Looking for a bike that will easily grow with your family and adapt to your unique needs? From hauling kids to school, the park, or the grocery store, the Xtracycle Swoop electric cargo bike will make easy work of your everyday tasks, while also adding in a large dose of fun family time. Designed to be as versatile as life’s demands, the Swoop electric cargo bike can easily fit 2 to 3 small kids, while also hauling several bags of groceries!
While adults will love riding the Swoop, we promise your kids will love being passengers, and will quickly be asking to go for daily rides! As a win-win for everyone in the family, our review will cover just what makes the Swoop so amazing – including how it rides, how far it can go, as well as the various seating arrangements for kids.
Xtracycle Swoop Cargo eBike
FRAME SIZE (Chromoly steel): One Size
BIKE WEIGHT: 62.9 lb. without accessories
MAX BIKE CAPACITY: 400 lb., including rider
MOTOR: Shimano STEPS EP8, 250W with 85 max Torque Nm
PAS MODES: 3
BATTERY: Removable 630Wh (30 to 60 miles per charge)
COMPUTER: Shimano E5003
TOP SPEED/CLASS: 20mph, Class I
TORQUE SENSOR: Yes
TIRES: Front – 26” x 2.4”, Rear – 20” x 2.4”
BRAKES: Hydraulic disc w/ 180mm rotors
GEARS: 11-speed, 11-42t cassette
DERAILLEUR: SRAM NX11
What we Love About the Xtracycle Swoop:
- Offers a wide range of storage options for cargo and seating options for kids of various ages
- The Swoop provides a very natural pedaling feel (thanks to its torque sensor and mid-drive motor).
- Step-through frame makes it easy to step on and off the bike
- Shimano EP8 mid-drive motor is very quiet and efficient
- Rear tire is smaller to allow for the center of gravity of kids (or cargo!) to be lower on the bike, helping the bike to feel more stable
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
What you Should Know Before you Buy:
- The Swoop offers a lot of accessories to customize your bike, but the most popular ones comes included! Swoop comes complete with a rear platform rack (solid surface rack does not have holes like typical racks), a foot rest platform for the rear passengers, FreeLoader Too pannier bags (hangs on rack), dual foot kickstand, front and rear fenders, and self-charging rear and front lights.
- The test bike shown in this review includes additional accessories for carrying passenger and cargo. Passenger Accessories: Longtail Hooptie cage (handlebar cage around rear seat – $240), MagicCarpet seat pad (cushioned pad that goes over platform rack – $75), Burley Dash bike seat (separate seat for young child to strap into – $169). Cargo Accessories: Front PorterRack (Black rack moutned to the front of the bike – $200) and PorterPack (Removable black bag mounted to the front rack – $150). All of the accessories were tested were of exceptional quality.
- The Swoop does not come with a throttle
- The Swoop is only available in one color, Vista Blue. It’s a light blue paint with a glossy finish.
- You can charge the battery on or off the bike, but removing the battery requires you to move the chain out of the way, which can cause grease to get on your fingers. As a result, we mainly charged the battery while on the bike.
- Lots of additional accessories are available through Xtracycle, including bags and smaller bars for adults or older kids to hold onto while riding on the back
Xtracycle Swoop Cargo eBike Review – Results of our Test Rides
From riding to dinner at Grandma’s house to cruising through Zion National Park, the Xtracycle Swoop has been a game changer in our house. As a bike loving family with two and four-year-old boys, we love getting out as a family, but our little guys’ legs can only take them so far, so we often resort to the car.
With the Swoop, new biking horizons quickly emerged as we were no longer limited by little legs. With both kids comfortably and happily in tow, 5 to 10 mile trips became easy and enjoyable for everyone.
We all quickly fell in love with the Xtracycle and found ourselves wishing we had bought one years ago! Whether the Swoop will 100% replace your car, be a part-time replacement, or just a seasonal one, the Swoop will certainly be a welcome e-bike addition to your family.
What type of rider/family is the Swoop the best fit for?
After a couple months of testing, including several side by side comparison rides with the Aventon Abound cargo bike, we believe the Swoop would be best for:
- City dwellers or suburbanites looking for a fast and fun way to skip the school carpool line, run kids to soccer practice, or take a quick run to the grocery store. For smaller families (1 to 3 kids), the Swoop can truly act as a car replacement.
- Riders who truly want a natural riding feel. The Swoop does not have a throttle, so you can’t rely on the bike to propel you along. The mid-drive motor, however, provides plenty of power to get you where to need to go, even when you’re not feeling 100%.
- Those with longer commutes. The efficient mid-drive motor can go up to 100 miles on one charge when used in the lowest pedal assist mode in favorable riding conditions. Typical mileage is closer to 30 to 60 miles.
- People who live in areas where Class II and III bikes (bikes with throttles) are not allowed. While regulations regarding ebikes are still evolving, be aware of your local laws prior to choosing a bike. Some cities do not allow Class II and III bikes on their local bike paths, sidewalks and even on some city streets. The Xtracycle is a Class I bike which rarely has limitations.
- Parents with two smaller kids of different ages. The versatility of Xtracycle’s Magic Carpet pad was game changing as it provided a soft cushion for our 4-year-old to sit on, while still allowing room to mount the Burley Dash child bike seat for our 2-year-old. When our 2-year-old outgrows the Burley Dash, the MagicCarpet can cover the entire rear platform to provide a soft seat for both of our kids. Aventon’s seat pad encompasses the entire rack, so there was no way to install the Burley seat and still have a soft place for our 4-year-old to sit.
- Those who need to haul cargo and kids at the same time. The included panniers still provide great storage even with the Burley Dash seat installed. Between the front Porter Bag and the included pannier, the bike could easily hold close to a week’s worth of groceries as well as two younger kids.
Who is the Swoop not an ideal fit for?
- Those with minimal or no room to store the bike. Like all family-size cargo bikes, the Swoop is a big bike and takes a big footprint to store. Its length can also prevent it from fitting into elevators, while its heavy weight makes is challenging to get up and down stairs. (The Xtracycle is close to 20 lb. lighter than the Aventon though).
- Families who need a portable bike. Like all longtail cargo bikes, the Swoop has a very long wheelbase, so it won’t fit on any bike racks. You will need a truck in order to haul it around.
- Those who really need a throttle to get around. Whether you prefer not to pedal or love the option of not having to pedal, there are certainly some benefits to having a bike with a throttle. Throttles are particularly helpful in getting a fully loaded cargo bike started from a stand still.
- City dwellers without great bike lane access. The Swoop is a pretty wide bike (especially with the Hooptie basket on), which can make it very nerve racking to hug a narrow shoulder on the road or “squeeze” through a small space. This is true with essentially any family bike.
Ride Experience on the Swoop
Once we had the Swoop set up, transitioning to riding a large and heavy cargo bike took no time at all. As an avid mountain biker, already being confident and comfortable on a bike certainly helped, but the Swoop’s low center of gravity design (battery and motor are set low on the bike) helps it feel very planted and stable, even when riding with two kids in tow. You can feel the weight of the kids back there, but it doesn’t affect the performance of the bike at all.
Riding the Swoop feels smooth and very natural, despite it being a heavy bike as well as an ebike. The motor connects well with each pedal stroke, making it easy to get up to a high speed.
Once at speed, the Swoop quickly gets into its groove and the bike’s thoughtful design begins to shine. The extra cushioning tires effortlessly damper the bumps along the pavement, the derailleur smoothly shifts under the extra weight of kids and cargo, and the frame provides a comfortable, upright riding position.
At higher speeds, the Xtracycle’s stability really shone through. When riding downhill with my two boys in the back, the bike remained planted and handled beautifully.
The Aventon, however, didn’t perform as well at higher speeds as I did experience some speed wobbles (handlebars began to vibrate very slightly back and forth) and I had to slow down as a result. While I can’t say for sure what caused the wobbles, the lower center of gravity of the Xtracycle (lower-set battery) as well as its longer wheelbase (1430 mm versus 1274 mm on Aventon) certainly helped.
All in all, the Swoop feels and performs like a high-end bike. During our comparison rides with the Aventon Abound (more about this later), that is one thing that stood out to me about the Swoop. Regardless of the riding environment, the speed at which we traveled, or the amount of weight we loaded up on the bike, the Swoop offered consistent performance.
Due to its high quality level of components (Chromoly steel frame, SRAM drivetrain, Shimano brakes), the Swoop is also sure to outlive years of carpool pick-ups and never-ending grocery store runs.
Kid Configurations on the Swoop
The love of the Swoop didn’t end with me; our kids quickly fell in love as well! After their first ride, they began to ask every day to go on a ride! I loved being able to actually have a real conversation while biking. From pointing out things along the way to answering their random kid questions, family bike time absolutely includes family bonding time.
To safely haul our 2 and 4-year-old on the Swoop, we used three different accessories – (1) the Longtail Hooptie wrap-around bars, (2) the MagicCarpet seat pad, and (3) the Burley Dash bike seat. This combination allows our 2-year-old to be safely buckled in, while also providing a “safety cage” and padded seat for our 4-year-old. We loved the Burley Dash, but the Swoop is also compatible with a few other rear seats.
When using the Burley bike seat, the MagicCarpet is extremely handy as it can be mounted only half way along the bottom platform. This creates enough room to securely install a rear bike seat while the remaining space is padded for our older son.
Later on, we can put the MagicCarpet across the entire platform to create a full cushioned bench seat. This arrangement wasn’t available on the Aventon as the solid padded cushion covered the entire rear platform, which prevented the Burley seat from properly securing.
If you have a younger child between 12 months and up to 33 lb., the Xtracycle is also compatible with front-mounted child bike seats such as the Thule Yepp Mini. For larger families, be sure to check out Xtracycle’s article on how to carry up to 6 young kids on the Swoop.
Hauling 6 kids does require to use of a bike trailer. While the Swoop is compatible with a trailer, like all ebikes, be sure to use extra caution when pulling a bike trailer as they are not designed to travel over 15 mph and can easily flip at higher speeds.
Hauling Cargo on the Swoop
The front-loading PorterPack was the unexpected star of the show during our longer outings. With an easy-to-use magnetic closure (along with a buckle for added security) the PorterPack offers quick and easy access along with plenty of space for everything from diapers to snacks and sunscreen. With several small pockets inside the pack as well as smaller pockets facing the cockpit, the PorterPack has a place for just about everything!
For longer rides, the rear-mounting FreeLoader Too pannier bag was also extremely useful, especially for larger items like beach towels. With the ability to pull out from underneath the legs of the Burley Dash child seat, the FreeLoader doesn’t require you to sacrifice all of your cargo space in order to safely haul a younger kid!
For extra loads, the Swoop is also compatible with bike trailers, including the Burley Flatbed. While we didn’t try it out, it’s neat to see just how customizable the Xtracycle can be.
Xtracycle Swoop Components
Shimano EP8 Mid-Drive Motor
The Swoop comes with a Shimano EP8 mid-drive motor which offers plenty of power for hauling the heaviest of loads. Often used in electric mountain bikes, the EP8 motor is a workhorse providing 85Nm of torque with up to a 400% assistance boost.
This essentially means that the mid-drive motor has the ability to take the power you put into the pedals, quadruple it and then apply that power into the drivetrain (the chain + sprockets). As a result, although you pedal the Swoop the same as a standard analog bike, you can travel much faster and further with much less effort on your part. As a Class I bike, however, the motor’s pedal assist maxes out a 20 mph.
The extra torque and power of the Shimano motor on the Swoop especially come in handy when pointed uphill. The higher the torque of a motor, the better the ability of the motor to apply additional power under strain. For high-end cargo bikes like the Xtracycle, 85Nm is pretty standard, but many lower-end cargo bikes have hub-motors that can quickly become overwhelmed on hills.
When riding up Zion Canyon I was pleasantly surprised by the ease it rolled up. I didn’t have to exert myself to get up any hill. When set on the highest pedal assist mode, I was able to continue at cruising pace and was never left wanting more power or speed.
On super steep climbs with two kids in two, however, the Xtracycle did show its limits. While I was still able to maintain my pedal rate without exerting myself, the bike did slow down and climbed slower up the hill.
As a comparison, the Aventon Abound with its powerful 750W rear hub motor (most rear hubs are 350W or 500W) did surprisingly well on the steep hills. While the Aventon did slow a bit, it was faster up steep climbs than the Xtracycle.
On the flip side, however, the Aventon did go through a lot more battery power than the Xtracycle while powering up the hill. As a result, based on our experience, if steep climbs are part of your daily commute, the Aventon may get you up faster, but the Xtracycle will have a lot more battery power to allow you to travel farther.
Paired with a Shimano STEPS E5003 computer, the Swoop has three pedal assist modes (Eco, Trail and Boost) that are easily adjusted with your thumb via the handlebar control. The computer also shows your bike’s battery life as well as the estimated mileage you have remaining.
Getting Started From a Stop on the Swoop
Due to the heavy weight of the bike and its cargo, the first few pedal strokes to get the Swoop moving are certainly a bit more challenging, but the motor quickly engages to get the bike up to speed to help stabilize the heavy load. As a result, we always made sure to start the Swoop in the highest pedal assist mode as well as a lower gear and always stood up to pedal for those first few strokes.
We did find that getting off the line quickly was certainly easier on the Aventon Abound as a result of its throttle. With a simple push of the throttle, the Abound would quickly reach cruising speeds, allowing me to easily begin to pedal without strain.
If I lived in a hilly area where starting on an uphill was common, the throttle option of the Aventon would absolutely be appealing. But while in motion, I preferred the natural ride feeling of the Xtracycle over the Aventon.
Removeable 630Wh Battery
The Swoop comes with a removable 630Wh battery. Depending on your terrain and pedal assist mode, it will get an estimated 30 to 60 miles per charge. We were able to get about 40 miles before charging, using it almost exclusively on the highest pedal assist mode. About half of those miles, however, were on an uphill ride, so I can certainly see getting 60 miles if sticking to flat roads.
The Swoop can be charged on or off the bike, but removing the battery does requires you to move the chain out of the way, which can cause greasy fingers. While quick and easy, the greasy fingers did get old pretty quickly, so we mainly charged the bike in the garage with the battery still in place.
For added security, the battery does lock onto the bike and requires a key in order to remove it.
I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort of the geometry of the Swoop. Riding the Swoop is slightly similar in feel of sitting up straight like when riding a beach cruiser. We’ve gone on 17 mile rides and I never felt any sort of discomfort in the riding position.
With just one size offered, I was initially concerned that it wouldn’t fit both me (5’6”) and my husband (6’0”), but my concern was unfounded as we both fit great by adjusting the seat height. The long seat post specced on the Swoop makes its one frame size accessible to a wide range of heights. While the height of the handlebars don’t adjust, we were both comfortable on the bike.
The low step over frame of the Swoop was also a huge bonus as it made it significantly easier to step over and get on the bike, especially with kids and cargo in the back. I can’t imagine using a family bike that didn’t have a low-step through frame!
To make it easy to get on and off the bike, as well as load kids or cargo, the Xtracycle comes with a spring-loaded, double-foot kickstand. The kickstand easily holds the bike upright, even when fully loaded.
As a spring-loaded kickstand, you don’t have to kick the stand up before starting to ride. Once on the bike, by simply rolling forward with the bike, the kickstand pops up on its own. This allows you to get onto the bike without having to balance the weight of the kids and cargo. When getting off the bike, you do have to balance the bike while you put the kickstand down with your foot.
The Aventon also has a double-footed kickstand, but it is not spring loaded.
The Swoop has an 11-speed SRAM drivetrain with an 11-42t cassette and 42t chainring. The SRAM NX derailleur shifts easily under the weight of the bike. Since we used the bike mainly in the highest pedal assist mode, we typically kept the bike in its lowest gear and easily cruised around town. If you live somewhere with a lot of hills, you will certainly be shifting more, so the gears are certainly still needed.
For plenty of stopping power, the Xtracycle Swoop comes with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm front and rear rotors. The brakes have been great! They have worked great in the wide variety of riding we’ve done. They stop the bike with ease and haven’t had any noise or shaking when stopping.
Xtracycle Swoop vs. Aventon Abound
We had a chance to do a side-by-side comparison with the Swoop and the Abound for about a month. Both my husband and I loved both bikes, but there are certainly some pros and cons to each.
The Swoop is considerably more expensive than the Abound, but has longer range, has more storage and kid hauling abilities, is almost 20 lb. lighter, more stable at higher speeds, and is made of higher-end components. The Abound is cheaper, has a throttle, and a higher maximum load (including the rider).
|30 – 60 mi
|750W rear hub
In terms of handling, the Xtracycle is more like a high-end truck while the Aventon is like a sports car. The Xtracycle can haul a lot more while providing plenty of power, but doesn’t have a quick start off the line.
The Aventon is very zippy and has a lot of get-up-and-go, but doesn’t have the ability to hold as much cargo or kids. The Aventon was faster on hills compared to the Xtracycle, but was also less efficient – powering up steep hills quickly ate through the Aventon’s battery life.
In the end, the Xtracycle did work better for us for hauling two kids as the rear platform fit both a rear child seat as well as a cushion for our preschooler. The Xtracycle’s compatibility with front-mounted child bike seats also provides more options for us (the Aventon Abound is not compatible with a front seat). The Xtracycle is also considerably lighter than the Abound, which made it much easier to haul in and out of our truck when traveling with it.
Xtracycle Swoop Cargo eBike Bottom Line
If you are thinking about getting a family cargo bike, let me assure that you will absolutely love it, and it will certainly be a game changer for your family. If quality, durability, and the ability to customize a family bike to fit your family’s needs are top concerns, the Xtracycle should absolutely be on your list of family bikes. With the magical ability to turn everyday, mundane events into cherished family time for both parent and child, the Swoop is a phenomenal bike both in terms of performance and versatility.