“Do NOT ride Hillandale. Here is my route.
Arleigh Greenwald (aka @bikeshopgirl on Twitter) DMed me above as I headed to her house to test out Tern Bicycles’ new Quick Haul e-bike. (She is now marketing and public relations manager for North America for Tern.) True to form, she was considering the practicalities of cycling as transportation: which route would be most enjoyable, which would take me there. would bring alive and how we could all make each other’s journeys a little more convenient.
Arleigh is my kind of cyclist. And her approach to cycling and bike advocacy is one she seems to share with her employer. Tern has made a name for itself by developing bikes and e-bikes that focus on convenience, reliability, practicality and comfort, and on getting us and our things from A to B as efficiently and effectively as possible. (This approach was evident when Derek Markham covered the launch of the Tern GSD electric cargo bike in 2017.)
But back to the ride in question. I arrived (safely) at Arleigh, and she led me into her garage, which houses an impressive array of e-bikes, cargo bikes, bike accessories, and filming gear. She first introduced me to the compact but carefully specified Tern HSD, which has been out for some time now, and has developed a cult following if my mutual Twitter e-bike is anything to go by. In fact, Treehugger design editor Lloyd Alter once called it “the future of urban e-bikes.”
Whether it’s the easy-walking frame, the integrated frame lock, or the ability to park this thing vertically, there really is something very practical about the bike. But my favorite feature might just be the quick-adjust Andros stem that not only lets you move the handlebars up and down, but also back and forth – something Arleigh explained has been explicitly included so riders can easily share their journey with a family member or friend.
After “oohing” and “ahhing” a bit on the bike itself, I then got to check out some of the various bike accessories Tern has to offer. From sturdy quick-release front racks and child carriers to clip-on grocery bags and baskets, I could honestly do an entire article on how cool it is to see bike accessories designed for a normal life. “Our hardware is designed by people who actually ride our own bikes,” Arleigh said.
Then we went for a walk.
Having spent the past few years riding e-bikes with hub motors, the first thing I’ll notice is that the crank motor in the HSD (a Bosch Active Line Plus) is a smoother, more subtle, and quite experience. more “bike”. Whereas with a hub motor you kind of feel like someone is pushing you from behind – not an unpleasant feeling and sometimes quite fun – the crank motor instead feels like you’re just a bit more stronger than you thought.
The other thing I noticed immediately was how nice and nimble the HSD is to drive. Sure, it can handle like a cargo bike, hauling kids, groceries and all that jazz. But it seemed, unlike the much larger e-cargo bike I rode recently, that it could easily pass for a regular bike in terms of handling and convenience.
After a quick spin around the block on the HSD we switched bikes and I was able to ride the new Quick Haul which has many of the same benefits as the HSD but comes in a slightly matched form factor and simplified. With no front suspension, a simpler up-and-down adjustable telescopic rod, and fewer high-end features in general, the Quick Haul is clearly designed for a lower price point and a slightly less demanding customer.
As Arleigh explained, “For many e-bike users, they are looking for a solid mode of transportation. Tern has always been at the higher end of the e-bike market, but we are well aware that for many riders they won’t necessarily care about every premium feature. This bike retains the basic reliability, practicality, and design aspects that people love about HSD, but it can be more affordable and lighter because we’ve removed some of the really high-end components that some everyday riders don’t. just don’t care. in regards to.”
As Arleigh went on to explain, she regularly heard of HSD riders whose loved ones were now interested in an e-bike, but couldn’t really justify buying a second $5,000 machine. The Quick Haul was therefore designed to meet this need. At just under $3,000, it’s still not cheap. But then, Tern buyers are looking for a serious machine that can replace a significant chunk of car travel, and maybe even the need for a car.
As for the ride, if anything, the Quick Haul felt zippier and a bit sportier than the HSD. (We deliberately chose a route that allowed me to circle around a deserted roundabout several times.) As I pointed out to Arleigh, there was something about the experience that felt a bit like old Brompton folder that I owned in my twenties.
Being neither a technical bike enthusiast nor an industry expert, I’m not going to delve into an in-depth analysis of the technical differences between the bikes. Suffice it to say, Tern’s website offers the ability to compare the specs of multiple bikes at once. Interested parties should therefore absolutely dig to compare and contrast.
I for one came away with a deep sense of appreciation for the superiority, in many ways, of a well-designed e-bike over the big, dumb metal boxes most of us ride every day. That said, I still had to get home to the streets of Durham, NC. And even though the Arleigh route offered some traffic relief, I still ended the trip surrounded by large trucks and speeding motorists.
It just served as a reminder: bikes designed for real life are part of the puzzle. Cities designed for the same are another. But we’ll save that for another article.