For the family with more than one child, most e-bikes offer limited utility. It’s frustrating to commute to work by e-bike, but then need to get the car any time a child needs to be picked up or dropped off at school. The Xtracycle Swoop is a way to conduct most daily errands with an e-bike alone.
The Xtracycle Swoop is full-size cargo e-bike, and within that category, it is considered a long-tail. In our review of the Xtracycle Swoop we will look at just what a long-tail cargo e-bike is, how it can be equipped and the many premium features that the Swoop comes equipped with.
A child seat can be mounted on the back of most e-bikes, but kids generally outgrow them by the time they are five. And what if someone has two kids? The Xtracycle Swoop is one of a handful of long-tail cargo e-bikes that can accommodate children from toddler to too-cool-to-get-on-the-back (roughly the start of puberty). These e-bikes aren’t cheap; typically they feature a mid-drive motor, a high-end drivetrain with a very wide range of gears, powerful 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes and a variety of mounting points so that parents can swap out the various seats and handlebars as the kid(s) grow.
Thanks to mounting points on the front of the frame, parents can add a front rack and a pack specially made to fit it that will allow someone to carry some groceries, without expecting one of the kids to hold on to a bag as they ride home. About the only errand we can’t recommend running is picking up the dry cleaning.
The design may look a little odd due to the front wheel being larger than the rear wheel. There are solid reasons why they chose to do this that result in benefits for the kids as well as the rider. Let’s take a deeper look at the Xtracycle Swoop.
E-Bike Category: Full-size cargo
Who the Xtracycle Swoop Electric Bike Is for: This is ideal for families with more than one child and still want to haul extra items like groceries or backpacks.
Xtracycle Swoop Electric Bike Review Ratings:
***All ratings are relative to e-bikes of a similar style and price point***
Xtracycle Swoop E-Bike Specs
- Battery: 630Wh Shimano STEPS
- Expected Range:
- Charger: 120V, 4A
- Motor: 250W Shimano STEPS mid-drive motor, 85Nm torque
- Pedal Assist: 3 PAS levels
- Throttle: N/A
- Display: LCD, mounted at grip
- Headlight: Herrmans H-Black Pro
- Taillight: Herrmans H-Trace
- Frame: 4130 cromoly steel
- Fork: 4130 cromoly steel
- Fenders: Metal, included
- Kickstand: Motorcycle-style, dual leg
- Handlebars: Alloy, 45mm rise, 640mm wide
- Grips: Marwi, ergonomic, lock-on
- Drivetrain: SRAM NX-11, 11-42 cassette
- Brakes: Tektro M745, 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm rotors
- Pedals: Nylon, with reflectors
- Saddle: Xtracycle Comfort
- Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X 26 x 2.4-in. front, 20 x 2.4-in. rear
In-Depth Xtracycle Swoop Review
Xtracycle Swoop Review: Comfort, Handling, and Ride Qualities
Long-tail cargo e-bikes seem to finally be catching on. Sure, they look a little different, but they allow riders to keep a car parked in a way that no commuter can do. Long-tails like the Xtracycle Swoop are to families in the future what station wagons were to them in the 1970s. These “full-size” cargo bikes have an advantage over compact cargo e-bikes in that they can carry more, and compared to bucket e-bikes, are easier to handle.
Yes, long-tails are substantially longer than typical e-bikes and as a result they have a greater turn radius than most of what’s on the market, but here’s why that isn’t really a problem: The front half of a long-tail cargo e-bike is no longer than on a traditional e-bike, so the steering feels the same. Just as someone in an SUV has to start a turn a fraction of a second later than they would in a sedan in order not to clip the curb in a right turn, the rider on the long-tail e-bike has to lean into their turn a hair later than they would on another e-bike.
Due to their long wheelbase, a feature that many riders discover they enjoy is their low-speed stability. For a parent pedaling from a dead stop with two kids on the back, the Xtracycle Swoop will be easy to get going, which is its own kind of comfort. Another benefit of the long wheelbase is that riders can enjoy a more upright, cruiser-like position and still experience terrific stability at speed. Sitting more upright is not only more comfortable, but it’s easier to look back and check on the kids.
There’s a significant difference in handling with the Xtracycle Swoop depending on whether it’s outfitted to carry stuff or people. In most situations, having kids on the back will elevate the center of gravity over what it would be with stuff in a basket. Properly secured, most loads won’t shift much, making the handling more predictable, whereas kids are squirmy and at low speeds they can be a bit disruptive. The good news? As a rider picks up speed, the Xtracycle Swoop will become more stable, limiting the influence of kids on the handling.
Xtracycle Swoop Review: Motor, Battery, and Drivetrain Performance
Xtracycle spec’d the mid-drive Shimano STEPS EP8 motor for the Swoop. This is a 250W motor that produces a very solid 85Nm of torque. Considering that most of the e-bikes we review have hub motors of 500 or 750W, 250W may not seem like a lot, especially for a cargo e-bike. It’s important to remember that with mid-drive motors they insert power prior to the drivetrain, not after it. Just as the rider will see their effort multiplied thanks to the gear ratios offered by the derailleur and cassette, the motor also makes the most of that mechanical advantage.
Thanks to gears, e-bikes with mid-drive motors can not only do fine with less wattage, they don’t need big torque numbers either. As we mentioned, the Shimano STEPS EP8 motor produces 85Nm of torque, which means it will have the muscle to help a rider get started no matter how heavy the load. And, yes, the power will be immediate because mid-drive motors all feature a torque sensor that tells the motor to go as soon as the rider begins pedaling.
E-bikes equipped with hub motors often feature a battery with roughly as many watt/hours of capacity as the motor produces in wattage. We often see e-bikes with 750W motors equipped with 720Wh batteries, so it’s noteworthy that Xtracycle chose to pair the 250W STEPS EP8 motor with a 630Wh battery. Why choose such a big battery? Easy. Heavier loads draw more current because they ask more of the motor.
Xtracycle estimates that riders will see a range of 30 to 60 mi. per charge. Bear in mind that the weight of the rider plus any payload, terrain, road surface and speed ridden all affect how much range someone will achieve. The rider toting kids at 20 mph is likely to see range closer to 30 mi. per charge than 60 mi.
With e-bikes feature hub motors, what gear a rider chooses to ride in doesn’t matter that much, except when starting. With an e-bike feature a mid-drive motor, gear selection becomes very important. Asking an e-bike with a mid-drive motor to climb a hill while in the highest gear puts serious strain on the motor and done often enough will burn the motor out. Just think of how it would feel to try and climb a hill in a bike’s hardest gear without any help from a motor.
For that reason, Xtracycle’s choice to go with an 11-speed SRAM NX drivetrain with an 11-42 cassette means that there will always be a gear low enough for any hill, even with kids on the back and while riding in San Francisco. There are
Xtracycle Swoop Review: Braking, Safety & Warranty
Because the Xtracycle Swoop is meant to carry some big loads—it is rated to carry up to 400 lbs. including the rider—they spec’d 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro. Doubling the number of pistons doesn’t double stopping power, but it does increase it rather substantially.
As we often note, there’s more to the performance of a good set of brakes than just stopping. Good brakes will allow the rider to modulate speed with ease so that the rider can slow before a turn, let off the brakes and carve through the turn, carrying speed and momentum.
Parents wondering just how easy it is to carry children on the back of the Xtracycle Swoop can watch a video of their Hooptie Passenger System and check out their many accessories to carry everyone from toddlers to grade-schoolers. They include more accessories than most companies and the ability to customize the Swoop to the rider’s needs is remarkable; few e-bikes offer this level of adaptability. With the exception of infants, they have a safe system to transport kids.
Xtracycle’s warranty is a real step up from most. They offer a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork for personal users, and one year on them if it is commercial use. The Shimano STEPS motor and battery carry a two-year warranty and all other components come with a standard one-year warranty.
Xtracycle Swoop Review: Recommendation/Final Verdict
Earlier this year we pronounced 2023 the year of the cargo e-bike. We’ve seen a number of new e-bike designs, especially compact cargo e-bikes, as well as full-size cargo e-bikes. Some of the best designs we’ve encountered aren’t new; they just haven’t gained widespread acceptance, but that seems to finally be changing.
We don’t have a horse in this particular race. Whether our readers buy a cruiser, an eMTB or a commuter doesn’t matter to us. What does matter to us is offering the sort of informed perspective that helps someone purchase the e-bike that will best suit their needs. Cargo offer riders a greater potential to keep their cars parked and running most, if not all, their errands by e-bike. We can also report from first-hand experience that when it comes to ferrying children to preschool, kindergarten and even grade school, most kids love riding on the back of a long-tail cargo e-bike. They get a great view of what’s around them and usually enjoy the fresh air.
And while we can’t report this with any scientific authority, drivers tend to give a rider with kids a wider berth and will often ask questions or comment favorably on cargo e-bikes when stopped at a light.
The Xtracycle Swoop, once outfitted for the needs of a family with kids, represents a sizable investment. Purchasing a full set of accessories to accommodate kids and groceries can run toward another thousand dollars. When considering the savings in gas, an e-bike like this won’t pay for itself in a single year, but at the point most e-bikes start to see components wear out, the Xtracycle Swoop may only need a few consumable parts like tires, brake pads and a new chain.
If we had more thumbs, we’d give it more than two thumbs up.
Thank you for reading through our review of the Xtracycle Swoop. Still have further questions? Wondering how it compares to a similar e-bike we’ve reviewed? Let us know in the comments below!