Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Longtail for the heavy user...

We've been using our Yuba full force now for a couple months, and figured were overdue for a follow up.

Yuba Mundos are in a word surprising. I remember first reading about the homely Yuba Mundo. It weighed in at a portly 60lbs without any bags or accoutrements. It came with intro level componentry, and wasn't even made of cro-moly steel, just hi-tensile steel. To top this all off, its sticker price is right at $1,000 which just screams of cheap when you're expecting to pay at least that much for a decent single bike let alone a serious cargo bike.

The frame looks reasonably well thought through regarding triangulation and seat tube angle, but really its just seemed like the Huffy of cargo bikes.

This is precisely why I titled my initial review of the Yuba Mundo, Yuba Mundo - wow....

A couple months later, after daily use and a bike move involving thousands of pounds of stuff, it all comes back to "surprising". My friend Randy and I intentionally TRIED to induce torsional flex on these rigs, going so far as the load you see below in our attempt to do so. Even at that point, the only real squirm was coming from inadequate tire pressure for the load, not frame flex.

Another surprising thing about this rig in the experience of Nickie and myself as well as Randy and his SO all of whom have thousands of miles logs on xtracycles, is how smooth this thing is. That seems so contradictory considering how little that frame flexes under any load we've dared to try. After much pontification on the matter we've finally (I think) hit the nail on the head. Its like a car with good shocks vs. bad. When you hit a road irregularity with bad shocks the reverberations live on for a time after. With good shocks, you take the hit and its done. The Yuba is not unsettled by road irregularities loaded or not. So when you hit a bump, thats all there is. With our Big Dummy, you hit the bump and if you're loaded much at all, it lives on for just a few moments longer in various reverberations.

One other nice thing about this bike and this one is a bit telling, is that it comes with horizontal dropouts. We run an IGH on it (Nuvinci), and its just nice not having to run a chain tensioner. When I said this is telling, I mean that they are able to do this at all BECAUSE this frame does not flex. adjusting chain tension absolutely is only possible because of it. It really does make for a smoother more efficient drivetrain.

I've sung a lot of praises of this bike, and I think those are rightly deserved. Does that mean it does not come with its downfalls, of course not. I still stand by the comment about cheap componentry. At this point the only component on the bike that is stock is the seatpost. If you are picky about the parts you use, do yourself a favor and just buy the frameset and build from there.

Also the welds seriously look like they were done with a buzz box. I don't have any concerns about them holding up, but its worth pointing out to a crowd whose used to the beautiful little tig beads prevalent on most bikes these days.

Lastly, and this is a biggie for many, at present it is still really more for the DIY or tie down strap kinda person. Its quickly getting better in this area, but has a ways to go compared to the likes of Xtracycle who has spent over a decade now fleshing out the accessories to make their kit do A LOT of things.

My main gripe on the accessories front is the lack of a useful centerstand. Once again I rolled my own. which you can faintly see in the photo above. It still needs a little tweaking, but its at least as good as the stand I made for the Big Dummy. I've seen little tidbits that hint at a heavy duty centerstand which is coming out this year, but at present it does not yet exist. They should not sell a bike without one in my opinion.

Thus far my list of modifications is as follows:

Brazed in spacers to reduce the rear dropouts from 14mm to 10mm
Added Nuvinci drive train after modifying dropouts
Swapped out front fork for Surly Instigator fork
Went threadless with FSA DH Pro pig headset
Added front disc brake (Avid BB7)
swapped out front wheel for disc compatible build
added albatross bars
added Velo Orange leather saddle (which btw, we both like as much or more than brooks)
Added Ergon Grips
Added Berthoud 60mm stainless fenders
Homemade bags
EDIT: forgot to list custom centerstand

I should make a little comment about our bags. First off I'll give credit where credit is due (thank you Xtracycle!!!). We shamelessly took a few cues from your design. We love the idea of the xtracycle freeloaders, but often find they just dont go as big as we'd like. I'd rather not have to carry tie down straps unless I'm gonna carry a washer and dryer. Consequently we decided to use a very similar sling design as the freeloaders, but made the sling about 8" longer, made the straps total length about 6-7" longer, and lastly, made the two end pouches out of a solid fabric (silnylon) and made them a couple inches taller.

They work "like a charm" We have not needed tie down straps yet.


Christa said...

Impressive! Never seen a washer and dryer being hauled on bike.

Robert Davidson said...

Do you find that the suspension adjusted fork changes the handling? It looks like it raises the headset an inch or two.

The Stouts said...

Regarding the fork, I think I detected just the faintest bit of increase in flop, but past that, I haven't noticed anything else with respect to handling.

I mostly used that fork as I had it sitting around, and according to Surly its tandem rated. Ultimately I'd like to either find or modify something that isn't as tall, but still disc compatible, more for the sake of foot down while in the saddle. It did increase that reach about an inch with the fork change.

Daniel said...

Could comment more on the Nuvinci/Mundo combo. I was thinking of doing a similar build. Curious what size chain ring you have upfront and any comparison between the Nuvinci Mundo and derailer Mundos you've ridden. Thanks.

The Stouts said...

Its been awhile since I first built that wheel for the Big Dummy aka Llama. But if I recall correctly, I think it has an 18t freewheel. The chainring is a 32t.

Its under the warranty limit of 2:1, but am hardly concerned considering its actually tandem rated. Heck for most of our mountain trips last summer, I usually dropped down to a 20t chainring for those 10% grades with a full load of kids and gear.

Daniel said...

Would you consider making and selling the sling bags for other Yuba owners.

The Rented Mule said...

I'm curious. How well did the bike stop before adding the front disc? Did you add it because of the super heavy loads or did you feel it was necessary with all loads?

The Stouts said...

I think for general stopping purposes a set of v brakes with a good pad compound will cover most situations fine. I think there are two places where a disc upgrade is worthwhile. One is for extended slowing like on a mountain descent. The other is the panic stop scenario, WHILE pulling a large load and someone pulls in front of you.

I don't think they are necessary by any stretch, but I do think if you ride in pretty hilly terrain and will be carrying some significant loads, they're worth it.

Also keep in mind not all disc brakes are created equal, I've used some that couldn't compete with a v-brake.

The Stouts said...

Daniel, regarding the sling bags, thats a good question.

I won't lie and most who've been watching the blog for any amount of time have probably figured, I like designing and making things more than marketing and producing them for sale.

The kids seats are a good example. I wouldn't be surprised if on a subcouncious level I keep putting off real production of these because I'm deep down hoping some company with manufacturing connections starts doing so first and I wont have to delve into the world of business.

At the least I'll try to put up a basic pattern and folks can make use of a local seamstress if they can't sew themselves. The cost would probably be similar to what I'd charge and you'd be able to pick the fabric of your choice and honestly they're probably better on a sewing machine than me anyway ;)

Anonymous said...

hey! i met you both on the trail just passed the main street bridge right before your move and introduced myself. looks like the move went well. i'm sad that i was out of town that weekend, looks like fun...well as fun as a move can be.

i was on another ride today with my son and saw your rigs outside the rec center. hope you didn't get caught in the thunder/lightning extravaganza. we did. my son slept in the burley all the way thru...and i got drenched. let me know if you ever need a local hand moving stuff...from the hardware store, etc. that way i can live car free vicariously thru you.


Dawn Mahrt said...

Nice bike, I would like to know more about your experience with the Nuvinci hub. I am saving for a Surly Big Dummy, but will want to go IGH. Very interested in any comments you have about the Nuvinci.


Anonymous said...

For those who do not wish to make their own, be advised that the Rolling Jackass longtail centerstand is now compatible with the Yuba mundo. (!) See www.rollingjackass.com for further details. Val

the Scarlet Manuka said...

Just found you through the Yuba newsletter. Am very interested in your centrestand - have a cheap one on mine which isn't doing the job, and hope to make my own before Christmas. (The Rolling Jackass looks lovely, but USD350 is a lot - even before exchange rates.)

My experience has been similarly positive, although I get a fair bit of shimmy in the steering. (Do others get this? Right from the start I've wondered if I didn't quite set the steering up right, but can't see anything wrong.)

chris said...


Thanks for the writing you've done about the Mundo. It was a big part of my decision to sell my XC and buy a frameset.

The issue I am having is this: The 14mm axel X 130mm hub was a bit of a surprise to the guys at the shop, so I had some custom spacers made to take the 10mm standard road hub. Now however the rear skewer can't get enough surface area to grip without slipping. Is this why you brazed in the spacers? If so, do they match the width of the frame exactly and avoid the slip issue? If so, looks like my only option is new spacer fab OR having custom washers made with teeth.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.


The Stouts said...

The issue you are describing is exactly why I brazed in the spacers.

I just took some flatstock that was just a hair bigger than I needed to go from 14-10mm and cut strips wide enough to fill the dropout and long enough to go the whole length. put bevels on both ends so it fit in nicely and the rear and front, brazed in then filed down to a perfect 10mm. It has made axle slip no problem.

Are you running a gear hub or a cassette hub?

chris said...

Thanks for the quick reply.

So, if I have it straight (not being a welder myself) you were able to preserve the horizontal dropout and "filled in" the 14-10mm difference with the flatstock? The spacer then was not a cylinder as I had made, correct? (We did not take the slip issue into account and was not fashioned precisely to the width of the dropouts.)

The bike shop has sent me on a search for serrated washers for both the inside and outside of the frame to create the needed surface area. What do you think about this as a potential solution? I REALLY want to pedal hard on this ride ASAP and so I am wondering if this will work.

Rear Hub: Part of my decision to buy the Mundo was based on a plan to consolidate some of the bike equity I had, by selling the XC and cannibalizing my Kona Bear for the components without it costing very much out of pocket. Once the unusual hub size was discovered, I sold the Bear to buy the components. All that said, while I dig the idea of having an IGH back there, I went with a cassette, which is not the first time I've cut the Nuvinci out of specs to build a bike under budget... some day I'll have one!

Here's 30s of vid of me on the new Mundo (there's an oval top tube now and I understand it's almost 10(!)lbs lighter. http://www.twitvid.com/0A71A (Note the Surly BD forks... the frameset didn't come with forks.)

The Stouts said...

Here are a couple photos, one right before brazing, and the other after filing and finishing.



Its hard to know without pictures what you're describing regarding your spacer setup, but a bolted axle and grippy washers go a long ways. I don't think there's any way you'll be able to make a quick release stay in place if thats the goal.

JohnH said...

I'm needing to get a new rear wheel for my xtracycle. I'm considering the nuvinci. I've noticed a couple other queries into you nuvinci impressions that have not gotten responses. I was able to test ride one briefly and the only negative I noticed was the rubber on the shifter pulling away on hard shifts. Have you noticed this? Anyway would love to hear a more in depth review of the hub, pros/con,s comparison to other hubs etc.


The Stouts said...

John, I decided a full longterm review might be the most appropriate response to the many questions we've had regarding the Nuvinci. Hopefully it sufficiently answers your questions.


日月神教-向左使 said...


Stoney Grasshopper said...

I really appreciate your efforts. I am buying a yuba v3 and I am adding the Nuvinci which is how I found your blog and spent a few hours reading your experience and all the comments (jan 9 - present). Beautiful!!! I am going car free as well. I feel I will have it easier living in santa barbara so I have no excuse! I have one beautiful daughter 4. Anyway, I wanted to know if you would make me side bags or at least PLEASE make a Dummies How To Do list where I will be able to do it myself. Also, you mention electric assist but I didn't see any. What electric assist are you using? Thanks in advance. I can post my contact info if you would like to assist me. Keep enjoying the ride