If you live in the big city, it’s likely you that either don’t own a car, or you’ve looked at the one you do own and wondered just how badly you need it. Going car-free could alleviate a significant financial burden, but doing so is not exactly straightforward.
Proximity to shops is always an issue, and if you regularly need to carry large or heavy objects (think weekly shop, disposing of recycling, that sort of thing), giving up your vehicle is likely to be a non-starter.
In theory, a cargo bike might well the solution to your problems, but in practice, it’s not quite that simple. Current models on the market all suffer the same essential drawback – they’re too damned big. For all but the ultra-wealthy, urban living means an apartment, usually one that’s not on the ground floor, and often one with nowhere to store a gigantic bicycle.
The Cargo Node from Tern was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign in collaboration with cargo bike company Xtracycle. We’ve now laid hands on the bike at a press conference in Taiwan, and it looks like it might be the answer.
Unlike Tern’s other bikes, its primary purpose is not to be taken on the train or stuck under the table in a café. Rather, it folds down so you can fit it in elevators or cars, and store it in a closet at home when you’re not using it. Where a conventional cargo bike might occupy your entire hallway, this one will be out of sight and out of mind.
Folded, the Cargo Node will fit in a typical closet
The Cargo Node is a one-size-fits-all design built for riders from 5ft 2in to 6ft 5in (157-196cm). It’s rated to carry up to 350lbs (158.8kg) of stuff – which can include a rear passenger – and it weighs a claimed 24.5kg unloaded. Ready to ride, the Cargo Node is over 2m long, but it folds down to 133cm in just 10 seconds, occupying an imaginary box that measures 133x85x48cm.
It achieves this using technology refined on Tern’s previous bikes – the tough OCL main joint where the frame ‘breaks’…
…and the Physis “folding handlepost”.
Everything about the design is focused on practicality. The elaborate Andros stem, for example, offers huge amounts of tool-free adjustment. In the image below, it’s in its highest orientation for the most upright position, but it can be rotated forward and downwards for a slightly longer and, dare we say it, more aggressive fit.
The Andros stem allows for plenty of adjustment
Dynamo-powered lights are fitted as standard, and most amusingly of all, there’s a pump hidden in the seatpost, demonstrated to us by Tern's communications manager Galen Crout.
The Cargo Node has a pump inside its seatpost
At around $1800 (British and Aussie pricing is TBC), the Cargo Node isn’t exactly cheap, but it is competitive with its non-folding brethren, and a whole lot more practical too. It’s also considerably less expensive than a (new) car, with running costs like any other bike. The Cargo Node is expected to be available around April next year. Could this be the answer to your urban load-hauling woes? We think it might be.
BikeRadar got to fondle the Cargo Node on a media tour of Taiwan hosted by TAITRA, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. TAITRA is promoting the Taipei International Cycle Show, which takes place from March 2-5 2016. We’ll be posting more highlights from our travels over the coming days.