The electric bicycle is developing in France and one of its variants is particularly popular: the cargo bike. A machine that can carry heavier loads than a traditional bike and comes in multiple sub-families. Bikes and tricycles are bicycles with two and three wheels that carry their load in front. Their loading capacities reach several hundred kilograms. Nevertheless, due to their special size, these models are often unwieldy and require some time to get used to. The so-called cargo bikes long tails are more like classic city bikes. They are shorter than the two-wheelers and carry most of their load on their extended luggage rack at the rear.
We are currently testing two models long tails, the Decathlon Elops R500 E and the Mustache Monday 20.5. Two machines that differ significantly in price. In fact, the Decathlon bike is sold at €2,799 while the Mustache is marketed from €5,999 or even €6,999 in its dual version with two batteries. This difference in price is explained by the fact that the Mustache cargo bike is more sophisticated and complete. Still, both models promise to carry 70 kg on their luggage rack (and even 80 kg on the Elops R500 E).
For this test, we boarded a passenger who weighed around 70 kg, including clothing and equipment.
Battery charged, helmets screwed on and pillion more or less well fitted, we set out to confront two bikes that have notable differences beyond their price. First of all, Decathlon has opted for a motor placed in the hub of the rear wheel and capable of developing a torque of 58 Nm, while the Mustache has the best of the moment from Bosch with a Cargo Line motor with 85 Nm of torque. One might think the match is already played, but this test reveals surprises.
A matter of gravity
Carrying such a weight on the rear of the bike is not without consequences. The balance is changed and the focus of the whole shifts. First observation: the Decathlon Elops R500 E is much less stable than the Monday 20.5 and much more sensitive to the movements of the passenger. The 26-inch front wheel creates a slightly stronger rearward imbalance and sometimes seems to lose grip to maintain perfect steering control. There is no noticeable imbalance on the Mustache wheel. The 20-inch wheels that are close to the ground, the motor and the batteries in the middle all contribute to this stability.
The electric bike long tail by Decathlon is more demanding when it comes to weight distribution. Care must be taken to fix the mass as far towards the rider as possible. This advice applies to Mustache Monday 20.5 as well, but to a lesser extent. In the event of a heavy load on the rear wheel, putting a little weight in the front basket of the Elops R500 E will limit the reduction in front wheel grip.
Another thing to remember is that maneuvering a loaded bike is not without its difficulties. The 2.20 m length of the Decathlon Elops R500 E and its large-diameter front wheel make it an unwieldy bike. U-turns and other tight turns become more dangerous when the rack is loaded. Admittedly, the Monday 20.5 doesn’t offer much maneuverability with 70 kg on the luggage rack. However, the shorter length (2m) and smaller front wheel allows for tighter turns. Concentrating the weight also keeps it from being too far away during handlebar maneuvers.
brakes, not to be neglected
The larger the mass, the more difficult it will be to stop it after launch. On a bike long tail from 35 to 40 kg, with a load of 70 kg and a pilot of the same weight, it is better to have a suitable braking system. Good news, the two models we’re reviewing here feature hydraulic disc brakes, one of the most effective technologies to date. Decathlon has opted for a Tektro system and 180mm discs. Either larger than usual for city bikes (160 mm). Mustache went with a Magura solution and a 203mm disc at the front. Both devices rely on more conventional 2-piston calipers.
Mustache Monday 20.5 also wins in practice. Braking is both more powerful and precise than the Decathlon Elops R500 E. With a 70kg passenger in the back, it takes just under 5m to stop when you’re launched at 25km/h on the flat, versus almost 6m with the R500E.
This difference in braking performance is also due to the choice of 2.35 inch wide Schwalbe pickup tires versus the narrower (2.15 inch) CST CST C1996s. When braking, the slight loss of contact of the front tire limits the capabilities of the Decathlon e-bike.
Torque and power, a close match
As previously mentioned, the torque advantage is in the hands of Mustache and its 85Nm Bosch Cargo Line motor, while the Decathlon Elops R500 E’s hub motor only has 58Nm of torque. However, this data is not the only one to consider when evaluating a VAE engine. The power, limited to 250 W in France, can occasionally be higher. Here Decathlon takes the lead with 685 W peak versus 600 W for the Monday 20.5 motor.
In practice, this translates into several ways. The high torque of the Monday 20.5 is a clear plus when setting off with a loaded bike. The Cargo Line engine is able to start smoothly, giving you excellent balance control. To start the bike long tail from Decathlon things are looking a little less rosy. Under heavy loads, the first two levels of assistance sometimes lack juice, while the third, the highest, proves too brutal for perfect balance control. Behavior that therefore requires caution when starting off, even with the trigger (oh so handy) that starts the engine at up to 6 km / h.
On the other hand, on the coasts, the Elops R500 E is far from making a fool of itself compared to its rival. Decathlon’s bike manages to maintain a speed similar to Monday 5/20. Several factors explain this good performance. On the one hand, the power of the engine is transmitted directly to the side wheel long tail by Decathlon, and this performance is higher at the summit. For its part, the Monday 20.5 has to send its engine’s power through a system of internal gears and then through the gearbox (plate, belt, etc.), hence a potential loss along the way. An even more pronounced problem on Monday 3/20, equipped with a chain drive with derailleur gears and 10-speed cassette (Shimano Deore).
However, the Elops R500 E is less refined in its performance control. The engine has a lot of power and this is clearly noticeable in the consumption of the battery.
A long tail Decathlon perfect for a family’s everyday life
Let’s just look at the performance of the bikes long tails Very busy Decathlon and Mustache, the observation is clear. The Lundi 20.5 is significantly more resilient, especially in the dual version with two 500 Wh batteries. Its belt transmission and its continuously variable Enviolo hub are other assets that are subject to less wear than a chain transmission between a chainring and a cassette. It is precisely this type of gearbox that the Decathlon Elops R500 E has on board, transporting heavy loads will therefore lead to more regular maintenance and premature wear.
The Elops R500 E is a bicycle long tail intended more for family use and suitable for transporting loads under 50 kg over short distances. It’s still able to withstand many situations, and its price makes it a very reasonable choice. For simpler applications, therefore, the gap between a Mustache Lundi 20.5 and a Decathlon Elops R500 E decreases, but remains present in price: €3,200 to €4,200 depending on the version between these two bikes.
The full reviews of these Decathlon Elops R500 E and Mustache Lundi 20.5 will be available soon on our website.