If the name Tern sounds familiar to you, then you probably know what to expect from the machine in question today: the HSD S11. If you have no idea of who or what I'm talking about, then read up for just a few minutes. Why? Well, you may find that solutions for leaving your car at home do exist, and the S11 may just be one of them.
Now, the idea behind the S11 was to build a cargo bike that can be considered compact and even features foldable components (the steering column) to reduce its size in case of transport or storage, which is a bit of a change in comparison to what Tern typically builds: massive and overly capable e-bikes.
That's not to say that the S11 is no less capable, just smaller. For example, the manufacturer's website states that this workhorse only weighs 62 lbs (28.1 kg), which is a few pounds under the weight of the average e-bike but has a max weight limit of 397 lbs (180 kg). Clearly, it has a whole lot more capability than your average bicycle.
In the process, Terns didn't just create a bicycle that can carry your groceries to and from work, but, according to the manufacturer, even two adults can take a ride on the S11 without the frame warping or burning your motor.
Speaking of motors, Bosch is the crew that Tern has chosen for the S11, as with most of their other machines. Here, a Performance Line Sport motor brings 75 Nm (55 lb-ft) of torque to the game and up to 340% assistance. Best of all, North American riders have the benefit of a maximum speed of 28 mph (45 kph).
Now, flying around at 28 mph with cargo on the back is a bit hazardous if you ask me, so to ensure that you and those around you are safe, not only are there MT4 hydraulic disc brakes from Magura, but motor cut-off is also part of the magic. Other safety features include lights and a bell, but you should always wear a helmet, so nothing out of the ordinary. You could, however, throw on Bosch's latest ABS system. Yes, ABS for e-bikes is a thing now.
But what about comfort? Well, Tern has a reputation to uphold in this department, too, and in doing so, equips the S11 with several features to soften the blows taken up by our glutes. Not only is there a pair of Schwalbe Big Ben tires standard, but so is a front fork from Suntour with 70 mm (2.75 in) of travel.
Oh, and the magic doesn't stop there. Personally, I loved the fact that Tern decided to add a suspension seat post to the S11. As standard, a Cane Creek Thudbuster seat post with parallel linkage boasts up to 90 mm (3.5 in) of travel. That's almost MTB-level status. Don't get any ideas now. You should always ride a bike within the limits set by manufacturers; they're there for a reason.
Speaking of price, this is where Tern may encounter a problem in getting the S11 into as many hands as possible. Currently, you'll need to dish out $4,900 (€4,500 at current exchange rates) to get your hands on one of these workhorses, but before you lose your cookies over that number, try and remember that this isn't your typical e-bike; it really does stand a chance at replacing your car for some activities.
Better yet, find a local dealership that has one of these puppies in store and take one out for a test ride. Just be warned, once you see what a Tern machine can achieve, you may need to head home to grab your checkbook; just bring it with you for good measure.