The Tern GSD S10 Electric Cargo Bike surprised the bike industry in 2017. A little cargo bike that hit the media by storm at Interbike 2017. The team at Tern Bicycles took their knowledge of folding bikes and the Bosch mid-drive electric-assist motor to reinvented what a compact cargo bike could be. A cargo bike that could hold 2 kids, fit a range of rider heights without changing any parts, and the length of a standard size bike (see below for overlay). Technically this is called a
I finally took delivery of a review bike in mid-spring 2017 and much to Tern’s PR agency’s frustration – our family wouldn’t give it back until our production model came in. (Sorry!!) I also interviewed Josh Hon from Tern Bikes about bringing the Tern GSD to market early in the spring before the bikes hit the market. You can listen to that podcast below or look up “Shift Up Podcast” in your favorite podcast app!
Key Details of the Tern GSD S10 Cargo Bike
The Tern GSD platform is a based around a mid-drive Bosch electric assist cargo bike (motor is in the middle of the bike). The S10 and S00 have the same frame, cockpit,
S10 Details are followed
MSRP: $4,799 (two batteries) or $3,999 (one battery)
Motor: Bosch® Performance Line motor
Battery: Bosch dual-battery system (400/500/900 Wh) for a range of up to 136 miles
Note on Battery: One of my favorite small details on this bike is that you can buy the single battery bike but it comes with the dual-battery harness with
Brakes: Magura® MT5 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
Tires: Custom 62 mm Schwalbe® Super Moto-X tires with puncture protection
• Max Load Weight: 400 lbs
• Andros stem for handlebar height and reach adjustments
• Fits two Thule Yepp Maxi child seats, or one Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi seat—no adapters needed
Riding and Using the Tern GSD
As I mentioned, I had a preproduction Tern GSD for a couple of months that truly shifted our family’s outlook and requirements for cargo bikes. Tern really did their homework on this bike and most importantly, they took feedback well and are implementing small changes quickly with each production run. I am not exaggerating when I say that the GSD was the kick we needed to open a family and transportation bike shop, Bike Shop Girl. Finally – there is a good selection of readily available product to help families bike more and worry less – we just needed to create a bike shop experience to show them off!
Looking at the bike, the GSD has an uncommon look to it. The wheels are small and the frame has an angular step-through design. If you are too stuck on what a bike “should look like” then you may not get over the design of this bike. If you let go of these notions and embrace the electric, little bike, hauling machine. This bike will surprise you.
The little wheels make the bike seem less cumbersome. The shorter length and handlebar that folds out of the way allows it to be stored and transported easier than a long tail. Now the shorter length rear end doesn’t allow you to carry as much as say the Xtracycle Edgerunner that could carry 3 decent size kids and room for tons of bags or groceries in the side bag. The Xtracycle though is hard to transport or store and most importantly, it is sometimes TOO much bike for people, especially if you are smaller or ride in tight places. These are clear pros and cons to both and really come down to your particular needs.
I must also mention that the little wheels and the “
The ride quality is what I all consider quick and stiff. This is great for efficiency and if you want a cargo bike that steers more like a single occupancy bike (SOB). The tires can be run at a lower PSI to add some cushion to help take the edge off if the bike is TOO stiff. In general, 90% of people that have ridden this bike love the ride quality. It feels like a normal bike, even with a load on the back compared to say a Yuba Spicy Curry or Xtracycle Edgerunner. The shorter length, smaller aluminum paired with 20″ wheels makes it handle better in dense (city) situations but does make the bike stiffer than our beloved Xtracycle Edgerunner.
The Fit of the Tern GSD Cargo Bike
The GSD was designed around an electric motor which means that it wasn’t designed to make the rider super aggressive or in the “most efficient position” because that’s what the electric assist is for! The fit is easy to adjust with the multi-direction adjustable stem but in general, the fit is upright and comfortable. Why? An upright position allows you to see better in traffic and gives you a more stable platform to maneuver around with extra weight on the bike.
The handlebar has a nice sweep to it where the bar sweeps back towards the rider giving you a more ergonomic fit. Speaking of ergonomics, the Tern GSD comes with Ergon grips that have this nice natural fit to give you more support for your hands.
Parts Selection of the Tern GSD S10 Electric Cargo Bike
The components and “build” of this bike are where I started getting excited as a bike shop owner. The bike is purpose-built to be used for mobility or simply – getting places. Accessories like fenders, kickstand, comfortable grips, a bell, and durable tires are standard. You don’t need to pay $200 for a kickstand or upgrade the tires.
This matters because those accessories add up to make a bike an actual functional daily commuter before adding on the accessories for your unique lifestyle like hauling kids or business supplies. It sometimes leads to difficult conversations to show a customer a great electric bike for $3,000 and then tell the person to make it reasonable to ride through the city of Denver every day they should upgrade the tires, lights, and fenders to add $400-600 to their bike.
The Products and Parts That Matter to Us and Why
Bosch Performance Line Mid-Drive Motor – If you listened to the podcast with Josh Hon you know that this little cargo bike was built from the ground up with the Bosch motor in mind. Bosch really has the market cornered right now for excellent electric motors and you’ll love the instant response it provides when pulling a heavy load.
20″ Wheels – This allows the bike to be lower to the ground for stability when you have 2 wiggling kids on the back. The step over of the frame is one of the lowest in class to carry 2 kids and it also allows for a stiffer yet playful ride because the smaller wheels turn quicker but are stiffer by design.
Gearing – Tern uses a 1×10 mountain bike drivetrain which is very common on electric cargo bikes. The Shimano Deore Shadow + rear derailleur is commonly used for aggressive mountain biking. It is very durable but also provides precise shifting for many miles. The “+” in the derailleur name means it has a lever that stiffens up the derailleur to stabilize the chain during bumpy terrain. If you ride over rough terrain or take the path less traveled then use this feature! It does slow down the shifting oh so slightly (most people don’t notice) and I wish more cargo bikes with an extra long chain had it.
Magura MT5 Brakes – I love Magura for their 4 piston brake calipers. These 4 pistons (vs 2) have a longer pad surface to really grab the 180mm rotors. Some shops aren’t too fond of Magura brakes because they aren’t as simple to set up. I, fortunately, have been using Magura on our mountain and city bikes for over 10 years and the setup is no problem.
Cockpit – The handlebar and seat post design were borrowed from Tern’s folding bikes like the Tern Vektron. The handlebar rear and height is easy to adjust on the fly with “Tern Andros (G2), adjustable, forged construction, patented technology” and the whole handlebar folds down for storage using a massive lever on the handlepost.
Boosted Wheels – “Boost” is a design feature borrowed from mountain bikes. The hub (center of the wheel) is wider than an atypical bike allowing the frame to be wider (stiffer/stronger) and the wheels have thru axles which also allow for a much stiffer wheel mounting than a quick release. This design was initially released for mountain bikes to help with limit flexing in the frame or fork when turning or braking. It makes the Tern GSD feel like a stiff cargo bike when under load and it also makes for a more durable wheel build.
Lights ALL The Time – I am a big fan of using lights all the time, just as cars have daytime running lights, I wish more bike riders would use lights during the day. Most good city electric bikes have built-in lights that run off the battery. The Tern lighting system is bright and a clean install. When I set these up new for customers I change the light setting to “Always On” unless the customer doesn’t want it. They can always turn the lights off but I love the idea of daytime running lights that pull very little energy from the electric bike battery.
Double the Battery, Double the Fun – The GSD is one of the few bikes equipped with Bosch’s latest Dual-Battery technology. You can connect up to two batteries for a range of over 136 miles *your miles may vary depending on what you are carrying, terrain, and speed. What is VERY cool is that if you buy a single battery GSD it already has the battery harness for a 2nd battery to save you time and money in the future.
Hidden Battery – The batteries are cleanly tucked into the frame which is visually very appealing! They are also reasonable to get out if you need to transport your bike or want to take the batteries with you. Some dual-battery systems are a pain to get the batteries out.
Tern GSD Accessories
Accessories are really what make or break a great cargo bike. As of the original posting of this review, I hadn’t received all the newest accessories. I plan on creating articles dedicated to installing and using the accessories and will link to them here when they are available. Below is what I have tried and our feedback on the products, I will update as I try more accessories!
Yepp Seats – These aren’t Tern accessories but they are required to talk about because many people will be using the GSD to haul kids. The Tern GSD can hold TWO Yepp Maxi Easyfit seats with the adapter built into the frame design. This is the only midtail cargo bike we know of that can do this.
Cargo Hold Panniers $150 – These are the massive side bags (sold as a pair) for the sides of your bike. They can be folded up and out of the way when not in use which is very slick. Yepp Maxi Easyfit seats can slide over the flap of these so that the kid’s feet are sticking inside of the bags. These bags (or something comparable) are a requirement in our opinion if you are carrying small kids without Yepp seats. It keeps their feet from the rear wheel. While the Tern GSD has the most protected rear wheel of any cargo bike without a wheel guard, we don’t chance it and do recommend a bag is there.
If you are carrying a lot of weight in these panniers we do recommend using the Sidekick Lower Deck to support the bags.
Sidekick™ Lower Deck $50 – Used as a footrest or to support the Cargo Hold Panniers. If you are using the Clubhouse rail system then Tern recommends you use the Lower Deck.
Sidekick™ Seat Pad $45 – Pretty straight forward seatpad that has an easy on/off mounting system. Use 2 pads to cover the entire GSD deck or 1 with a Yepp seat.
Sidekick™ Foot Pegs $25 – Give the kids (or adult) a place to put their feet. These fold in and out like a motorcycle footpeg.
Clubhouse™ $190 – This railing system keeps your kids or cargo contained. I will post a dedicated review of this once it comes in as the hoops/rails of a cargo bike are often the most loved/hated piece of long and mid-tail cargo bikes.
Sidekick™ Bars $60 – A mini-handlebar and stem that mounts to your seat post for
Transporteur™ Rack $120 – An overbuilt front rack/basket to haul all the things – up to 44lbs of things!
Shortbed™ Tray $120 – If you are using the GSD for business or the business of hauling non-child cargo, this may be for you. It mounts to the frame of the GSD providing a wide platform and carries Eurocrates with ease.
Batten™ Straps $16 – We personally feel that bungee cords should be banned for safety concerns. Use a batten strap on all the cargo to batten down the hatches!
Who is the Tern GSD Cargo Bike For?
As I am in the business of getting more families on bikes I am often asked, “What is the right cargo bike for me?” I typically reply with a handful of questions to narrow down on what you are needing. If you have questions or need advice please add to the comments below or send me a message.
The Tern GSD to me is a bike that could fit into many households, this opinion is based off being a cargo and electric bike advocate. The Tern GSD isn’t too big but it can still haul a trunk load of groceries. You can carry 2 kids and all the camping gear. If you don’t have kids you need to tote then it works well as a single occupancy bike (SOB) that can carry all of your stuff like a computer bag, gym bag, lunch, and all while keeping you sweat free thanks to the Bosch motor.
I strongly believe the GSD will allow many households to go down to a single car. It will also potentially replace several bikes with just one bike. This can easily be your city, kid hauling, weekend enjoying, do everything, bike. Now, it won’t replace a road bike, you shouldn’t mountain bike on it, it isn’t fully enclosed for kids like the Urban Arrow for winter riding, and the youngest children can’t ride on the Tern GSD like a front
Who is This Bike NOT For?
- If you want to carry 2+ kids until they are very big (check out a true longtail cargo bike)
- You want a Class 3 electric bike that goes to 28mph
- You want a classic looking electric bike
- You want a more comfortable ride (check out the Benno for 1 kid or eSwoop for multiple)
- You want your kids enclosed (check out the Urban Arrow, Riese & Müller or a tow behind trailer)
No Bike is Perfect
There are a few small quirks of the GSD that I should mention because no bike is perfect. I’m not a product designer but here is my list of “improvements”!
- The kickstand isn’t the best I have tried but it certainly isn’t the worst. I hope to be getting an aftermarket option from G&O Family Cyclery and will report back on it.
- The rear light wiring comes a bit too close for comfort to the rear disc brake. This isn’t something a consumer would ever know about but we are personally throwing an extra zip tie on the wiring so it doesn’t have the chance to move.
- I have had a couple warranty forks come through the bike shop. No safety concerns but the Magura brakes have very tight tolerances and the forks weren’t perfect so brakes would rub. Some shops have sent bikes out this way but that shouldn’t be the case. If you are having brake issues and your shop isn’t helping you
- Ironically, I wish this bike came in a more classic color like black or white. This is completely different than what I said with the Tern Vektron review!
Test Ride, Test Ride, Test Ride!
I proudly stock demo and for sale Tern GSD bikes at Bike Shop Girl for you to try. If you are in the Denver area come visit! If you have specific questions or don’t have a good Tern dealer near by please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.
Disclaimer: First off, I do own a bike shop that sells the Tern GSD but that in no way sways my opinions. I sell it because I have ridden it extensively and believe in the bik. The blue/grey model was loaned to us by Tern as a pre-production sample. This will be returned and we did not make any money from Tern on this review.
Another disclaimer: The orange bike is our personal ride and we did switch out the pedals to something with more grip.