Archetypal Butchers Bikes are rare on our roads these days, unless chained outside a shop as a display. And then the Butchers Bike gets updated as a compact electric cargo bike.
Just over 20 years ago, surfing fan and environmentalist Kiyoshi Iwai moved from his native Japan to California. In that time he has witnessed traffic congestion in Los Angeles grow unsustainable as climate change rapidly increased. He saw in electric cargo bikes a solution to today’s transportation problem and partnered with two veteran bicycle engineers to design what looks like a traditional butchers bike, with its smaller front wheel and cargo basket over it.
Having set up their company, called CERO, the company ran a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2017, raising more than 127% of its funding target. In the meantime, they have shipped all bikes that were ordered as part of the campaign.
Kiyoshi Iwai confirmed to us that “Our goal was to design and build a modern version of the Japanese ‘Mamachari,’ a practical utility bike that could be used by almost anyone as a replacement for a car in their daily lives. The CERO One allows urban dwellers to do almost anything they’d do in a car, but more quickly and efficiently. A powerful electric motor and a wide range of accessories make the bike perfect for getting around town as well as carrying almost anything, whether that’s groceries, pizza for delivery or precious cargo. I even take my surfboard to the beach near our office in Santa Monica with CERO One.”
As an aside, many “Mamachari” bikes have a lot in common with standard “sit-up-and-beg” Dutch bikes, with some having front baskets and or rear racks, often with a child seat at the rear and possibly a baby’s carry basket at the front. If one wheel was to be smaller than the other, it seems often to be the rear wheel for rear mounted cargo loads, the exact opposite to our butchers bike.
Unlike other electric bikes on the market, CERO One offers a custom-designed 12-way modular cargo system that includes three types of baskets and racks riders can mix and match to meet their needs, although there is some similarity with the European Speedliner Cargobike. The bike also offers a small, 20-inch front wheel for a lower centre of gravity – which is what makes it so reminiscent of the classic butchers bike – enabling users to haul heavy cargo with ease.
With its 250W Shimano Steps mid-drive electric motor and 504 Wh battery combined with 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain, the US model of CERO One allows riders to cruise up to speeds as high as 20 miles per hour simply through a pedal-assist boost. It also has three drive modes: High, in which a rider can travel as far as 44 miles but gets more power assistance; Normal, in which a rider can travel as far as 62 miles; and Eco, allowing a rider to travel up to 93 miles before a battery re-charge.
The company’s first model, the CERO One, comes in four colours and retails for $3,399 (around £2450 before freight and duty) and up, depending on the modular cargo design chosen. CERO describe it as an SUV – Super Utility Vehicle – though it seems a lot more sporting riding a bike than driving a car camouflaged as a tank!
The company sells direct online in the USA as well as via selected specialist dealers there. We were not able to get details of their plans for sales here in Europe as yet.