Electric-assist Urban Arrow cargo bike wants to be your second car

Bakfiets, the distinctive Dutch cargo bikes with the cargo bed located in front of the rider, are becoming increasingly popular outside of The Netherlands. Practical as they are for hauling things like groceries, however, they’re heavy

Ben Coxworth: Their beds also tend to be rather hard and unyielding – not ideal for carting your kids around. The Dutch designers of the Urban Arrow took these things into consideration when creating their machine. It has a padded, rain-protected cargo box to keep the little ones comfy and dry, an electric motor to compensate for its 45-kg (99-lb) weight, and a few other clever features.

The Urban Arrow is intended to be “a replacement for the second car,” and it won an innovation award when it was first unveiled at the 2010 Eurobike trade show.

Its cargo box is made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) high-density foam – firm enough to maintain structural integrity, yet with enough give not to bang the kids around too much on the road. That box can be removed, to transform the bike into a flatbed carrier, or it can be replaced with a lockable-lidded hard-sided cargo box.

For riders who don’t have much to carry, the entire front end of the bike can even be swapped for a much shorter front section, transforming the Urban Arrow into a regular-length bike with a modest cargo rack located over the front wheel. A two-wheeled front end, which would turn it into a tricycle, is also on the way.

The stock EPP box incorporates features such as cup holders, a cargo net for securing groceries, and a removable rain cover with a clear plastic windscreen. That cover can be stored within the frame tubes that cradle the box, when not in use. An optional rain cover for the rider is in the works.

Pedaling assistance is provided by a 250-watt motor attached to the crankset, which it helps turn when activated. That motor is powered by a 36-volt, 10Ah lithium-ion battery, which gives the bike a tested range of about 50 km (31 miles) with no cargo, or about 40 km (25 miles) with two kids and groceries – needless to say, any user’s actual range will depend on how much they use the motor.

The bike has a top pedal-assisted speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph), and a cargo capacity of 110 kg (242.5 lbs). Some of its other features include a Daum electronic control panel, a NuVinci N360 continuously-variable hub transmission, and SKS mudguards. Its aluminum frame is available in black, silver or white.