With the Muli Motor st, the Cologne-based cargo bike manufacturer has designed a Long John cargo bike that aims to impress with minimalism, compactness, and agility instead of a maximum footprint. But does the concept of less is more really make sense for a cargo bike? And, more to the point, does it work?
Today’s urban landscapes lack one thing above all: space! We see that reflected in high rents, a shortage of parking spots, and limited room for green spaces and recreational facilities. To solve this modern-day problem, we need clever approaches to create maximum benefit while using minimum space. This is the idea behind Muli-cycles small cargo bikes. Starting at an entry price of € 5,130, the basic model is available with a mid-mounted motor, steel frame and foldable basket. Although the dimensions of the Muli Motor st are hardly larger than those of a standard ebike, it is intended to be a fully-fledged cargo bike for the urban jungle. But is that possible?
Small but mighty – What makes the Muli Motor st special?
The Muli – whether with or without a motor – is based around the idea of a foldable basket and thus on the concept of being able to make the cargo space appear and disappear in no time at all. To be precise, it takes exactly three movements and a few seconds to fold up the basket. The Muli then becomes only as big as any other bicycle. However, when unfolded, with its size of 33 x 50 cm and 100 litre carrying capacity, the basket can easily accommodate your week’s shopping, stocking up on drinks or, with the matching child seat – available for an additional € 330 – two small passengers with a combined weight of up to 40 kg.
Three different versions of the Muli are available: the Muli Muskel (German for “muscle”) comes – as the name suggests – without a motor, the Muli Motor px with a hub motor and the version we tested, the Muli Motor st, with an integrated mid-motor. The 60 Nm STEPS E6100 ebike drive for the st variant is from Shimano and gets its energy from the 504 Wh external battery, which is lockable. The charging port sits directly on the battery and is easily accessible. You can customise all models to a large extent in the configurator. Different frame colours, transmission types (chain or GATES belt) and additional features such as a child seat and a luggage rack are available. All Muli Motor st models are equipped with the Shimano NEXUS Inter-E5 hub with Di2 automatic gear shifting, where the hub applies the shifting depending on your pedalling cadence. The other variants can be configured with two different gear hubs.
Muli Motor ST
Motor Shimano Steps e6100 60 Nm
Battery Shimano BT-E8010 504 Wh
Display Shimano SC-E7000
Brakes Shimano BR-MT410 160/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano Nexus Inter-E5 Di2
Tires Schwalbe Big Apple Plus 16 x 2,15”/20 x 2,15”
Size One size
Weight 37,4 kg
Perm. total weight 195 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 157 kg
Trailer approval yes
Kickstand mount yes
Prepared for everything – How does the Muli Motor st perform in everyday life?
“Ok, now that’s really small!” will likely be your first thought when standing in front of the Muli Motor st. But as soon as you sit down, this thought immediately disappears. Thanks to the cargo bike’s compact dimensions, you get an agile, responsive and dynamic riding experience, while at the same time a feeling of safety and security. The parallelogram suspension seatpost takes the edge off impacts from the ground well enough. The steel frame flexes especially in the front area, providing a little extra comfort. Despite the considerable weight, the Muli Motor st is light-footed and confident. You will only need some strength in tight bends.
The automatic gear shift is a super practical feature and works perfectly. It learns from your riding behaviour, but can also be manually adjusted to your pedalling cadence. This is particularly convenient when starting off, as the Muli Motor st shifts into the lightest gear by itself, making it much easier for you to get going. But if you want, you can also change gears yourself using the remote control on the handlebar.
The compact dimensions pay dividends not only while riding. They also help with manoeuvring, and the small turning circle makes U-turns a breeze. Despite its 37.4 kg weight, the mini cargo bike is relatively easy to carry. With the basket folded up, you can easily take it with you on the train. Only the Ursus Jumbo double kickstand makes parking a little laborious. It is also rather rickety and not particularly robust. The rim lock, on the other hand, appears to be relatively stable. With the matching insert chain or a Tex-lock, which are available from the online configurator, the Muli Motor st can be secured from being stolen. If you are going for a ride in the evening or through the night, an IQ-XS front headlight and a 2C rear light from Busch + Müller come already installed.
The Muli Motor st is almost as compact and agile as a Fiat 500, and the load volume is actually not much less. Except that the CO₂ balance and the required storage space are significantly lower.
You can easily load the wide basket from above. And when you don’t need it, a blue spring clamp locks both side walls to the head tube. The Muli Motor st is capable of carrying a surprisingly high total weight of 195 kg distributed over the entire cargo bike, 70 kg of which can be placed in the basket and 27 kg on the luggage rack. With 60 Nm torque, the motor doesn’t deliver the greatest oomph, but it performs quite well, even with a full load. The external and lockable battery quickly reaches its limits, but generally fits the concept of the Muli Motor st. Meaning that you can go on a short day trip with it, but that’s about it. Quick-release clamps on the saddle and handlebar make the adjustment to different rider sizes easy. This way, the Muli Motor st can be shared by several family members or even flatmates.
Who is the Muli Motor st for?
The Muli Motor st clearly belongs in an urban setting. Wherever there’s a buzz, narrow streets, and crowded places, this mini cargo bike feels at home. Even if the parking options are limited either by difficult-to-access bike shelters or backyards, the Muli Motor st plays to its strengths in terms of manoeuvrability and agility. It’s certainly not the cargo bike you would choose for long distances, but it’s just the right one for short trips where you have many different things to do – whether it be transporting children, running errands, or taking the bike along on the train.
Tuning tip: A sturdier kickstand.
Our conclusion about the Muli Motor st
Considering the price tag of € 5,626, you get quite a lot for your money with the Muli Motor st, and all packed into quite a small cargo bike. The versatility combined with the bike’s compact dimensions makes it a smart and multifaceted everyday companion. The Muli Motor st proves that small can be big, as it shows that the concept of a little bike for a lot of uses pays off. Ultimately more doesn’t always mean better when it comes to a modern cargo bike.
- very agile, easy to manoeuvre
- practical and compact space saver
- versatile usage
- great price-performance ratio
- low battery capacity
- wobbly double kickstand
Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Mike Hunger