Sure, many cyclists can haul ass but can they haul anything else? Bikes like Yuba’s Mundo aim to change that
By Pete Gauvin
Admit it: Many of us in the outdoor sports world are cycling fiends. We ogle and fantasize about bikes according to our respective sporting dreams and aspirations, be they road, mountain, downhill, cross-country, cyclocross, triathlon … or multiples there of.
I’ve been guilty of bike envy myself. Yet these specialized bikes, in addition to rarely being cheap, are often the ones we have to carve out time to ride. And “finding more free time” might very well be the most frequent lament in the universe.
Really, what more of us sportos need, or anyone for the matter, is a bike that fits into the fabric of our daily lives, a bike that allows us to ride more everyday, a bike that is not solely recreational but functional — whether it’s a run to the grocery store, hustling to work with all your supplies, picking the kid up at daycare a few miles away, shipping some bulky packages, or grabbing a 12-pack, some chips, TP, and oh yeah, a bag of dog food, from the corner market. Try to stuff that in your backpack.
Really, what more of us need is not a bike that can haul ass but one that can haul a lot more than that. Not only would it be good for us, it would be good for our communities.
The Mundo from Yuba Bicycles out of Sausalito is such a bike.
For not much more than the cost of a high-end suspension fork or a carbon-fiber wheelset, the Yuba Mundo ($1099 base, under $1500 fully outfitted) is a complete bike and a smooth ride that provides ultimate two-wheel, emission-free utility.
“There’s a pedal revolution in progress,” says Steve Bode, director of marketing for Yuba. “More people are wanting to use their bike for regular transport. The Mundo was created specifically so they can replace car trips with bike trips and to do that you need a bike that can carry four full grocery bags. On the Yuba you can.”
Bode adds, “A lot of people are used to riding bikes for exercise. They’ve got a road bike and a mountain bike, but nothing in their quiver that they can go to the grocery store with.”
Yuba Bicycles was founded five years ago by Benjamin Sarrazin, who helped launch another innovative Nor Cal-based cargo bike company, Xtracycle.
Whereas Xtracycle’s primary direction at the time was promoting its Free Radical frame extension to convert existing bikes into long-wheelbase utility bikes, Sarrazin started Yuba believing in the need to design a complete, rigid-frame bike that would be affordable and capable of handling significant payloads.
Rated for loads up to 440 pounds, Sarrazin says the Mundo can actually handle much more than that. Last year he hauled 544 pounds of food donations on his Mundo during the annual San Francisco Street Sweep Food Drive.
One of the unique things about the Mundo, which also helps keep the cost down, is it only comes in one size. With a low stand-over height, a long seatpost, and an adjustable stem it can accommodate riders from 5-feet tall to 6-foot-5. Virtually any one in a family can use it with a quick seatpost adjustment.
It really is comfortable, too. After riding the Death Ride in July on a whim, and on my less than ideally geared ‘cross bike, the Mundo was the only bike that welcomed my sore ass, neck and shoulders for the following week.
While the Mundo may be a utility bike that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to ride. It’s upright and with its long wheelbase has a surfy feel, sort of like a Harley without the deafening pop-pop motor. And like a pickup truck or an SUV, the Mundo rides even smoother with weight in it. A SRAM 21-speed drivetrain lets you tackle hills with surprising capability. And big platform pedals allow you to hammer no matter what footwear you’re wearing. Simple. Beautiful. Functional.
Practical considerations aside, the Mundo is also a great tool for recreational endeavors. Sarrazin himself is a former professional whitewater kayaker (he named the company after his favorite river) and is now a sponsored stand-up paddler, who regularly hauls his 12’6” Boga raceboard on his Mundo. Rather than sitting in traffic, just getting to your destination becomes an enjoyable part of the experience.
Think you might need a little power assistance? There’s a new electric version, the elMundo ($2,597 before accessories), which can cover up to 20 miles between charges. (The power kit can also be added to a standard Mundo for $1350.) With the ability to carry two kids and up to six bags of groceries (like the Mundo) and the assistance of electric power boost, Yuba bills it as an alternative to the minivan.
There are other longtail cargo bikes on the market: Extracycle now makes the Radish (starting at $999) and offers the Surly-made Big Dummy ($1849), and mainstream manufacturer Kona offers the Ute ($1099). But perhaps none are as strong, smooth and capable as the Mundo for the price.
If you make the leap, don’t skimp on accessories. At least one cargo bag, tie-down straps and a dually kickstand are mandatory for functionality and ease of use. “A utility bike without utility accessories is not very valuable,”” says Bode.
Despite or because of the poor economy and high gas prices, Yuba’s business has been tripling each year, according to Bode.
There are three benefits Yuba hopes to foster with its cargo bikes, he says:
Providing an affordable, useful alternative to car trips that significantly reduces emissions.
Improving communities by getting people out of their cars, reducing traffic and parking congestion, and creating a more inviting streetscape.
Providing a sense of well being and incidental fitness that are byproducts of commuting by bike.
That last point may pay off when you finally find the time to hop on your race bike. Remember: Cycling is not just a sport, it’s a legitimate and liberating form of transportation. You might as well put in a few miles doing the things you have to do, rather than waiting for free time to make more of itself.
Yuba Mundo at a Glance
• One size fits all
• Steel frame, chromoly sideloaders
• SRAM 21-speed drivetrain
• V-brakes (disc brake capable)
• Strong 48-spoke wheels with 14mm axle
• Fenders, back deck and bell included
• Capacity 440 pounds plus rider
• Length 6.9 feet, weight 55 pounds
• $1099 base, under $1400 with key accessories
• Go-Getter Bag ($119), holds lots and weatherproof
• Stand Alone dual-leg kickstand ($77), eases loading/unloading
• Utility Straps ($20), 9-foot cam straps for attaching boxes, kayaks, surfboards
• Deflopilator ($22), keeps front wheel straight when parked
• Soft Spot ($30), padded seat for passengers
• Peanut Shell childseat ($159), the Mundo can accommodate two
For more info: yubaride.com