The Cero One is the perfect electric cargo bike for folks who need to carry a little bit of gear, but not everything and the kitchen sink. It’s shorter and more nimble than your traditional cargo bike, and is easy to zip around town on while still hauling your daily essentials.
I had the opportunity to test the Cero One for a couple of months, and it was one of the few test bikes I’ve reviewed that I was genuinely sad to return. It became an integral part of my daily life in no time flat.
This was not only because the Cero One made it easy to carry my gear (library books, a bag of groceries, my laptop) but also because the ride quality was so high. The Shimano Steps electric drive system is always smooth, not jerky, and the overall high quality component build just made it a pleasure to ride.
Review In A Nutshell
- High-end, brand name components
- Low maintenance belt-drive and internally geared hub
- Smooth pedaling and motor engagement
- Includes lots of “extras”
- Hard to get started when fully loaded
- 55 lb limit on rear rack
Price & Where To Buy:
- $3,799 List
- Buy at Cero.bike*
While “cycle trucks” are a popular cargo bike style all around the world, they haven’t been seen as frequently in N. America until recently. Cycle trucks, like the Cero One, have a smaller front wheel (20″) than back wheel (26″), with a rack mounted over the front wheel.
This creates a lot of stability even when carrying a heavy load. The small front wheel combined with an extremely low frame provides a low center of gravity and easy handling.
It also makes it an attractive option for shorter riders, or those wanting to wear a skirt while riding.
One Size Fits All
Like many e-cargo bikes, the Cero One comes in just one size. The very low standover means most adults, even shorter ones, will fit on the bike just fine.
Both the seatpost and handlebars are adjustable and can grow for taller riders. That said, if you plan to swap the bike between two partners of different heights, be aware that the seatpost does NOT have a quick release seatpost collar.
The handlebar does have a quick release, which makes it even stranger that the seatpost doesn’t. This means you’ll need a tool every time you want to raise or lower the seat height. Or, you can always install a quick release seatpost collar on your own.
Stocked With Brand Name Components
There are a TON of e-bikes flooding onto the market. The vast majority of them, however, are competing on price and are offered with sub-par components.
The Cero One isn’t cheap, but every component on it is top notch. While we’d expect brand name components for things like the drivetrain (Shimano in this case), it’s pretty normal to stock a bike with smaller off-brand parts. On the Cero One, however, even things like the grips and saddle are brand name (Ergon).
What this means is that the bike is going to run smoothly and be durable for a long, long time. Additionally, your local bike shop will be happy to work on the bike. This is not the case with cheaper, off-brand bikes.
Low Maintenance Thanks To The Belt Drive & Internally Geared Hub
Speaking of maintenance, there’s not much of it needed thanks to the Gates belt drive and internally geared hub. There’s no chain to lube or rust, and no derailleur to bend or adjust.
The bike has five gears, and can be shifted via an intuitive grip shifter and display. The shifting is clean, and you never have to worry about not making into a gear like you would with a traditional derailleur. I found that the five gears provided plenty of range, and I never felt under or over geared.
Coming back around to the belt drive, it was quiet and felt smooth when pedaling. The belt drive is also a great choice for folks who live in rainy climates or close to the ocean, where chains rust quickly.
Abus Wheel Lock Is Handy
Unlike a lot of cargo bikes that have an Abus wheel lock as an add-on option, the Cero One comes standard with one. And it’s fabulous!
If you’ve never had a wheel lock before, it’s a looped bar that goes thru the rear wheel and keeps the bike from moving. Could someone potentially pick up and take the whole bike with them? Yes. And if you’re in a high-theft area, or are leaving the bike for more than a short time, it might still make sense to lock the frame with a Kryptonite U-Lock or similar.
But personally, I find it so nice to not have to worry about having to remember to grab a lock or find a rack to lock the bike to. I simply park the bike, lock it, and walk away.
There’s also a handy little pocket in the basket mesh where I stored the key while biking so I always had it along just in case.
Front And Rear Racks Can Carry Cargo
The Cero One is what I’d call a lite cargo bike. It’s nearly the same size as a traditional bike, is compact and lightweight, and carries a decent amount of cargo.
Both the front and rear racks can carry 55 lbs each. The front rack can be left as a platform or you can add a basket. And the rear rack can be used for panniers, a milk crate, or a child seat.
I found the Cero One was great for carrying my laptop bag, a few bags of groceries, and even random things like my glass recycling. It can carry most things you need to run daily errands or go to work.
It does not, however, carry everything and the kitchen sink. I can’t use it to do a weeks worth of grocery shopping. I can’t use it to carry my Labrador retriever. Or carry camp chairs to soccer. (All things I do with my bakfiets style cargo bike).
Most limiting for me, it can’t carry my 9 year old son. While you CAN put a rear child seat on the rear rack (I installed the Burley Dash), the 55 lb weight limit is pretty limiting. A bike seat on it’s own can weigh a fair bit.
I think the Cero One is ideal for folks who don’t want or need to bother with a bigger, hefty cargo bike. While it doesn’t carry as much stuff as a bakfiets or longtail cargo bike, it’s also lighter and less cumbersome which I appreciated when riding around town solo.
The Cero One not only has integrated lights, let me tell you–they are really good ones! The lights are super bright and I didn’t feel any need to supplement with extra lights even when riding in total dark.
There’s no need to remove the lights to recharge them, and there’s no chance you’ll forget them at home and get caught out in the dark.
The Shimano Steps LCD display is one of the more sophisticated computers I’ve seen on a city e-bike. It’s larger than most, easy to read, and displays a TON of information.
The most important function it offers is the ability to switch between power assist modes. It has three: eco, normal, and high. Lots of e-bikes offer 5 modes, but I found 3 to be plenty. The only thing for me, was that “eco, normal, and high” felt less intuitive than the numbered (1, 2, 3) system I’ve become accustomed to on other bikes.
I really appreciated the computer telling me my remaining range given the existing pedal assist setting. I found this to be really accurate and helpful in determining if I could make it to my destination with the remaining battery life.
Other display settings tell you your speed, trip distance, trip time, and so on. You also use the computer for turning the integrated lights on and off.
Motor And Battery
The Cero One is powered with a brand-name, top of the line powertrain, the Shimano STEPS system. This includes the aforementioned display, a Class 1 250w mid-drive motor, and a 500wh battery.
The hub-drive motor, compared to cheaper hub drive motors, feels super smooth. I never got the jerky sensation you get with many e-bikes on the Cero One.
Because the Cero One is a Class 1 e-bike, it does not have a throttle. I did miss the throttle at times, especially when fully loaded with gear and starting at a stop sign or light.
The rest of the time, I felt like I had plenty of power, even when heading up the steep hill to my house. It was harder to get up to the 20mph limit than on my Radpower Radwagon, but hitting and maintaining 16 to 18 mph was a breeze.
Your range will be dependent on your weight, cargo weight, terrain, and power settings, but all things being ideal, you can get around 100 miles per charge. Even with doing a TON of daily riding on this bike, I found I only needed to charge the bike once a week or so.
Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes Provide Lots Of Stopping Power
Alot of otherwise fantastic e-bikes seem to skimp when it comes to the brakes. That’s not the case on the Cero One.
The Cero has brand name Shimano hydraulic disc brakes that perform flawlessly–even in the rain, snow, and on steep hills. Of course, hydraulic disc brakes do require more maintenance than mechanical disc brakes, but I’d argue it’s well worth the increase in performance.
Super Sturdy Dual Kickstand
For cargo bikes, we really appreciate a dual legged kickstand, which the Cero has. This allows you to load and unload your bike (including loading a child) safely and without the bike accidently falling over.
The kickstand on the Cero was sturdy and easy to maneuver.
No Suspension Fork–And That’s Fine
You will notice that the Cero One does NOT have a suspension fork, and that was fine by me. For city riding, a suspension fork is unnecessary and adds a lot of weight or expense.
The larger Schwable Big Ben plus tires have a ton of volume and still offered plenty of cushion when riding off a curb or over a pothole.
Cero One vs The Competition
The first bike that popped to mind when I saw the Cero One is the Tern GSD. The two bikes look a lot alike and even share a similar paint color.
How do the two compare? Well, for starters the Tern GSD is way more expensive. It does, however, have a longer rear end with higher carrying capacity for hauling two children rather than one, or bigger, older kids.
A more accurate comparison would actually be the Tern HSD, the shorter version of the GSD, but it’s newer and not as many people are familiar with it. The two are extremely similar with their Gates belt drives and internally geared hub.
The biggest differentiator for me, is that the HSD has a 132 lb capacity on the rear rack (compared to 55 lbs on the Cero One). This means it can actually carry an older child.
If you don’t need to carry a kiddo (or other heavy cargo) on back the cheaper pricetag on the Cero One is certainly attractive.
Bottom-Line: The Perfect Electric Cargo Bike For Carrying Just A Little Bit Of Cargo
The Cero One is not a heavy duty cargo bike. Which is fine–most folks don’t need a heavy duty cargo bike.
They just need to carry their work and gym gear and a couple bags of groceries. The Cero One does this just fine, and has the added bonus of not being heavy or cumbersome to deal with.
While it’s not a cheap e-bike, it is a high quality e-bike, and it still manages to be cheaper than other high end electric cargo bikes. Highly recommend.
1 thought on “Cero One Electric Cargo Bike Review”
“Hydraulic brakes require more maintenance than mechanical brakes.”
No cables to stretch or break. I’ve had hydraulic brakes be fine after 10,000 miles. Pads were changed, but mech brakes need pads, too.
I agree with everything else. I ride a Tern HSD S+, which is a similar bike.