Streetfilms: Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

A new film from Clarence Eckerson, Jr. shot while at the Velo-City 2010 conference in Copenhagen earlier this year. Amazing stuff.

Streetfilms

Barclays Cycle Superhighways Launched

The first two of twelve total “Barclays Cycle Superhighways” were launched in London this week. The so-called cycle superhighways are continuous 5′ wide bike lanes painted bright blue. The first starts in a London suburb and runs 8.5 miles to the city center, while the second runs 7.5 miles from Barking to Tower Gateway. The bike lanes are part of the City’s “Cycling Revolution” plan that also includes a bike-sharing program and 66,000 new bike parking spaces.

Barclays Cycle Superhighways
Cycling Revolution London

Lugged-Steel

I have an irrational fondness for lugged-steel bicycle frames. I say irrational because, with the advancements made in metallurgy, today’s production TIG-welded frames are very nearly the functional equivalents of production lugged-steel frames, a fact that hasn’t always been the case. For much of the 20th century, lugged frames were preferable to welded frames because the method for joining lugs to tubes (brazing) was easier on tubing than high-temperature welding. This gentler method made possible the use of lighter, thin-walled tubes. Now, modern tubes are available that are not negatively affected by the high temperatures introduced during TIG welding, so sadly, the need for lugs has been made moot in most practical applications.

I say “sadly” because none of this has diminished my love of lugs, something that runs much deeper than any pragmatic consideration. Lugs, to me, will forever represent quality and craftsmanship in bicycle manufacture (this is most likely due to the fact that I grew up during the heyday of the lug in the 1960s and ’70s). The elegant lines of a finely cut lug hark back to an era when hand craftsmanship was the rule, and things such as lugs held aesthetic as well as practical value. And even though there are some gorgeous TIG-welded bikes being produced today, a weld will never speak to me in the same way as a lug.

The bright side of this story is that there is a virtual renaissance in lugged-steel frames happening among small custom builders. The downside is that bikes from many of these builders are priced well beyond what many people would consider reasonable for an everyday utility bike. There are still a small number of what can loosely be considered “production” lugged frames on the market, though these are still beyond what most people would think of as “budget” priced, due mostly to the fact that even in a production setting, lugged construction is more labor-intensive than welding. Whether a lugged frame is worth this premium depends upon the individual; it certainly is for me.

Yuba Mundo V3

Background
Yuba is a small company based in Sausalito, California specializing in building long wheelbase cargo bikes for hauling heavy loads. The company was founded in 2006 by Ben Sarrazin who, after helping start Xtracycle and spending several years working there, saw the need for a more robust, fully integrated longtail design capable of carrying extreme loads. The result is the Mundo, a heavy-duty longtail with one of the highest load capacities of any bicycle on the market.

First Impression

The Mundo is a big, heavy-duty bike (it’s nearly 7 ft. long) that is obviously built to handle large, heavy loads. When you first get on the bike, you immediately feel the stiffness and mass in the frame; it’s clear from the first pedal stroke that this is a purpose-built cargo bike that makes no allusions to being anything other than a workhorse for hauling anything-and-everything from a pair of children to 400 lbs. of bananas.

Construction

The Mundo frame is manufactured in China. Hi-ten steel is used throughout to reduce costs and simplify repairs in the event of a damaged frame. The downside is that building with hi-ten results in a heavier bike than when building with stronger, but more expensive chromoly (the Mundo weighs in at approximately 58 lbs.). The frame is generously triangulated, and the main frame tubes are ovalized to optimize stiffness. Overall, the frame gives the impression of being well-built and utilitarian in the best sense of the word.

The overall fit-and-finish are what you’d expect for a cargo bike in this price range, and the powder coat and decal set look fine, if not refined. The numerous braze-ons in the cargo area are a nice detail that add significantly to the versatility of the bike by allowing the end-user to experiment and add their own cargo securing methods. The welds are reasonably clean and about what you’d expect on a Chinese-made frame in this price range.

The Mundo is designed as a one-size-fits-all frame with a sloping top tube, long seat post, and adjustable stem. While I’m usually not a fan of this type of sizing, it can work fairly well for specialized tools like cargo bikes and folders where time in the saddle and distances are typically shorter. We were able to adjust the saddle and bars to comfortably fit everyone in our family. If you’re on the extreme edge of the sizing bell curve, be sure to take a test ride before making a commitment.

Components

The Mundo’s component group is a budget mix from Shimano and Promax. The indexed twist shifters are sufficient, if not inspiring, and didn’t require any adjustment over the test period. The Promax V-brakes are sufficiently stiff, though I’d suggest swapping out the brake pads for KoolStop salmon pads. Yuba offers a disc brake upgrade option ($85) that I’d highly recommend for anyone who will regularly be carrying loads over 100 lbs. or for those who live in hilly terrain. You certainly don’t want to load 200 lbs. on any bike and head down a steep hill with only V-brakes to stop you.

The Mundo comes delivered with heavy-duty, high-spoke-count wheels (36 up front, 48 in the rear) with 14mm solid axles and sealed bearing hubs. Wheels are frequently the Achilles Heel of budget-priced tandems and cargo bikes, but the stout wheels on our test bike stayed true throughout the test period.

For the relatively flat terrain and fairly light loads we carry, the Mundo’s 7-speed triple drivetrain was perfect. At 20.4″, the low gear was fine for us, but those who will be carrying big loads in hilly terrain may want to consider a slightly lower bottom gear.

Our test bike came delivered with a heavy-duty single-leg kickstand. While it’s the strongest single-leg kickstand we’ve seen, it wasn’t ideal when the bike was heavily loaded. Fortunately, Yuba recently developed a stout, double-leg centerstand that will be supplied on all bikes going forward. This should be a big improvement over the single-leg stand. If you already own a Mundo, the double-leg stand can be purchased separately for $77.

Uses

Think pedal-powered minivan or pickup truck and you have the correct mental picture of this bike. With a pair of “Go-Getter” bags mounted, the Mundo easily carries 6 bags of groceries. With the addition of a pair of “Peanut Shell” child seats, the Mundo can safely carry two young children. Add the “Soft Spot” padded seat and “Hold On” stoker kit and the Mundo effectively becomes a tandem (without the second set of pedals, of course).

With the creative use of straps, all manner of large and heavy objects can be carried on the Mundo. We don’t actually move around large, heavy objects very often, but we did take the time to test some heavy loads and found the Yuba totally up to the task. Even with loads over 100 lbs. on the bike, the frame felt solid and secure. Even though the Mundo is rated for up to 440 lbs. of cargo (plus rider!), at some point, the challenge becomes less about the bike and more about balancing the weight and dealing with the bulk. For us, anything past about 150-200 lbs. is pretty much unmanageable. It’s no fault of the bike, it’s just the difficulty of handling that kind of weight.

Accessories

Yuba offers a long list of accessories for the Mundo. The “Go-Getter” bag is a nicely constructed, oversized nylon pannier that easily swallows 3 large grocery bags. The “Soft Spot” seat pad straps on the cargo deck and provides a reasonably comfortable spot for a passenger. Up to two “Peanut Shell” child seats can be attached to the Mundo’s rear platform for carrying children from 20 lbs. up to 50 lbs. each. In case you need to increase the Mundo’s already huge carrying capacity, the “Bread Platform” platform rack mounts on the headtube above the front wheel. Visit the Yuba website to see the full list of accessories.

Conclusion

At $1099, the Yuba Mundo is one of the least expensive full-featured cargo bikes on the market. It also happens to have one of the highest load capacities of any cargo bike ever made. It’s a purpose-built bike that serves its intended use as a minivan replacement quite well. It’s a large, heavy bike that I wouldn’t personally consider using as an everyday ride for commuting, light errands, and just getting around town, but if I had the need for a bike to haul major loads on a regular basis, the Mundo would certainly be on my short list.

Specifications

  • Model: Mundo V3
  • Frame: 26″/50 Mundo MP Hi-Ten Steel 1 1/8″ w/disc brake mount
  • Fork: 26″ Steel w/disc brake mount
  • Size: One size fits all
  • Headset: 1 1/8″ Steel
  • Brakes: V-Brake TX-125 L – Promax
  • Brake Levers: BLG 82 – Promax
  • Freewheel: Shimano 7-speed 14-28T
  • Crankset: Triple 22/32/42 SL Gigga Blk
  • Bottom Bracket: VP-BC 73 boron steel 113mm
  • Shifters: Shimano Tourney
  • Derailleurs: Shimano Acera
  • Hubs: Modus Sealed Bearings – Alloy
  • Rims: Huafen 660g single wall – 36H/48H
  • Tires: Kenda 841A
  • Handlebar: Promax HB-T310 alloy
  • Stem: Promax Adjustable
  • Seatpost: 400mm Steel
  • Saddle: Velo VL-3205
  • Weight: 58 lbs. (on our scale)
  • MSRP: $1099

Yuba

Disclaimer: Yuba is a sponsor of this website. View our review policy here.

Beat the Heat

It’s really warming up in our neck of the woods; yesterday it topped out at around 104F. When summer temps start reaching these heights, we adjust our normal routines and take some of the following steps to stay safe and healthy:

  • Carry plenty of water. This one seems self-evident, but it’s often overlooked by transpo bicyclists since we’re not officially “exercising”.
  • Dress appropriately. Again, self-evident. When it’s hot out, we wear light, loose fitting, breathable clothing. When temps approach the triple digits, we’ll also carry a change of clothes to work.
  • Plan trips for early and late. We check the weather report every evening during the peak of summer, and when it’s going to be a scorcher, we plan our errand runs for before 10am or after 7pm.
  • Take advantage of transit. If we must ride during the hottest part of the hottest days, we minimize our exposure by taking advantage of transit.
  • Throw in the Towel. On days when the heat is just too much, we’ll telecommute or simply save whatever it is for another day.

We’ve found that planning ahead and using a little common sense goes a long way toward taking the edge off of the most intensely hot days of summer.

California State Fair: Pedaling to Adventure

We took a trip to the California State Fair today to check out the “Pedaling to Adventure” bicycling exhibit that encompasses the entire 7,500 square foot Expo Center #4. It’s a beautifully-designed exhibit that touches upon everything from 19th century antiques to modern racing bikes, low riders, mountain bikes, utility bikes, and more. There’s even a display specifically dedicated to our local tweed ride. The exhibit is a must-see if you plan on attending the Fair this year.

Bikes are a big deal at the CA State Fair this year

Our local tweed ride

A pair of vintage roadsters

The BMX wall – way cool!

I particularly enjoyed the history of mountain biking display

Tour of California stage profiles on the racing wall

E-assist Tikit – we’ll have this actual bike for review after the Fair

An antique track bike

The environmental benefits of bicycle riding

Hey, those photos look familiar!

Be sure to check the Fair schedule for presentations by bicycling advocates Lorena Beightler, John Boyer, Ed Cox, and Paul Dorn.

More Information

Safety In Numbers

In his landmark 2003 paper, Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling, Peter Jacobsen found that accident rates involving motor vehicles and bicyclists/pedestrians decrease as the number of bicyclists and pedestrians on the road increase. From the Abstract:

Results: The likelihood that a given person walking or bicycling will be struck by a motorist varies inversely with the amount of walking or bicycling. This pattern is consistent across communities of varying size, from specific intersections to cities and countries, and across time periods.

Discussion: This result is unexpected. Since it is unlikely that the people walking and bicycling become more cautious if their numbers are larger, it indicates that the behavior of motorists controls the likelihood of collisions with people walking and bicycling. It appears that motorists adjust their behavior in the presence of people walking and bicycling. There is an urgent need for further exploration of the human factors controlling motorist behavior in the presence of people walking and bicycling.

Conclusion: A motorist is less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling if more people walk or bicycle. Policies that increase the numbers of people walking and bicycling appear to be an effective route to improving the safety of people walking and bicycling.

It’s a common misconception that increased bicycling and walking will lead to higher injury and fatality rates. The Jacobsen study successfully debunks this myth while providing a potent tool for advocates in their efforts to improve conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Safety In Numbers


 
© 2011 EcoVelo™