Tern GSD S10 review: An electric cargo bike that can replace your car

Tern specializes in manufacturing compact and folding e-bikes and bicycles and the GSD range is its top-of-the-line cargo model. It can carry big loads and up to two small passengers (or one bigger) and the latest version has real performance upgrades such as a self-locking double-sided kickstand and Bosch’s most powerful motor.

It’s undoubtedly expensive, but the huge carrying capacity it offers means it’s a really practical alternative to a car for short trips, especially considering how fast the cost of owning one is. a car increases.

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Tern GSD S10 review: What do you get for your money?

The unique part of the GSD is the long rear frame. It feels like a conventional bike frame has been crushed and the rear half has stretched. It is extremely strong with oversized tubing and truss construction for added strength.

Footrests come standard along the full length of the rear rack, allowing you to carry one or two passengers up to a maximum of 80kg – via optional child seats. There are also optional, wider “Sidekick” attachments to the footpegs to provide more support for bulky loads in saddlebags or for passengers to rest their feet more comfortably. My test bike came with this “Double Wide” option.

The GSD uses 20-inch-diameter wheels, a standard size but relatively small for a bicycle. That size makes a lot of sense here, though, as it helps keep the weight close to the ground, resulting in a more balanced and predictable ride.

The power assist system comes from market leader Bosch in the form of the Cargo Line mid-engine. This is the company’s most powerful motor and you don’t see it on as many e-bikes. It offers up to 400% motor assistance to the pedal cranks (that’s 4x your pedal input), with kick-starting power once you start pedaling.

There is space on the bike for two Bosch PowerPack batteries, but one will suffice if you only do short trips. The GSD S10 comes with a 400 Wh battery as standard. It’s a relatively small battery for such a heavy e-bike, so if you plan on riding all day, an optional second 500Wh battery might be a good idea to give a whopping 900Wh capacity.

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The batteries are backed by Bosch’s battery warranty promising a minimum of 60% of full charge capacity for 2 years or 500 charge cycles (whichever comes first) – although if you maintain your battery correctly it should last much, much longer.

I tested the most ‘basic’ version of the GSD – others come with stronger hub gears and larger battery capacity – but all share the same extremely strong wheel construction and hydraulic disc brakes four-piston Magura (two-piston is standard on most e-bikes).

On top of all that, the GSD comes with an incredibly powerful Ignis headlight and RearStop brake light, plush Suntour front suspension, full chain guard and mud flaps, promising to deliver a comfortable ride in all conditions. meteorological.

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Tern GSD S10 review: So what can the Tern GSD do?

In many ways the GSD 10 is similar to the recently revised Raleigh New Motus Tour Plus (£2,495), which also uses a Bosch motor system. Turn it on using the Purion display, select your level of assistance and you’re ready to pedal, up to the maximum legal assisted speed of around 16 mph. It’s very intuitive and simple.

Like the Raleigh, the Tern is also comfortable to drive. The one-size-fits-all frame features adjustable fore and aft handlebars and the sloping dropper post means there’s a huge amount of adjustment for different sizes of riders. Tern says it will fit riders between 4-foot-11 and 6-foot-5. Large volume tyres, front suspension, comfortable saddle and upright riding position make driving easier and provide a feeling of safety and stability even at high speeds – no doubt the extra long wheelbase helps in this regard .

So far, quite like other well-designed and capable e-bikes. Where the GSD really comes into its own is when you start putting extra loads on it or attaching it to it. Big store ? No problem. Two little toddlers to take to school? Child seats are available. It’s raining – I can’t go, can I? You can do this if you have the Tern’s Storm Shield Weather Housing. You get the idea. There doesn’t seem to be an unsupported transport scenario in Tern’s wide range of accessories for the GSD.

I initially tested the bike with two large Tern Cargo Hold 52 panniers. These swallowed a monthly store with no problem, 45kg split between the huge Cargo Hold 52 rear panniers and 20kg of rice on the front rack (yet an additional option).

I also took a 95kg adult passenger in the back and managed quite comfortably on a ride using cycle paths and lightly traveled roads. Tern says the maximum driver and cargo (human or otherwise) load is 200kg, but the rear load shouldn’t exceed about 80% of the driver’s weight. As I weigh 70kg I exceeded that guideline somewhat, so the steering felt quite light – but rather vague handling other than the GSD handled with ease. If I had thought about it, a counterweight on the front rack would have been a good idea.

If you want to haul really gigantic loads, the GSD also comes with a trailer mounting point on the rear of the frame that will accept common bike trailer hitches from Thule, Burley and Weber without the need for special adapters ( this can be a problem with other bikes where the trailers mount directly to a rear axle).

The above method of trailer towing has a 53kg limit – this is probably the maximum the hitch rack will support with a one or two wheel trailer in tow. However, I had the chance to try out the remarkable Carla Cargo trailer there. It has a massive 200kg load capacity and a special bracket is available so its tow ball hitch can be mounted on top of the rear rack. However, you will not be able to use the top of the rack for anything else while the trailer is in use.

As the trailer has three wheels and independent brakes, this makes for a very smooth ride and the Tern GSD was able to easily tow up to 150kg of construction material on it – even on fairly steep slopes, proving that the Bosch Cargo Line engine is up to about any task you would like to entrust to it. The Carla Cargo costs £4000 and is really aimed at professional use, but it shows what the GSD is capable of.

Even with such heavy loads, maneuverability is still reassuring. The bike has a low center of gravity, long wheelbase and high volume tires which all work in its favor even at high speeds. The four-piston hydraulic brakes were about the strongest I’ve ever tried on an e-bike, but aren’t overly sharp. The ten-speed derailleur also helped the bike catch up with every Pennine incline I pointed it up.

With so many charging possibilities, it’s even harder than normal to limit battery life. I estimated the 400Wh battery would give about 30 miles of range on a very light load, but half that with a heavy trailer in tow. Increasing the capacity to 900 Wh gives estimated figures of just under 70 miles in light use and 35 miles in very heavy use.

The GSD has another very neat trick up its sleeve. When not in use, it can be stored on its end and, with the handlebars folded down to minimize its bulk, its “folded” size of 176 x 40.5 x 83cm can be very effectively stored vertically on the go. difference.

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Tern GSD S10 review: Should you buy it?

There’s no other e-bike quite like, or quite as capable as, the Tern GSD. Yes, it’s a sizable investment, and once you’ve added all the accessories you could want, you’re talking about enough money to buy a decent used car.

But compare the costs of running the automobile and the likelihood of being stuck in traffic with the exercise and sheer enjoyment you get from using the GSD and I know which option I would choose.

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Wiley C. Thompson