In the burgeoning world of electric cargo bikes, Tern is the big name. The Tern GSD has been with us since 2017, with the brand following this up with the HSD in 2019. The latest Tern electric cargo bike, the Tern Quick Haul, was revealed in 2022. That's three longtail electric cargo bikes predominantly designed to carry people or items on a rear rack. With various iterations of each platform available, lengthy specification lists to get to grips with and your hard-earned bunce at stake, choosing a Tern electric cargo bike might seem daunting. This article looks to set you on the right path, helping you choose the right bike for you.

If you're new to the world of cargo bikes, we suggest starting with this blog piece: The ultimate guide to electric cargo bikes.

Carrying capacity

If you've wound up on this page, we'd hazard a guess that you're looking to ride a bike, get places and carry some stuff whilst you're at it. To be clear, all Tern electric cargo bikes are great for that. They're roughly the same size as standard urban or city bikes, but their extra-long, beefed up rear pannier racks (with or without some extra accessories) will carry bulky or heavy items with ease. The Tern Quick Haul, the HSD and the GSD all have extra carrying options in the frame and on the front of the bike too.

Tern's Quick Haul, HSD and GSD (pictured) all carry most of their cargo on the rear of the bike.

Where each model differs, is the capacity of the rear pannier rack and the maximum gross vehicle weight. To make things simple we've detailed the exact figures in the table below.

Quick HaulHSDGSD
Rear Rack Capacity50kg60kg100kg
Front Rack Capacity20kg20kg20kg
Max Gross Vehicle Weight (MGVW)150kg170kg200kg

Both the Tern Quick Haul and the Tern HSD use a rack that is bolted to the frame (it's Tern's own - the Atlas rack), meanwhile, the Tern GSD's rear rack is integral to the bike's frame. This explains the GSD's extra capacity, tipping that bike in favour of those looking to ferry two children about, or those wanting to transfer a giant beer keg from one place to another - thanks weightofstuff.com.

Let's not put the other two bikes down though - both the Quick Haul and HSD will easily carry one large child, some cumbersome boxes and/or a weekly food shop. Throw in both bikes racks' compatibility with the other bits and bobs Tern produce (of which more below) and they won't leave you wanting. All three bikes have the same front rack capacity - 20kg - That's a fair old weight, just keep in mind that this limit includes the rack itself. A further note: the MGVW figure does include the following: bike + accessories + rider + passengers + cargo.

No matter how much each bike carries, it's likely to be quicker (and more fun) than sitting in a car.

Carrying configurations

Tern recognises their electric cargo bikes will serve a wide variety of uses. A rider might be looking for a bike to cover the school run in one situation. In another, a would-be purchaser runs a small business with weekly trips to suppliers, the Post Office and a weekly shop during their lunch hour. And so much like any purchase these days, Tern produce a bucket load of extra components and accessories to help riders configure their bike to suit. Some accessories are compatible across all three bikes - the Tern Transporteur front rack, Shortbed tray and Captain's chair for example - whilst others are unique to each platform.

A Tern HSD pictured with a transporteur rack upfront. The rack is sized to fit a 300x400mm Eurocrate.

Let's kick things off with the Quick Haul and HSD. These two bikes share a wide variety of accessories. The main ones to look out for are the Clubhouse Mini, Storm Box Mini and Storm Shield Mini for carrying passengers and the Clubhouse Mini (again), Cargo Hold 37 Panniers and Shortbed Tray for lugging cargo.

The Quick Haul can be adapted for a variety of different uses. 10/10 for the Corgi.

The GSD's accessory list is much the same as the HSD and Quick Haul, just supersized. The main passenger-carrying option is the Tern Clubhouse Fort. It's designed to fit two children and protect them from the elements as you ride. All told four products complete the Tern Clubhouse Fort: The Clubhouse+, Storm Box, Storm Shield and Sidekick Wide Decks.

Three happy people on a Tern GSD featuring the Clubhouse Fort passenger protection system.

For carrying cargo on the GSD, there are the mammoth Cargo Hold 52 panniers. Their design is such that they can be used in two ways. Rolltop for protecting stuff from weather and bucket mode for carrying large, outsized cargo - large cereal boxes or web returns for example! Two fidlock buckles on each bag keep items stowed safely when riding and aren't too difficult to clasp and unclasp either.

What about other child seats?

Tern doesn't offer a dedicated younger child seat (the captain's chair is for older children and adults) themselves but has ensured the Quick Haul, HSD and GSD are compatible with many of the most popular seats on the market. The key thing is to take stock of your current (and future) child carrying requirements. If you only need one seat, you can choose between the Quick Haul, HSD and GSD and any compatible child seat. Each seat offers various features (think reclining, suspension, different foot support etc.) so take that into account before making the jump. Here is a list of popular compatible child seats:

  • Thule Yepp Maxi
  • Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi
  • Hamax Caress
  • Bobike Go

If you require two child seats, the Quick Haul and HSD are off-limits - only the GSD will suit. And as far as the child seat goes, Tern recommends the Thule Yepp Maxi. This is because it offers the rider of the GSD plenty of heel clearance as they cycle along. It's also worth noting that the Thule Yepp Maxi is compatible with the Clubhouse+ (when using the child seat expansion bar) and the Cargo Hold 52 panniers. Tern's very helpful guide on child seats is a more detailed repository of information.

Want to carry two children, two school bags and your stuff too? Here's a GSD with two Thule Yepp Maxi child seats and the cargo hold panniers.

What about other bags?

You may already own a cherished pannier bag and with the odd adapter at your disposal, it may fit the rack of a Quick Haul, HSD and GSD. Reddit and the GSD owners group on Facebook are a treasure trove of information if you're looking to customise a bike to meet your needs.

What about trailers?

Now we're talking! Both the HSD and GSD have dedicated trailer mounts. Most mount sizes are catered for and Tern has worked with independent testers, EFBE, to demonstrate that both bikes can safely haul 53kg!

A bike, towing a bike on a bike. Admittedly this image does show the specialist Carla Cargo bike trailer (and mount) but does illustrate the GSD's ability nonetheless.

How each bike rides

Again, let's start with some similarities. Every Tern electric cargo bike is sold in one frame size to suit riders from 150cm to 195cm. Tern has sweated the small stuff to try and ensure the bike is comfortable to ride for mum, dad, uncle, co-worker or friend. Each bike's seatpost and handlebar are quickly and easily adjusted. The Quick Haul's handlebar adjuster is a little less fancy but quickly deployed all the same.

Once in the saddle, each of the three bikes should ride in a broadly similar manner, barring how much weight they have on board of course. All the bikes have 20" wheels with large volume Schwalbe tyres to absorb scarred urban thoroughfares. As another ode to comfort the Tern HSD and Tern GSD are fitted with suspension forks, something you won't find on the Tern Quick Haul.

Note the rigid fork on the Tern Quick Haul. It's been chosen by Tern to keep the price of the bike as affordable as possible.

The frames of the Quick Haul, HSD and GSD are very easy to step on, off and when coming to a stop. This kind of stability is vital for electric cargo bikes, especially when fully loaded. The standover height (measurement from the floor to the frame's top tube) is even lower on the HSD - something that might tip the balance in favour of this bike.

At 450mm the HSD's standover height (measurement from the floor to the frame just below the rider's foot) is the lowest of the three Tern electric cargo bikes

Tern does note that "the HSD has an upright riding position, the Quick Haul has a "just right" riding position. We anticipate some riders will prefer the Quick Haul precisely because it feels so familiar." Meanwhile, when the GSD was given an update in 2020, its frame was re-designed so it doesn't just fit riders, it's comfortable.

Storing the bike

As we continue to delve deeper, you might be wondering where you're going to store your Tern electric cargo bike. In urban settings where these bikes are arguably most at home, space can be at a premium. We recently found out that there were over 8000 names on a waiting list in one London borough for secure outside bike parking.

One concession Tern has made is the GSD, HSD and Quick Haul's party piece. Upended, the bike will store vertically on its rear rack. Radically reducing the bike's footprint in this way is a masterstroke. The handlebars of the HSD and GSD can also be folded to reduce the bike's bulk further. This is not a feature on the Tern Quick Haul.

What's better than one Tern HSD stored vertically - two! Ginormous rake, skis, spade and ice hockey stick (!) shown for scale.

Humping the bikes into this vertical position isn't a complete piece of cake so consider the weight of each model (the lightest Quick Haul weighs around 22kg) or better still come and give it a go yourself at a Velorution store and then take it for a test ride.

Although much cheaper than other forms of transport, electric bikes are expensive. With that comes the prying eyes of ne'er-do-wells. It'd be unfair to give any lock an 'unbreakable' title but some will be better than others, especially when it comes to satisfying insurance criteria. As a further safeguard, every Tern HSD and Tern GSD is sold with a frame lock - a temporary safety feature that prevents a bike from being easily ridden or wheeled away. At a minimum, we'd recommend two diamond-rated bike locks when locking any of these bikes in public or at home. Just remember, the locks will only be as good as whatever you're locking them to. If your bike insurance only requires a Gold Sold Secure lock, the Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 (110cm version) is an excellent option. The length enables you to lock a bike to most immovable objects and the holster can be easily mounted to the bike, front rack or Clubhouse.

Electric motor and battery

Time for some electric motor, battery and display chat. When riding a cargo bike loaded with people, items or both electric assistance from a motor is a godsend. Spin your legs and the motor does its thing, zooming you up a pesky rise or simply zipping away from a set of traffic lights. All Tern electric cargo bikes use a Bosch motor, battery and control system. We've jumped into this subject with both feet so perhaps give that a read before you move on.

As far as motors go both the Quick Haul and HSD use either a Bosch Active Line Plus or Performance Line motor. The Performance Line motor offers more torque, and more guts, for hillier rides or trips with heavy loads. If you've got your eye on an HSD or Quick Haul and you'd like a Performance Line motor, it's the Quick Haul P9, HSD P9 Performance or HSD S+ for you!

Over to the Tern GSD and things are a little simpler to navigate. All bikes have a Bosch Cargo Line motor. The most powerful of Bosch's motors, well suited to the rigours of riding a bike fully loaded.

You'll only find Bosch's Cargo Line motor on the Tern GSD platform

How far can I ride? An electric bike's range is determined by the bike's onboard battery. In simplistic terms, a battery with a larger capacity (measured in Wh) promises more riding time between charges. Here's another table for you to digest.

Battery CapacitySecond battery port
Tern Quick Haul D8400WhNo
Tern Quick Haul P9400WhNo
Tern HSD P9400WhNo
Tern HSD P9 Performance500WhNo
Tern HSD S8i400WhNo
Tern HSD S+500WhNo
Tern GSD S10400WhYes
Tern GSD S10 LX500WhYes
Tern GSD S00500WhYes
Tern GSD R141000Wh (2x500Wh)Yes

Note that every GSD has a second battery port to effectively double the bike's riding range. The R14 version is sold with two 500wH batteries!

How much can I comfortably haul? It's a question we get asked all the time and the common consensus is that with an electric cargo bike, it's 80% of your body weight.

Other components

Different gearing systems, extra odes to comfort and other riding accessories. The final attribute to consider when buying a Tern Quick Haul, Tern HSD or Tern GSD, is the bike's other components.

Looking at gearing first. The basic models (both Quick Hauls, HSD P9, HSD P9 Performance, GSD S10, GSD S10 LX) use standard derailleur gearing systems, perfectly fine for most would-be buyers. Other bikes deploy the clean, quiet and low maintenance Gates Belt Drive alongside a similarly fuss-free hub gear or Enviolo system.

It's likely that this trio of electric bikes will be used frequently, no matter the weather or time of year. As such you'll find mudguards and lights across the entire range. Empty your pockets for one of the top tier bikes and you'll get more powerful or more technologically advanced blinkers.

With a suspension seatpost, a powerful 700-lumen front light with two settings and a rear brake light that flashes when slowing, the GSD R14 is dressed to the nines.

Finally, in an extra ode to comfort, the top end HSD and GSD bikes come fitted with a Cane Creek suspension seatpost. Smoothing out rough routes for town or providing a plush feeling to your posterior no matter what the surface.

A Tern electric cargo bike comparison table

Time to sum up and what better way than another table - hope our school teacher is reading! To make this a fair test we've compared the base models of each Tern electric cargo platform - the Quick Haul D8, the HSD P9 and the GSD S10. We believe we've covered most of the key attributes and some that you might not have known about too.

Quick HaulHSDGSD
Base Model Price (RRP)£2,800£3,600£4,700
MotorBosch Active Line PlusBosch Active Line PlusBosch Cargo Line
Battery400Wh400Wh400Wh
Gearing1x8 Shimano Altus1x9 Shimano Alivio1x10 Shimano Deore
BrakesShimano Hydraulic DiscShimano Hydraulic DiscMagura MT5 Hydraulic Disc
WheelsShimano/KinetixTern Atlas, Novatec/ShimanoTern Atlas
Recommended Rider Height150cm-195cm150cm-195cm150cm-195cm
Max Gross Vehicle Weight (MGVW)150kg170kg200kg
Rear rack capacity50kg60kg100kg
Folding handlebarNoYesYes
Handlebar AdjustmentSpeedlifter StemTern Andros StemTern Andros Stem
Suspension ForkNo YesYes
Frame LockNoYesYes
Front LightHerrmans 120 lumensTern Valo Direct 190 lumensTern Valo Direct 190 lumens
Rear LightHerrmansHerrmans H-TraceRearStopBrake Light
Weight22.8kg25.7kg33.58kg
Wheelbase115cm115cm124cm
Standover Height490mm450mm490mm
EFBE TestedYesYesYes
Warranty10-year warranty10-year warranty10-year warranty

Which Tern Electric Cargo bike should I buy?

Ultimately there's no one answer to this question. Although your bike (and riding requirements) will no doubt differ from the next reader, we've tried our best to present the three options below.

  • The option for two children: Tern GSD
  • Best for one child and heavy (ier) loads: Tern HSD
  • Most affordable entry into a Tern electric cargo bike: Tern Quick Haul

Where to go from here? Pop a comment below, visit a Velorution store, book a test ride online, ask us a question via email or continue to shop Tern electric cargo bikes.