Disclaimer: I currently work for the distributor of Tern in North America. Some coverage and reviews on this site are from when I owned a cargo bike shop. I do my best to keep a level head and weigh the pros and cons as I would when I owned the bike shop but there are things I can’t say about Tern and the competitors due to my relationship with the brand.
Back in 2019, the Tern HSD helped reinvent what a capable e-bike is. I owned a cargo bike shop at the time and this little bike allowed me to drop all non-cargo bike brands because I finally had a bike that was capable but wasn’t a huge bulky cargo bike. I tagged it the “crossover of electric bikes“, and went on to review the HSD P9, HSD S8i, and got very excited when the HSD P9 Performance was released for a more affordable option with a larger motor.
Since the launch of the HSD, a refreshed Gen 2 GSD was released, I went to work for Tern, and Bosch got smarter with their “eBike smart system“. Finally, Tern was able to launch the HSD Gen 2 back in June. I was on maternity leave but did my best to summarize everything that was different, new, and exciting with the HSD Gen 2.
Over the past few weeks a couple of HSD models have arrived for me to work on training for Tern dealers, and longer-term I plan on doing as many service-oriented videos as I can (let me know what you need!) I’ve had the good fortune to ride these bikes a good amount, and soon will be installing a passenger setup so I can test it even further. I have a lot of thoughts on the new HSD design, new accessories, the new Bosch eBike smart system, and working on breaking up all those thoughts into separate pieces of content but here is a list of my musings to get you started if you are thinking about the HSD Gen 2.
13 Things You Should Know About the Tern HSD Gen 2
What’s all the fuss about the Bosch eBike Smart System?
If you have followed along, I am pretty tied in with Bosch solely because of their commitment to safety and helping develop the UL-2849 e-bike system certification. I will happily use and store other systems in my home once they are tested for the UL-2849 certification.
Bosch has had their “Bosch eBike System 2” out for a while. The Tern Vektron and the Riese & Muller Load were the first products I remember trying with this e-bike system back in 2016/2017. Since then, all the PowerPack frame batteries and chargers I’ve been using are pretty interchangeable. The exceptions are PowerTube or PowerPack rack batteries, but they still use the same 4A or 2A Bosch BES2 chargers. There has been refinement of the motors, and a few new display options like the Kiox and Nyon, but for the most part from a mechanic’s standpoint, the reliable Bosch system has been steadfast for 7 or so years.
Now, we have the Bosch smart system. I’m dedicating as much time as possible to getting to know this new system as intimately as possible and hope to put out more dedicated content because while it is familiar, it is very different. Look for a separate article about my initial experiences as a rider, and then as a mechanic. For now, here is all the content I have made to get you up to speed with the Bosch eBike smart system.
Well, is it worth it?
I obviously mean the whole setup of the new HSD Gen 2 and the new Bosch eBike smart system when I say, “Is it worth it?”
There is some initial sticker shock looking at the price of cargo bikes (and electric bikes and computers and iPhones…) You are either comparing them to the price of a normal bike, or you are potentially comparing them to the price of an HSD that you purchased 2-3 years ago. I’m not here to justify the cost because yes quality electric and cargo bikes are expensive, and until we have good financing and rebate options, they will be a stretch for most of us. Here’s what I can say about it…
Built to Last
This hopefully is the same note for any quality cargo or electric bike you are looking at. There are many major brands coming out with great-looking cargo and electric bikes with Bosch. If they have a solid warranty and have partnered with Bosch, hopefully, they are designed to be a car replacement in your life.
Simple I know, but it is stiffer, has a higher max torque, higher rear rack capacity, and higher max gross vehicle weight capacity, with the new Bosch eBike smart system is pretty nice with eBike Lock and eBike Alarm options. Is that enough to justify the price difference between the first generation and the second?
Testing Matters, a lot.
Comparing the HSD to other midtail “1-passenger” cargo bikes, for me it comes down to testing.
Now, I can’t speak for other brands here but I can speak for Tern and Bosch where I can say that our frame and forks have been put through insane EFBE testing. Meeting this testing costs money, but it also means that after you hit that same pothole on your morning commute after 3-5 years with a growing human on the back (that started at 30 pounds and is now 110 pounds), you won’t develop a hairline crack on the seatpost or headtube that you don’t notice because you never find the time to clean and inspect your bike.
As a mom, and as a loud cheerleader for the bikes for transportation movement, I don’t take this lightly. I also don’t take it lightly to put my voice behind a brand. I dealt with Tern first as a bike shop owner, and mechanic, and can say that we take your safety to the extreme and this does come with a cost. We don’t cut corners, and this may hurt us because we aren’t the cheapest and because we over-advertise our max gross vehicle weights, and rider weights when most brands don’t even mention them. We also have decided to stick to only using UL-2849 tested e-bike systems which cost more, sometimes a lot more. But you know what? I can sleep at night knowing our bikes are in your garage or living room, and that tomorrow you are putting your most important thing in your life in the back. I can’t influence the street design where you live, but I can hopefully help you pick a bike that has been tested to the levels I would trust my own child or wife on.
*It is worth noting, that I also personally ride an Urban Arrow with my now 4-month-old. I haven’t seen any public info on their EFBE testing but have personally ridden 4 of these now over the years and feel confident recommending them as well.
The Bosch eBike smart system is Smarter
Is the new Bosch eBike smart system worth the price of entry? I can’t say for you, but here are some of the things I am appreciating:
- Every smart system bike has a built-in eBike Lock which makes the e-bike system not work if your smartphone or Kiox display is not synced.
- Optional eBike Alarm will integrate GPS tracking and alarm into the motor.
- Larger PowerPack frame batteries. The HSD models all come with 545Wh. There is also a 725Wh that reportedly fits but I haven’t tested.
- Smartphone integration for e-bike updates, and navigation is really sweet. I love that I don’t need to get Bosch diagnostics for the most recent updates.
The HSD Gen 2 has pushed the HSD family further into the dedicated cargo bike category. It will replace car trips, and maybe even a car for some. The market demand for this type of bike in North America is only going to grow exponentially every year. Towns and cities are building safer infrastructure, incentives are becoming more readily available, and financing options from places like Spring Bank in NYC.
Is the HSD (or any good quality) cargo bike worth it? It really depends on you, your lifestyle, and what you prioritize in life.