Electric cargo bikes are arguably one of the most useful types of e-bikes as they offer versatility and functionality. Xtracycle is one of the founding companies in the cargo bike market and have helped advocate and expand the market for them. Thanks to advances in electric motors and battery technology, Xtracycle now offers multiple electric bike options for carrying children or gear quickly and safely. In this review, we’ll specifically be looking at the RFA (“Ready For Anything”) model which is one of their more compact designs. The bike retails for $4999 and features an attractive chromoly steel frame with low stand over height. Power is provided by a Shimano EP8 drive unit with a downtube mounted 630 Wh battery which provides up to 60 mile range.

The Xtracycle RFA is a versatile and fun to ride electric cargo bike that be used for cargo, kids or cruising around

Retail Price$4999
RatingDesign: A
Components: A-
Handling: A
Value: A-
Weight (lb)60.2
Likes+ Fun to ride
+ Power assist lets you cruise with gear or kid
+ Premium build quality and versatility
Dislikes– Rattling kickstand
– Small and dated Shimano computer display
– Taillight is not activated when braking
Where to Buy (US)Xtracycle


The Xtracycle RFA model name is short for “ready for anything” as the bike combines a compact geometry with utility. In the standard utility mode, the bike is 73.4” inches long with ample space on the rear rack and an optional front rack. Xtracycle utilizes a sleek chromoly steel frame construction with a low stand over height with a top tube that is nearly parallel to the downtube. There is just enough space between the top tube and downtube for the removable 630Wh battery before the toptube angles upward and connects to the rear wheel axle. Thanks to this frame design, the RFA can easily accommodate a wide range of riders and is very approachable even to new cyclists. To support the extended length and 400lb weight capacity, the RFA also features a double rear triangle that braces the seat stay near the clamp and at the toptube junction.

Xtracycle only offers the bike in two color options: matte black and the glossy off-white shown in this review. A large Xtracycle logo is printed along the downtube along with some small RFA and “CA USA” printed on the seat stays. The bike comes quite well equipped from the factory with a large rear rack, aluminum fenders and a double kickstand. What sets the RFA apart from other cargo bikes is the customization aspect which allows you to mix-and-match different front and rear rack accessories to accommodate children or gear. The RFA also features 24” Alex wheels which makes the bike nimble and allows for more space for racks.

Xtracycle RFA Utility Electric Bike E-Cargo Bike Review - Front Battery
The RFA features a compact geometry with a low step-over height and the Shimano battery mounted directly onto the downtube.

One of the unique features of the RFA are the DynamicDrops which allow the wheelbase of the RFA to be adjusted between a sport and utility mode. Xtracycle sells the bike in the utility mode with the longer rear rear rack as the standard configuration. The sport mode requires a shorter rear rack which means swapping between configurations isn’t a quick job. The different configurations also have differences in compatibility with the various rack accessories which is why we expect most people to stick with the standard utility mode unless you have length requirements.


From the factory the Xtracycle comes well equipped with a combination of a well-tested drivetrain and battery components. Starting from the handlebars, you’ll find a flat bar with rise and sweep for a comfortable riding position. The ergonomic grips have a non-slip finish and make the bike comfortable to ride long distances. The bike only has a rear derailleur with a SRAM NX11 11-speed rear derailleur with a 11×42 rear cassette and a dual leveler control mounted next to the right handlebar grip. Each brake lever controls 4-piston hydraulic Tektro M745 brakes with 180mm rotors with smooth and reliable modulation in any weather condition. Given the size and weight of the bike, the hydraulic disc brakes are an essential safety feature. Each rotor is attached to compact 24″ Alex wheels with full metal fenders that provide protection in wet weather.

Our RFA also came with a number of optional accessories that add more functionality to the bike. The most obvious addition is the Porter front rack and the Porter bag. It’s a durable metal rack that bolts directly onto the head tube and is perfectly sized for carrying groceries or medium sized items. The Porter bag is a durable synthetic bag that pairs perfectly with the rack and has a roll-up top and internal mesh pockets for keeping smaller items secure. To take advantage of the rear rack, we also have the RFA CargoBay rear pannier mounted on the right side. It’s a large 40L pannier with nylon construction and high visibility reflective stripes. There are multiple Velcro and straps that can secure cargo to the bag and even an removable top that allows you to carry long items. On the otherside of the rack we have the Everyday BikePack which is an all-weather bike pannier that converts to a backpack. It’s perfect for commuters as you can quickly attach and remove the bag from the rack to carry it inside stores or into the office.

Xtracycle RFA Utility Electric Bike E-Cargo Bike Review - Front Battery - Rear Racks
The RFA can be configured to carry gear, pannier bags, boxes or kids by simply swapping out the rack attachments.


The Xtracycle RFA is classified as a class 1 in most places as it only offers pedal assist (i.e. there is no separate throttle) with the top speed limited to 20 mph. For power, Xtracycle has utilized a Shimano EP8 drive motor combined with a 630 Wh battery mounted on the downtube. It’s a powerful combination that can provide up-to 85 Nm of torque for climbing up hills. The bike uses a torque sensor to seamlessly add electric power assist to match your pedaling effort. It’s a well calibrated system that avoids the jerkiness of cadence sensor setups which simply turn power on / off based on if you are pedaling. Power assist can be adjusted between three modes: low, medium and high which applies the maximum assist up to the 20 mph cutoff. If you reach the speed cut off in any mode, the motor cuts out until the speed goes back under the limit.

As with other torque-sensor based bikes like the Trek Domane+, the power assist feels transparent and smooth. Despite the 60lb weight of the RFA, you can easily tackle hills or stop-and-go traffic even in the low assist mode. For steep hills or if you have heavy cargo, the higher assist mode’s extra torque can make the Xtracycle RFA feel like a lightweight commuter bike. Xtracycle has even incorporated a walk assist mode which can be activated by pressing the down arrow on the display until you see the feet icon. Once that is visible, you can hold the down button to have the motor kick on to push the bike at around 2-3 mph which makes it easy to walk the bike.


Controlling the electric power is all done through the Shimano STEPS E5003 display mounted to the side of the left hand grip. Unfortunately, the display feels very dated and is reminiscent of flip-phones as it has a small 1.4” display and cheap feeling plastic buttons. Shimano has also made some unusual choices with how the system is powered on and off as there is no power button on the display itself. Instead, you hold the power button on the battery pack itself which wirelessly turns the computer on. From the display you can press the up/down arrows to increase to decrease the power assist mode which are displayed by three bars on the left. On the right you’ll see the battery status, current speed and then a configurable secondary data display.  The secondary data display can switch between estimated range, distance and odometer.

Xtracycle RFA Utility Electric Bike E-Cargo Bike Review - Front Battery - Shimano Display Unit
One of the weak points of the bike is the dated Shimano E5003 computer which has a small screen, no light on indicator and is powered on via the button on the battery.

To switch between the different data fields you press the small round button between the up and down arrows. There is a fourth button on the bottom which toggles the lights on and off. Again, Shimano has made the odd decision of not including a light active indicator which means you can’t tell if the lights are on from the display itself. Compared to other bikes like the Troxus Lynx which have large 4” displays with multiple indicators, the Shimano display has smaller text sizes and feels antiquated. Aside from that, the bike is easy to use as most people will simply use the display to view speed and adjust the power assist mode. We’d also like to point out that the real-time range display can be quite optimistic so you’ll want to use the power gauge to plan your rides appropriately.


Xtracycle utilizes a single frame size on all their bikes with custom fit-kits to accommodate different rider sizes. That means the same RFA can be used for tall riders like our 6’1” tester or shorter riders by swapping out the seatpost and/or stem. Configured in the “large” mode, we found the Xtracycle RFA to be fun and responsive on the road. Despite the 60lb weight and extra length of the bike, it’s surprisingly fun to ride with or without cargo on it. You won’t mistake the bike for an aggressive road bike the Decathlon Van Rysel EDR or Cannondale Synapse, the bike feels light on its feet (i.e. particularly with power assist active) and easy to maneuver. The Shimano electric drive smoothly applies power to match your effort which makes climbing steep hills or accelerating easy and compensates for the weight of the bike. It’s easy to push the bike up to the 20 mph limit in the full assist modes or leave it in eco mode for an extra boost off the line.

We were also lucky enough to ride the Stoker, Swoop and the RFA back-to-back and could feel differences in the geometry. The combination of the shorter wheelbase and compact geometry of the RFA result in a more responsive feel and agility. Xtracycle doesn’t advertise these as off-road bikes or include any suspension options but the bike can easily be used on hard packed gravel roads or on dirt detours comfortably. The thick tires and steel frame do a good job of absorbing vibrations and the stabilizer spring provides reliable handling. With the long wheel base of the RFA, the bike is stable on any time of terrain with strong hydraulic brakes to quickly bring the bike to a stop. We should note, the longer size of the bike does make it challenging to store and may require a multi-point turn to get around doors or narrow hallways.


Overall, we found the Xtracycle RFA electric cargo bike to be fun and highly versatile. With a wide range of accessories, the RFA can easily be configured to carry kids or gear securely. Thanks to the Shimano drive unit and a smooth torque sensor, the RFA feels light and nimble on the road bike. Using the power assist modes, the bike can accelerate up hills or from stop lights and make you forget your riding a 60lb long tail cargo bike. We were impressed with the sportiness of the RFA and the versatility of the rear rack and optional front Porter rack. While the bike is expensive, the steel frame and high quality components ensure you can ride the RFA for many years to come. Our main complaint with the bike is the Shimano computer which has a small display and lacks a dedicated power button or light indicator. That said, if you’re looking for a high quality cargo bike that doesn’t sacrifice fun then the Xtracycle RFA is an excellent option.

Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Xtracycle. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.

2 Replies to “Be ready for anything”

  1. I finally got a chance to test a Shimano EP8 with the same display, but on an Xtracycle Swoop. I found same minor quirks with the Shimano system – it took a while to find the power button when trying to turn the bike on for the first time, and I wished I was able to tell whether the headlight was on from the display itself. I really appreciated the smooth and strong power assist, and the range indicator was pretty accurate for our use. Overall, a useful and fun bike to ride.

    1. Glad you had a similar experience. The Shimano EP8 drive train has great power delivery, it just need a UI update and a few features like auto-brake light triggering to match other e-bike systems.

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