Saturday, March 10, 2012

6 Months With a Well Used Yuba Mundo!

Yuba Mundo at Pearl Brewery San Antonio, Texas
My most fuel efficient vehicle at Pearl Brewery Farmer's Market - San Antonio, Texas 

I just came to the realization that I've had my used Yuba Mundo (Version 1) for a few days over 6 months and I thought this would be a good time to give an update and a more long term review of my well used (well used by the previous owner and myself) Yuba Mundo V1. 

I purchased the bike Oct. 8, 2011 by chasing down the owner of a version 3 at the grocery store to ask how much he liked his talking with him he mentioned he had a Version 1 he needed to sell. So I made and deal and took it home later that day but it needed work. The tires were flat, the rims needed to be trued and the headset was shot as well as the rear derailleur cable. 

Hank the best Bike Mechanic in Texas
Hank of Helotes Bicycle Shop
A few trips to Hank's bicycles in Helotes, Texas and about $100 the bike was road worthy. It didn't have a kick stand when I got it so I used a paint can for a while while I fixed it then I order a V1 double kickstand from Yuba's website. I learned from Hank how to replace a headset races (even though we carked one of the replacements now the bike has a mixed head set chrome/black).

I found that I really enjoyed riding the Yuba Mundo and it has become my primary bicycle since I took ownership of it. I've not ridden my other bikes more than 2-4 times but the Yuba sees weekly usage. This is because the utility of the Yuba. I regularly use it to ride to the HEB (grocery store) about 1.5 miles from my house and I can easily fit a week’s worth of groceries on the bike. At first I used ratchet straps and plastic containers but quickly learned that doesn't work well with the Yuba's rack which as diagonal supports, the straps fall and the box got loose quick. 
Load of Groceries
All Strapped In! 
YMCA at O. P. Schnabel Park on Yuba MundoAround the first part of December the Yuba company announced new Go-Getter bags which are a stupid white and light grey color (those are going to look ratty after a trip though a puddle!) the new bags also use plastic retainer clips to latch on the Yuba rack and that is a problem since my version 1 Yuba has a larger rack and a larger diameter tubing used in the rack. So I went on an internet search and called Yuba most dealers across America and didn't find any older style yellow go-getters. While visiting family in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex area at Christmas time I decided to check out Trinity Bicycles a Yuba Dealer in Ft. Worth. They had the yellow bags! So I bought them right then and there. They cost more than I paid for the used Yuba, but increased the functionality 316.97%. I can now easily get groceries without fear of the ratchet straps loosening and spilling everything on the road. 

Also the Go-Getter bags carry some things like a bike lock, rain poncho, and even a full sized floor air pump when I go on rides with large groups (who likes those small 6" pumps when you have a flat anyways!).  The bags also make the bike more grab and go friendly I just open my garage (where my car once was) and hop on the Yuba and ride! I’ve taken it on some extensive   trips, for a cargo bike, away from the house. I rode to a library (a hilly 10-12 mile round trip) to assist  with a lecture on using your bicycle for utility. I carried a multimedia projector safely in the go-getter bags.  

Great Northwest Library
Utility Cycling Session at Great Northwest Library - San Antonio, Texas
Thanks to my extra sturdy Hollywood Sportrider 4  bike hitch mount rack I can easily take my Yuba on my Honda Element to different areas of town for various reasons like an occasional tune up, but most of all it goes on social rides. The Yuba has made many treks on the back of the Honda Element to downtown San Antonio for pub crawls and social rides. The Yuba works out good for party on wheels rides because I’m a photographer and I love to carry my SLR camera with me and once again the rack and the go getter bags come into play here. I can carry my medium format camera and my digital SLR camera with extra lenses in the bag along with my air pump, a jacket, a hat, even a tripod and even studio strobes! And I can have what I need and want to take photos while cycling in social groups and at events like the San Antonio Siclova event.  

The bags are not only useful in carrying camera stuff they are also nice because they keep honest people honest! I was able to leave my bike within eye sight at the recent Siclovia event with my camera gear left on the bike knowing that it would take some balls to go open up the go-getter bags and go snooping around. I realize the bags are not a metal trunk and that is why I kept it in eyesight and no more than 30-40 feet away from me like when I did the drum circle, but it’s still nice not to have to carry that stuff around my neck or just having it sitting in a basket where anyone can see it and be tempted to steal it.  

Siclovia 2012 - Drum Circle
Siclovia Drum Circle - March 2012

Enough on the bags…. What about other utility usefulness?” I’m glad you asked. 

The bike has had its share of cargo loads over the past 6 months primarily groceries from the grocery store.  Some of the rather odd things that I’ve carried were other humans, k-9s, hardware, and more! My wife and I rode on the Yuba to Sea Island Shrimp House and Half-Price Books on the bike. Carrying people is different than groceries because they can shift their weight and you’ll notice it as the driver of the bike. It took some getting used to but driver and passenger always felt secure. I even hauled my wife’s beach cruiser on the side racks just by putting the front tire in the side and strapping it in. I admit there was no reason to do this other than I saw other Yuba Mundo owners doing it on Flickr and I wantedto do it!  Being a verison 1 I don’t have a rear deck or side platforms but I think that side platforms would have helped with the towing of my wife’s bike since the straps holding the tire came loose and the front wheel started to slip down the rack.

 Another unique item that I hauled was an 8 foot grounding rod from Lowe’s hardware for a Ham Radio antenna I was installing. This was to longest item I’ve carried on the Mundo and it was easier than hauling the grounding rod in my Jeep Wrangler. It was fun using bungee cords to strap that on the rack and frome then using the red plastic flags to let people know that I’m hauling a large item…ON A BICYCLE! I rode the 2.5 miles back home without anything going wrong with it. Below are some pictures of the strange hauls so far, including the K-9 and the grounding rod. 

Yuba Tree Cargo
Yuba Mundo decorated for Christmas Light Bike Ride... complete with Tree
Phoebe's Ride
My Dog, Phoebe, as Cargo!

At Lowe's after loading 8 foot Grounding Rod

First Load: RC Airplanes to the Stadium for day of flying
Yuba with my RC Airplanes ready to go to the flying area!

The Yuba mundo attracts a lot of attention. I’ve had people come up to me while I was loading the cargo and ask about it. One conversation that sticks out in my mind was a mother and her 12-15 year old son at HEB (grocery store). The exchange when something like this: She started by saying, “Hey cool cargo bicycle so you can fit all that in your bike?”  my response “yes, I do it all the time” Her response “Well I ride my road bike 20-30 miles at a time but I take my car 3 miles to the grocery store… I think I need to look into this Yuba Mundo.” 
That is what I hope I inspire-logical thinking about being green and living healthy. 

It’s amazing that people are so stuck in the Lance Armstrong idolizing spandex sport of cycling they don’t even realize the utility it can be until see me on the big Yuba Mundo. I love it when I see them realize for the first time that it is possible to ride a bicycle for errands especially when they pedal their road bike 20 to 100 miles just for fun. Believe me utility cycling is way more fun that riding just to ride because you get the joy of cycling and the coolness that comes from knowing that you are rejecting the social norm of thinking that bicycles are only exercise equipment. For me cycling for utility has a trill in it that comes when you return from a shopping trip with a load of groceries. If you search around the internet you will get some inspiration from fellow car-free/utility cycling people like Anne and Tim at Car Free Days. They have inspired me to make just about every Sunday a car free day! Thanks Anne and Tim. Y'all should check out their site

3rd Stop Target via Yuba Mundo
Pre Go-Getter bag Yuba at Target in NW San Antonio
Lunch at Sea Island
My wife and I rode this to get some sea food and we got the best parking spot too!

Barnes & Noble Via Yuba Mundo 
Starbucks break! 
My well used Yuba Mundo isn’t without it’s unique quirkiness due mostly to it's age. The previous owner used it as a daily commuter 10+ miles one way rain or shine and the Yuba Mundo shows its wear proudly with scrapes of paint and small rust spots. The head set had indexing when I got the bike so I replaced it. The front derailleur can be hard to shift into 3rd sometimes. The tires are well worn but have enough grip but I’m thinking of replacing those soon. Somewhere in the rack there is a loose burr of metal because I can hear it rattling around at times then I’m parking the bike. The kick stand plate is warped and the kick stand continually needs tightening but thanks to those big bags I can carry a tool kit and tighten as needed. I wish I could use the wide loader kickstand that the newer Yuba Mundo’s have because my double kick stand is narrow and the when loading you have to balance your load or it will tip over. I could use the new wider one Yuba has but that requires welding and I don't want to deal with that and painting the bike once a new plate is welded on. 

The saddle is the original one from Yuba and is comfy enough but I’ve been thinking a Brooks Saddle would be nice to try. Some future plans include upgrading the shifters and possibly the front derailleur. I might get around to making a rear deck for times when I haul a passenger, stoker bar for the rear passenger and some padding for the rear passenger. I’ve also thought of adding disc breaks to the front but that means replacing the front end again but I feel safe the way it is. 

Yuba Tree
Yuba Mudo at 2012 Siclovia - San Antonio, Texas

Life with the Yuba Mundo is good! My version one has been useful and I enjoy owning it but sometimes I long for a newer lighter Version 4 with disc brakes, but then I remember the low cost I paid for the used version 1 which was comparable to a mid priced Walmart mountain bike and I’m happy. I’m sure the version one is here to stay at least for another 6 months. When I have children I might upgrade so I can use the integrated child seats on the rear rack (they don’t work with the wider V1 rack).  Right now this system works for me. 

Thanks for reading please leave your comments!

Ride on! 



  1. Thanks for posting your experiences. It is kinda funny that folks will ride 30 or 40 miles or more on a rode trip but will not ride to the store or work. I highly recommend a brooks saddle. I've been riding on mine for 1000's of miles over the last 30+ years. I keep mine covered with a plastic bag to protect it directly from sun and rain . I was surprised to see that they were still in business when I saw some in a store last year.

    1. How bad is the break in period on a brooks saddle? I hear it can be painful at first. I'm interested in the B67 for the Yuba.

    2. I have three bicycles with Brooks, and my wife has one. I've never had any discomfort once I got the saddle adjusted properly.

    3. I did n't even notice a break in period. B67 absolutly lovely. They do take a little looking after compared to a plastci saddle.

  2. Sounds like the hook has been set. I've got a newer Mundo, (traded my road bike for it about six months ago) and am happy to have all the gears since San Francisco has got a few hills. When working in the city I carry my bricklaying tools with the bike, hoe, shovel, mortar stands, very heavy canvas bag full of steel tools, some power tools etc. I've had maybe up to 200 lbs. on it. I did an emergency bag of concrete delivery for a buddy and have carried 4 nine foot long scaffold plank at one time on the bike (not the smartest move but I arrived at my destination without incident.). And like you, I shop the farmers market, tote my laptop, deliver packages and pack anything that pops into my imagination. Truly I can't understand why it takes two tons of SUV to carry a few bags of groceries. I too love the Mundo, I'm glad you, like Glenda the good witch of the East, have come into the sun.

    1. Yes the hook has been set but I'm glad I stumbled upon the Version 1 because it allowed me to see how useful the Yuba can be at an affordable price.

  3. Awesome post, thank you for sharing your experiences. Beautiful bike!

    1. Lindsay thanks for your comment. I really like your blog nice job on going to your mom's this weekend. The Yuba is nice for trekking around town. Keep riding!

  4. Awesome Matthew! I think you nailed it with this:

    "I love it when I see them realize for the first time that it is possible to ride a bicycle for errands especially when they pedal their road bike 20 to 100 miles just for fun."

    It's pretty addicting to act as a positive role model for folks. I get a special kick when I see one of the spandex types show up at school or the store with a new Big Dummy or Kona Ute. For some reason (cough, *hills*, cough, cough)we don't often see Yubas around here, which is too bad because I think they are really cool.

    Anyway, keep it up. You're making a difference!