For some parents, especially in the US, the decision to take kids to school on a bike or in a car often depends on the weather. The sunshine and blue skies make it an easy option for taking a bike. But when the clouds roll in and there’s a hint of rain in the air, the thought of arriving with two sultry kids on the back rack often makes some parents reluctantly head to the car.
Bad weather is just an excuse. People from other, more bike-friendly countries will ride in all seasons. Are they made more to the stuff of our hearts than car-coded Americans? Yes, but maybe we really don’t need snow in our veins to ride through blizzards and storms. Maybe we just need better accessories.
Thankfully, Tern has a solution to help make these decisions a lot easier. The Taiwanese bike company’s GSD is already one of the best cargo bikes on the market. But with the addition of the Storm Shield, which provides an impressive layer of protection for passengers on the rear rack, you may be tempted to ride straight at the sight of a storm, come hell or high water.
Let’s start with the bike. Tern first introduced the GSD in 2017, and has since released several updated models. I tested the top-of-the-line model, the GSD S10 LX, with a Bosch Cargo Line motor. Tern also lent me his Storm Shield, Storm Box, and Clubhouse Accessories. Here’s what you need to know:
- Motor: Bosch Cargo Line
- Top Speed: 20 mph (32 km/h)
- Range: 32-65 miles with single-battery configuration
- Battery: 500Wh
- Weight: 71.7 lbs (32.5 kg)
- Brakes: Magura MT5 4-Piston Hydraulic Disc Brake
- Drive: Chain Driven Shimano 10-Speed Gear Hub
- Tire: 20 inch
- Additional Features: Suntour Suspension Front Fork
- Price: $5,499
Seeing this bike, you will be left scratching your head on the design. The GSD doesn’t look like a traditional bike with its smaller wheels and angular step-through frame. The rear half of the bike’s frame is a mess of intersecting triangles and trapezoids. But the look is deceiving. The wheelbase is only slightly longer than most single-occupancy bikes, which makes a lot of sense for storage and transportation, whether rolled up on a train or mounted in the back of your car. It’s also narrower than the front-bucket design from European companies like Urban Arrow and Carcon, allowing you to maneuver through tight spaces more easily.
Like its smaller-but-less-capable sibling, the HSD, the Tern GSD is a workhorse e-bike with a bevy of made-to-impress components that help make biking feel comfortable. It’s a mid-tail cargo bike, which means it’s big enough to fit two kids on the rear rack, while a hitch is also compatible with bike racks. It has a longer wheelbase than most conventional bikes, but is still considered shorter than a long-tail cargo bike. The Tern GSD can carry up to 440 pounds including bike, rider, cargo and accessories.
The GSD is easy to store, thanks to Tern’s commitment to bringing some element of its folding bike technology to most models in its e-bike lineup. The GSD’s handlebars can fold down, and the entire bike can be stored vertically thanks to the bumpers on the rear rack. That said, it’s still a cargo bike, so you’ll need to take into account the size of the bike and its storage.
One of the things I admire in Tern’s lineup is its flexibility. The low-step frame combined with handlebars and seat posts that can be raised and lowered without tools, plus a custom Suntour front suspension fork, help make this a bike that can be easily shared with family members or friends. can be passed through. Riders of all shapes and sizes will feel comfortable on the GSD. I’m six-foot, and while I generally appreciate an oversized bike frame, the GSD’s one-size-fits-all frame didn’t put me off in the slightest. The riding style is more upright than your typical racing or road bike, which can take some time to get used to.
The GSD is a Class 1 electric bike in the US, which means it is pedal-assist without throttle and has a top speed of 20mph. There were times when I missed the twist throttle, especially when starting from a standstill on a steep slope with a child and extra cargo on the rear rack. The Shimano 10-speed gearing system definitely helps. But I also understand why some manufacturers avoid throttles – and honestly believe throttles will eventually run into regulatory issues in the future – so I try not to bother with any bike to the exclusion of it.
The Cargo Line motor is one of Bosch’s most powerful systems, designed specifically for e-bikes that carry a lot of weight. It is also a step up from the Bosch Performance Line motors in earlier models. The S10 LX comes with a 500Wh or 1,000Wh system with a motor that delivers 85 newton-meters of torque and up to 400 percent pedal assistance at its highest setting.
Performance-wise, I wasn’t impressed with the 500Wh battery pack, and if I had the money, I’d definitely invest in another battery. While Tern claims the GSD has a range of 32-62 miles (52-105 km), I found the battery needed to be recharged after a 20-mile ride at the highest assist level on mostly flat surfaces with some steep hills . In. The motor lacked some of the torque you’d find in a smaller, more nimble e-bike. And while the top speed is listed as 20mph, I was only able to hit it while going downhill. With a low center of gravity, stability was great and I handled it well as I biked through my suburban small town.
GSD stands for “Receive Goods”; That’s exactly what I did while I had it: took the kids to school, went grocery shopping, used it for all those small, tedious tasks I’d usually use the car for. All told, over the course of a month of testing, I probably did 150-200 miles on it. I’m not trying to sound like a broken record, but e-bikes are car replacements, full stop. They get a lot of dirt from the cycling community because they put a lot of effort into cycling, but it’s perfect.
Tern GSD is an example of their capability. If you live in the US, you’ve come to believe that you need a car for daily living. And you probably do, because your community is built to exclude most other forms of transportation in the interest of making driving as frictionless as possible. E-bikes, especially cargo ones like the GSD, can help break through that conditioning and invite you to live in a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable world.
Let’s get off the soapbox and talk about accessories, because that’s what really drove me to the GSD.
In addition to lending me the GSD, Tern also provided a number of great add-ons, including two 52-liter panniers and three other accessories called the Clubhouse, Storm Box, and Storm Shield.
The clubhouse is essentially a seat pad with a backrest for racks and rails that surround the whole thing to prevent passengers from falling over. The Storm Box provides a waterproof covering for their feet, while the Storm Shield is a waterproof nylon canopy that fits over the rack, with side panels that roll up or down depending on the weather.
Overall, Tern calls it Clubhouse Fort, and my kids definitely treat it like their own personal funhouse. Every morning, they couldn’t wait to get on board for the 3.5-mile ride to their school. At the end of my trial period, I found all kinds of gummy snacks and Goldfish crackers at the bottom of the Storm box. I didn’t mind it.
To be sure, it’s not cheap to outfit your bike with all these accessories. Panniers ($250 for two), Clubhouse ($240), Storm Box ($220), and Storm Shield ($220) are all very expensive, especially overall. And when added to the price tag for the GSD — $5,499 for the single battery configuration, $6,299 for the dual battery — you’re looking at an overall price tag of over $7,000, which is kind of surprising.
Pricey than your average 10-speed, sure, but think about it in comparison to the costs of car ownership. According to AAA, for vehicles driving 15,000 miles a year, the average car ownership cost was $9,561 per year, or $797 per month. That figure includes depreciation, loan interest, fuel, insurance, maintenance and fees. In other words, the highest-spec turn cargo bike, complete with all the fixins, equates to about nine months of car ownership in the US. Not a bad tradeoff.
Sure, I wish Tern was a little cheaper — and you can certainly find cargo bikes with similar accessories for less money — but I also know that the company puts a lot of effort into making some great e-bikes. market today. They are versatile, reliable and powerful. But they can also help free you from the hassles of car ownership. For me, it is worth the price alone.