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Electric-assist Urban Arrow cargo bike wants to be your second car


August 24, 2012

The Urban Arrow is an electric-assist Dutch cargo bike that can be reconfigured as needed

The Urban Arrow is an electric-assist Dutch cargo bike that can be reconfigured as needed

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Bakfiets, the distinctive Dutch cargo bikes with the cargo bed located in front of the rider, are becoming increasingly popular outside of The Netherlands. Practical as they are for hauling things like groceries, however, they’re heavy. Their beds also tend to be rather hard and unyielding – not ideal for carting your kids around. The Dutch designers of the Urban Arrow took these things into consideration when creating their machine. It has a padded, rain-protected cargo box to keep the little ones comfy and dry, an electric motor to compensate for its 45-kg (99-lb) weight, and a few other clever features.

The Urban Arrow is intended to be “a replacement for the second car,” and it won an innovation award when it was first unveiled at the 2010 Eurobike trade show.

Its cargo box is made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) high-density foam – firm enough to maintain structural integrity, yet with enough give not to bang the kids around too much on the road. That box can be removed, to transform the bike into a flatbed carrier, or it can be replaced with a lockable-lidded hard-sided cargo box.

For riders who don’t have much to carry, the entire front end of the bike can even be swapped for a much shorter front section, transforming the Urban Arrow into a regular-length bike with a modest cargo rack located over the front wheel. A two-wheeled front end, which would turn it into a tricycle, is also on the way.

The Urban Arrow's various interchangeable components

The stock EPP box incorporates features such as cup holders, a cargo net for securing groceries, and a removable rain cover with a clear plastic windscreen. That cover can be stored within the frame tubes that cradle the box, when not in use. An optional rain cover for the rider is in the works.

Pedaling assistance is provided by a 250-watt motor attached to the crankset, which it helps turn when activated. That motor is powered by a 36-volt, 10Ah lithium-ion battery, which gives the bike a tested range of about 50 km (31 miles) with no cargo, or about 40 km (25 miles) with two kids and groceries – needless to say, any user’s actual range will depend on how much they use the motor.

The bike has a top pedal-assisted speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph), and a cargo capacity of 110 kg (242.5 lbs). Some of its other features include a Daum electronic control panel, a NuVinci N360 continuously-variable hub transmission, and SKS mudguards. Its aluminum frame is available in black, silver or white.

The Urban Arrow sells for €2,950 (US$3,691), although a €1,950 ($2,440) non-electric version is available for people without as much cash to spare, or who like to sweat. It can be seen in action in the video below.

Source: Urban Arrow

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Helmets unnecessary apparently.

With a loaded cargo-hold the range is 25 miles. The battery capacity is 360Whrs. So the projected energy usage is 14.4WattHours per mile. That's pretty low. At, say, 10 mph the assist power will only be 144Watts so I suspect there'll still be some sweating going on!

Still, it's a good concept - helmets would seem sensible though.


This actually seems like a pretty nice bike with some great capabilities, without a ludicrous price. I am sure all the extra parts will cost, but I like the idea of a modular system that can do more than one thing.

Michael Crumpton

@ -dphiBbydt,

Helmets aren't as necessary in The Netherlands because cycles in urban areas are usually segregated from motor vehicles, or where they do share space, cars are expected (and do) maintain slow speeds- the Dutch have fantastic facilities for cyclists, and far more people ride bikes than they do in the UK, for instance.

Mind you, it certainly helps that The Netherlands is extremely flat!

Love this bike concept- seems ideal for short distances, and the range is far more than ample for the kind of local journeys it is intended for.


I love it! The price seems reasonable. It seems very functional, love the space for groceries etc. The range is good! I think this could catch on! Especially for those of us that can't yet afford an EV. It'd be nice to get a small tax credit to make them even more desirable!


I like the general concept, but would like to see a smaller price tag, more power, and a full power, non-assist mode.


How on earth does the rider balance that top-heavy contraption? The kids would have to be tied down to stop them moving and spoiling the balance! Looks like a wheelbarrow welded onto the front of a bicycle...


Ben, have your ridden a Bakfiets with children before and have you heard about them whining or getting bruised due to its construction?

It is not ideal but still fair to write something just based on a press release, but if you are going to be writing serious things like "hard, "unyielding" and "not ideal for carting your kids around" you should ask for proof from the source of the press release or better yet ask some Dutch kids about it.

Tens of thousands of Dutch kids are carried safely and comfortably in wooden Bakfiets on a daily basis, and has been mentioned almost none wear helmets because the conditions in the Netherlands are also safe and comfortable to cycle in.


Coming soon! a Carbon fibre, ultra-lite version, complete with Solar Array for charging and a set of three batteries, one in the bike, one in the cargo hold to serve as a "spare" and one on charge all day in the sunlight back at home. University of Alberta has hemp utility bodies for cars, is this material light enough, strong enough for this purpose too? Remember: China is so listening! Will they see an international market for these and mass produce them for a realistic price? Ford Motor Company now has 6 super factories in China, think they have room to make these electric cargo bikes too? I can use one of these spring, summer and fall, and even into the winter where I live, in the village of Lakefield, Ontario, Canada. One of these would certainly add a new and happy dimension to my life.

Bruce Miller

The intended uses of this machine cry out for a third wheel. As it is, I think this contraption is nearly un-rideable.

Guy Macher

I realize that in the Netherlands bikes are segregated from autos, but this is not true in most other countries. It would seem somewhat dangerous to ride out into traffic with your kids going first, you could miss traffic coming from the side!

Jerry Peavy

This is a quite nice bicycle but there are a lot of designs and tutorials of this type of cargo bikes in the internet.. and by half of the price is possible to make a better one which is made by yourself.. the only different thing is the small assistant electric motor

Tiago Roque

This is ideal for Holland and would work in parts of the USA where it is also very flat, Florida comes to mind in this regard. On flat terrain there is much less of a penalty for a heavy bicycle which is why the Dutch have the heaviest bikes found in Europe and far heavier than anything sold in the USA.

The people container part of the design is a good one to use for a scooter to protect the occupants and overall the addition of an electric motor using a battery for power would be a more viable design for widespread use. I would expect to see this type of urban vehicle first produced in China for their internal use as electric scooters are already common in the country.


How about some stabilizing trainer wheels one the back of the unit?


I was in Holland for the 4th time, this year in March 2012, yes the Dutch are brilliant when it comes to bikes.

Personally yes, the safety for cyclists here in Australia is increased due to compulsory helmets for cyclists, this reduces head injuries by 88%, I can see a market in Holland for a lightweight helmet that provides a minim protection.

In Amsterdam i followed my cousin on the bikes, because riding there is different and flows very well.

Derek Pater

California AB-2173 will require electric cargo bikes/trikes to weigh 80lbs or less or be classified as Mopeds requiring license plates, motorcycle license endorsement, insurance and DOT approved helmets to operate! Contact your representative now and urge them to either drop the max weight or amend the bill to align with the federal law weight limit of 100lbs. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB2173

Karl Dean
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