What is a cargo bike?

    Cargo bikes are bicycles with a large front or rear container, and come in many shapes and sizes with two, three and four-wheeled models available. Cargo bikes often have an electric motor that can assist pedelling up to 15.5mph and allow riders to carry up to 300kg in some cases. As cargo bikes are classed as bicycles and can therefore use cycle lanes and can be operated without a driving licence.

    What services can be delivered by cargo bike?

    Cargo bikes can be used for a range of business services and product deliveries including:

    • Catering 

    • Couriers

    • Drink suppliers

    • Florists

    • Laundry services

    • Petcare

    • Printing and design

    • Restaurant wholesalers

    • Taxi Service 

    • Tradespeople 

    • Waste collection

    Why cargo bikes and other cycles?

    Cycles create zero emissions while in use, they help reduce congestion, are easy to park, are quiet, have lower running costs than diesel/petrol vehicles, are ULEZ compliant and often have faster delivery times.  

    What is the load capacity of a cargo bike?

    Most cargo-bikes are electric assisted, allowing them to carry heavy loads. The largest bikes in London have a maximum load capacity of 300kg.  

    Are cargo bikes expensive?

    It is true that cargo bikes tend to be more expensive than traditional bicycles. Non-electric cargo bike models start at around £2,000, and their electric alternatives range from £3,200 up to £18,000. However, due to the way that businesses use cargo bikes, and their maximum load capacity of 300kg, it is important we compare cargo bike prices not with bicycles, but with vans. One of the cheapest electric vans, the NISSAN E-NV200 starts at £23,305.

    Cargo bikes are a tax-exempt purchase and can be purchased from most retailers through a 0% finance or leasing scheme. This allows the initial cost of the cargo bike to be spread over several months or even years.

    Isn’t running a diesel van cheaper than operating a cargo bike?

    In comparison to electric and especially diesel/petrol vehicles, cargo bikes are very cheap to operate. The Energy Saving Trust have calculated the annual running costs of different last mile delivery vehicles. An electrically-assisted cargo bike costs £5,580 less to run each year than a small diesel van.


    Annual running cost

    Cargo bike


    eCargo bike


    eCargo trike


    Small electric van


    Small diesel van


    What battery range do cargo bikes have?

    Cargo bike battery range varies with load weight, rider weight, terrain, speed and battery capacity. A rider in London with a total rider, load and bike weight of 120kg will be able to cover 40-50 miles with a single charge. A comprehensive range calculator can be found here.

    Do cargo bike batteries take ages to charge?

    Cargo bike batteries are charged through a standard mains electricity socket and take between 2 and 5 hours to fully charge from empty.

    Can a cargo bike carry as much as a small van?

    Cargo bike load capacity varies with each model. A front-loading cargo bike will typically hold between 100-180kg. Using a trailer or larger three and four-wheeled models means you can can carry up to 300kg.

    It is true that cargo bikes have their limits, they can’t carry a car for example. But we’re not advocating that cargo bikes are used for every journey!

    What do I do with my existing vans and drivers?

    We appreciate that businesses looking to transition to cheaper, sustainable and zero-emission fleets may have existing vans and directly employed drivers. In this scenario, we would suggest the following approaches:

    • Use your existing car/van fleet to complete longer distance deliveries that extend beyond London’s city centre. Then use cargo bikes for dense urban areas where they are more time efficient over cars/vans.
    • Re-train drivers to become riders.
    • If your existing vehicles are on lease, wait for the lease to end, then transition your fleet to cargo bikes.

    Are cargo bike riders insured?

    The cargo bike itself can be insured against theft and damage, while riders can receive public liability cover and employee insurance. All of the cargo bike couriers we recommend have insurance for their bikes and riders.

    Are cargo bike riders trained?

    The majority of cargo bike operators train their riders to Bikeability Level 3. This is free training provided by all London boroughs. Some businesses highlight rider behaviour as a key factor in supplier procurement, we will recommend operators with additional rider training to these businesses. We support TfL’s Cargo bike action plan and support efforts to maintain high levels of rider training across the industry.