by Lars Hundley
KBO Ranger Cargo Ebike, $1,699
- High quality components! Shimano derailleur, large capacity 840 Wh Samsung / LG battery cells
- 750 watt hub motor that assists or works with throttle up to 24 mph, with 4 levels of assist at varying max speeds
- Frame designed for easier step-over with heavy load
- Up to 60 miles range in best case scenario, unloaded. Up to 35 miles throttle only, unloaded.
- Front and back fenders keep you clean and comfortable riding around town.
- Comes mostly assembled, so it isn’t hard to put together.
- Very competitive pricing for a high quality cargo ebike.
- A bike sturdy enough to carry a 400 pound total has to be heavy, and weighs 77 pounds. Hard to carry up and down stairs, but still very reasonable if you roll it everywhere and don’t have to lift it.
How obtained: Manufacturer provided the ebike at their cost for review.
If there’s ever a use case where a bike with an electric motor makes more sense than just a regular bike, I’d say it would be with the category of cargo bike. Cargo bikes by necessity need to be large, sturdy and heavy so that they are able to carry a load. So you’re already looking at a bike that’s fairly unwieldy even before you put on your first load of groceries or let a kid ride on the back. At that point, you have to make sure you have enough gears and physical strength to actually carry your load around. It’s enough to make riders who are not dedicated to the idea hesitate to buy a regular cargo bike.
But when you turn a cargo bike into an ebike, the power of the electric motor offsets most of the challenges of riding one. You no longer have to worry about any hills on your trip back from the store, or the challenges of getting the heavy, loaded bike moving from a complete stop.
The KBO Ranger Carbo ebike comes with a 750 watt hub motor and five levels of assist, as well as a throttle. A long wheelbase, a double kickstand and a triple platform rack in the back is a nice setup for a bike that you can use as a practical hauler. The rack has a capacity of 120 pounds, and the bike itself has a total capacity of 400 pounds.
The Ranger uses smaller 20 inch wheels with extra wide 3.0 tires with a reflective strip that give you enough air volume to comfortably carry a load and give you grip on the road.
The front end of the Ranger ebike is also set up to accept a rack (that you can buy separately) with a capacity of up to 50 pounds, in case you like carrying things in front, or balancing your load. The bike also includes an integrated front headlight and taillight, which helps you see at dusk or in the dark and be seen by cars around you. The taillight also works as a brake light, which is handy.
If you plan to let a smaller kid old enough to hold on to ride on the back, KBO also offers a metal frame that installs on top of the highest wooden platform rack. (I’ve seen someone in my neighborhood on a different brand of cargo ebike who takes his kid to elementary school this way, riding on the back.) It gives the rider something to grab on to when the bike is moving. There’s also a different metal frame that you can buy separately that works more like a basket, in case you usually carry something like a backpack or you wanted to put in a few bags of groceries.
Range on an ebike is always a “it depends” kind of thing, and that is especially true of a cargo ebike. But KBO includes a substantial 840 Wh battery that gives you plenty of capacity so that you’ll get a decent range even if you load the bike down. Unloaded and using the lowest level of assist that will have you cruising around 10 mph can give you up to 60 miles of range. Using the throttle only with no pedaling, you can get up to 35 miles unloaded. So if you loaded the bike up to near capacity and wanted to have the greatest range, you’d set the assist down to the lowest level and pedal home slowly. (When the bike is loaded fully you’ll want to keep your speeds down anyway for safety.)
It only takes 5 hours to charge the battery from empty to full, so if you tend to keep it charged regularly it usually only takes an hour or so to top it off.
You might imagine that a cargo bike is too big to be much fun, but you’d be wrong! As a cyclist who enjoys exercise and who rides to stay fit, a cargo ebike like this still seems like a good one to add to my stable. It can do things that none of my other bikes can do. But if you also just wanted an ebike to cruise around with for recreational riding, the motor assist, the long wheelbase and the big panels on the back give you a nice cruiser type of ride that’s still entertaining to pedal around. I had a good time riding around the neighborhood with it.
The Tektro mechanical disc brakes are engineered to slow down the bike even when it is fully loaded, so there is plenty of stopping power.
You can see the Tektro disc brakes, the hub motor and the Shimano 7 speed cassette. The motor has plenty of power for a full load. It is a continuous 750W brushless geared hub motor, which means you won’t have to worry about enough power for heavy loads, even climbing steep uphills.
KBO went with quality Shimano parts for the derailleur, choosing the capable and adequate Altus that shifted perfectly for me. It arrived perfectly adjusted too, so I never had to do anything but get on and ride. Notice the cage outside the derailleur that protects it when you are fully loading those rear racks. This was a nice touch.
On the left hand side of the handlebars are the controller buttons for the ebike motor, as well as a very cool and handy built in bell. As someone who adds a bell to all my bikes to alert pedestrians that I am coming up behind them, I really appreciated that extra touch.
The big screen on the KBO Ranger is easy to see, and quickly shows you how fast you are going, how many miles you’ve ridden and how much battery power you have left. (PAS stands for pedal assist, and it is currently set at Level 1 assist.)
The KBO Ranger ebike comes with one chainring in the front, and a 7 speed cassette and Shimano Altus derailleur with a range of gears to let you comfortably pedal at your preferred cycling cadence.
The KBO Ranger ebike comes with two keys because the battery is locked to the bike when it is clicked into place. If you primarily keep it at home and don’t want to remove the battery, you can charge it while it is still attached to the bicycle at the pictured round port that opens up to accept the charger plug.
If you prefer, the keyhole is on the other side of the frame and you simply unlock the battery (the black part at the bottom of the frame, which is snapped up inside the frame of the bike) and remove the entire battery and take it with you inside to charge separately.
Alternatively, you can remove the battery when you lock up the bike somewhere like a cafe or the supermarket and carry it in with you so that the bike is less appealing to potential thieves.
Assembling the KBO Ranger Cargo Ebike
The KBO Ranger arrives in a very big, very heavy box. In my case, the FedEx guy dragged it up to my front porch and left it sitting upside down! It was a testament to how well KBO has packaged the bike that there were no problems with it in spite of this.
This is the view inside the box after I had already removed all the cushioning that protected the top of the bike. Once you look inside, you see that not only is the bike fully padded at all crucial points, but it is also zip tied in place so that the high quality packing materials do not shift during transit.
When you remove the bike from the box, you’ll see that the only real assembly required is connecting the handlebars to the stem, putting on the pedals and attaching the front wheel and front fender, and then attaching the side racks. All in all it only took me around half an hour, but I am used to doing this type of assembly so it might take you a little longer if you’ve never done it before.
All the tools you need are included in the box, and there are also written instructions as well as a link to a very good YouTube video that shows you how to assemble it step by step. I did not even need instructions at all. If you have the very basic mechanical skills of tightening a nut and putting on a bicycle wheel, you can assemble the bike without any problems.
At this point, I had already assembled all of the bike except for the side racks. The top rack comes already installed. After the final step of attaching the side racks, it is just a matter of raising the seat to the correct height and you’re ready to ride. The battery even comes with some charge on it so that you can try it out right away for a little bit before you charge it the first time.
I’ve always thought a cargo bike would be cool and handy to use for errands, but one reason I didn’t buy one is that I thought it would be unwieldy and difficult to pedal once you loaded it up and tried to ride back home with all your stuff. This is where adding a motor really makes a lot of sense. Even when the bike is fully loaded, you can ride uphill with the generous assist from the motor. (If you’re feeling lazy, you can even use the throttle and not pedal at all.)
The electric motor also gives the bike enough pep that you can ride it around the neighborhood for fun. I found the assist level 1 to be perfect for cruising around near my house. It propelled me around 10 or 11 mph as I pedaled.
The mechanical disc brakes are engineered to stop you safely and quickly even under a full load, so they are plenty powerful for just riding it around with no load at all. The big air volume tires give you a lot of comfort on the road, but also a lot of grip so that you can control the bike and slow down and turn well.
A 7 speed Shimano Altus rear derailleur gives you a good range of gear choices for the bike so that you can ride at whatever cadence is comfortable for you. A built in front headlight and rear taillight help you see and be seen if you are riding in the dark or at dusk. The heavy duty double kickstand holds the bike perfectly upright when you are loading and unloading it, and is easy to get going by rolling the bike forward, so that the kickstand goes back up.