“A bike that can do just about anything – commuting, trips to the store, drop off at daycare, leisure rides, etc.” So says e-bike manufacturer CERO, which recently launched its CERO One cargo e-bike to the public. It’s all true! CERO One gives the impression of being in motion on the silk, and also allows you to do your local shopping. I know, because they lent me one for a while. Thank goodness women are still allowed to ride bikes in my state, at least for now.
Check the boxes: the pleasure walk
CERO sent me their cargo e-bike complete with front and rear baskets. It was easy to put together, and after a few minutes of feeling like it in a nearby parking lot, I was on my way to the Hill of Doom, which is a quarter mile straight on top of a mountain. It’s a small mountain, but still a mountain, and the road is a busy 3 lane with a 40mph speed limit, no bike lanes, no sidewalks, and no chance of going back and forth.
I had to try a few e-bikes on this hill before I figured out how to maximize power and minimize effort, but that wasn’t the case with the CERO One. It flew up the hill in a snap on the first try.
“The efficient Shimano E6100 motor system boosts your pedaling up to 20 mph and gives you up to 105 miles of range on a single charge,” CERO promises, and it came to fruition on Cursed Hill.
“And with the Gates Carbon Drive™ belt and Shimano Inter-5E internal hub gears, your bike will be smooth, quiet and nearly maintenance free,” they also promise. I would have to keep the bike for a while to confirm the maintenance aspect, but the smooth and quiet parts are all true.
The quiet part was especially nice as I continued my first ride, a 13-mile loop through a local nature reserve with plenty of other opportunities to give the CERO One an uphill workout, all seamlessly, and all without electric whine in the background, even when pushing the power all the way up.
Box 2: Commuting with an electric cargo bike
The next test was my usual 20-mile round trip between the suburbs and the city to and from work, which really puts a bike through its paces.
The inbound trip is one mile on the same small but still mountainous mountain, then 7 hilly miles on a 4-lane arterial with trucks and buses and so on, and one mile of congested urban stops and starts .
The return trip is an 11 mile roundabout which avoids the evening rush hour on the county road, although it does involve a good mile uphill on a winding road to get up and down from the other side of the Hill of Doom. .
The CERO gives a score of 11 out of 10 at each step of the process. It accomplished climbing uphill, dodging buses, scootering at intersections, and randomly dodging pedestrians on the road without turning your hair.
Plus, the CERO One is a bold fat bike that stands out in traffic, which helps from a safety standpoint. The spacious front and rear baskets also made it easy for me to rid my desk of a few junk and bring it home effortlessly.
Box #3: Local shopping on an electric cargo bike
To be clear, commuting on an e-bike isn’t necessarily an everyday occurrence on a 20-mile round trip. When the days get shorter, a mile-long ride in the dark without bike lanes is a no-start. The same goes for rain, snow or cold. A few minutes of driving in the dark or in bad weather wouldn’t really be a problem, but on a 35-45 minute ride, the risks add up.
This is something to keep in mind for e-bike use in the suburbs, where journeys tend to be longer and cycle lanes are scarce. Still, on days when you can use an e-bike, you save a lot of gas.
You can also save a lot of time. Shopping locally is a breeze on an e-bike as the parking problem evaporates. If you’ve never lived in a suburban town with virtually no public transit, you might not realize how much time and energy is spent managing local parking. Well, that’s a lot. Being able to cycle in and out is a huge plus.
That’s true for any bike, but a cargo e-bike really benefits from the situation because you can load more stuff on it.
For example, there is a hardware store just a 15 minute walk from my house, but I have to use the car if I need something too big and heavy to carry for 15 minutes. Also the walk back up a very steep and nasty little hill. On the CERO, the same run was effortless and also saved time, even with a load of potting soil and other stuff in the back bay.
Don’t take your ride for granted
As for being allowed to ride a bike in your home country, that’s something we all have to think about these days. Not really. It wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t expected to ride bikes everywhere in the United States. Besides, women were not allowed to do many things in the United States, such as voting or buying their own car insurance.
Some credit the new technology – namely the invention of the bicycle – with helping to spur the women’s suffrage movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In an interesting twist, our friends at Conde Nast Traveler point out that a key change in bike engineering may have helped tip the scales (pause added for readability):
“’Bicycles have done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world,’ wrote Susan B. Anthony in 1896. It may seem surprising, but her statement reflected a new reality. A bicycle craze was sweeping the United States and beyond, thanks to the launch of the Safety Bicycle, the diamond-framed model from which today’s bicycles are derived.
“And unlike its dizzying and risky predecessor, the High Wheel, it was much easier to drive, in turn offering new freedom to women who had little autonomy in their lives and few legal rights.”
Women are still not allowed to ride bicycles in a number of countries. Since Iran became the center of attention for its brutal enforcement of women’s fashion codes, let’s take a look at the rules for bikes there. Here is the National Council of Resistance of Iran on the subject:
“In the regime’s judicial laws, there is no law prohibiting women from riding bicycles. However, the marjas or religious scholars of the velayat-e faqih regime have enforced this ban every year and regularly prevent women from using bicycles in urban public spaces.
If you think it can’t happen here, guess again. Banning people who are fit for pregnancy from engaging in activities that involve a potential risk to the well-being of the womb is the next step in a movement that has upended women’s rights in the United States. Strict abortion bans are already spreading from state to state, and Republican officials are already laying the groundwork for a nationwide ban.
Get on that bike, while you still can.
Follow me on Twitter, @TinaMCasey.
Photo: Local shopping is a snap with the CERO One cargo electric bike (photo by Tina Casey).
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