The Takeaway: The Specialized Globe Haul ST packs 419 pounds of cargo capacity into a surprisingly compact frame. With powerful brakes, dialed geometry, and well-thought-out features, it's ready to tackle commuting, grocery getting, neighborhood errands, or getting a kid to daycare.
- One size fits most, short tail style e-cargo bike.
- Powerful 700W rear hub motor.
- Includes rear rack, fenders, and lights.
- Three-inch wide tires provide lots of traction and comfort.
Price: $2,700 ($3,390 as tested)
Weight: 77 lb.
For cycling to live up to its environmental promise, we must replace more car trips with bike rides. Commuting to work by bike instead of in a car is what many folks will think of first. But what about everything else we need to get done? Groceries, errands, or kid pick-ups and drop-offs? More than 52% of all car trips in the United States were less than three miles in 2021.
While the Netherlands and other European nations embraced cargo bikes decades ago, in the United States, these bikes often were reserved for city-based courier companies or used by cargo bike converts hauling kids and groceries. The rise of the e-bike in the last decade, and the electrification of the cargo bike in particular, has opened up a practical and appealing way to go car-lite for more riders.
For all their possibility, e-cargo bikes are not without their problems. For starters, they are pretty big. They’re not as large as a car or truck (obviously), but you can usually park those vehicles safely on the street (and for free) in most places in America. Still, storing an e-cargo bike can be problematic for many riders lacking garage access, a shed, or a bike room.
Secondly, e-cargo bikes tend to be pricey. Yes, Rad Power and Aventon have made strides toward affordability. Because of that, they and brands like them have helped fuel the explosive popularity growth of e-bikes as micro-mobility devices. But riders looking for a more premium product (or seeking to upgrade from a lower-cost bike) often encounter a steep price hike from bikes like the Rad Wagon ($2,000) to a Tern GSD, which starts at around $5,400, depending on the model and options.
Cleverly priced at $2,700, the Specialized Globe Haul ST fills that middle ground between entry-level cargo bikes and pricier alternatives. Over three months of testing, the Haul completely changed how I get around town, shop for groceries, and run all sorts of errands. The transformation of these mundane weekly chores into a joyful extension of my cycling life has been eye-opening.
But, what seals the deal for me on the Haul is, simply put, that it’s a blast to ride, which might not strike you as earth-shattering, but many e-cargo bikes just aren’t. What makes e-cargo bikes good often comes down to their utility, and the Haul ST has that in spades. But what it does so well is simultaneously managing to be incredibly practical and irresistibly fun.
Specialized designed the Haul to replace many short and medium-distance car trips with bike rides. While commuter and cargo bikes have been doing this task for many years, the Haul ST pulls off the incredible trick of being both. It’s at once a fully capable cargo e-bike with a 419 lbs total weight capacity (including the rider) and still manages to ride and feel like a lightweight, zippy class 3 (28mph) commuter e-bike.
Specialized built the Haul ST around 20-inch wheels with a 3.5-inch wide tire, combining cargo capacity with the ride feel of a much smaller and lighter bike. The smaller wheel size positions the center of mass as low as possible, which makes the Globe feel more stable when fully loaded without sacrificing its maneuverability. The pairing of a clever frame design and smaller wheels also gives the Haul ST a much smaller footprint than many comparable e-cargo bikes.
The compact size of the Haul solves one of the highest barriers that many potential owners run into with an e-cargo bike, where to keep it. This challenge is easy to overcome if you live somewhere with garage access or a driveway. But for those without these amenities, the sheer size of many e-cargo bike models is a problem. Fortunately, the Haul ST is wildly compact for the capability it possesses. Tip to tail, it’s just a bit over five feet long, which is within an inch or two of most road bikes. And it is actually shorter than my trail mountain bike. You have room for the Haul ST if you have the floor space for an extra bicycle.
Pricing, Competition, and Accessories
Specialized has done well to price the Haul ST into the sweet spot of the e-cargo bike market. At $2,700, the bare Haul ST is priced just a bit above affordable options like the Rad Wagon and Aventon’s new Abound e-cargo bike ($2,200) but still below more premium models such as the Tern Quick Haul D8 ($3,000), Yuba’s Kombi E5 ($3,200) or Trek’s recent entry into the segment, the Fetch+ 2 ($6,000).
The great thing about the above-listed bikes and others in the category is that the most important accessories like lights, fenders, and at least one rack get included with the “bare” bike. However, hauling anything beyond what you can bungee to the rear rack, like grocery bags or a passenger, requires adding various accessories.
The base Haul ST includes all the standard accessories like front and rear lights, full wrap fenders, and a sturdy rear rack. Specialized sent along four Coolcave hard-sided plastic panniers, adapters to carry the panniers, a front rack, and a basket with our test bike. Tallied up, that’s $690 worth of accessories, bringing the Haul ST’s as-tested price to $3,390. Put into perspective, a fully loaded Haul ST—capable of carrying a week's worth of groceries for a family of three—is priced very competitively against bare bike offerings from other brands.
A big reason for the Haul ST’s ride quality and handling boils down to how compact it is for an e-cargo bike. The bike’s short wheelbase allows for a very tight turning radius which, combined with its direct steering feel, makes for a very playful and engaging ride experience. More practically means you can ride the Haul ST (more or less) just like a traditional bike.
If you haven’t ridden an e-cargo bike, you might take this for granted. But the reality is that even some of the more compact e-cargo bike options out there often don’t ride like a typical bike, or worse, they simply ride poorly. Since cargo bikes focus on practicality, a little sacrifice in ride quality is acceptable to some riders. But as a cyclist, one of the Haul ST’s most enamoring traits is how much it rides like a “normal” bike. Well, that and the ability to carry a week’s worth of groceries on it.
Specialized’s available accessories offer limitless customization for hauling stuff on the Globe. Some of them, like the front rack and pannier adaptors, you’ll need to purchase from Specialized to fit the Haul. But once you have these attachment points, feel free to choose other brands for the specifics. The Haul ST can also transport one small passenger.
Depending on the passenger’s age, you’ll use a MIK-HD compatible child seat for children under five or the ST passenger kit ($200 from Specialized) for a child over five. Just stay under the rear rack’s 88-pound maximum load limit. The Haul can only carry one passenger, so this might rule out the bike as an option for those with more than one kid.
I tested the Haul ST set up for maximum cargo capacity with four Specialized Coolcave panniers and a Turbo front basket, all of which came with individual cargo nets to keep everything in place once loaded down. As a relative newbie to the e-cargo bike life, I won’t lie; there is a learning curve. For example, I was used to bringing bags to the grocery store. But with the Haul, I found it easier forgoing bags altogether and simply wheel the cart of groceries out to the bike rack and put everything directly into the panniers. Learning how to load the bike for optimum balance took me a few attempts. But once you have the process figured out, it’s no more complicated than bagging your groceries at the checkout line.
The Coolcave panniers make unloading the Haul at your destination easier, detaching from the rack with a pair of push levers. Each pannier has a carrying handle, making it easy to bring them inside. The best feature of these panniers is that—because they are hard-sided— they easily stack for storage in a corner or a closet.
The Haul uses a powerful hub-based motor rated for a peak power of 700 watts and paired with a huge 772-watt-hour battery. The power delivery of the Haul’s motor feels surprisingly refined compared to many other hub motors I’ve previously tried. Its quick reaction time gets you moving from a stop, typically kicking in before you get through your first pedal stroke. The algorithm Specialized has come up with balances getting you up to speed quickly without feeling like the motor is only “on” or “off”—something which makes some e-bikes seem more like out-of-control electric scooters than a bicycle. The Haul nails the balance between having enough power to flatten hills and carry lots of cargo with delivering that power in a way that doesn’t erase the experience and feel of riding a bike.
The massive battery gives the Haul phenomenal range even on higher levels of assist. I’ve routinely done 30 to 35 miles of errands (with various levels of load) while only draining about two-thirds of the battery. The Haul’s motor control display provides range estimates based on the selected assist level. With a fully charged battery, the system estimates 71 miles of range on the lowest setting and 27 miles on the highest.
A common pitfall of reasonably priced cargo e-bikes is subpar braking performance. Thankfully the Haul is equipped with a pair of hydraulic four-piston Tektro brakes and massive 203-mm rotors front and rear. These brakes feel extremely powerful. Even fully loaded on a descent, coming to a stop did not require more than a single finger pull on each brake lever. I wish brakes this good were standard on all e-cargo bikes.
As good as the Haul is, it’s not perfect. Granted, the list of criticisms is pretty short. And the biggest of them relate to the e-cargo bike category generally as much as they do to the Haul specifically. The most obvious is the bike weight. The Haul weighs nearly 80 lbs with the front rack and pannier adapters. For many, that’s too heavy to carry up more than a few steps (or at all). Specialized alleviates this somewhat with a horizontal frame brace between the seat tube and downtube acting as a carrying handle around which the Haul is very well balanced.
We all need bikes like the Haul ST to become commonplace in our towns and cities. As the world confronts climate change and energy resource problems, transitioning mobility from cars to more sustainable modes of transport like e-bikes is essential. And e-cargo bikes, in particular, help reduce car use for everyday errands like shopping or transporting children. For some riders, an e-cargo bike might even allow them to be car-free. For others, it might replace a second car in a household to go car-lite.
Test Editor Dan Chabanov got his start in cycling as a New York City bike messenger but quickly found his way into road and cyclocross racing, competing in professional cyclocross races from 2009 to 2019 and winning a Master’s National Championship title in 2018. Prior to joining Bicycling in 2021, Dan worked as part of the race organization for the Red Hook Crit, as a coach with EnduranceWERX, as well as a freelance writer and photographer.