The Blix Packa Is a Long-Range Electric Cargo Bike for Less Than $2,000

Dan Roe
·7 mins read
Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

From Bicycling

The Blix Packa is a highly sensible electric cargo bike that costs less than half of primary competitors like the Tern GSD and Yuba Spicy Curry Bosch. The mid-tail bike is only slightly longer than a regular bike and, thanks to 24-inch tires, it’s easy to whip around town—despite weighing nearly 80 pounds. A lot of the heft comes from two Samsung battery packs that combine to give you 1,171 watt-hours of power, twice that of most e-bikes and enough to take you 70 miles on a single charge.

It’s nice to ride, too, with soft contact points and a 12-magnet cadence sensor that gives you smooth, consistent assistance from the Shengyi hub motor. Integrated lights, fenders, cargo decks, and a wide double-kickstand give you everything you need to strap on two big panniers and start going everywhere on two wheels.

Big Cargo, Little Cost

You can have the Packa with a single battery for $1,599 or two batteries for $1,899. We’d have the latter option because the stock down tube battery is only 504Wh, which isn’t enough for more than 25 to 30 miles or 15 miles over a hilly route. The second pack adds 672Wh and costs an extra $300, which is about half of what a similar pack costs on the aftermarket. (Seriously, even if you don’t need the second pack, buy it and resell it at a premium.)

The batteries alone likely account for half of the cost of this bike, so Blix used cheap but solid components for the rest of it. Those cost savings include a simple, reliable Shengyi direct-drive hub motor. It puts out about as much power as mid-drives from Bosch and Shimano but has half as much torque. With modest pedaling from you, though, it’s enough to get up a 10 percent grade with some groceries on the back.

You get a cadence sensor instead of a more expensive torque sensor. That means your pedaling speed, rather than the amount of force you put into the pedals, regulates the assist from the motor. Cadence sensors don’t feel as intuitive because you can get maximum power by spinning in an easy gear, but you can moderate the resistance by choosing from 5 pedal-assist settings. There’s also a throttle that gives you power on-demand, although it’s also tied to the pedal-assist (PAS) mode, so you don’t get full throttle until you’re in the top PAS setting.

Other cost-saving measures include a one-size frame with an adjustable stem, a hefty but reliable Shimano Acera 7-speed drivetrain, and Tektro mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulics. The only things that really feel cheap are the faux-leather grips (because they’re faux leather), but you can replace those for a few bucks.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Easy to Live With

A good e-cargo bike should always be ready for anything, day or night, rain or shine. The integrated headlight is bright enough to help you spot road obstacles at night, and the taillight includes a brake light, so nearby drivers and cyclists know when you’re stopping. Dual plastic fenders stayed in place well and shielded our pant legs from puddles. The display shows you the time of day, your speed, battery level, trip distance, and more. It even includes a USB port so you can charge your devices with your bike.

Blix also makes a host of accessories to help you get the most out of your Packa. The bike has a front rack mount on the head tube rather than the fork, so you aren’t turning the weight of the rack as you maneuver, and the company makes a few rack and basket options. You can also get seat pads and cages to make the bike safe for kids. The rear rack is also compatible with Yepp child seats.

Blix Packa Details

Frame: 6061 aluminum alloy, 400 pound gross weight limit
Fork:
Rigid steel
Motor:
Shengyi direct drive
Power:
750W max, 500W nominal
Torque:
40 Nm
Batteries:
Samsung 48V/10.4 Ah (down tube), Samsung 48V/14 Ah (frame)
Watt-hours:
1,171 Wh
Drivetrain:
Shimano Acera 7-speed grip shift
Crankset:
48t, 170mm cranks
Freewheel:
14-34t
Wheels:
24 in.
Tires:
CST 24 x 2.4 in.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Ride Impressions

The Packa doesn’t ride like an 80-pound machine, so don’t let the weight put you off if you’re not used to handling a big bike. (Although it does feel like 80 pounds when you carry it, so bear that in mind if you need to take a bike up stairs.) The weight is most evident when you come to a stop, and for that the low-slung step-thru frame design allows you to put a foot down immediately. And if pedaling away from a stop is difficult at first, you can use the throttle to get off the line and stabilize the bike.

Once up to speed, the Packa is an excellent cruiser. The wide tires handle rough pavement and the soft saddle and grips add to the bike’s luxurious ride. The frame feels nice and stiff, barely flexing with 60 pounds over the rear wheel. And because the 24-inch wheels allow the rear deck to be lower than it would be on other cargo bikes, the weight transfer incurred by quickly changing direction doesn’t throw off the handling too much. And the Tektro mechanical brakes gave us full power without too hard of a squeeze, so we’re not very upset that they aren’t hydraulic—it’s an easy upgrade if you prefer full-power braking with one finger.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

The electric assist is mostly good. The bike doesn’t fly up hills the way a Bosch-equipped cargo bike does, but we didn’t encounter any hills we couldn’t get up, either. The cadence sensor is as good as any we’ve tried and it delivers a smooth boost when you’re pedaling and cuts off as soon as you stop. I’d prefer if the throttle were independent of the pedal-assist modes because I don’t see the sense in also having five throttle settings.

And if you try to pedal or use the throttle above the bike’s 20mph max-assisted speed, there’s a noticeable drag produced by the motor, similar to the drag produced by regenerative braking (which Blix doesn’t advertise as a feature). Using the throttle or pedaling above 20 mph seems to slow you down more than coasting until you get below 20, at which point the electric assist kicks back on. It’s a little clunky but you can avoid it by just coasting above 20.

Packa vs RadWagon

We saved the obvious comparison for last: Do you buy the Packa or the Rad Power Bikes RadWagon 4, the most popular e-cargo bike in the U.S. and a machine that impressed the heck out of us when we tested the previous generation last year?

The short answer: If you’re looking at the $1,599, one-battery Packa, buy the RadWagon instead. But if you see yourself riding more than 30 miles in a day (or a single trip), go for the two-battery Packa.

The RadWagon wins mostly because of its battery. Both bikes use 48-volt Samsung packs, but the $1,599 Packa comes with a 10.4 amp-hour pack whereas the RadWagon has 14 Ah. As a result, you’ll get 30 percent more range with the stock RadWagon. The latter bike also has a geared hub motor with double the torque of the Packa, so it’ll pull up hills much better.

But it’s tough to argue with 70 miles of range, and for that reason I’d pick the two-battery Packa over the RadWagon. If you’re looking for an affordable, solid e-cargo bike to ride far between charges, you can’t go wrong with the Blix Packa.

You Might Also Like