The electric bike is developing in France and one of its variations is especially on the rise: the cargo bike. A machine capable of supporting heavier loads than a conventional bicycle, and which comes in several sub-families. Two- and three-wheel bicycles are bicycles with two and three wheels that carry their load in the front. Their load capacities reach several hundred kilograms. However, these models are often difficult and require time to adapt due to their particular size. The so-called cargo bikes long tail more similar to classic urban bikes. Shorter than a two-wheeler, they can accommodate most of their cargo in their tall luggage rack at the back.
We are currently testing two models long tail, the Decathlon Elops R500 E and the Mustache Monday 20.5. Two machines that are clearly different in their price. In fact, the Decathlon bike is sold for € 2,799, while the Mustache is sold from € 5,999, or even € 6,999 in its Dual version with two batteries. This price difference is explained by the higher and more complete equipment of Mustache’s cargo bike. However, both models promise to carry 70 kg on their rear rack (and even 80 kg for the Elops R500 E).
To do this test, we boarded a passenger who showed approximately 70 kg on the scale, including clothing and equipment.
The battery is charged, the helmets are screwed on the head and the passenger is better installed, we are going to deal with two bikes that show remarkable differences, beyond their price. First, the Decathlon opted for a motor placed in the hub of the rear wheel, capable of developing a torque of 58 Nm. On the face of it, the Mustache now has the best from Bosch with a Cargo Line motor that offers 85 Nm of torque. One might think that the game is already played, but this test reveals surprises.
A matter of gravity
Carrying that much weight on the back of your bike is not without consequences. The balance is changed and the center of gravity throughout the transfer. First observation, Decathlon Elops R500 E is less stable than Monday 20.5, and more sensitive to passenger movements. The 26-inch front wheel creates a little more balance in the rear and sometimes seems to lose grip to maintain full steering control. On Mustache’s bike, there is no imbalance to be noticed. The 20-inch wheels that keep it close to the ground, the motor and the batteries placed in the center contribute to its stability.
The electric bike long tail from Decathlon is more demanding when it comes to weight placement. Care should be taken to fix the mass as much as possible towards the driver. This advice is also valid for Mustache Monday 20.5, but to a lesser extent. If there is a heavy rear load, placing less weight on the front basket of the Elops R500 E will limit the reduction of front wheel grip.
It should also be noted that maneuvering a loaded bike is not difficult. The 2.20 m height of the Decathlon Elops R500 E and the large diameter of the front wheel make it an unwieldy bike. U-turns and other tight turns can be more dangerous when the rack is loaded. True, the Monday 20.5 does not offer good maneuverability even with 70 kg of its luggage rack. However, its more limited height (2 m) and the smaller front wheel allow tighter turns. The concentration of weight also keeps it very far during the maneuvers of the maneuvers.
Brake, don’t let up
The greater the mass, the more difficult it is to stop it once launched. On a bicycle long tail from 35 to 40 kg, with a load of 70 kg and its pilot of the same weight, it is better to have a suitable brake system. Good news, both models we reviewed here have hydraulic disc brakes, one of the most effective technologies to date. Decathlon chose a Tektro system and 180 mm discs. Larger than what is usually found on urban bikes (160 mm). Mustache chose the solution from Magura and a 203 mm front disc. Both devices rely on conventional 2-piston calipers.
Again, in practice, Mustache Monday 20.5 wins. Braking is more powerful and more precise than the Decathlon Elops R500 E. With a 70 kg passenger in the back, it only takes less than 5 m to stop when you are launched at 25 km / h on the flat, against almost 6 m in R500 E.
This difference in braking performance is also due to the choice of 2.35-inch Schwalbe Pick-Up wheels, versus the narrower CST C1996 (2.15 inches). When braking, the slight loss of contact with the front wheel limits the capabilities of the Decathlon electric bike.
Torque and power, a close match
As we mentioned above, the torque advantage is on the side of the Mustache and its Bosch Cargo Line motor of 85 Nm. On the contrary, the hub motor of the Decathlon Elops R500 E shows only 58 Nm of torque. However, this data is not the only one that should be considered when evaluating a VAE engine. The power, limited to 250 W in France, can rise for a long time. Here, the Decathlon takes the lead with 685 W peak, against 600 W for Monday’s 20.5 machine.
In practice, this is interpreted in many ways. The high torque of Monday 20.5 is a definite plus when starting when the bike is loaded. The Cargo Line engine enables a smooth start that allows you to maintain good control of your balance. To start the bike long tail from the Decathlon, things are a little less rosy. With a heavy load, the first two ways to help sometimes lack juice, while the third, the highest, proves too brutal for full balance control. The behavior that therefore requires caution at the start, even using the trigger (oh very practical) that launches the engine up to 6 km / h.
On the other hand, on the coast, the Elops R500 E is far from mocking itself against its rival. The Decathlon bike was able to maintain a speed similar to Monday 20.5. Several factors explain this good performance. On the one hand, the power of the engine is directly transmitted to the side wheel long tail from the Decathlon, and this power is higher at the top. Monday 20.5 must, for its part, send the power of its motor through a system of internal gears then through the transmission (platter, belt, etc.), therefore a potential loss of the road. A more marked problem on Monday 20.3, equipped with a chain transmission with derailleur and 10-speed cassette (Shimano Deore).
However, the Elops R500 E is less refined in its power control. The engine gives a lot of effort and this is clearly felt in the battery consumption.
A long tail Decathlon is perfect for a family’s everyday life
If we just look at the performance of the bikes long tail Decathlon and Mustache are very busy, the observation is clear. The Lundi 20.5 is more capable of carrying heavy cargo, especially in its Dual version with two 500 Wh batteries. Its belt transmission and the Enviolo continuously variable hub are other assets, less wear than a chain transmission between a chainring and cassette. This is exactly the type of transmission that the Decathlon Elops R500 E is equipped with. Carrying heavy loads will prompt more regular maintenance and premature wear.
The Elops R500 E is a bike long tail is intended for family use, and is suitable for carrying loads of less than 50 kg on short trips. However, it can handle many situations and its price makes it a reasonable choice. For more basic use therefore, the gap between a Mustache Lundi 20.5 and a Decathlon Elops R500 E is narrowing, but remains present in terms of prices: 3,200 to 4,200 € depending on the version between these two bicycles.
Complete tests of this Decathlon Elops R500 E and Mustache Lundi 20.5 will be found soon on our site.