Cargo Bike Review – Trek Transport+

Momentum Mag reviews the Trek Transport+.

Written by:

Price $2,819.99 USD

Find it at trekbikes.com

US and Canada at Ride+ Trek Dealers

The Trek Transport+ is a longtail cargo bike with a 350-watt rear hub motor, heavy-duty rims, fenders, front disc brake, rear V-brake, fold-down aluminum racks, cargo bag, lights, eight-speed freewheel (13–32), 38/ 28 chainrings with trigger shifters and has a carrying capacity of 250 pounds (113 kilograms). It’s part of Trek’s Gary Fisher Collection.

Tell Your Friends

This is a great-looking cargo bike. The electric hub motor keeps heavy loads manageable and uphill rides easy. The fold-down rear low-rider racks are genius.This bike is light enough to carry and the front rack is a useful addition (and the perfect spot to load a pizza!).

Wish List

The kickstand that comes with the Transport+ is barely sufficient. When loading even the smallest amount of cargo on even terrain, the bike would topple over.

Ideal Rider

Great for anyone looking for a cargo bike – as long as you have somewhere to store it because it’s probably not the best idea to leave it locked outside overnight.

Overall

The Trek Transport+ is a great bike overall. At first, I thought that this might even be the perfect cargo build. The 26″ x1.5 Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus anti-flat tires provide a smooth ride. The electric hub motor really evens out the hills or gives you a needed boost when fully loaded. The gear range is suited to hauling cargo around town and, with minor modification, could be set up for touring. The bash guard on the large chainring is a nice touch.

As with any electric assist, maintenance may be an issue, especially if firmware updates are needed. You won’t be able to simply plug a USB cable into the battery, only an authorized dealer with the proprietary cable can do that sort of service. Although, it’s unclear how often, if ever, it will be required. Is the motor worth the $1500 it adds to the price tag (the “plus” in Transport+)? I’ll put it to you this way: I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to riding my own un-assisted cargo bike. I regularly carry 50+ pounds (23 kilograms) of cargo up Vancouver’s hills and the motor on the Transport+ makes it easy.

As with any cargo bike, you’ll need an easy access space to store it. While it’s not as heavy as one would expect, the length makes it a challenge, especially around corners and up stairs. The high-tech gear may also makes it attractive to would-be-thieves if you park it overnight on an urban street. A garage in a house or a bike room in a condo is your safest storage bet.

It’s also a great looking bike: I really like the matte metallic bronze paint colour. It has a not-too-aggressive or too-upright riding position to keep the rider comfortable but still able to stand to peddle when necessary, unlike some of the competition. The step-through aluminum frame makes it easy to mount the bike when the cargo area is loaded enough that you can’t swing your leg over. Plus, the fold down rear low-rider racks are a stroke of genius. They’re similar to Xtracycle’s wide-loaders but with the added advantage of folding-up to keep the bike narrow enough to fit through doorways. Overall, the designers at Trek really did a good job making an attractive bike. 

That brings me to the one major flaw (and what could be a deal-breaker for me): the kickstand. Assuming you manage to load the bike evenly (and that seems unlikely), take caution with precious cargo: the kickstand is too weak to be considered reliable, especially when left unattended or parked on uneven ground. My first suggestion if you buy this bike: replace the stock kickstand with something more robust. My second suggestion is for Trek: It’s positioned too far forward on the bike, making it nearly impossible to load heavy cargo without assistance. The bike consistently tipped as I loaded it, even with small loads. Look to Xtracycle’s KickBack for inspiration: the kickstand needs to be placed closer to the cargo, much wider, and all metal (yes, the legs of the stock stand are partly adjustable plastic. With the current setup, it’s as if Trek’s designers didn’t talk to people who use other cargo bikes to see what’s available or test this bike before going into full production. I really hope Trek offers an upgrade or fixes this in future versions of the Transport+. At $2800+, I shouldn’t have to even think about the kickstand, it should have been central to the design of this bike.

The Trek Transport+ is a great bike overall. Tons of cargo capacity in the rear and on the front rack. The BionX electric hub motor really evens out the hills, especially when fully loaded. The gear range is suited to hauling cargo around town and, with minor modification, could be set up for touring. It’s also a great-looking bike: nice paint color, a not-too-aggressive or too-upright riding position, step-through frame and attractive design.

Momentum Mag contacted Trek to find out what the deal was with firmware updates and if there were any changes to the kickstand in the works. Here are their responses:

[Trek] We receive firmware updates periodically from our electronics vendor. Occasionally these include mildly enhanced features. That said, it is not necessary to get updates frequently. We recommend that the dealer perform the update whenever the customer brings their bike by the store. Performing an update is simple and fast (less than 3 minutes). In the event that a critical update were to release, we notify the Ride + dealers so that they may reach out to their customers and let them know that they should bring the bike in for an update. It has been over 2 years since the last critical update was released.

[Trek] The kickstand is a challenge to be sure. Our bike design has fold down load carriers which would obscure an extra-wide kickstand like the one linked above. The kickstand that is included on the Transport has adjustable leg lengths so that the bike can lean at rest which makes the bike easier to load from one side. Usability of the bike was the first priority. We’re looking at new kickstand options but the unit that is on the bike is what will come with Transport+ in the immediate future.

This bike was generously put together by Bicycle Sports Pacific in Vancouver, BC. bspbikes.com


Chris Bentzen is a freelance creative-type and transportation cyclist from Vancouver, BC. While he definitely doesn’t need another bike, he’s always on the lookout for the perfect ride (be it cargo or for daily use). His most recent project is Hot Art Wet City hotartwetcity.com and you can find out more about him at bentzen.ca and @bentzen on Twitter.

4 Comments

  • Jamie

    I got a used one of these about 3 weeks ago. I test rode it one week and expected to hate it. I didn’t. If anything, it made me change my mind on buying a Big Dummy. I have a Pugsley and the BD frame reminds me of that style wise, but longer. Me being short, thinking about the lack of dropped top tube for easy on/off made me take notice. Then it was the folding side loaders for cargo support, again up charge on BD. And then the nice bags on the TT. And the upswept bars. And the ergo grips. And the front rack…Pretty soon after adding up all the extras, we are taking serious money!
    So for the price and having everything on it I was looking for, I figured why not? I LOVE IT! I made a rear rack seat cushion and stoker bars for my son and made footpegs and wheelskirts for safety. And I switched out the stock tires for smoother riding balloon schwalbe fat franks. Every time I ride it, I love it more! It rides like a normal bike for the most part. The only time I can tell the oddness of it when I stand and pedal rock hard up a hill, then you notice the length as it just feels sluggish in the rear.
    These aren’t common where I live(they should be though…our town has extensive Rails to Trails paved system throughout town) and people are always asking me about my bike. What is that? What does it do? Is it heavy? Hard to ride? How much was that?
    And it makes my kids smile when they ride on the back. But it might make me smile too:)

  • Jason

    I have one of these. I love it for the price. Easy to pedal 30+ miles at a time. The kick stand is junk. I just lean mine against something for loading. I don’t have the motor. In costal Georgia I don’t need it. My 3 year old uses a tandem handle bar setup and pad to ride on the rear rack. On a fun per dollar scale, it’s the best bike I have ever gotten.

  • jeff

    reply to above comment:
    I agree that there should have been more discussion of range etc, but since it is using a third-party system the specs are known (watts, Ah, etc). It would be useful to translate it into some kind of real-world data. I.E. I did this gps route w/ XX lbs of cargo+bike+rider and was able to go XX miles.

    personal comment:

    I thought all the other cargo bike reviews were well done and caught a lot of things that most people (who don’t normally ride cargo bikes) miss.

    However, this review of the Transport really misses the boat. I was going to say that aluminum is a totally inadequate material for a cargo bike but I won’t, since Larry v Harry seem to have figured it out. But it does require rivnuts instead of braze-ons, and the Transport has plenty of rivnuts on the rear end, which are just begging to come loose (I worked at a Trek dealer, some of them did come loose on the Transport during the initial build).

    And….kids. There is no kids seat that will fit the Transport rack w/o modification (“Trek’s legal department frowns on the idea of carrying passengers on the back of the Transport” – http://www.flickr.com/photos/cold_iron/5178560157/) and is difficult on the front since the front rack may interfere w/ front mounted seats.

    I find it hard to believe that the childless cargo hauler that this bike is aimed at wouldn’t be better served by a Civia Halstead (even with its subpar kickstand).

    I feel that is one more case of Trek compromising on design to the point of uselessness. Of course they could have designed a kickstand that would work better, but they would rather use off-the-shelf parts than go the extra mile to spec something that actually works. People will buy it because there are a lot more Trek dealers than Yuba/Kona/Extracycle dealers, too bad.

  • Rich

    An ebike review without any mention of what sort of range you got and what conditions you put it through? What kind of load can it handle up a steep hill? What’s it’s limits? I personally don’t care as I build my own ebikes.

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