Currently, most big names like Trek, Specialized, and several others have at least one cargo bike in their lineup. Naturally, it made sense for C-Dale to hop on this ever-growing bandwagon. The result? The new lineup of electrified cargo-carrying mules includes two specific models: the Wonderwagen, which you may have spotted in a previous article, and the Cargowagen, the hunk of aluminum alloy we see here today.
To kick things off, let me point out that Cannondale feels that a solid €4,000 is what this bike deserves in its most standard layout. For US customers, $4,300 is their score. But the ultimate question is whether or not it's all worth it. That’s what we’re here to find out.
In all, three versions of Cargowagen are available, each tuned to different needs and wants. However, they follow a similar style, and only some components differ from one model to the next. Some will have different drivetrains, typically offered by Shimano or Enviolo, the latter of which is an internal gearbox, different battery capacities, and, ultimately, price.
As I mentioned, the base for each Cargowagen is an aluminum frame that is built around a pair of 20 in wheels, the latter of which is a rule generally valid for nearly any cargo bike on the market. Why a smaller wheel size? Plain and simple, safety.
If you’ve ever ridden around with a friend hanging off the back of your bike or even on the handlebars like we used to when we were kids, you know how important a low center of gravity is. This is true now, more than ever.
Not only can you use the Cargowagen for countless bags and boxes filled with groceries or home improvement supplies, but this puppy can also be equipped with a child carrier. Since this is the most precious cargo on anyone’s list, you can be sure the design has been revised time and time again. A step-through frame adds even more safety and control during mounting and dismounting.
As for the spunk needed to move all the weight you manage to throw onto the C-Wagen, Cannondale has called upon the powers of good old Bosch to ensure you make it to your destination no matter what you encounter along the way. Mounted to the BB of each EV sits an Active Line motor that will assist you with speed and power dictated by your local laws and regulations. For Europe, 25 kph (15.5 mph) is the top speed, and in the US, Cannondale plans to drop a class 3 e-bike, so 28 mph (45 kph) is your peak here.
Regarding range, well, it’s rather difficult to pinpoint a number. Even Cannondale doesn’t mention anything on their website; they’d be crazy to do so, and here’s why. Not only do road conditions differ greatly from one ride to the next, but how much cargo you carry each time is sure to be an influential variable on each ride. Luckily for us, C-Dale does offer configurations with a 545 Wh or 725 Wh pack, so choose wisely.
But, for those of us who need a system that allows their attention to be diverted to more important tasks, like keeping the kids settled in the back, then the versions with an Enviolo gearbox are what you want. Their Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is what you’ll find inside, which allows for virtually infinite gear ratios.
The rest of these cargo monsters are finished off with hydraulic brakes, lights to ensure everyone, and everything is safe no matter the time of day, fenders, including a nearly complete cap over the rear wheel, and these neat little storage pockets integrated into the frame. Did you notice the dropper post and suspension fork?
Now, before I let you loose onto the cycling world, it’s important to note a few aspects of cargo bikes. The first is that these babies are heavier than your average machine; after all, they need to be more solid to handle all the goods you have in mind. This means that carrying such a beast up to any floor other than ground level, you’ll feel it and may not be able to take it upstairs.
Furthermore, it can replace your car, but let’s be honest, only for a few activities each day. After all, you try and mount a TV to this bugger or try to ride out of town like you would with a car; not happening. But, for taking your kids to school, a few miles away, to go to work, and even go grocery shopping for the entire week, yes, Cannondale’s Cargowagen is a step up from what the classic bike can achieve. Just a little something-something to think about.