The Tern GSD – Thinks It’s a Car

Transport hassles are some of the most common frustrations of city life. Peak hour congestion, which these days can occur at just about any time, and finding a car park, are just some of the issues that make transport one of the most difficult aspects of city life. The cost of car ownership, including insurance, registration, (not to mention the cost of the car itself!) reduces household budgets that could be put towards more useful, pleasurable activities.

Our family is a one-car household. We have two adults, who both work, and two kids, aged 4 and 7. We live within 10km of the center of Melbourne and have recently purchased a Tern GSD. We love our car for road trips and camping, but the frustration of driving a car regularly in the city became too much. We wanted a faster, cheaper, and more sustainable way to make short trips without the hassle of battling traffic and car parking.

We already have a Bakfiets (a traditional Dutch cargo bike), but because there are some days where both adults do the school run, we wanted an option for the days where one of us drops the kids to school in the morning and continues riding to work, while the other picks up in the afternoon. So, we were after another bike that can carry two kids and maybe offered us something that the aging Bakfiets couldn’t.

We wanted a bike that could easily take a week’s worth of groceries, three kids on the back (in case a school friend was coming over for a play), and a bike that could be used for trips to the park, picnics and even weekend adventures in the country.

Why we picked the GSD?

  • Same length as a normal bike: One of the interesting things about the GSD is that even though it looks long, because of its small wheels, TERN has managed to keep the overall length to around what a normal bike measures. It’s the 20-inch wheels that enable a longer rear rack without the need to make a longer bike. This means it fits in conventional bike parks and can be transported in a car relatively easily. This is helped by the fold-down handlebars
  • Can carry a lot: The bike has been designed to carry around 180kg. This means you can take pretty much anything on the bike without overloading it. Everything is made super strong and is purpose-built to carry people and other heavy things. It also has a range of accessories that enable you to carry even more. We use a heavy-duty front rack that is attached to the frame so that your whole load doesn’t move every time you turn your front wheel. It can take up to six panniers, which come in very handy on a bike tour with a group (it’s the packhorse!)
  • Designed for different riders: A number of features have been added to the GSD’s design that makes it easy for different riders to use. A telescopic seat stem means that it is suitable for really short and really tall riders. The handlebars have a quick adjustment mechanism that allows the rider to move the handlebars into a better position without the need for tools.
  • Electric-assist: The GSD comes with a mid-drive electric motor and equipped with the option of one or two batteries. One battery is enough to get you around 80km per charge, it has four levels of power assistance, which means you can get up even the steepest of hills with kids on the back. 
  • Cost-effective: While the cost of the bike itself isn’t cheap, the running costs are next to nothing. No rego, insurance or parking costs, and the battery costs around 15 cents for a full charge, or less if you are on solar.

The GSD is the first bike I have owned that has been so carefully and thoughtfully designed around the needs of those looking to use a bike for transport, not just for the rider, but for a family. In the past, I have found that I have needed to get lots of additional third-party accessories to achieve the functionality I was looking for in a bike. With the GSD, the lights, racks, mudguards, stand and motor have all been carefully integrated into the design to function as a seamless unit. It’s clear that the fundamental objective of the designers was to create a bike that can effortlessly perform the role of many of the car trips that occur in our cities and to replace them with something functional, stylish, and reliable. Picking up the kids from school has never been so much fun.


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