Beautiful Bicycles: Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently test rode a Yuba Mundo from J.C. Lind Bikes for 24 hours. Yuba is a utility bike company based in California and the Mundo can carry up to 450 pounds of cargo on the back while riding like a regular bike. As some of my co-workers noted today, this is the station wagon of bikes (as opposed to Oma, which they’ve called my Cadillac).

The bike is not super heavy for its size and is equipped with 21 gears on a derailleur system to help make any load do-able.

You change the gears by turning the grip shifters on the handlebars.

Fenders cover both wheels to help keep you clean and dry.  A spring above the front tire keeps the handlebars stabilized and prevents the bars and the wheel from flopping to the side.

This bike requires maintenance to keep the v-brakes, derailleur and huge exposed chain clean.  Not a big deal, but a factor that does not come into play with traditional Dutch and Danish cargo bikes. Note that the frame could be built up with disc brakes and internal gear hubs, but that would cost extra.

The frame is covered with braze-ons, like the water bottle ones below, to make attaching racks and other add-ons easy.  The top tube is unusually thick, which was annoying at first because my knees kept knocking against it as I pedaled.  But after a few minutes, I adjusted to carrying myself a bit differently and the bumping stopped.

The frame comes in only one size, but the bike is highly adjustable to allow multiple family members to ride it by changing the seat and handlebars.

The one thing that I would change is the step-over height, but maybe that’s a necessity of the design.  Mounting and dismounting in my skirt was inelegant, to say the least, and an easier step-over would be especially beneficial when hauling a load, I assume.

The riding position is pretty straight up, as you can see, although I moved the handlebars more upright to match my preference and the bars could be placed lower and further forward for a slightly more aerodynamic feel.

The main attraction, of course, is the long tail, which is rated to hold up to 450 pounds of cargo.  In addition to the rack itself, rails extend out below the rack to make hanging and strapping stuff along the side super easy.

If I owned the bike, I would permanently attach two saddlebags (those suckers are huge!), one on each side, and distribute bigger loads evenly between both sides.  I think it would be awesome to ride this bike around all the time, never having to worry about my ability to carry any load, while at the same time not feeling weighed down by a big cargo bike when not carrying anything.  This bike also has kid seats that clip onto the rear rack, so if you’re comfortable carrying kids on the back, it’s the most versatile kid/cargo carrier that I’ve test-ridden.

Since I borrowed the bike on the spur of the moment, I did not get to try it with a load.  I wanted to go grocery hauling or do something cool, but I really did not need groceries or to spend any more money.  I carried two bags and a heavy lock in the saddle bag, so there was some weight, but nothing monumental.  I know that greatly limits the helpfulness of this review – sorry about that.

I rode along the lakefront in a stiff headwind this morning, and while the bike was not speedy, it was not heavy like my Dutch bike would have been. The 21 gears are really awesome to use.  The thick 26″ wheels and long wheelbase make the bike draggy, but are essential for carrying sturdy loads.

Handling in general is superb for a cargo bike.  The Yuba rides like a regular bike – granted not like the best bike in the world, but like a smooth and sturdy hybrid.  I got used to the feel of the bike after a couple of minutes and after that could have forgotten that I was riding a strange bike, if it weren’t for all the stares I got from pedestrians.  I’m sure a heavy load would affect that to some degree, but the quality of the ride unloaded is a good sign.

The Yuba Mundo really stands out for its ability to haul massive loads, while functioning like a regular bike when all you want is a regular bike.  If you want to haul stuff on your bike but find the idea of a bakfiets-type bike cumbersome and/or too pricey, the Yuba is definitely worth checking out. Priced at $1095 for the set-up I rode, it’s a relative bargain.

My test ride review can only scratch the surface of this bike, so I encourage you to try it out in real life, if possible (available at J.C. Lind for Chicagoans) and check out Steven Can Plan to hear from an owner. In particular, check out his “Rules for Yubering” and impressive all-Yuba Flickr set.

I know there are quite a few of you out there who ride a Yuba or the similar Surly Long Haul Trucker Big Dummy, so I’d love to hear from all of you about your experiences, especially with carrying substantial loads.

Questions? Leave them in the comments. I may not be able to answer them all, but hopefully someone with more intimate Yuba experience could jump in.

{J.C. Lind Bikes is a sponsor of LGRAB. That’s not why I decided to test this bike, but I should point out that relationship.}

{Also, tying this back to yesterday’s post, I took these photos using the film SLR camera I bought for $25, I’m wearing the wool-silk skirt I bought for $2, and I’m displaying my Irish pride for St. Paddy’s day.}


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51 thoughts on “Beautiful Bicycles: Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike

  1. Jim says:

    You might be thinking of the Surly Big Dummy rather than the LHT.

    This might be the most important, however pompous that sound, review of the Mundo yet. A “normal” female, not of a racer background, enjoying and appreciating how kick ass a longtail ride is.

    I’ve been waiting for an Oma bloggist to compare hers to this. Workscycles bikes are great, but the Mundo with its new redesign is a firmer, more “normal” bike ride. Mundo v 1.0 rode much like a Workscycle fr8, only more sluggish. This, v 3.0, with tires at 45 psi, rides so much livelier.

    As a longtail rider, thanks for taking it out, giving it an honest review and opening its virtues up to a wider audience.

    Some of the starers will be future owners. I know from experience.

    • Steven Vance says:

      I’ve ridden the WorkCycles Fr8 at least 3 times and the Yuba Mundo for 9+ months.

      I think I like the Fr8’s “ride” better.

      But the Fr8 costs a lot of money.

  2. When I tried my friend’s Yuba, I too was wearing a skirt and had a problem with the step-over, and I too thought that the placement of the top tube somewhat interfered with how I move my legs when I pedal. That made me uncomfortable trying the bike after my first attempt – after all, I don’t want to fall on a bike that does not belong to me! But my friend loves it and considers it very nimble and user-friendly, compared to other bikes in its class. Thanks for the review.

  3. dukiebiddle says:

    Lowering the top tube, given this bike’s geometry, would definitely lower the cargo capacity from 450 lbs. That isn’t to say it couldn’t be compensated somehow through redesign, but I think it would be difficult.

  4. Mr Colostomy says:

    Most of the Yuba Mundos I’ve seen (including my own) came with Fat Franks, which have an unusually low rolling resistance for a tyre of that size. I noticed the version you were given did not have Fat Franks, which may have contributed to the “draggy” feel. The dérailleur gears and V-brakes of the standard bike are definitely a limitation, but they are understandable choices to deliver the bike at an affordable choice. As you say, they can be swapped.

    BTW, a good load to try hauling is another bike; slot the front wheel into the side-rails of the Yuba and use a bungee of two to secure it in place and off you go.

    • Lauren says:

      I noticed your french spelling of the word “derailleur” and felt compelled to look it up. The first thing that popped up was this: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html
      Thought it was funny. :)

      • Jennifer says:

        Interesting – thanks for the link. I’ve never made the link between derailers and train tracks before: )

    • Steven Vance says:

      The standard, “factory” tire is the Schwalbe Big Apple.
      I elected to put Fat Frank tires on mine because of my experience with them on the WorkCycles Fr8. They are extremely smooth and durable.
      Photos: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=fat%20frank&w=75698896%40N00

      • Mr Colostomy says:

        Maybe it is different nowadays, or perhaps there are differences between the EU spec and the NA spec (I know the frames have a few minor differences)

      • Tinker says:

        Getting a review of F A T tires is rather difficult, and for a number of reasons, fat tires are all I ride. The Big Apples are billed as having less rolling resistance at 2 bars than skinnier tires at 3 bars.

        So how would you describe the Big Apple Tire vs. Fat Frank? Have you ridden the Kevlar-LiteSkin version of the 26″x2.35″ Big Apple (as opposed to the Standard Steel version)?

        My Torker Cargo bike came with generic Kendra tires 1.95-2.0 x 26″, and I’d like to go up to Big Apples, when I replace them.

        • Steven Vance says:

          I haven’t ridden on the Big Apple except when I test rode the Yuba Mundo in Portland (stock model) and decided then that I was going to buy one.

          Schwalbe says, “Technically one hundred percent equal to the Big Apple.” It seems what you get with the Fat Frank is color and different tread (it says a mixture of scooter and BMX).

  5. Anne says:

    Here’s a cellist in Australia that carries her cello on the extended rack: http://kristinrule.com/gypsylife/bicycleyears.html

    I play cello and have always wanted to figure out a safe way to haul it on a bike around town. The pot holes worry me…

    I enjoyed this review!

    • sara says:

      Check out Ben Sollee– wonderful cellist and bike touring musician. He uses an Xtracycle.
      Love his music. Love that he rides a bike.

      http://bensollee.com/biketour.html

    • Steven Vance says:

      With the Yuba Mundo and its beefy, forgiving frame and fat tires, I don’t think you have to worry about your cello as long as the case is stiff and sturdy and has strong padding that keeps the cello from moving around.

      I ride through potholes (well, not the black hole kind that appear after winter) on my Yuba Mundo. I say to people that it seems to float, it’s so smooth and comfortable.

    • Kristin Rule says:

      Firstly, it’s wonderful that these conversations are taking place and the more cellists who ride bicycles the better (for it brings smiles, curiosity and inspiration to others).

      I live car/motorcycle free by choice. My nearest supermarket/post office is 15 k away so it’s a 30k round trip just to collect the mail. I believe in living life to the fullest with the upmost respect for that which truly sustains us. IMHO cello’s can be repaired, but a life not lived…?

      Lastly, anyone can do this, and more, oh…. and I am ever vigilant of pot holes!! ;)

  6. SM says:

    I like the idea that you say it feels like riding a regular bike and that it didn’t feel too awkward, which has always been my fear with cargo bikes. With the long tail just curious if it felt nimble when making sharp turns or otherwise. Or did it feel heavy like you were constantly dragging something?

    • Steven Vance says:

      I ride a Yuba Mundo.

      I never feel that I’m dragging something with it. The big tires and beefy frame absorb all the shocks of riding on bumpy roads and make for a smooth, comfortable ride.

      (Actually, I did feel it once and it turned out I didn’t have enough air in the rear tire ;)

      You will get used to the long tail aspect in about one day of riding. You just have to turn a little differently (a little widely). It’s as nimble as any regular tail bike – the designers did a really great job with its geometry and “feel.”

  7. SM says:

    I like the idea that you say it feels like riding a regular bike and not awkward, which has always been my fear with cargo bikes. Did you find it was nimble when making sharp turns or with the long tail did it feel like you were constanly dragging something behind you.

  8. SM says:

    Oops, sorry for two messages. Didn’t think the first message went through :)

  9. bongobike says:

    When I saw you sitting on the bike with the kickstand down I thought “oh, oh”, but then I realized this thing is rated to carry 400 lbs., so that kickstand better be able to carry more than that!

    • Steven Vance says:

      I don’t know if it’s rated, but the kickstand holds a lot of weight!

      My only beef with it is that it’s not wide enough! It’s the widest one on the market, at 12 inches. But if you don’t load evenly, it can start to tip.

  10. Kara says:

    Those are some serious Thrift Store scores. I can’t believe that skirt is $2!

    As far as the Yuba, it is an interesting bike. When I think of carrying 450 pounds, I think of those bikes I have seen in Asia that carry a load that are twice the height if the person pedaling. I bet riding double dutch is a lot easier on the Yuba though. Maybe you could even fit two people!

  11. Elaine says:

    I’ve had an Xtracycle (front end is a Norco mountain bike) since July 2009, and I love it to pieces. I wrote a fairly detailed blog post last summer about my first year of riding it.

    The heaviest loads I’ve carried so far have been all groceries: here’s a typical example, although I’ve learned to move the really heavy stuff, like that case of sparkling water, towards the front. :) At that weight, I find the bike a bit unwieldy to maneuver, although I don’t think it’s anywhere near what the bike can actually carry.

    My husband once carried a water barrel on his, though. (Not heavy, but awkward!)

    The nice thing about cargo bikes in general is not having to worry about carrying stuff. (I winced at the post here about dropping all that beer!) The nice thing about the Xtracycle in particular is that it can attach to (almost) any other bike, so it can be a lot less expensive than some of the other cargo bike options. Mine was around $800, on sale, fully assembled, IIRC, although I also bought a kit to try to attach to my first-gen Townie…that was a bit of a disaster, and we ended up having the bike shop attach it to another Norco, and that’s my husband’s Xtracycle. :)

    And yeah, people stare/ask about it all the time.

  12. Rosa says:

    I have lusted after a longtail for a long time, but they don’t seem to exist in stepthrough, and there’s no good way to attach a trailabike for the 5 year old.

    • Elaine says:

      Check out this sweet Xtracycle build from Clever Cycles! That’s the thing I like about the X, it attaches to almost anything. 1st gen Townie didn’t go so well IME, but I hear the more recent versions work nicely. I don’t have kids, but I hear about lots of interesting kid setups on Xtracycles on the usergroup email list. (Including a discussion IIRC about attaching trailers.)

      (Hope I’m not being *too* rah-rah about the Xtracycle. I just really like it.)

  13. Maureen says:

    I see another bike joining your little family soon! It looks stylish and practical, I love the “station wagon” comment…perfect!

  14. Ash says:

    A high top tube is not mandatory for a serious cargo hauling long tail. I ride a Madsen “bucket” bike daily built on the same concept though the cargo does carry about 12″ lower than a Mundo and it has quite a low step over. I cannot imagine being able to comfortably engage a saddle with a 200lb load on that Mundo.

    The cargo capacity on my bike? Oh, roughly 600lbs + cyclist.

    • ladybug says:

      We loved seeing Dottie out with the Yuba- we have been really curious about how it rides and it looked very comfortable. Our middle guy climbed up to try the rack and it was very stable- no wobble at all which is key in any cargo bike whether you carry kids or stuff.
      I agree with Ash that the higher step might be tricky but wonder if you get used to it if you carry loads all the time.
      Are there any kids carriers out there with advice on the load and carrying small people on the back?? I’ve just been really curious about these bikes!

      • Jim says:

        Lbug, I have an Xtracycle with approximately the same stepover and tend to carry a lot of weight.

        The trick is to load everything up, then step over the top tube. Make sure you are on level ground, as any imbalance can cause the rig to tip. When you’re mounting the bike you can swing your foot over the lowest part, rather than when you are on it you have to swing it closer to the front.

        Then you stand with both feet on the ground and push, causing the centerstand to retract.

        Might take some practice, but you can control the weight on the back better.

  15. Martinez says:

    My family has the old “Dutchbike” version of this, the die fietsfab packmax duo (we bought from Jon at JC Lind). The longtail bikes are incredibly versatile. It sounds like Jon found a great alternative at a good price-point. There is definitely a learning curve compared to a lean roadbike, or even a box bike; but well worth the time and can certainly be worth the money depending on your needs.

  16. Doug says:

    I use an Xtracycle conversion with a 1988 Specialized Rockhopper. It has a 200 lb wt limit. It is not built as solid at the Yuba. I have hauled everything imaginable on it. Only once have I come close to the weight limit. I hauled 200 lbs of sand bags home from the local home center. The Xtracycle handled it beautifully, although it gets a bit twitchy with that much weight. Since my town is very hilly I think 200 lbs may be the upper limit even if I had a bike that could haul more. I might carry more if I lived in an area like Chicago without any hills.

    In normal weekly errand runs I rarely haul more than 100 lbs. The Xtracycle can EASILY haul four fully loaded grocery bags. I do that at least once a week. That’s usually my heaviest load. The bike handles great within those load ranges.

    I guess my point is that just because you could go out and buy a Ford F-350 pick-up truck, most people may only need a Subaru Forester to get the job done.

  17. For awhile, I was interested in a long-tail bike such as the Yuba Mondo or the Kona Ute… but after getting a Bike Friday tandem, I no longer see the practicality of a long-tail. The Bike friday tandem can take long panniers on the rear rack, and if the stoker’s seat post is removed, a frame builder can build a platform to bolt on to the tandem which would transform it into a long-tail with double or triple the platform size of a long tail bike (this is what I plan to do later on). And, with 20″ wheels, the load platform is lower and more stable.

    As far versatile kid hauler? Yeah, a long-tail is okay until your kids are four years old, but what about after that? I don’t think it gets better than this, at least for kids who are old enough to pedal on their own:

    Bicycle train! Bike Friday tandem and Burley Piccolo

  18. Lori says:

    Hi Dottie, I bought a Yuba Mundo this past summer (converted to electric) … and its definitely one of the loves of my life. I’ve been blogging about it, see: http://riding-e-mundo.blogspot.com/2010/08/bike-therapy-part-i-surrendering-to.html

    I have never tried carrying over 50 lbs of groceries and such … my batteries/motor and all my locks/gear probably already weigh 25-35lbs. I live a mile up a steep hill and would probably need an extra motor to really get up my hill with much more weight. It is the sweetest ride …

  19. sara says:

    OK, I’ve been way out of the loop these past months, but my family owns and rides both a Yuba Mundo and an Xtracycle Radish. We tend to use the Yuba when riding two of our sons (most likely our 8-yr-old twins ~ 130lb of boy) and the Xtra with our five-year-old. Both our Mundo & Xtras have traveled with 1/4 sized cello & 1/4 sized violin with passengers as well. While we have the monster Yuba saddlebags, we ended up putting a set of the new Xtracycle Freeloaders on our Yuba. We found that the Xtra bags still have great carrying capacity but lay a bit ‘flater’ so are easier for the boys to hang their legs over. After starting with a Dutch bakfiets step-through, I found swinging my leg over both the Yuba and and the Xtra top tubes a pain. It is easier, however, to get my leg over the Yuba top tube. I will say that I need to get on the bike first as I can’t swing my leg often with them on the bike already and then have my guys climb on. That would be impossible though if I were strapping the boys into Peapods or other seats so…

    The Yuba is absolutely able to haul big cargo daily. The Radish can hold its own but certainly the Big Dummy would haul more. When out riding without sons (a rare happening), I am more likely to jump on the Xtra Radish as it is lighter and feels so much faster than the Mundo. I must say that we are flirting with the idea of getting an electric assist for the Mundo now. The heaviness of riding with the guys daily is getting h-a-r-d. And while they are great on their own bikes, unfortunately, our city does not have the biking infrastructure to make it safe for the boys to ride on their own for daily transportation. We hope the e-assist will allow us to remain a one-car family.

    Sorry to go on for so long. Would be happy to answer individual questions at crumstrong (at) gmail….

    • Stacy says:

      We are on the hunt for the ideal family biking scenario here in Huntington, WV. We do not have bike shops that stock any box bikes or long tails. I am relying on great reviews like yours to do our research. I am leaning toward at an Xtracycle because it is lighter and can still hold our 4yo and 20mo and possibly our 7yo when need be (there is also a 9yo). I just discovered the Mundo online. Since there are two good long tail options that can haul children and their gear, what is your opinion on how they climb? We have a lot of hills to cover on our two mile commute to school. If you have any experience with the Madsen or other similar box bikes to add to the mix, your help is much appreciated.

    • Stacy says:

      We are on the hunt for the ideal family biking scenario here in Huntington, WV. We do not have bike shops that stock any box bikes or long tails. I am relying on great reviews like yours to do our research. I am leaning toward at an Xtracycle because it is lighter and can still hold our 4yo and 20mo and possibly our 7yo when need be (there is also a 9yo). I just discovered the Mundo online. Since there are two good long tail options that can haul children and their gear, what is your opinion on how they climb? We have a lot of hills to cover on our two mile commute to school. If you have any experience with the Madsen or other similar box bikes to add to the mix, your help is much appreciated.

  20. Bob Fairlane says:

    Wow, you are beautiful and have great photos of the bike and lake.

  21. Steven Vance says:

    I wrote a review of the Yuba Mundo and it was published in Momentum Magazine in 2010. Read more about it here:

    http://www.stevevance.net/planning/cargo-bike-review-in-momentum-magazine/

  22. Kai Jokela says:

    I bought my 1st gen. Yuba Mundo for 500 euros, which was a bargain. Since then I have ridden it two years as my only means of transport. My 1st gen version needed a some heavy tinkering and modding to make it perfect, but on their newest model these problems have been solved. I had it powder coat painted, did some welding for centerstand, welded disk brake mounts, moved the bottom bracket 1 cm to right which gave me good chain clearance from fat rear tire, installed my own aluminum sideloaders, front derailleur. Now I have other bikes and use Mundo less frewuently, usually for dumpster diving trips or when I’m going out with my hippie friends who don’t have bikes and love to travel on Mundo’s rear carrier.
    Last summer i rode a 1400 km bike tour in 12 days in east european flat lands. I might try doing a more mountaineous trip now that I have very low gearing installed.

  23. Joe says:

    Hi Dottie, I’ve been a Mundo owner for a couple years (v1 & v3) and I have to say that I love it…while the v1 road more like a tank, the v3 rides like a super comfortable “regular bike.” Here’s a link of examples of how easy it is to carry things on it.

    http://citysimplicity.blogspot.com/2010/09/things-that-can-be-carried-on-bike.html

    I also like your analogy of it being a station wagon…personally I think of it as my S.U.B.

  24. [...] these resources: Heavyweight Showdown: Big Dummy vs Yuba Mundo Cargo Bikes in Momemtum Magazine Beautiful Bicycles: Yuba Monda Cargo Bike The Best Cargo Carrying Bikes Of 2012: A [...]

  25. The best bikes,parts and accessories…

    [...]Beautiful Bicycles: Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike « Let's Go Ride a Bike – life on two wheels: simple. stylish. fun.[...]…

  26. sp4ke says:

    Hi,

    I am a web developper and I used one of the photos from this article to get inspiration for one of my design works. I am not using the actual photo in final design.

    However I am currently writing an article on my blog about the design process and would like to get your premission to use the photo on the article.

    This is the photo I am talking about:

    Thanx
    Chakib

  27. sp4ke says:

    Hi,

    I am a web developper and I used one of the photos from this article to get inspiration for one of my design works. I am not using the actual photo in final design.

    However I am currently writing an article on my blog about the design process and would like to get your premission to use the photo on the article.

    This is the photo I am talking about:

    Thanx
    Chakib

  28. … [Trackback]…

    [...] Informations on that Topic: letsgorideabike.com/blog/2011/03/beautiful-bicycles-yuba-mundo-cargo-bike/ [...]…

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