We tested Decathlon’s first cargo bike and it’s a great success

We tested Decathlon’s first cargo bike and it’s a great success

B’Twin’s R500E cargo, a bike? No, bicycles. It’s a fact, we see more and more cargo bikes, longtails and other scooters, electric or not, in the streets of French cities. For the effect of fashion, environmental awareness or simply for fun, these bikes of a new kind constitute a market certainly emerging but certainly promising. Inevitably, B’Twin, Decathlon’s cycle brand, could not lag behind in this niche. After a few years of observation, the northern company released, in early May, the Cargo R500E, assembled in China. 20 minutes took the beast in hand for a week to test it in real conditions in the metropolis of Lille.

The R500E is only cargo in name because it is a “longtail”, or extended bike. And to be lengthened, it is, the machine measuring no less than 2.20 m long. However, once in the saddle, we tend to forget that we are driving a bus, in particular because the bike is very handy, even when we have to weave between cars with or without a load. Still, the turning radius is necessarily a little wider, which was never really a problem during the 200 km we traveled with the R500E.

False flats, slopes, bridges, wind, nothing can stop this longtail

Despite its aluminum frame, the beast still weighs 38 kg, up to 208 kg loaded with the driver. A weight that is forgotten thanks to the electric motor located in the rear wheel developing 250 watts nominal (685 watts maximum) powered by 48V. The 58Nm engine torque isn’t the highest, with some longtail engines offering up to 85Nm. to climb nasty false flats, steep slopes and treacherous bridges with the wind in the face without sweating a single drop. B’Twin has even thought of installing a trigger on the handlebars which makes it possible to launch the first pedal stroke effortlessly.

The electronic display of the R500E freighter. – Mr. Freedom / 20 Minutes

Of the three assistance modes available, the “normal” mode (180% assistance) is more than enough for daily use in Lille while ensuring a theoretical range of 70 km. In fact, after driving about sixty kilometers alternating between the different modes, we had 15% battery left. The display also allows you to know in real time the autonomy you have left depending on the chosen mode. This is all the more important as it is almost unthinkable to carry the R500E with the only force of the legs. And if the maximum speed with the assistance, between 25 and 27 km / h, is reached in a few pedal strokes, it is however very difficult to go beyond. Not without difficulty, downhill, without wind, we were still able to reach 34 km/h.

A very competitive price in its segment

Advantage or disadvantage, we do not go unnoticed on the B’Twin Cargo. You have to admit, it’s a great machine. If Benjamin Poullet, cargo bike product manager at B’Twin, himself recognizes that the R500E “is not cheap”, its price of 2,800 euros is particularly competitive in its segment with more or less equivalent performance. Among the competition, it is rather necessary to count from 3,500 to more than 9,000 euros, often without the standard equipment offered by Decathlon: monkey bar, footrest, front basket…

The R500E cargo bike from B'Twin (Decathlon).
The R500E cargo bike from B’Twin (Decathlon). – Mr. Freedom / 20 Minutes

After a week and 200 km covered, between city and countryside, the results are largely in favor of the R500E. Admittedly, it would benefit from being cushioned at the rear, the counter has had a few misfires, the comfort of an adult passenger is relative, the headlight does not light much at night, a handle would be welcome on the removable battery… For however, we did not shy away from our pleasure in piloting this machine and we can’t wait to try the following ones. Because B’Twin does not intend to stop there. Four other freighter models will be released at the rate of one per year. The next one will be front-loading, available with a crate or a platform and its price should start from 3,000 euros.

Technical characteristics

48 volt, 250 watt rear wheel motor (685 watt maximum) with a maximum torque of 58 Nm. Torque sensor integrated into the pedals which provides electric assistance based on the force exerted on the pedals.

Battery: Samsung 672Wh lithium-ion cells (48V, 14Ah). Charging time of around 4h40 with the supplied 3A charger.

Autonomy: 90 km maximum in Eco mode (90% assistance), 70 km maximum in Normal mode (180% assistance) and 50 km maximum in Power mode (300% assistance) for a person weighing of 80 kg on a relatively flat course and without load.

Transmission: 8-speed rear derailleur, Microshift gear change and 11-28 cassette, all from Microshift. Anti-rust KMC chain.

Spaninga AXENDO 40 front light, 40 Lux intensity. At the rear with slowdown indicator in the event of braking. Both are powered by the bicycle battery.

26-inch front wheel and 20-inch rear wheel in double-walled aluminum and 36 spokes.

Hydraulic 180 mm disc brakes from Tektro.

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