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New Tern Short Haul is compact and the brand's most affordable cargo bike yet

New compact cargo machine can carry up to 70kg and forgoes electrical assistance to reduce cost, with the bike priced at £1,100

The new Short Haul compact cargo bike from Tern rolls along on 20” wheels, with the compact size and “practical pricing” of £1,100 making it the brand's most accessible cargo bike yet. The long-tail design has a maximum gross vehicle weight of 140kg and is capable of transporting up to 50kg of cargo on its rear rack, with the option to add an additional 20kg up front.

Tern ShortHaul-lifestyle-1

Tern’s main aim is to get more journeys completed by bike, and realises that for many people the price of cargo bikes has always been off-putting. This is where the Short Haul comes in, as it’s the brands cheapest cargo bike by quite some margin.

Tern has released just one specification level for the time being, the D8. It'll set you back £1,100, has 8-speed Shimano Altus gears and hydraulic disc brakes, but forgoes electrical assistance in order to keep costs down.

>Cycling brands predict rapid growth of UK cargo bike market

If you think that the Short Haul looks familiar then you’d be very right, as it is in fact the sister platform of the Quick Haul cargo bike (from £2,800) that our sister site eBikeTips looked at a few months ago. The main difference (other than the price) is the lack of electrical assistance, as the Short Haul relies purely on human power rather than a Bosch motor.

>Review: Tern Quick Haul

Tern ShortHaul_D8-Atlas_Q_Rack

Cargo Space

The Short Haul’s alloy frame is designed to be predominantly loaded at the rear, with the frame and fork mechanically strength tested to EFBE's stress tests up to the 140 kg (308 lb) maximum gross vehicle weight.

The Atlas Q rear rack is capable of handling up to 50kg and like on larger Tern cargo bikes such as the HSD, it’s bolted to the frame. This means that you can happily give lifts to a child in a seat, or a bigger kid using one of the other rear-rack-mounted options.

>Review: Tern HSD S8i

Tern ShortHaul_D8-Double_tube_frame-ComboMount

There’s also a double mount point on the headtube, which allows you to fit Tern’s Hauler or Transporteur rack up front for an additional 20kg carrying capacity. Tern’s ecosystem of accessories is also compatible thanks to the Short Haul using the “Upper Deck System”. That includes child seats, dog baskets and a plethora of other options.

For even more storage, the Short Haul can also be used with water-resistant storage compartments such as the one behind the seat tube pictured below. 

Tern ShortHaul-lifestyle-7


The alloy frame is paired to a steel fork, which Tern says is designed to last. The wheelbase measures 116cm, similar to most city bikes, and the total length of the bike is 172cm.

The bike is designed around 20” wheels and comes with Schwalbe Big Apple tyres which measure 2.15” across. There’s also a Pletscher rear-mounted kickstand, and the mudguards get stainless steel hardware for increased longevity.

Tern ShortHaul_D8-cockpit

The gears are an 8-speed Shimano Altus setup and changed via a trigger shifter on the 31.8mm low rise bars. Hydraulic disc brakes also come as standard, again courtesy of Shimano, and the seatpost has a 31.6mm diameter with quick release clamp.

The lack of any electrical assistance means that the bike will likely appeal to riders who live in flatter areas; if that’s not you then you can always check out eBikeTips' e-cargo bike recommendations for under £3,000 here:

>4 of the best e-cargo bikes for under £3,000 


Tern has designed the Short Haul to fit riders of different heights from 147 - 190 cm (4’10” - 6’3”) and weighing up to 120 kg (264 lb). It also has a low stand over height (49cm or 19”) to make mounting and dismounting easier. Unlike on some cargo bikes, because the seat tube is angled back, the reach also increases as you put up the seatpost. Dave found on the similar Quick Haul that this made it feel less cramped despite him being rather tall.

>Orla Chennaoui says cargo bike her "lifeline" 

For extra convenience, the rear rack design allows the bike to be vertically parked, so rolling it into an elevator and taking it upstairs is just as easy. Tern also says that the horizontal tube in the centre of the bike makes a convenient carry handle, making it easier to navigate stairs with the Short Haul.

Tern ShortHaul_D8-black

The D8 has a total weight of 16.1kg (35.4lbs in old money) which is relatively light for a cargo bike; the lack of battery obviously helps in this regard.

Tern seems most proud of the way the Short Haul handles, saying: “Most cargo bikes are big and unwieldy. But with an extra-long wheelbase and low center of gravity, the Short Haul delivers a stable ride, even when carrying heavy loads. The Short Haul offers the best of both worlds, packing a sturdy build and a hefty cargo capacity into a compact package that simply rides better.”

Obviously we can’t yet comment on the ride quality, but we have a Short Haul on its way in for review so stay tuned for that.


The Short Haul will be available from around July with the D8 model costing £1,100. There are three colours advertised, a burnt orange, tan, or black.

> Tern bikes: Store 

Tern ShortHaul_D8-tan

Would you consider ditching the car for a Short Haul? If not, then let us know what’s stopping you in the comments section below

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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drE | 1 post | 4 months ago

The comments about pricing are an interesting one and probably shows an interesting insight into the state of the market. If you look at this compared to the rest of the cargo market then it seems pretty good value. But if you do a thought experiment looking at it from another angle it probably shows that the cargo bike market hasn't matured to the point where they are an easily accessible option.

Thought experiment:

If you ask how much a rigid alloy bike with an entry level 1x groupset would cost, then most people would probably say less than £500. If you nudge the specs you can get something very capable for £500-700, e.g a Boardman hyb 8.6.

Yeah but a cargo isn't a hybrid they can't carry the same load. But long before the cargo market got trendy the whole world and his mate have been happy with a rack and a simple set of panniers to carry 10, 20, 30kg, more even.

Yeah but a cargo bike is more complicated and has to withstand more abuse. This Tern has got a really basic off-the-shelf parts list, the only thing that is more complicated is the frame. Every decent bike on the market will undergo some form of standardised testing programme to make sure it's up to the job and while a cargo bike might have a few augmented or extra tests it's probably not going to be a massive difference in production cost.

So while the tern looks good when you compare it to a cargo bike, it starts to look a bit of a luxury when you compare it to a normal bike with panniers. Unless a person has a critical need to carry 30kg+ across short distances, the chances are a normal hybrid and panniers will be a more versatile choice and save you ~50%. Even if you are in that narrow group of people the chances are that a hybrid and a trailer will be a more cost effective and versatile solution. Realistically unless these types of bikes get cheaper they aren't going to be a viable option for most people - they just don't seem to uniquely solve any problem.

Anyway, just a thought. Full discolsure: I'm in a car free household and have been happily shopping, running errands and ferrying the kids around with a hybrid for ~8y.

andy_d_t | 9 posts | 1 year ago

Nice, seems a good price and might go for one. I agree with other comments though, that chainring looks huge and I'd need to swap it to cope with the hills near me, especially with a child on the back

joe9090 replied to andy_d_t | 341 posts | 1 year ago
1 like

it has 20" wheels. So it needs a big chainring or you would be spinning out. 

Owd Big 'Ead | 335 posts | 1 year ago

It's a load-lugger for under £1100 yet still people moan.

Unbelievable. What exactly do you expect at that price point?

In answer to the reviewers question, yes, I have replaced my car, two actually, with a cargobike, a Larry vs Harry Bullit without electric assist, although I do have access to an Urban Arrow XL e-bike through work.

The Bullit retails for for just over £3k while the Urban Arrow e-bike is north of £7k.

The Tern in comparison looks stonking value for money.

NOtotheEU | 823 posts | 1 year ago
1 like

The long-tail design has a maximum gross vehicle weight of 140kg

That doesn't sound much. I weigh over 100kg so with a weeks shopping on my e-bike and all my tools, lights, waterproofs, cameras etc. I must be over that.

Rendel Harris replied to NOtotheEU | 5442 posts | 1 year ago

NOtotheEU wrote:

The long-tail design has a maximum gross vehicle weight of 140kg

That doesn't sound much. I weigh over 100kg so with a weeks shopping on my e-bike and all my tools, lights, waterproofs, cameras etc. I must be over that.

Be surprised if you were, all your gear will only come to a couple of kgs, so say you have 35kgs left, imagine 35 litre bottles of water, that's a pretty hefty load.

NOtotheEU replied to Rendel Harris | 823 posts | 1 year ago

The only time I weighed my panniers full of shopping they came to 16kg and some always goes in the rucksack, I was 105kg last time i checked and just my bike + motor + battery is 21kg so thats 142kg before work uniform/boots and all the crap I carry in my rucksack and have attached to the bike.

I'm starting to think my next bike needs to be steel rather than aluminium.

Hirsute replied to NOtotheEU | 8063 posts | 1 year ago

What the rating on the wheels though? 142 kg sounds a lot more than any standard wheel.

I ended up paying extra for scribe hd wheels when I added everything up.

NOtotheEU replied to Hirsute | 823 posts | 1 year ago

hirsute wrote:

What the rating on the wheels though? 142 kg sounds a lot more than any standard wheel.

I learnt that the hard way! I usually run 26" Ryde andra 40s laced to Halo Spin doctor 36h rear hubs converted from QR to bolt on with sapim Strong spokes and the same on the front motor built by Birmingham Bike Foundry or SJS Cycles. i also use Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tyres. The rims can take 180kg each and the tyres 130kg. i've also got a 26" 48h Halo SAS rim on a Spin doctor and a 48h Andra 30 CSS again on a Spin doctor for my old rim brake bike . . . . . Yes, I like Halo Spin Doctors!

mdavidford replied to NOtotheEU | 3804 posts | 1 year ago

The 'maximum gross vehicle weight' bit is odd. That would include the 16 kg of the bike itself, meaning there was only 124 kg left for rider and load. The certification they quote is, as far as I can see, for load weight, which seems a more sensible thing to quote.

San Remo | 11 posts | 1 year ago

Really like the idea. But, the designers clearly don't understand either maths or physics with their frame design. The industrial TiG welding is just that.

Pub bike | 322 posts | 1 year ago

Looks good except that the gearing seems quite high, especially as it does not have electric assistance.  For commuting I rarely use the my inner ring, but if I'm riding with a trailer or a very heavy load of shopping it is very helpful, and makes it fun.  This bike needs an MTB triple or to shrink the chainring.  I doubt it would have added much to the cost as they appear on the cheapest hybrids and have the advantage that if the chain comes off you can get it back on without getting your hands dirty.

HoarseMann replied to Pub bike | 2533 posts | 1 year ago

Pub bike wrote:

Looks good except that the gearing seems quite high

It's got small 20" wheels, so the gearing will not be as high as it looks.

Sriracha replied to HoarseMann | 4087 posts | 1 year ago

From the manufacturer:
Gear Inches: 31" - 95" (2.45 - 7.57 m)

So that's an easy gear that is harder than what might be typical on a gravel bike, 1:1 ratio on a 700c (about 27.5").

Pub bike replied to HoarseMann | 322 posts | 1 year ago

As opposed to big 20" wheels?   I did a rough calc before making that comment.  For a bike that is advertised as having a 50kg load capacity (upgradeable to 70kg) 31" seems high.  I would want 25" or less.   I have 18" on my touring bike and that works fine.  I like to spin.  Others may wish to grind, in which case this bike will suit them well.

chrisonatrike replied to Pub bike | 6811 posts | 1 year ago

Agree - in general there seems to be a perception that less "sporty" people will always pedal slower ergo the gears are set higher.  There's some truth about the slow cadence but I find in general this means the low gears are just set too high.  I suspect sellers figure most "casual" users don't use the full range anyway.  Presumably the thinking is that people are just not going to use these on hillier terrain - either full stop or because they're not fit enough to spin.

This is a good example.  Their setup appears to be 39 x (11 - 34) (they confirm the latter).  So if you were prepared to spin a bit I make it (According to here, given a 406 rim / 2.125" tyre, review says 2.15) that you'd be at 19mph for 90rpm in top gear, and you're still at almost 15mph at 70 rpm.  Unassisted cargo bike, remember!

So I doubt people are going to get good value from the top end - but they definitely *could* do so from lower gears.  I would, at least.  In Edinburgh on my heavy but minimally laden Dawes I'm sometimes happy for having a 28 G.I low end and when loaded less would be better.

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