Tern GSD S00 LX Ebike Review: Perfect and Preposterously Expensive

As much as I would prefer it not to be, toting your kids to and fro on a cargo bike is a niche activity. Peek into any bike forum on the web and you’ll see plenty of puzzled parents seeking solutions.

The helpful folks on the other end ask for a lot of information: How many kids do you have? How old are they, and how big are they? How big are you? Have you considered a bike trailer? A bakfiets, a mamachari, or a utility bike? Do you want to put both on the back, or one in the front and one behind? What are your feelings on tagalongs?

The best answer for pretty much everyone, regardless of how they answer those questions, is still the Tern GSD. I first hopped aboard a Tern GSD with my daughter when she was 3 years old. She’s now 6, and she rides on the latest model with my son, who is 3. If I’d bought one of these versatile family-friendly ebikes when I first tested it, I would still be using it today. Tern has updated its winning formula to make the bike even better, and the newest GSD now comes with new accessories to make it easier and safer to ride.

Smooth and Easy

Every time I get on a cargo bike, I make sure to practice on it for a few miles before loading up my children. The shifting, gearing, and motor-driven pedal-assist features are all different on every bike, and the appropriate time to learn how the throttle works is not when you’re sitting at a stoplight with 80 pounds of kids perched on your longtail, pulling on your backpack, and scream-fighting with each other.

However, the learning curve with the Tern GSD is by far the easiest of any cargo ebike. I can hop aboard a GSD and be comfortable instantly. Tern currently has four models of the GSD, all of which have short, fat 20-inch wheels; a weight capacity of about 440 pounds; and an ingenious design that lets you fold down the handlebars so the bike can be securely stored vertically by standing it up on its rear end

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The GSD line starts at $5,099 for the most affordable GSD S10 model, which has a Shimano 10-speed gearing system, and goes up to $9,000 for a GSD R14 with a 14-speed electric-shifting Rohloff Speedhub and range-expanding dual-battery system. The new S00 LX sits right in the middle at $6,499. It comes with an Enviolo continuously variable gearhub that’s controlled by a twist shifter on the handlebar. This lets you tweak the shifting to sit at any position in the gearing range and also change that gearing while you’re stopped at a red light or a crosswalk.

I tested the S00 LX with the single, 500 watt-hour battery, which has a range of up to about 60 miles. In the three years since I last rode the GSD, Tern has swapped out the metal bike chain for a low-maintenance Gates Carbon Drive. It has also included the Atlas kickstand, which locks into place when engaged, and that you manually unlock before riding away. After using a locking kickstand, any other kickstand seems a little dangerous.

 

But the most important upgrade—and the thing that makes the GSD so expensive—is that every model now uses the Bosch Cargo Line motor, a step up from the Bosch Performance motor found in Tern’s cheaper ebikes. The Cargo Line is Bosch’s most powerful system, designed specifically for electric bicycles that carry lots of extra weight. The S00 LX comes with either a 500-Wh or a 1,000-Wh system on a motor that provides up to 400 percent pedal assist at its highest setting.

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