13
Mar 2011
by don

Transport+ update: Available. Invisible.

It has been 7 months since I posted my first article mentioning the Trek Transport+.  After a very long fall and winter, the bike appears to be available to order.  Trek has removed the “available late fall” qualification from their web site, and dealers in my area would be happy to take my order.  With a price tag of $2809.99, it’s a little more expensive than the aggressive target of $2679 that was originally announced.  It’s also $100 or $200 more than its competitors, the Yuba el Mundo and the Kona Electric Ute, but definitely worth considering for features like the BionX motor and integrated lighting (see my original article for further details).

However, my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that I have never seen this bike, and it’s unlikely that I will in the near future.  I’ve inquired at my local Trek dealers (there are quite a few in my area), and they don’t have any Transport+ bikes to show.  They can’t tell me when or if they will see one.

Reviews of the Transport+ are rare on the web as well.  The most complete review I found was from Bike Radar.  The author loaded the bike and rode it for 6 weeks in a variety of conditions, so that review answered many of my questions.

If I were to review the bike myself, I would concentrate a little more on hill-climbing, braking, and range.  I’d also check out the handling of the bike with loads that are carried a little farther to the rear than comparable bikes (including my own Rans Hammer Truck).  But unless I can make special arrangements with Trek or a local dealer, that opportunity doesn’t look likely in the foreseeable future.

I’m both excited and frustrated with this state of affairs.  For now, I’ll turn to my readers.  If you have any experience with the Transport+, let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  • jeff

    I work at a Trek dealer in the midwest, and we have a regular Transport in stock.

    I have to say I’m underwhelmed. While the price is very attractive vs. the big dummy, it is lacking in a few key areas:

    (1) Only a front fender. Really!?! This is insulting, since you can only buy full coverage fenders in sets. F&*% you, Trek.

    (2) When we received it a few months ago, I told our Trek rep that there needs to be a child seat for the rear rack. He told me “they are working on it,” but nothing has appeared so far. I’m not optimistic, given that there was supposed to be a front basket to go on the front rack of the women’s Allant a few years ago, and that has never materialized.

    (3) The other mechanic, who is also studying mechanical engineering, is unsatisfied with the bracing arrangement of the rear frame tubing. He feels it will be prone to failure under long-term use.

    Trek puts all their engineering into their race bikes. Most of their town/city bikes are lacking in some way, like they had an engineering intern design them who doesn’t actually ride for transportation. They have some nice bikes available for sale in Holland, too bad they refuse to import them here. Perhaps someday, a few years behind the trend.

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      Thanks, Jeff. Very interesting observations! My local shops don’t have the Transport either (that’s the same bike without the motor). I am constantly puzzled by their apparent lack of enthusiasm for this bike. In the past, I figured it was because a cargo bike is outside their normal experience, and they would prefer to focus on their usual models. But maybe there are other reasons.

    • Adam

      I live in Singapore and have a Trek Transport 20″ on order. I plan to fix 2 child seats to the rack for my 1.5 year old twins. Trek have advised that this is not recommended but I am planning to give it a shot. I plan to use the Peanut Shell child seat from Yuba that sits as low as possible. Having not seen the bike or child seat for real I am still hoping my plan is going to work. cheers

      • http://mycargobike.net Don

        I hope you’ll let us know how it goes, whether it works great, or if there are some challenges to overcome. Having transported two older (and heavier) kids on my bike, I would advise you to start slow somewhere away from other traffic. Experiment with braking and gradually quicker turns so your kids will know how to hold on if an emergency maneuver is necessary. My kids also had to learn the importance of sitting still. Especially with bigger kids, if they start messing around, you can feel the weight shifting on the back of the bike. But they loved it, and they liked doing the hand signals to tell drivers when we were about to turn. Best wishes!

    • http://cargobikeculture.blogspot.com Eva

      I do like your blog, I am starting a project on cargo bike culture:
      http://cargobikeculture.blogspot.com.
      Cheers

      • http://mycargobike.net Don

        I wish you all the best, both in your cargo biking experiments in London, and the success of your blog.

  • http://cyclingpumpkins.blogspot.com/ George

    We recently purchased the transport+ for my wife to ride to work and grocery shopping. We live 15 miles from the nearest town, with 6 miles of gravel road and 9 miles of poor asphalt. We are in love with this bike, a little heavy feeling the first time you put a leg over it( which is to be expect with the extra length and the battery and motor weight). But once you are riding it handles and feels as fun as any other bike i have ever ridden.

    It places you in a very comfortable position and motor assist makes headwinds a non issue or large loads easier to get home. We have already talk about adding another electric bike to our collection for runs to town. We have never had any issues with weight and bag placement, the bike feels very stable.

    This bike makes you say yes to riding it on days when looking out the window and watching the trees blowing like crazy ( which is very often out in the country), instead of hoping in a car.

    Could i find things to complain about???? Sure like anything in life, for example there was once loose bolt on one of the racks, would i like more transport specific accessories – yes, but in time.

    But for a bike that i bought thinking was more practical then fun, i am shocked how much my wife and i love riding the transport, and anytime life can be mixed with cycling and exercise i think its WIN – WIN.

    George

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      You are the first person I’ve heard from who actually owns a Transport+, and I’m grateful to have your feedback about the bike. I think you make an excellent point. There isn’t a “perfect” cargo bike (that I know of), so why let the perfect be the enemy of the good? My own bike has plenty of quirks, but would I give up these last couple of years riding it, waiting for something better to come along? No way! In fact, after becoming accustomed to it, I have difficulty imagining the bike that I would trade it for.

      So I am ready to believe that the Transport+ is a good and useful bike, quite capable of delighting many customers. My disappointment is that Trek isn’t promoting it more vigorously, and that I can’t even find the bike among the numerous Trek dealers in the Seattle area. I suspect Trek is looking at the cargo bike market and seeing that it is still a pretty small niche, and not one they can build even considering their marketing power and gas at $4 per gallon. It makes me wonder what circumstances would make this a more attractive market opportunity. Gas at twice this price? As much as I would like to see this market flourish, outrageous gas prices aren’t a scenario I’m hoping for, due to the pain that would inflict elsewhere in the economy.

      But I digress. It sounds like you’re using the Transport+ to carry groceries for a 30 mile round trip? Or is 15 miles the round-trip distance? Either way, I’m impressed. Does the battery cover the entire range?

      Happy riding!

      Don

  • George

    The trip is 15 miles each way. We have made it round trip on one charge, but if the gravel roads are soft or it is windy we have drained the battery going one way on max assist.

    I think trek is just testing the market right now, if there is enough interest I am sure they will focus on it more. But trek’s main market has been people purchasing bikes for recreational use.

    The best idea I have heard to create more interest in this bikes is government rebates on the purchase of electric or cargo bikes. Anything to help get the pricing closer to a regular bike. I think if people tried a electric bike there would be much more interest in them.

    And government rebates to encourage people riding is cheaper then the long term health cost of being overweight. I am from Canada and with public health care it cost more not to offer such a plan. What a great way for a politician to look green.