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.