ANVIL FROM KILLYBEGS TO ADRIGOLE!" So what is the math on a cargo bike that can carry the kids and the shopping and the anvils? A Radwagon, like the one Treehugger's Katherine Martinko rides, is $2,000 or 15 fill-ups.

Urban Arrow in Studio

Urban Arrow

But an F-150 is not an economy car, so we don't want an economy cargo bike. If I am going to be hauling anvils, I want the new updated Urban Arrow. It will cost you 62 fill-ups, over two years' worth of gas at $7,900. But it is still one-tenth of the purchase cost of a top-of-the-line F-150, with negligible operating costs and no pain at the pump. And it really is the prettiest cargo bike on two wheels.

We have shown the Urban Arrow before, but it has just been significantly updated. It now has a Gates carbon belt drive instead of a chain, a redesigned steering tube that improves stability and control at high speeds, especially with a heavy payload in the box.

rider on bike

Urban Arrow

The company states: "Additional updates include a Magura eBike ABS brake system, which has an intelligent rear wheel lift control that reduces the possibility of the rear wheel lifting when the front wheel brake is applied forcefully, enabling riders to use the front brake more actively and efficiently." I find it hard to imagine this would have been an issue with the weight of the rider almost on top of the rear wheel, but it is good to know.

Display improved

Urban Arrow

The Bosch Generation 4 motor is still nominally rated at 250 watts but is cranked up to 85 newton-meters of torque. As a commenter noted in an earlier post, "Jay Leno always says 'horsepower sells cars, torque wins races.'" It's paired with a 500-watt-hour battery and a fancy new Kiox display. There's also an Enviolo continuously variable transmission.

Gazelle North America distributes the Urban Arrow and business is booming, according to the company. "Micromobility and alternate forms of personal transportation in the United States are continuing to gain traction at an accelerating rate as gas prices skyrocket and urban commuters look for a better way to move through daily life," Ewoud van Leeuwen, general manager of Urban Arrow North America, said in a press release. "Urban Arrow’s line of Family e-cargo bikes are an inspiring, forward-looking, and award-winning alternative to automobiles for individuals and families looking for a singular, sophisticated solution, and these new updates make the choice even clearer."

Another choice that has to be made with cargo bikes is whether to go two wheels or three. As explained in our post on the Black Iron Horse, the steering on a trike is a lot more complicated and involves a lot of trade-offs. The Urban Arrow rides like a bike, albeit a very long one at 8 feet, two inches.

According to our friends at Curbside Cycle, Danes prefer three-wheelers and the Dutch prefer two, because of different local conditions.

"Why the difference? In Holland, there is simply more infrastructure where bikes share space with other bikes rather than with cars. And, while that's true today in Copenhagen, it wasn't always this way. The bike had to feel as stable on the bike lane as it did on the road."

Indeed, the three-wheeler does feel a lot more stable.

"To many, this marks a crucial difference. A two-wheeled bike does require a learning curve, but this learning curve can sometimes be overplayed. The only time a two-wheeled cargo bike ever feels unstable is when its going under 5km/hr. But this is highly manageable, it just requires a touch more pressure on the bar to keep the bike pointing straight. That's the learning curve, it's not much. The advantage of a two-wheeled cargo bike is manifold, one less wheel on the ground means you can do longer distances with far less effort and of course, it feels more like a regular bike." 
Curbside's Urban Arrow

Lloyd Alter

After reading this, I thought I should check this out myself and borrowed a bike from Curbside. They are right: There is indeed a learning curve. The first time I tried the bike, I turned left out of the bike lane and into the street. I pushed it to a side street and tried again, and it almost fell over on me. And it's heavy; I couldn't imagine doing this with kids in the box. The third time was the charm; I pushed back on the handlebar and gave the pedals a big kick to get moving faster and I was off.

The view from the drivers seat
The view from the drivers seat.

Lloyd Alter

When it's moving, it feels like a regular bicycle. The continuously variable transmission, controlled by twisting the right handle, is glorious, so smooth, and works from a stopped position—a wonderful feature. The Bosch performance drive has as much power as you would ever need.

Interior of the box
Interior of box.

Lloyd Alter

The interior of the box feels tight for two kids side by side, and it is long enough that they probably could put one on each end, facing each other. But this is tried and true, and clearly works.

Riding the urban Arrow

Urban Arrow

There are many who will say the prices for these e-cargo bikes are ridiculous and in many ways they are: A Ford F-150 costs about $10 per pound and the Urban Arrow costs $80 per pound. It is a silly comparison but these cargo bikes are virtually hand-made in very high-cost countries in relatively small quantities.

But if it gets you out of a car, the savings are huge. According to Investopedia, the average cost of operating a vehicle in 2019 was $10,742 per year. The rise in gas prices would add another $1,186 based on average gas consumption of 656 gallons per year. A year without a car more than pays for the e-cargo bike that can last for years.

Then you can add the savings in carbon dioxide emissions and all the other benefits that accrue from not burning expensive gasoline in a time of crisis. So a switch to a regular e-bike will be cheaper and might be paid for by the equivalent of a few fill-ups. But if you are moving kids, dirt, or anvils, consider the Urban Arrow or another e-cargo bike. As my own kids found, it can be life-changing.