REVIEW – I am a recent convert to the world of cargo bikes (especially electric cargo bikes). I’ve tried out some models in the past but the huge bucket bikes all handled like whales, while other models were hit and miss for sizing, comfort, and cargo flexibility. Earlier this year, though, I was able to review my first longtail electric cargo bike (the excellent Velotric Packer 1 ebike), and it’s become an indispensable part of my daily life. I’ve done the vast majority of my errands and fun trips around town on that bike for the last summer and fall, and our toddler loves riding behind me too! When Xtracycle offered to send over their Swoop Electric Cargo Bike to review, it was an easy “yes” from me. On paper it’s similar to my current daily driver, but with a torque sensor, a mid-drive motor, and higher-end components throughout. Do the nice upgrades justify the price? Read on to find out!
What is it?
The Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike is a longtail electric cargo bike. There are 20 and 28 mph models (Class 1 and Class 3 respectively), and it comes with the kickstand and rear cargo bags. The Shimano motor and drivetrain is pedal-assist only, with three levels of assistance which result in an extremely simple bike to operate. You just pick one of the three assist levels (if you want any electric help) and go.
What’s in the box?
There are options to have the Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike shipped to you fully built for an additional charge, or you can work with a local bike shop for assembly, or you can have it shipped to you for self-assembly. Having built a half-dozen bikes over the last few years for various reviews or my own purchases, I was confident I’d be fine assembling it myself (which ended up being mostly correct).
- Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike
- Tool kit
- Kickstand (KickBack 3)
- AC charger
- Rear footrests
- Manuals and warranty info
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- Bike weight: 62.9 pounds
- Max Gross Vehicle Weight: 470 pounds
- Frame and Fork material: 4130 Chromoly steel
- Handlebar: Kalloy AL078L, 31.8mm, 45mm rise, 24-degree backsweep, 640mm width
- Grips: Marwi 7GP-03-L, 125mm long
- Stem: Kalloy AS007N. Available lengths: 60mm (S), 90mm (M), 120mm (L)
- Headset: FSA No. 18
- Saddle: Xtracycle Comfort Saddle (2021)
- Seat post: Kalloy SP3D1, 31.6mm. Available lengths: 300mm (S), 400mm (M), 450mm (L)
- Seat clamp (collar): Xtracycle LF-5233 34.9mm bolt-on
- Kickstand: KickBack 3
- Rear rack: Longtail RearRack
- Max load: 470 lbs
- Brake levers: Tektro M745
- Front brake: Tektro M745, 4 piston hydraulic
- Front rotor: Shimano SM-RT64, 180mm
- Rear brake: Tektro M745, 4 piston hydraulic
- Rear rotor: Shimano STEPS RT-EM600-M, 180mm
- Front light: Herrmans H-Black Pro E 6-12V (attached to fender)
- Rear light: Herrmans H-TRACE E-BIKE 6-12V (included)
- Shifters: Shimano SL-M4100-R 10-S Rapidfire Plus w/optical
- Rear derailleur: Shimano RD-M5120-SGS Deore 10/11-S Shadow Plus
- Crank: FSA CK-752, 170mm
- Chainring: FSA 42 tooth cog
- Cassette: Shimano CS-M4100-10 10-S 11-42 tooth
- Chain: KMC e10T Turbo 174L 10-S EPT Anti-Rust
- E-assist: Shimano STEPS EP6
- E-assist cycling computer: Shimano SC-EN500
- Charger: Shimano STEPS EC-E6002 (120 V AC, 50 – 60 Hz, 2 amp)
- Battery: Shimano STEPS BT-EN606, 630 wH (frame, external)
- Front hub: KT QL-XC2F, 15mm, 100mm thru axle
- Rear hub: KT QL-XC2R, 10mm, 135mm bolt-on
- Front rim: 26″ Alex DM24, 36H A/V 13 gauge
- Rear rim: 20″ Alex DM24, 36H A/V 13 gauge
- Spokes: Pillar 13 gauge stainless w/PB13 14L brass nipples
- Tires: Front: Schwalbe Super Moto-X HS 439, 26″ x 2.4″; Rear: Schwalbe Super Moto-X HS 439, 20″ x 2.4″
- Tire compatibility: 26″ and 20″ only, max width of 2.4″
- Fenders: Aluminum (included)
- E-assist class: Class 3
- Max e-assist speed: 28 mph
Design and features
The Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike has so many features and components that I decided to go with a gallery layout and add notes to each picture (below). You can click on any picture for a larger view, and hit back to return to the review.
From end to end, the Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike oozes polish, premium components and feel, while also conveying a bit of a spartan or utilitarian feel as well. The cycling computer and controls, for example, are among the most basic I’ve used, but I ended up preferring them over much flashier models because they relay exactly what you need to know and nothing else (like an accurate miles-to-empty estimate at your current PAS level).
Some of the parts I hadn’t heard of before, and upon further research each time it turned out it’s because they’re among the more premium/high-performing/expensive options available. The gears were perfectly tuned out of the box, the brakes felt amazing and can stop on a dime if you really need them to, the front and rear lights provide good visibility and illumination, and the whole bike feels and handles like a regular bike (as opposed to the nearly 100 lb. e-bikes I’ve previously reviewed).
I’m 6’4″ and ~220 lbs, and even without the taller seat post and longer handlebar stem it fit me well. The riding position is leaning forward more than I’m used to; I’ve had a lot of upright-position bikes so it took a bit of getting used to having some more of my weight forward, but I liked it eventually (and I think it helps with stability as well).
Speaking of stability, the bike is nearly perfectly balanced on the kickstand, you can rock it from resting on the front wheel to the back wheel with a very light touch. This reminds me of how luxury cars often have a different driving feel than the cars we plebes are used to due to their more even front/rear wheel weight balance.
Setup for the Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike involves unboxing and removing approximately 2,000 zip ties and pieces of foam. Jokes aside, the bike was very well packed and survived some external box damage with no internal damage at all. The gallery below documents the process, which is similar to most other bike self-assemblies:
The stabilizer spring step was new to me, but seems to help prevent wobbles (something I do get on my previous cargo bike, especially when hauling heavy loads). There’s also a specialized tool to connect the cable for the Shimano cycling computer, which was easy to use.
The most difficult part of the installation was getting the cabling routing just right – the wires were all JUST long enough to connect and allow handlebar movement. My first cable wrap job wasn’t up to snuff, and one of the cables disconnected when I turned the handlebars hard right, so I re-routed and re-wrapped things, and it’s worked perfectly since. You’ll just want to watch out for that when installing; carefully move the handlebars the full range of motion before wrapping to get an idea of which wires need to move where.
If I were buying this for myself, I’d probably go for the fully-assembled or assembled-at-a-nearby-bike-shop options, especially if you’re not familiar with building bikes. Xtracycle does provide useful video tutorials and installation manuals, but solo it’ll take you some time, and you might end up installing fenders backward like myself and cursing as you remove and reattach several parts to correct your mistake.
One of the strengths of the Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike is the option to configure it exactly how you’d like for your needs – there’s even a configurator tool during checkout, or you can chat with Xtracycle for guidance (using phone, live-chat, or email).
I really like the Longtrail Hooptie and MagicCarpet options, they’re great for toddlers and bigger kids (and even adults). The front PorterRack and PorterPack add a nice front storage option as well. The PorterPack has a magnetic clasp opening that folds over for good weather protection.
I don’t see myself using the Everyday BikePack, but if you were hauling two kids plus groceries, it might make a great option for extra cargo storage that can clip on the outside of the Hoopties.
Finally, the BoomBox side bag is a weather-resistant upgraded cargo bag. Adding one or two of these will upgrade your rear side storage to have a larger compartment with a divider, and a weather-resistant flap cover as well. If I was riding in a rainy city with a laptop (even in a separate weather-resistant bag), I’d appreciate the extra cover. Sometimes you don’t want your paper grocery bags soaked through on the way home either.
The Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike was love at first ride for me. This is the perfect kind of bike for someone who loves bikes, and wants to be able to do errands (with kids if applicable), but doesn’t want the kind of e-bike that screams e-bike with a twist or thumb throttle. Instead, you simply ride it. I often kept the pedal assist setting at a 1 (which results in a top speed around 15 mph with little effort). Setting it to 2 is a little over 20, and the top setting hovers around 26 mph for me with gentle pedaling. Downhill, I was shocked to look down and see “37” on the speedometer, other e-bikes I’ve ridden have been dangerously unstable in the mid 30’s, but the Xtracycle Swoop was cruising smoothly like it was nothing. You won’t get those kinds of speeds on flat, level ground, but be careful on big hills, or you’ll risk a speeding ticket!
There were times that I wished I had a throttle, even though most of the time I just enjoyed the pure bike-ness of the Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike. On long days after several stops and a cranky toddler, I had a few times that I wished I could just cruise, but those times were rare.
The shock-less front fork and normal bike tires do mean you’ll feel potholes and rough roads more than a fat tire bike or a bike with shocks. It wasn’t bad in our suburban riding, but there were a few times we hit bumps decent enough for me to wish for a bit more shock absorption. The bike is so light compared to other e-bikes I’ve tested, though, that I think it’s a good tradeoff for most people and for urban or suburban travel.
Last but not least – the torque sensor and mid-drive motor. With many e-bikes, you will get some level of surging power as the motor kicks in, especially with cadence sensors. Cadence sensors are more common on the cheaper e-bike models, and use sensors to detect when you’re pedaling, and when you are they kick the motor in at the power level you’ve picked. This often means you have to pedal a half or full turn and then can have a pretty strong jump in power (especially if you’re on a higher PAS setting). It’s herky-jerky at times and can feel uneven on flat ground versus hills. With the torque sensor, the bike is detecting when you are putting muscle into the pedals, and it ramps up the motor to match your effort (up to 400% your effort on the highest setting on this bike). What that means is you push the pedal, and the bike goes. If you push the pedal hard, the bike goes harder. If you’re starting from a stop up a hill and thus need to push harder to go up the hill, the bike simply pumps more power out as well, and the hill becomes a non-issue. The end result is a much more subtle biking experience: you simply ride (and get there faster without being drenched in sweat and out of breath). I still got a nice workout every time I rode (and my legs are often a bit sore the next day if I don’t stretch after), but never felt winded or wiped out from it at all. The mid-drive Shimano STEPS motor was as powerful as most other 750+ watt e-bikes I’ve tried out and much more quiet. I never had power surges or surprises, and could only really tell it was doing a lot when going up hills or if I set PAS to 3 (though I know it was constantly doing a lot of the work of moving the bike since I was able to get all over the city quickly with about the same physical effort as walking).
What I like
- Premium high quality parts and feel
- Light for a cargo e-bike
- Simply rides like a bike
What I’d change
- Would like a throttle of some sort as an option
- Price is steep – but high quality parts should last much longer than other bikes. I know people with 15+ year old bikes with top-shelf Shimano parts that are still working great.
- Thinner tires and no shock absorption can result in you really feeling rough roads.
After many miles and trying out multiple configurations with the accessories sent over to me, the photo above shows our new daily driver in its final form (at least for now). I added a removable cargo box behind the baby carrier (the box works great as a small dog carrier or extra storage). The Xtracycle Swoop Electric Cargo Bike is dead simple to hop on and get places with, and it really feels like Xtracycle carefully picked each and every component for a perfect ride. If someone came to me looking at cargo bikes, I’d definitely tell them to consider the Xtracycle Swoop!