For some parents, especially those in the United States, the decision to take children to school by bike or car often depends on the weather. The sun and the blue sky make it an easy choice to take the bike. But when the clouds roll in and there’s a hint of rain in the air, the thought of arriving with two soggy kids in the rear rack often steers some parents reluctantly towards the car.
Bad weather is just an excuse, really. Residents of other more cycling-friendly countries will ride in all seasons. Are they made of stuff more filling than us Americans pampered by the car? Yes, but maybe we don’t really need the ice in our veins to get through blizzards and hurricanes. Maybe we just need better accessories.
Fortunately, Tern has a solution to help make these decisions a lot easier. The Taiwanese bicycle company’s GSD is already one of the best cargo bikes on the market. But with the addition of the Storm Shield, which offers an impressive layer of protection for passengers on the rear rack, you might be tempted to ride right into the eye of the storm, hell or the high seas.
Let’s start with the bike itself. Tern first introduced the GSD in 2017, and since then it has released several updated models. I tested the top model, the GSD S10 LX with the Bosch Cargo Line engine. Tern also lent me his Storm Shield, Storm Box and Clubhouse accessories. Here’s what you need to know:
- Motor: Bosch Cargo Line
- Maximum speed: 20 mph (32 km / h)
- Range: 32 to 65 miles with a single battery setup
- Battery: 500Wh
- Weight: 71.7 lbs (32.5 kg)
- Brakes: Magura MT5 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
- Drive: Shimano 10-speed chain-driven gear hub
- Tires: 20 inches
- Extras: SunTour suspension front fork
- Price: $ 5,499
Looking at this bike, you might scratch your head at the design. The GSD doesn’t look like a traditional bike, with its small wheels and angular frame. The back half of the bike frame is a jumble of intersecting triangles and trapezoids. But appearances are deceptive. The wheelbase is only slightly longer than most individual bikes, which is very important for storage and transport, whether they are ridden on a train or mounted in the back of your car. It’s also narrower than front bucket models from European companies like Urban Arrow and Carqon, allowing you to maneuver in tight spaces more easily.
Much like its smaller but no less capable sibling, the HSD, the Tern GSD is a performance electric bike with a host of components designed to impress that help make the bike run smoothly. This is a mid-rear cargo bike, which means it’s large enough to accommodate two children on the rear rack while also being compatible with a hitch bike rack. It has a longer wheelbase than most traditional bikes, but is still considered shorter than a long tail cargo bike. The Tern GSD can carry up to 440 pounds, including bike, rider, cargo and accessories.
The GSD is easy to store thanks to Tern’s commitment to bringing some elements of its folding bike technology to most models in its e-bike line. The GSD’s handlebars can be folded up and the entire bike can be stored vertically thanks to the bumpers on the rear rack. That said, this is still a cargo bike, so you will need to consider the size of the bike and its storage.
One of the things I admire about the Tern line is the flexibility. The low frame combined with the handlebars and seat post that can be raised and lowered without any tools, along with a custom SunTour front suspension fork, help make this a bike that can easily be used between family members. or friends. Riders of all shapes and sizes will feel right at home on the GSD. I’m six foot one, and while I generally appreciate a larger bike frame, the GSD’s unique frame hasn’t put me off in the slightest. The riding style is straighter than your typical racing or road bike, which may take some getting used to.
The GSD is a Class 1 electric bike in the United States, which means it’s pedal-assisted pedaling without a throttle and a top speed of 20 mph. There were times I missed the throttle, especially when I pulled away from a standstill on a steep incline with a child and extra cargo on the rear rack. The Shimano 10-speed drivetrain system certainly helps. But I also understand why some manufacturers shy away from the throttle – and honestly believe throttles will run into regulatory issues in the future – so I try not to blame a bike for its exclusion.
The Cargo Line motor is one of the most powerful systems from Bosch, designed specifically for e-bikes that carry a lot of weight. This is also a step up from the Bosch Performance range engines of previous models. The S10 LX comes with a 500 Wh or 1000 Wh system with a motor that delivers 85 Newton meters of torque and up to 400% pedal assist in its highest setting.
From a performance perspective, I wasn’t too impressed with the 500 Wh battery, and if I had the money I would definitely invest in the second battery. While Tern claims the GSD has a range of 32 to 62 miles (52 to 105 km), I have found myself having to recharge the battery after as little as 20 miles of driving at the highest level of assistance on surfaces. mostly flat with a few steep hills mixed in. The motor lacked the torque you would find in a smaller, more agile e-bike. And although the top speed is indicated at 20 mph, I was only able to reach it downhill. With a low center of gravity the stability was excellent and it handled well as I cycled through my small suburban town.
GSD stands for “doing things”; that’s exactly what I did while I had it: take the kids to school, go shopping, use it for all the little errands that I would normally have used the car for. All in all, for a month of testing I probably put 150-200 miles on it. I’m not trying to sound like a broken record, but e-bikes are replacing cars, period. They get a lot of crap from the cycling community because they take a lot of stress out of cycling, but that’s exactly the point.
The Tern GSD illustrates their potential. If you live in the United States, you have been conditioned to believe that you need a car for everyday life. And you probably do, because your community was built to exclude most other forms of transportation in an effort to make driving as smooth as possible. Electric bikes, especially cargo bikes like the GSD, can help overcome this conditioning and invite you to live in a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable world.
Let’s get out of the soapbox and talk about accessories, because that’s what really attracted me to GSD.
As well as lending me the GSD, Tern also provided a host of cool accessories, including two 52-liter saddlebags and three other accessories called Clubhouse, Storm Box and Storm Shield.
The Clubhouse is basically a seat cushion with a backrest for the rack and the rail that surrounds the whole thing to prevent passengers from falling. The Storm Box provides a waterproof covering for their legs, while the Storm Shield is a waterproof nylon canopy that fits over the rack, with side panels that roll up or down depending on the weather.
Overall, Tern calls it the Clubhouse Fort, and my kids definitely treated it like their own private funhouse. Each morning they were eager to get on board for the 3.5 mile trip to their school. At the end of my testing period, I found all kinds of gummy snacks and Goldfish crackers at the bottom of the Storm Box. It didn’t bother me.
Of course, it is not cheap to equip your bike with all these accessories. Saddlebags ($ 250 for two), Clubhouse ($ 240), Storm Box ($ 220), and Storm Shield ($ 220) are all quite expensive, especially overall. And when added to the GSD’s price – $ 5,499 for the single battery configuration, $ 6,299 for the dual battery – you get an overall price of over $ 7,000, which is just mind-blowing.
More expensive than your average 10-speed, sure, but think about the costs of owning a car. For vehicles driven at 15,000 miles per year, the average costs of owning a car were $ 9,561 per year, or $ 797 per month, in 2020, according to AAA. This figure includes depreciation, loan interest, fuel, insurance, maintenance and fees. In other words, the best performing Tern cargo bike, with all the repairs, equates to about nine months of car ownership in the United States. Not a bad compromise.
Of course, I wish Tern was a bit cheaper – and you can certainly find cargo bikes with a similar range of accessories for less money – but I also know the company is putting a lot of effort into building. some of the best electric bikes on the market today. They are versatile, reliable and powerful. But they can also help you break free from the constraints of car ownership. For me, it’s worth the price on its own.
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