“One bike that can do almost anything – commutes, trips to the store, daycare drop-off, leisure rides, and more.” So says the e-bike maker CERO, which recently unleashed its CERO One cargo e-bike to the public. It’s all true! CERO One feels like silk in motion to ride, and it also gets your local shopping done. I know, because they lent one to me for a while. Thank goodness women are still allowed to ride bicycles in my state, at least for now.
Checking The Boxes: The Pleasure Ride
CERO mailed its cargo e-bike to me complete with front and rear baskets. It was easy to assemble, and after a few minutes to get the feel of it in a nearby parking lot, I was on my way to the Hill of Doom, which is a quarter-mile straight shot up to the top of a mountain. It’s a small mountain, but still a mountain, and the road is a busy 3-laner with a 40 mph speed limit, no bike lanes, no sidewalk, and no chance to traverse back and forth.
I’ve had to give some e-bikes one or two tries up that hill before I figured out how to maximize the power and minimize the effort, but that was not the case with the CERO One. It flew up the hill in a snap on the first try.
“The efficient Shimano E6100 motor system boosts your pedaling up to 20 mph and gives you up to 105 miles of range on a single charge,” CERO promises, and it came through on the Hill of Doom.
“And with the Gates Carbon Drive™ belt and Shimano Inter-5E internal hub gears, your bike will be smooth, silent, and nearly maintenance-free,” they also promise. I’d have to keep the bike for a while to confirm the maintenance aspect, but the smooth and silent parts are all true.
The silent part was especially nice as I continued my first ride, a 13-mile loop through a local nature preserve with plenty more opportunities to give the CERO One an uphill workout, all seamlessly done, and all without an electric whine in the background, even when pushing the power all the way up.
Box #2: Commuting On A Cargo E-Bike
The next test was my usual 20-mile round trip suburb-to-city commute to work and back, which really puts a bike through its paces.
The inbound trip is one mile down the same small but still-a-mountain mountain, then 7 hilly miles on a 4-lane thoroughfare with trucks and buses and whatnot, and one mile of clogged up urban stop-and-go.
The return trip is an 11-mile roundabout way back home which avoids the evening rush hour on the County road, though it does involve a solid mile of uphill climb on a winding road to get up and over the other side of the Hill of Doom.
The CERO rates an 11 out of 10 every step of the way. It accomplished uphill climbing, bus-dodging, intersection-scooting and random pedestrian-in-the-road avoiding without turning a hair.
Also, the CERO One is a big, bold bike that stands out in traffic, which helps from the safety angle. The roomy front and rear baskets also enabled me to clear some junk out of my office and haul it home, all without effort.
Box #3: Shopping Local On A Cargo E-Bike
To be clear, commuting on an e-bike is not necessarily a daily event on a 20-mile round trip. When the days get shorter, a miles-long ride in the dark with no bike lanes is a non-starter. The same goes for rain, snow, or cold. A few minutes of riding in darkness or bad weather would not be much of a problem, but on a 35-45 minute commute the risks pile up.
That’s something to keep in mind for e-bike use in the suburbs, where commutes tend to be longer and bike lanes are in short supply. Still, on the days that you can use an e-bike, you sure save a lot of gas.
You can also save a lot of time. Shopping locally is a snap on an e-bike, because the parking issue evaporates. If you have never lived in a suburban town with practically zero mass transit, you might not realize how much time and energy gets soaked up to manage local parking. Well, it’s a lot. Being able to zip in and out on a bicycle is a huge plus.
That’s true for any bike, but a cargo e-bike really takes advantage of the situation because you can load more stuff on it.
For example, there is a hardware store just a 15-minute walk from my house, but I have to use the car if I need something that’s too big and heavy to carry for 15 minutes. Also, the return walk goes up a really steep, nasty little hill. On the CERO, the same errand was effortless and time saving, too, even with a load of potting soil and some other stuff in the rear bay.
Don’t Take Your Ride For Granted
As for being allowed to ride a bicycle in your home state, that’s something we all need to think about nowadays. No, really. Not too long ago, women were not supposed to ride bicycles anywhere in the US. For that matter, women were not allowed to do a lot of things in the US, such as voting, or getting their own car insurance.
Some credit new technology — that being the invention of the bicycle — with helping to spur the women’s suffrage movements of the 19th and early 20th century. In an interesting twist, our friends over at Condé Nast Traveler point out that a key change in bicycle engineering may have helped to tip the balance (break added for readability):
“’Bicycles have done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world,’ wrote Susan B. Anthony in 1896. It may sound surprising, but her statement reflected a new reality. A bicycle craze was sweeping across the U.S. and elsewhere, thanks to the launch of the Safety Bicycle, the diamond-frame model from which today’s bikes descend.
“And unlike its vertiginous and risky predecessor, the High Wheel, it was far easier to ride, in turn offering a new freedom to women who had little autonomy over their lives, and few legal rights.”
Women are still not permitted to ride bicycles in a number of countries. Since Iran has become the focus of attention for its brutal enforcement of female fashion codes, let’s take a look at the rules for bicycles over there. Here’s the National Council of Resistance of Iran on the topic:
“In the regime’s judicial laws, there is no law prohibiting women from cycling. However, marjas or religious scholars in the velayat-e faqih regime have enforced this ban every year and routinely prevent women from using bicycles in urban public spaces.”
If you think that can’t happen here, guess again. Prohibiting pregnancy-capable persons from engaging in activities that involve a potential risk the well-being of the uterus is the next step in a movement that has upended women’s rights the US. Strict abortion bans are already spreading from state to state, and Republican officials are already setting the stage for a national ban.
Ride that bike, while you still can.
Follow me on Twitter, @TinaMCasey.
Photo: Local shopping is a snap with the CERO One cargo e-bike (photo by Tina Casey).