Although French brand Ultima have the home turf advantage in our cargo bike group test, the Mobility Multipath Cargo Compact is still the underdog of the test field. There’s nothing quite like it with its Valeo automatic transmission motor, composite frame, and unusual transport concept. Can it come out on top nonetheless?

Ultima Multipath Cargo Compact | Valeo Cyclee/630 Wh
35.8 kg in size One Size | € 6,138 | Manufacturer’s website

The Multipath is not a cargo bike in the classic sense but rather can be described as a versatile, all-purpose ebike. It was designed by the French start-up Ultima Mobility. The composite frame is made using an innovative injection moulding process, it’s got a large transport box attached to the fork, and the build is completed with the region’s finest motor and components. Speaking of which, the Multipath is powered by a Valeo Cyclee motor – capable of churning out a whopping 130 Nm of torque – and an internal 7-speed automatic transmission from Effigear.

Prices for the Multipath start at € 3,847, though this is just for the basic city commuter. For the Multipath Compact Cargo on test, you will have to check a lot more boxes in the online configurator, bringing the total to a hefty € 6,138.

The complete build on test weighs 35.8 kg. Subtract that from the gross weight limit of 150 kg, and you’re left with around 114 kg for the rider plus the payload, which is the least in the test field. Read on to find out if the Ultima cargo bike still has a chance of finishing strong despite this handicap.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best cargo-bike – The 12 hottest models in our comparison test.

Think global, act local – What sets the Ultima cargo bike apart?

The easier question would be: What does the Ultima cargo bike have in common with the other cargo bikes on test? Ultima have scrapped the rule book at almost every step of the manufacturing process, though without leaving the borders of the EU. Starting with the injection moulded frame, made in France from a mix of recycled carbon and polyamide. This gives it its curved, almost organic shape. To make hopping aboard easier, the frame relies on a step-through design without a top tube.

The Valeo Cyclee motor is French made too, and features an integrated 7-speed automatic transmission from Effigear. Like with the Pinion MGU on the i:SY Cargo P12 ZR, the gears are hidden inside the housing of the motor and protected from the elements. Unlike the i:SY cargo bike, Ultima rely on an ordinary chain instead of a low-maintenance belt. As such, we recommend keeping the chain of the Multipath clean and well lubricated when riding in wet conditions.

The Valeo Cyclee drive unit is a force to be reckoned with in terms of performance, featuring an integrated automatic transmission from Effigear. We would have preferred a lower maintenance belt instead of a chain.
The Ultima Multipath involves more European stakeholders than a G7 summit. The frame is made entirely in France using an innovative injection moulding process and specced with a wealth of locally sourced components.
Back to the future: the display looks like a bedside table alarm clock from the 90s. However, it’s got a few clever features hidden behind the dated façade.

Considering its whopping 130 Nm output, the engineers at Valeo must have had cargo bikes in mind when developing the Cyclee motor, easily capable of pushing the fully loaded Multipath up any climb – but more on that later.

The motor is powered by a 630 Wh battery, which is permanently integrated into the down tube and supplied by French brand Neogy. Since the Multipath doesn’t have a removable battery or the option of a range extender, you should keep an eye on the battery level on the old-fashioned View Plus display. When the time comes to recharge the battery, you’ll find a small charging port above the motor on the non-drive side.

At least the View Plus display has a USB-C charging port and Bluetooth interface for your smartphone, thereby providing a few interesting connectivity functions. For example, you can set a PIN code for the display and remote to activate the drive unit. Without the code, the internal gearbox stays in neutral and the cranks spin without engaging the gears, immobilising the bike and making thieves pedal on the spot. Should you opt for the VELCO Onitrax GPS tracker in the online configurator (€ 288 including a two-year data subscription), you can also track the cargo bike via your smartphone and remotely activate the immobiliser – smart!

But what makes the Ultima Multipath a cargo bike? There are four different forks to choose from in the online configurator: a rigid fork for use as a city bike, a suspended trekking fork, and two cargo forks. Check out our in-depth review of the Multipath in its trekking guise to see how it performs with the suspension fork.

With the cargo fork, you can either opt for a permanently fitted child seat, including a seat belt, footrests, spoke protection and wraparound safety rails, or you can choose the mini cargo fork with a transport platform like the bike on test.

The 50 x 50 x 35 cm front basket measures 78.9 cm diagonally, which is just enough for a few baguettes. It’s not quite big enough to accommodate a week’s worth of groceries, which we wouldn’t recommend even if it were considering how difficult that would make the handling.
For better weight distribution, you can also fit a trailer hitch and luggage rack at the rear, the rack is also compatible with a child seat.
Thanks to the dropper seat post, you adjust the saddle to height to suit riders of all sizes at the pull of a lever. However, it won’t help you get your feet on the ground when you stop at traffic lights because you have let go of the handlebar to reach the lever… This isn’t something you want to risk on the Ultima.

The transport platform of the mini cargo fork can be equipped with various accessories like the rear luggage racks of long-tail cargo bikes, and Ultima give you the option of a wooden crate or a soft bag. The external dimensions of the bag are 50 x 50 x 35 cm (L x W x H), providing a carrying capacity of 70 litres and up to 30 kg. You’ll find two mesh and one Velcro pocket inside the bag to keep your wallet, smartphone, and other small items separate from your groceries.

In cargo mode with the corresponding fork, the 29″ front wheel is replaced with a small 20″ wheel instead. The cargo fork also relies on a centre stand to provide the Multipath cargo bike with a secure footing when parked.

Since you must select your desired fork when ordering the Multipath, it’s not as versatile as most cargo bikes in the group test out of the box, though you can still adapt it to suit different life phases at a later stage. Once your child grows out of the child seat and gets a bike of their own, you can switch from the family fork to the mini cargo fork, or if you move from the city to the countryside, you can switch from the city fork to the suspended trekking model. To make the conversion, you can either send the Multipath back to Ultima or order a conversion kit with all the necessary parts online (Conversion Kit City € 873, Conversion Kit Trekking € 1,071).

Furthermore, you can transport a child even without a child seat on the cargo fork thanks to the optional rear rack with a MIK HD interface available in the configurator (€ 109). You’ve also got the option of a trailer hitch (€ 238).

Ultima Multipath Cargo Compact

€ 6,138

Specifications

Motor Valeo Cyclee 130 Nm
Battery Neogy 630 Wh
Display View Plus
Fork Ultima Alu
Rear Shock
Seatpost Dropper 100 mm
Brakes MAGURA MT Trail Sport 160/ 160 mm
Drivetrain Effigear 1x7
Handlebar Baramind BAM City 660 mm
Wheelset Mach1 Kargo/Mavic E-Speedcity 1 700 20"/ 28"
Tires AMIGO Ortem / Hutchinson Override 2"/2.125"

Technical Data

Size One Size
Weight 35.8 kg
Perm. total weight 150 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 114 kg
Trailer approval yes
Kickstand mount yes

Specific Features

Carrying box
Integrated automatic transmission
Cast synthetic frame

The Ultima Multipath on test – How does the compact cargo bike ride?

Measuring just 175 cm in length – the shortest bike in the test field – the Ultima hardly takes up more space in the garage or in a bike stand than an ordinary ebike. To load up your goods, you can easily prop it up on the centre stand, but we recommend doubling up with the rear side stand to give the Ultima a properly secure footing. The sidewalls of the front basket are the tallest in the group test, which is why you’ll have to lift your drinks crate very high to get it into the basket, making life especially difficult for shorter folks. That leaves enough room for one or two shopping bags, but no more.

Speaking of short folks: hopping aboard is quite easy thanks to the low step-through. The saddle height can be adjusted to different rider sizes thanks to the 100 mm dropper post. Unfortunately, our test bike doesn’t offer any further adjustment options. However, you can choose an angle-adjustable Ergotec stem in the online configurator. Overall, the riding position aboard the Ultima is rather compact. Tall riders must bend down slightly to reach the handlebar, and also watch that their toes don’t catch on the folded-up centre stand.

How is this possible? The organic shape of the Ultima frame wouldn’t be possible with aluminium or carbon. It’s only achieved thanks to an innovative injection moulding process – made in France.

Laissez-faire – Instead of selecting Turbo mode from the get go, beginners are better off in Predict mode, thereby letting the Ultima regulate the output and select the appropriate gear automatically. This lets you get to grips with the demanding handling first.
Catch me, si tu peux – although transporting cargo isn’t a race, the other cargo bikes on test struggle to keep up with the blisteringly fast Ultima Multipath.

Pulling away with the Ultima cargo bike is very shaky, especially when you’ve got a heavy load in the front basket. The weight of the basket pulls on the handlebar when you try to turn, which makes the handling very tricky. It’s better to slow down and take it easy.

Instead of trying to ride in Turbo mode from the get go (providing a whopping 800% support), we recommend using Valeo’s smart Predict mode instead. You can select your desired support mode on the display, and the handlebar remote is reserved for selecting the gear. However, the Ultima shifts gears automatically with Predict mode engaged. That said, the automatic shifting of the integrated 7-speed Effigear transmission is slightly delayed. Especially when it comes to shifting down, which can take a few seconds. The shifting itself is quite crisp and the motor has bucket loads of power in every gear, so shifting isn’t crucial.

The powerful Valeo Cyclee motor produces a loud hum, as if calling out a battle cry to storm the Bastille! No other cargo bike on test is as fast as the Ultima Multipath.

To avoid losing your momentum on an unexpected climb, you can press the thumb throttle on the remote to unleash the full power of the Valeo Cyclee motor. Do this and you will quickly reach the 25 km/h limit, easily leaving the cargo bike competition behind on an uphill sprint or commute through the city. It makes commuting a lot of fun. Conveniently, pressing the thumb throttle without pedalling automatically activates push assist.

If you leave the city centre, however, the lack of suspension puts a damper on the fun. The skinny tires and composite frame hardly offer any compliance. Only the BARAMIND handlebar mitigates some of the bumps and vibrations on your wrists thanks to the use of flex zones. However, by the time you get to your picnic spot in the countryside, the quiche in the unsuspended front basket is likely to have gotten mashed up with madeleine sweet buns and macaron cookies to form a French pastry potpourri. Suffice it to say, the Ultima can’t match the ride comfort of the Riese & Müller Packster2. The noisy hum of the Valeo Cyclee drive unit is also likely to disturb the peace.

Helmet Kask Moebius | Jacket Pas Normal Studios Off-Race Fleece Vest AW22 | Shirt Pas Normal Studios Off-Race PNS Sweatshirt | Pants Pas Normal Studios Off-Race Pants | Shoes Vans LowLand | Watch Garmin Forerunner 255

Who is the Ultima cargo bike for?

The Ultima Multipath cargo bike is destined for those who are concerned about their ecological footprint and looking for a locally manufactured bike. Thanks to the modular concept, you can adapt it to suit various life phases, transforming it from a nimble city commuter to a cargo bike and then back to a trekking bike, so it can serve you for a long time to come. However, if you want a comfortable cargo bike or one that can haul big loads, the Ultima Multipath is not the bike for you.

Our conclusion on the Ultima cargo bike

The Ultima Multipath is an incredibly versatile cargo bike, though it only appeals to a small niche. The powerful motor makes it the fastest commuter on test, but its cargo hauling capabilities are reserved for minor transport tasks, and it lacks the comfort and intuitive handling needed for use as a trekking bike. It doesn’t have what it takes to beat the competition, but it’s the people’s champion, nonetheless, thanks to the innovative and local production.

Tops

  • powerful motor with smart automatic shifting and theft protection
  • modular frame platform
  • extensive online configurator
  • made in France using locally sourced components
  • innovative frame boasting a unique design

Flops

  • demanding handling
  • lack of damping
  • loud motor hum
  • lowest payload on test

For more information, visit ultima.dev


The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best cargo-bike – The 12 hottest models in our comparison test.

All bikes in test: Moustache Lundi 20 Cargo 3 (Click for review) | Specialized Porto (Zum Test) | Ultima Multipath Cargo Compact | i:SY Cargo P12 ZR (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Packster2 70 Touring (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Multitinker Vario (Click for review) | BTWIN Cargo R500E Longtail V2 (Click for review) | WINORA F.U.B. 2W (Click for review) | Cannondale Wonderwagen Neo1 (Click for review) | VEOLO Cargo Trailer (Click for review) | Benno RemiDemi XL (Click for review) | Momentum PakYak E+ (Click for review)

Words: Rudolf Fischer Photos: Antonia Feder, Robin Schmitt