Tern GSD compact longtail review Part 1

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The longtail cargo bike, with its stretched rear end, has been my go-to whip of late due to its ultimate versatility, utility, and fun. And with an electric motor for extended range, there are no worries about what (or who) you might pick up during your travels, or how far you might go in a day. But longtails are long, taking up a good amount of space and being difficult to load onto a larger motor vehicle.

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So when Tern showed up in the cargo bike market with its GSD, I was Intrigued. First, what does GSD stand for? Get Stuff Done is one answer. And secondly, aside from its attractive looks, what is so new and exciting about this bicycle? Tern calls it a new kind of bicycle, a compact longtail.

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What makes it compact? Well for one thing, with the help of dual 20” wheels, the GSD has a length similar to your average bike. Combined with a folding handlebar and highly adjustable saddle, it’s easier to get it into the back of your SUV, easier to take on public transportation, and a lot easier to store. In fact, the GSD can be stored vertically on its tail, taking only a small footprint.

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It’s also electric. Some of you are thinking that is not what you are looking for. A while ago, I wasn’t either. But once you get accustomed to the increased range and versatility you will likely be sold for life. Power comes from a 250 watt Bosch motor, putting out a maximum 63Nm of torque in Turbo mode. That’s right, the GSD controls offer four power modes from Eco to Turbo. Different levels of assistance for different needs. In Eco the motor gives you 50% more power than you pedal into it, up to Turbo where the motor is adding 275% more power to the bike. Stock battery is 400 Watt-Hours but you can also buy the GSD with a 400 plus 500Wh battery for extended range. This pushes the GSD into the touring realm.

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Versatility is key. Accessories unlock the GSD’s potential. Kids? The GSD will easily take two Yepp child seats for the small ones. Big ones and adults can ride on the back using accessory foot pegs, seat cushions, and grab bars. Panniers? Enough for all your groceries. Racks? Front and/or rear for even more hauling capability. One size fits most all here with the GSD fitting riders from 5 feet to 6’5”. I’m 6’4” and had no trouble with it. Plus the handlebars rotate around the stem for further fitting options.

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The build is pretty heavy, in a good, strong way. The frame, while aluminum, appears beautifully built and ready for anything. In fact, the weight capacity is 400 lbs. so there’s not much you can’t haul. The feeling of solidness is welcome here. Weight comes in under 60 lbs. in the single battery configuration. Component-wise there are a few things that stand out. Tern-specific Schwalbe 62mm tires on Tern-specific 36mm rims with plenty of spokes and Boost axles. Magura 4 piston brakes handle the stopping with great power. Super solid, top notch, up to date modern stuff. I would not hesitate to carry anything with this bike, as long as I could get it on there.

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Accessory-wise you won’t need to add much to this bike. Lights, fenders, center stand and bell are all included with the bike. Optional accessories to consider include Tern’s Cargo Hold panniers, child seats, and the Shortbed tray that is on the test bike. Handlebars and pegs are also available for adult passengers as well.

In practice, it is easy to get on and go. The step-through frame and low center-of-gravity sure help. Turn the motor on, select the amount of assist you’d like, and go! Easy-peasy. The Bosch motor helps as little or as much as you need. But you still have to pedal. Power is solid, but keep in mind this is no motorcycle.

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My friend Stewart and I shared the testing duties. We both found the GSD to be super-capable for a wide range of tasks. Loads included a pile of camping gear, the band’s bass drum, passengers, boxes of magazines, garage sale items and more. As much as Stewart did not want to use the motor (Out of pride I believe), he was glad to have the motor as an insurance policy in case he got tired too far away from home. Me on the other hand, I just enjoyed the lack of throttle as I bopped around town picking up random articles. But I did wish for a bit more power on some of the steeper hills. I do weigh well over 200 lbs you know. The good news is that the 2019 model will have more, power that is. The other small improvement we’d recommend would be a larger center stand as the current one is a tad small for parking on uneven surfaces.

The best thing about the GSD is its foldability and storability. The handlebar folding down made it much easier to load the bike into a SUV or minivan. As for storage, grab the rear brake, pull back and the GSD sits on its tail, taking up only a small amount of closet space.

The Tern GSD is sold with single 400Wh battery for $3999 The dual 400 plus 500Wh model will run you $4799. Panniers run $150 a pair and that rack runs $120. A lot of money? For some, yes. But this bike is a game-changer, a car-pooper, sonic reducer, life-changer. Imagine parking that multi-ton behemoth automobile and spending your time outside! Quality time! Quality life!

One of the most interesting cargo/utility bikes I have seen in a while, The Tern GSD is bound to get more butts on bikes, and that is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Click here for part 2, in which Stewart shares his touring experience!

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This Just In: Bike Friday Haul-A-Day

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The Haul-A-Day haulin’ gear for a product photo shoot.


Bike Friday is perhaps best known for its line of folding bikes, including the New World Tourist I reviewed a few years back, but it also makes some excellent tandem and cargo bikes.

The Haul-A-Day is a new model for the Eugene, Oregon, based company, which designs and builds all its products in the Beaver State. The Eugene Safe Routes to School program co-ordinator though it would be great to have a cargo bike for class leaders to lead their fleet of Bike Fridays, and company founder Alan Scholz took the idea from concept to reality.

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While it does sport 20-inch wheels and a one-size-fits-most geometry, it does not fold. The main boom can be extended (or in this case retracted from its current setting) and the handlebars and saddle obviously adjust quite a bit.

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The cargo area is not quite as long as that of an Xtracycle, but it is still plenty room for groceries, kids, or whatever you’re hauling. An additional bonus is the ability to clip traditional panniers to the bed rails for more versatile carrying options.

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The basket out front mounts directly to the frame so it doesn’t turn with the handlebars, which is a bit odd at first but greatly benefits the stability of the steering.

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Bike Friday says it wasn’t looking for outright cargo capacity when it designed the Haul-A-Day, rather it wanted something that was slightly smaller, more maneuverable, more manageable for women and smaller riders, and can fit a wide variety of users. I think they’ve checked all those boxes, as it fills the void nicely between a normal city bike and my massive Surly Big Dummy. Think of it as a two-thirds-sized long-tail. The 20-inch wheels are super strong and keep the weight down low. Being able to step through the frame is also a lot easier than swinging a leg over when it’s loaded down.

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There are a bunch of cool mounts as well, including a little flag holder, as well as mounts for a stand that can lift the rear wheel to be connected to a power-generating device.

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Each Bike Friday is built to order, so you the kit you see here isn’t “standard,” but all these accessories pictured here are available. A base model with a rear disc brake, V-brake in the front, rear rack, dual bags, kickstand, straight handlebar and pedals starts at $1,498.

Watch for our long-term review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Order a subscription now and you’ll be sure not to miss it.

 

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