We weren’t really planning on buying another bike, but we have been trying to figure out how we were going to continue to ride everywhere we want as a family. With Little Ding riding his own bike instead of being towed in the bike trailer, we’ve been enjoying family rides in which we all ride together, but have been frustrated because now we can’t ride as far- he is not able to put in the same miles that we can. We loved riding to the zoo for example, but that’s too far for him.
We had already considered a variety of family cargo bikes but we’ve been limited by price as well as by storage. We live on the 2nd floor and do not have garage space. No bakfiets, Madsens, Christianias, or other sorts of box-style cargo bikes would be suitable for us. At a couple of the Kidical Mass rides we watched as one parent pulled up on an Xtracycle with her’s child’s toddler bike tucked into one of the side pockets. Brilliant! But Little Ding’s bike is larger than a toddler bike, and has the two extra fat-tire ‘training’ wheels, and we weren’t sold on the Xtracycle for various reasons. The Big Dummy wasn’t too bad, but a little pricey and not as upright a bike as Mr. Ding wanted – his wrists are having a harder and harder time with his hybrid. Overall we wanted something solid that could haul a heavy rider as well as lots of cargo, allow a disabled rider to ride in the back, tow a kid’s bike, and not be too expensive. Then someone reminded us that J.C. Lind Bike Company here in Chicago was now carrying Yuba Mundos! Ding Ding!
We stopped by the bike store on Wells street on a rainy Saturday afternoon and checked out some of the bikes in the store and Mr. Ding headed out for an initial test ride.
The Yuba is 6ft 9 inches long – not your standard-length bike. A steel bike made to haul 440 lbs of cargo plus a rider, it is the strongest in terms of the load it can carry, of all the longtail cargo bikes. The rear rack can hold 2 child seats, along with grocery bags on each side. Here’s one in the store configured with two different kinds of child seats for riders of different ages.
The side bags that you can buy to go with it (called “Go -Getter” bags) are sturdy, fairly water-proof , have reflective strips, and can hold 3 bags of groceries. That’s 3 bags on each side!
After our first visit we were basically sold on the Yuba. We did a little more research, thought about how/where we could store it, and decided we would indeed purchase one. Since orange is Little Ding’s favorite color there was no question as to which color bike we would get, though Yubas do come in Pacific Blue and Matte Black as well as our chosen color, Tangerine Orange. We bought one this past weekend, with bags and a few other options, and Mr. Ding rode it home.
The Yuba Mundo has 26-inch wheels with 48 spokes (!), a 21-speed Shimano drivetrain, SRAM derailleur and Pro-max V-brakes. Both the front and rear hubs are “disc-brake ready” so we may switch out the V-brakes for disc brakes – seems like a good idea on a cargo bike.
To keep the base price low Yuba Mundo treats a few things like the kickstand and front-wheel stabilizer as accessories. Sorta lame, but Jon at J.C. Lind was very clear about what was included in the base price and what was not.
We ”added” the front-wheel stabilizer. I have one on my Dutch bike and it’s imperative for cargo hauling.
And of course we added the kickstand. It’s really solid and stable.
And we added the rear rack/platform, the “softseat” for passengers, a rear set of handlebars, and two “Go-Getter” bags, though only one was on the bike when I took this photo.
They were out of stock of the running boards for the rear rack, but we have some on order.
Besides being able to carry Little Ding, his bike, and some groceries, the bike had to be one that he could mount and dismount without any assistance. This is a big consideration for any bike that we buy as his Cerebral Palsy and leg braces limit the range of motion in his legs. He’s a climber, but not an acrobat. Also, since the Yuba is not a step-through, Mr. Ding (or any rider) really needs to mount the bike before any passenger climbs aboard or he would kick them in the head. We tested all these constraints and found to our delight that the Yuba Mundo worked out fine. Any groceries or load will be loaded onto the bike first, then Mr. Ding gets on the bike or stands over the top tube and then Little Ding can climb on the back.
Then reverse is true for dismounting. Mr. Ding stops the bike and stands while Little Ding climbs off. He can lift and sorta slide his foot across the rear rack without too much effort.
We are going to make a few more adaptations to the bike to make it easier for Little Ding to ride:
- First there are those running boards that we have on order, which will give him a stable platform to stand on as he mounts and dismounts. As his braces cover his feet he can’t ‘feel’ the edge of the racks and has to be careful he does not slip.
- The guys at the bike shop are also going to build up a little platform/footrest for him as his feet don’t quite touch the running boards yet. This will give him more stability while riding.
- We’re also on the lookout for a longer stem for the rear handlebar to give him a little more space behind Dad, and it might make him feel more stable too. Though after we adjusted the handlebars a couple of times they worked much better.
- We’re looking for some sort of seat-back too. Something larger than one of the child seats, but also something that is not permanent. He can ride without one now, but because he sits so upright (as opposed to his own bike in which he leans forward a little) and has some hip and core-support issues, we think a back-support might be useful. Perhaps a storage box or bag back there will be enough.. still thinking about that one.
So that’s our new family bike, our sweet, tangerine orange Yuba Mundo! I will write more as we ride more, fill it full of groceries and get more adaptations for Little Ding. In the meantime, who is ready to ride with us? Are there enough Yuba Mundo owners in Chicago for a parade?