While bicycles have generally been a “one bike, one rider” type of proposition, electric bicycles flip the script by using motor assist to add extra utility. And a new wave of multi-passenger electric bikes are opening the door for two-up riding that hasn’t typically been possible on unassisted pedal bikes.
Sure, you could carry a friend on your pedal bike’s rear rack or perhaps plop your girlfriend down on the handlebars of your cruiser. But good luck powering the two of you up a hill on leg power alone.
With utility and moped style electric bikes though, the extra weight (and space) of a passenger is no problem.
Of course this requires a fairly high power motor, meaning you won’t be running a moto taxi service on your Specialized electric road bike. But higher power electric bikes such as electric cargo bikes, utility bikes and e-mopeds are now making it a breeze to ditch your car for a bike and still carry a passenger (or two!) around with you.
To carry a passenger comfortably you’ll want to add a pair of rear foot pegs – or find an e-bike that comes with them pre-installed.
When I reviewed the dual motor Ariel Rider D-Class e-bike, I carried my nephews around on the long bench seat and included foot pegs. Back then the foot pegs were a little weak looking, but the company responded by upgrading to massive cast iron folding pegs on their new models that look like they could support a circus bear.
Both the Ariel Rider X-Class and new Grizzly models offer these big rear foot pegs, and the Grizzly even has dual motors plus dual batteries to give you extra power and range for flying up hills with a passenger on board.
While the Grizzly is a bit steeper at $2,999 (though worth it for the high power dual motors and dual batteries), the entry-level X-Class gets you rolling with passenger pegs for a cool $1,599, though you’ll want to upgrade to the $89 two-person seat to make the most of those chunky rear foot pegs. Even so, for under $1,700, you’ve got a crazy powerful, full-suspension electric bike capable of carrying two passengers – that’s a lot of utility!
Other famous moped-style e-bikes like those from Juiced Bikes also make it easy to carry passengers, though not right out of the box like the Ariel Rider bikes above.
The HyperScrambler 2 comes with a long bench seat perfect for two riders, while the Scorpion series can be upgraded to a longer bench seat. Out of the box, the Scorpion e-bikes have a shorter single-passenger seat that leaves room for the utility rack behind the rider.
But it’s not only moped-style e-bikes that are offering the ability to ride 2-up. Electric cargo bikes and utility bikes are also getting in on the action.
Tern’s Team Captain Josh Hon once took me for a spin on the rather unassuming looking Tern GSD e-bike, showing me how the throttle-less electric bike had no problem ferrying two adults around. Technically the carrier on the rear was designed for kids, as evidenced by its guards to keep kids from falling off, but it held me just fine.
Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes has a pair of passenger-ready e-bikes in its line up.
The $1,299 RadRunner electric utility bike has a passenger package option that adds a long padded bench seat, foot pegs and a rear wheel skirt to make sure no calves or feet find their way into the wheel spokes.
I’ve personally used the RadRunner to carry my two nephews around, turning the RadRunner into a three-person e-bike. But with two adults, my brother and I have gone 2-up on the bike, showing how it easily carries over 350 lb (160 kg) of riders.
For a bit more space, the $1,899 RadWagon electric cargo bike provides the option for an even longer rear bench seat, either foot pegs or running boards and a deck hand accessory that gives the rear passenger a large grab handle to hold on to.
The increasing number of passenger-enabled electric bikes serves to further underscore the extreme utility and versatility of e-bikes.
While some models are designed for fitness and others for recreation, e-bikes that can carry passengers make it that much easier for commuters to ditch their cars and save money with an electric bicycle.
Electric cargo and utility e-bikes might not be able to completely replace a minivan, but they sure can help replace many of the same trips that many people perform with cars.
And as e-bike adoption rates continue to climb, we’re all but certain to see more interesting utility offerings in the space.
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