Ebikes are giving people around the world new options to electrify their transportation and are a key piece of enabling people to get out of their vehicles and into a healthier, people-centric lifestyle. The folks over at Tern have built a number of bikes and ebikes that enable more people to spend more time on bikes, thanks to the unique functionality they pack under the hood.
They brought a fully loaded Tern GSD over for us to run through the paces for a few weeks so naturally, we obliged. We took the GSD out on the town on long commutes, beach rides, hauling the kids around town, and fully-loaded trips to the store. In every circumstance, the GSD performed admirably, even asking for more as our weary legs were increasingly augmented by the battery and mid-frame mounted motor.
Compact Footprint, Full-Sized Capability
The GSD is a utility ebike that packs an impressive amount of functionality into its squat, compact frame. From head to tail, the GSD is the same length as a standard bicycle, but thanks to its smaller tires and robust frame, it has a carrying capacity of 400 pounds (180 kilograms). Owners can stash goods on an optional front rack which the GSD already has integrated mounting points for, or on the rear rack that comes on the GSD from the factory.
The company has an array of accessories that let owners bolt, snap, stretch, and clip on dozens of accessories to build up the bike that suits their lifestyle. Bolt on racks and bags for maximum cargo hauling capabilities or clip on a few Yepp Maxi seats and chuck the kids onto the back for a family getaway to the park with all the necessities for a day at the beach. It’s not hard to imagine grabbing a pair of GSDs and heading out for a week of touring with the family, kids and all. The optional second battery lets owners choose how much range they want with the ability to clip it on or off as needed.
One primary use case for the GSD is as a kid hauler. In this configuration, the rear deck on the GSD can be fitted with two Yepp Maxi child seats without needing any adapters. Just slap the seats on, twist the lock and it’s good to go. What’s great is that as the kids grow, the capability of the GSD can grown right along with them.
Kids from around 2 to around 10 will feel right at home in the Clubhouse addition to the GSD. It’s a black metal frame that bolts onto the rear rack and comes with two seat pads and a back pad to make the ride more comfortable. Slap on a few of Tern’s Sidekick Lower Decks to support their feet and you’re off to the races. Maybe it’s just the stage of life I’m in, but that’s how Tern built out the loaner for me so when it showed up, we didn’t waste any time putting the full kit to use.
The kids know the routine by now. They grab jackets, helmets, backpacks, and sunglasses or whatever the day requires, and climb in. At ages 8 and 9 and coming from tall parent stock, the limitations of the low stature of the bike became more clear as they had to keep their knees scrunched up more than they liked. Functionally, it was fine. It turns out that 8- and 9-year-olds tend to complain about just about anything, but it does unearth one trade-off that comes with the lower posture.
On the plus side, the rear Clubhouse addition on the GSD was designed brilliantly to allow the bike to be stored vertically, on its tail. This allows riders to stash the GSD in a far more compact corner of the garage, house or hallway than it would otherwise require. Putting the GSD into the upright position also makes it stable, with four points of contact that give it a very solid base.
As the kids outgrow the child seats, a caboose can be added along with two seating pads that transform the rear deck into comfortable seating for two kids. Wheel guards can be added to keep any kid parts from getting into the spokes and the included sideboards make a nice landing area for mini feet. For larger humans, the rear Clubhouse frame can be removed, leaving a wide open deck with pads for seating or to be repurposed for storage.
If kids aren’t your thing or you’re just looking to haul a bunch of sandwiches, groceries, books, solar panels, or batteries, the GSD’s 400-pound carrying capacity is up to the task. From the factory, the integrated rear rack can be fitted with Term’s Cargo Hold Panniers that can easily carry two bags of groceries each. For our family of four, that’s a full week’s worth of groceries and then some. Any number of other industry standard pannier bags can also be fitted to the rack, with the added bonus of support from the running boards, if needed.
Up top, the rack can serve as the foundation for a few of Tern’s racks, including the Shortbed Tray, that essentially turns the rear of the GSD into something akin to the flatbed of a (small) truck. It can support 35 kilograms | 77 pounds of gear and was designed as a flexible platform onto which any number of insulated food delivery bags, eurocrates, camping gear, and the like can be strapped.
Up front, the GSD can be fitted with the Transporteur Rack that supports up to 20 kilograms | 44 pounds. This is a great option for those looking to haul kids and groceries. Drop the kids in the back, strap on a few bags of groceries, and you’re off. The Transporteur is also brilliant in that it comes with water bottle mounts, giving riders a multitude of options for where they store their water and how much to bring along.
In short, the GSD gives riders an extremely capable foundation upon which they can build the vehicle to fit their lifestyle. More gear, less gear, more kids, an adult, guitars, you name it. The Tern GSD can likely handle it.
Underneath the fun paint, functional racks, extra passengers, and bungee cords, the Tern GSD is an extremely competent, durable electric bike. I say this only to pull you back down from the clouds, as it’s easy to get lost in the possibility and forget that with this much capability, it’s still a bike. That should by no means diminish the perception of the GSD. If anything, it is meant as a positive. All this capability exists on a vehicle that you get to power. That builds you up and increases your health. Increases your connection with the outdoors, your family, your friends, your neighborhood. Bicycling is a healthy way of life and the GSD puts that lifestyle beautifully within reach.
Tern chose Bosch’s Performance Line CS motor and paired it with a 400 Wh or 500 Wh battery. A second battery slot was built in to allow for touring, longer commutes, heavier loads and the like, enabling a range of up to 200 kilometers | 124 miles per dual charge. Where would you go with 1,000 Wh of battery assist capability? My mind immediately starts to race. I’m envisioning long day trips with the family, biking through Yosemite Valley on a mobile camping adventure or riding through the Mojave Desert in the winter. Wherever your sense of adventure leads you, the GSD can probably get you there.
The mid-drive motor means you won’t have to fiddle with hub motors, power wires, or extra bolts if you get a flat in the back. It builds all of the assist functionality into the center of the crankshaft, leaving much of the rest of the bike alone.
Tern didn’t want to leave riders hanging with a normal set of gear though. Powerful 4-piston hydraulic Magura disc brakes keep heavy loads in check, even at speed. Schwalbe’s Super Moto-X puncture-resistant tires give the bike a surprisingly cushy feel for their admittedly small diameter.
- Heavy-duty Enviolo® cargo groupset
- Integrated Abus® wheel lock, keyed alike with the battery
- Magura® MT5 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes
- Custom 62 mm Schwalbe® Super Moto-X tires with puncture protection
- Boost thru-axle hubs
- Andros stem for handlebar height and reach adjustments
- Fits two Thule Yepp Maxi child seats, or one Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi seat—no adapters needed
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