toward the car. “No, we’re taking the
bike. Get your helmets.”
Puzzled, they asked, “Both of us?”
“Yep,” I said.
Hesitantly, they asked, “Are you
sure you can do it with both of us?”
The rear cargo area of the Yuba
Mundo is stout. I added the Yuba
bamboo utility deck to form a flat
area on top of it. I also added
Yuba’s running boards to form a
bench for more cargo, or a footrest
for passengers. Yuba also offers a
stem that attaches to the extra-wide
circumference seatpost of the Mundo
for attaching a handlebar for someone
sitting in back. I bolted in a set of
narrow, curvy bars I had lying around.
I panicked as I saw both kids jump
on the back of the bike while it stood
on its center stand. Thinking the bike
might topple over with them aboard, I
yelled out as only a concerned father
But to my surprise, that stout center
stand I had earlier come to appreciate
proved just why—it held them up just fine. I rolled it off
the stand, and we took off up the gravel driveway. Within
seconds, they were screaming again: “This is so fun! Yeah!”
As much as I love riding motorcycles, I’ve never felt
comfortable carrying a child passenger on one. In the event
of a fall, speed delivers force exponentially. We can almost
always walk away from a 20-mph fall; 40 mph is a different
story, and by 50 mph we need luck on our side.
Motorcycles spend a lot of time over 50 mph. Cruising
along at 20 mph on the Yuba, the kids were having the best
time I’d ever seen them have in or on a vehicle. Someone
moving at 20 mph on a long, fat-tired bike is noticeable.
That’s faster than people expect on such a bike. Going that
fast with two non-pedaling passengers is a real head-turner.
As we went by, people stopped and stared. Construction
workers dropped their tools and stood up straight. The kids
noticed the attention immediately. They have done a lot of
driving in fancy sports cars, which was nothing compared to
The Yuba with BionX was instantly better by an order
of magnitude. I was even amazed by the sensations I was
getting. The bike was rolling along at that speed, and my
effort was no more than it would be by myself on a top-level
carbon road bike. As we banked into corners, the kids roared
with approval behind me. I didn’t know hauling 140 pounds
of 10-year-olds could be this fun—and effortless! Not more
than 15 minutes into the ride they asked, “Can we bring this
bike everywhere we go this summer?” I thought, “Now that’s
a great idea.” So, the summer of 2013 became the summer of
the electric-assist cargo bike.
On a trip to San Francisco in June, we learned that we
could fit the whole family on the bike. Two adults and two
kids. Whenever parking posed a challenge, pulling out the
Yuba became not only the best option, but added excitement
and adventure to the day.
With that much cargo, avoiding steeper climbs is still
advisable. The BionX is an excellent hub motor—perhaps the
quietest and most natural feeling available. But, that doesn’t
mean it likes steep climbs with hundreds of pounds of cargo.
At close to 300 pounds of cargo, in addition to my own near
200 pounds, the Mundo’s frame gets a workout. For the most
part, the bike goes exactly where you point it. Carrying a little
speed seems to help matters. On flatter roads and gradual
grades, taking all four of us was no problem.
Emergency braking in traffic or for stoplights was still very
good. Getting started from a standstill with that weight is
helped greatly by the BionX. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t even
attempt to do rides like that without electric assist, excellent
disc brakes, super-strong rims, steering components, and an
extremely robust frame like the Yuba.
We have now ridden the Mundo with BionX in cities and
on scenic routes in many western states. Sometimes, instead
of driving in the car, I’ll get out with the kids and ride for a
while. In fact, we rode a lengthy section of California’s famous
Highway 1 route past Big Sur that way. I’m sure it was a
day the kids will always remember. Again, the steeper uphill
sections were still a chore for me, but those slower sections
made for good banter between the three of us. “Come on,
Dad. Move those chicken sticks!” they’d say as I grunted over
Since beginning our adventures with our cargo bike, I’ve
started to see many more young families taking to the paths
and streets on cargo bikes. It’s such a great thing to see.
Parents have found they can drop the kids at school and
practice while getting their exercise in at the same time.
In fact, whenever I see one of them hauling a kid or two,
grimacing in effort up a 3-percent grade, I wonder why they
haven’t discovered the advantage of using electric assist.
Granted, spending close to $2000 on a system like
the BionX is a big investment. What you get, though, is a
completely different vehicle than just a bicycle. I do believe
that with electric assist, the bike gets used on so many more
and lengthier trips. The price of the system is eventually
offset, and a lot more fun can be had in the meantime.
Hauling kids around on this cargo bike was not something
I thought much about when I set out to start building it. As it
turned out, it’s been one of my favorite things to do with the
bike. What a great surprise to uncover—priceless, in fact! ■