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MOD Cargo: I tested the new Texas-based cargo electric bike for the whole family

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MOD Bikes is a bit of a different type of electric bike maker, marching to the beat of its own drum, which helps the company stand out in a sea of newly released e-bikes. Look no further than the company’s popular sidecar electric bike or their own in-house designed street chargers for e-bikes. It’s obvious that MOD isn’t using the same playbook as everyone else.

But when I recently took a trip to Texas to visit the company and see their SXSW unveiling, my focus this time was on one of their more utility-based models: The newly released MOD Cargo electric bike.

Part of the company’s new 2024 launch of e-bikes, first unveiled at this year’s SXSW Festival, the Mod Cargo adds several new features to MOD’s feature list.

Chief among those features are the new color display, torque sensor, vertical parking frame, turn signal helmet integration, and more.

Check out what I mean in my test riding video below, then keep reading for even more!

MOD Cargo test ride video

MOD Cargo tech specs

  • Motor: 750W (1,000W peak) geared rear hub motor
  • Top speed: 28 mph (45 km/h)
  • Range: Claimed up to 90 miles (144 km) with dual batteries
  • Battery: 48V 15Ah (720 Wh) or dual batteries for 1,440 Wh
  • Bike Weight: 62 pounds (28 kg)
  • Battery Weight: 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg)
  • Bike Max load: 400 pounds (181 kg)
  • Tires: 20″x3″ semi-fat tires
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm rotors
  • Extras: 7-speed Shimano shifter, large color LCD screen, LED headlight and tail/brake light, thumb-throttle, up to two removable batteries, included fenders and built-in long rear rack, snap-on system for accessory mounting, and more.

Testing out the new e-bike

I love e-bikes that can do more than just take you from point A to point B. I prefer e-bikes that can be used for several roles, from mere transportation to utility and even hauling. And the MOD Cargo is definitely one of those multi-role bikes.

The design incorporates a long built-in rear rack, making it an essential part of the frame and ensuring a strong, rigid design. It can handle up to 400 lb (181 kg) of payload distributed around the bike, meaning you can easily carry two kids or some serious gear with you.

The bike also uses a snap-on system to easily mount and remove various attachments such as cargo baskets, child safety seats, and more.

Plus the vertical parking design (which, I should note, is obviously borrowed from Tern’s glorious rear rack design), means you can park the bike vertically in your garage or the corner of your living room, taking up barely more space than a coat rack. Actually, you could probably use it as a coat rack when it’s parked. Those handlebars do double duty!

Speaking of those bars, they also fold down, which is great for loading the bike in the back of a car with step-thru seating like a mini van. You just slide the bike down the center aisle, made possible thanks to the bars dropping down so low.

In addition to the rugged design, I was impressed with the comfort of the ride. Cargo bikes are known for a lot of things, but comfortable riding isn’t usually one of them. They generally use smaller wheels to help increase cargo space, but that can impact their ride quality. With the MOD Cargo though, the combination of 20×3″ semi-fat tires as well as a suspension fork and suspension seat post, I was able to comfortably ride nature trails in the park that include dirt and gravel surfaces.

This definitely isn’t going to be the bike you take on rutted-out single track, but being able to stay in the saddle on dirt roads is still a nice feature to have.

You’re not going to get true rear suspension on a cargo bike unless you’re willing to shell out more than the cost of a decent used car, but seat post suspension helps to complement the suspension fork to give your tush some extra cushioning when you need it.

And the last feature I want to point out regarding the bike design is the inclusion of a super sturdy center kickstand. I’ve noticed that a lot of cargo e-bike makers are cheaping out on kickstands recently, so I’m glad to see that MOD put a serious, heavy-duty center stand on their bike.

This is what you want underneath you when you got kids or heavy cargo on back. You want a wide center stand that keeps the bike parked stably, not precariously pitched over to one side. Side stands work fine on a normal city bike, but a heavy-laden cargo bike needs to stand straight up when carrying that much weight.

I’m also glad to see some key components like hydraulic disc brakes and a torque sensor for better pedal assist.

The hydro brakes are important on heavy bikes that need more stopping power when loaded down, especially if trying to come to a quick stop on a downhill. And the torque sensor simply provides nicer, smoother pedal assist than a cadence sensor. There’s nothing wrong with cadence sensors, but torque sensors generally just give a nicer experience.

The inclusion of both parts helps differentiate the bike further from the lower-tier competition out there.

So the bike’s design is impressive already, but then the electronics sweeten the pot even further.

The rear motor is rated at 750W of continuous power, maxing out the legal limit in the US for street-legal e-bikes. But the peak power is even higher at 1,000W. I was able to easily hit speeds of up to 28 mph (45 km/h), though you can also limit the bike to 20 mph (32 km/h) if you want to keep it in Class 2 settings.

The motor also claims a torque rating of 69 Nm. Nice!

The bike’s single battery is a 48V 15Ah (720 Wh) unit, but you can double it to a maximum of 1,440 Wh. Depending on whether you double up, you’ll have 45 or 90 miles (72 or 144 km) of range. I tested the dual battery version, and if you use the throttle a lot or just want to have extra range, I’d recommend the second battery.

Rounding out the electronics are the new LED color display with USB charge port to charge your phone, LED headlight and tail light, and that torque sensor I mentioned above.

The last cool electronics feature is that they’ve designed the bike to work with the Lumos LED helmet, meaning you get wireless turn signals built right in. You can connect your helmet over Bluetooth in the bike’s display, and then your turn signal buttons on the bike control the helmet’s turn signals. They even power down together, so when you turn off the bike, the helmet’s lights turn off too. That’s pretty cool, and I definitely haven’t seen this feature on any other bikes in this class!

What are the downsides?

I’m a pretty positive guy, so I always have to remind myself to look for the downsides on e-bikes as well. And in this case, I have to look pretty hard. There’s not much to dislike here. Even the 70 lb weight with a single battery isn’t that bad, considering that many cargo e-bikes these days are between 80-90 lbs).

The main downside I keep coming back to is just the price, starting at $2,590. And that’s before adding all the fun accessories that make use of the cool Snap-On mounting system.

That’s a serious price tag for a direct-to-consumer electric bike. But then again, you’re getting a lot for it, including a premium design. The bike also comes with a much longer warranty period than most, offering a five-year limited warranty and free returns.

But that’s still quite expensive compared to other direct-to-consumer electric cargo bikes out there. I’d argue that you get features you don’t find elsewhere (or that you do find on e-bikes that are twice this price like Tern’s vertical parking), but you’re still paying some top dollar here. I believe the price is worth it if you’re using the bike as a car replacer for your family, or perhaps to replace a second car. But it’s the one thing that keeps coming back to me when I think about what would give me pause here, when considering the more affordable cargo e-bikes out there.

Wrap it up

So there’s what we’re working with, the MOD Cargo is a well designed e-bike with a very nice loadout of parts and features.

It’s a bit pricey, but I do believe you’re getting a heck of a lot of features and a great design for the price. There are cheaper ways to get your cargo solution solved, but they won’t do a lot of what this bike can.

So I recommend it, but only if you’ve got the extra cash to spend.

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