My First Yuba Mundo Ride with Our Children

Our bikes at school.

When I got off the plane on Tuesday I was reading Bike Snob and thinking about the new bike in my garage. Brent managed to pick up the Yuba Mundo from Huntington Cycle and Sport on Friday. I contemplated having him wait until I got back, but I also wanted him to show it off at Critical Mass that night, which he did. No modesty here.

In case you missed the clip from another post, here’s the video of Brent’s ride with the three boys during Critical Mass. London rode my bike along side. I believe Brent’s brother Aaron shot the video for him.

Yuba Mundo Inaugural Ride from delano on Vimeo.

I knew this bike was amazing because I rode it in Columbus last month, but I had never ridden it with any weight or even up a hill. You can’t pay for hills in central Ohio. Test riding cargo bikes along our section of the Ohio river is near impossible, but I did make a few attempts to track some down, to no avail. Brent gave me his opinion from his ride on how to stop and handle the balance load and turning radius. I had been reading dozens and dozens of blog entries and watching videos for a couple of months.

When I got home, I took the Yuba out first thing. I didn’t even bring in my bag. I went straight to the garage and road it around the block. It was too dark to see the shifters and I wasn’t even sure of the street conditions. I was a bit wobbly and uncertain, but elated. Yesterday I spent time thinking about riding and finishing Bike Snob. Today I set my mind to pick up the children from school with the Yuba Mundo. Brent left one bike at the school for a child to ride home and I set up the new bike with the iBert and stared at it from end to end. There were several parts missing that I had ordered; disc brakes, wheel skirt, and double kick stand, and noted to myself to call the shop to get an ETA.

First attempt with three boys at school.

I loaded Oliver into the rear seat, as that was his preference and I practiced going around the block several times getting used to the weight and handling. I really do not like rear weight. It feels like the front tire is going to lift off the road on every hill. The height of my saddle was suitable, the space between the iBert and my knees was far better than the other bike and the rear child seat looks more comfortable than the front. I planned to ride Avery in the rear seat, Elliot on the deck and Oliver in the iBert, but I knew that London would beg to ride on the deck often.

Circling the parking lot.

Brent came home from work to ride to school with me just in case anything would happen. He’s a worrier, but I was happy to have time with him. He decided to hook up the trailer to his bike so we could load the children’s back packs, as I still haven’t ordered saddle/pannier bags for the Yuba. Every time we ride to the school we argue. We just have a different opinion about which route to take and where to ride on the road. The first tiff took place before the first block was behind us. I like to turn up the first road, he likes to take the second. Because he was behind me and saying “go here” and I didn’t know where “here” was, I stopped on a steep uphill and tipped the bike to the right, with Oliver in the back, just about to the ground. Hmmm, this was going to be difficult.

Having learned my first lesson, to put both feet on the ground and hold both brakes when stopping, I took the second turn with Brent, which was indeed less of a climb and easier to ride. It was also slightly more difficult to make the next left at the intersection but not impossible or dangerous. I climbed up Wiltshire without much trouble and we disagreed about which direction on Woodland to ride and whether it was safer to take the lane on Norway or to use the side walk. We compromised with going to the right on Woodland, looping back down Fairfax and taking the lane on Norway.

I was sailing well until the climb on the one way portion of Norway. Brent has been telling me to take the pressure off the chain when I shift gears and I have been practicing, but I am not very good at this task. If I take the pressure off, then I slow down and have to apply more pressure. While climbing Norway I was moving into a lower gear and the chain came off the front chain wheel completely. I wasn’t going anywhere. This is why I was glad Brent was there. I was able to hold the bike while he realigned the chain. Had I to do this alone I would have had to remove Oliver on a busy street and figure it out. I couldn’t even walk the bike up the hill, the chain was locked up. Lesson two, take pressure off the chain before shifting gears.

Once at the school with all the children retrieved I was feeling really anxious. I didn’t do so well getting there and now I was adding two extra children to a bike I was still very uncomfortable on and unfamiliar with. We loaded everyone up and I practiced starting and turning and stopping in the parking lot. I think I did about six loops in different directions to figure it all out. I lectured the boys about moving and tipping, as this would injure us all. With Brent hauling the trailer full of back packs, London on her Junior Viper and me carrying three children on the Yuba, we set off down the hill toward the Bookworm’s Attic. It was still Thursday, our bookstore day, and we were not going to get sidelined from our agenda.

Heading down the one way portion of Norway on the sidewalk.
Stopped to return books.
Parked out front of the Bookworm’s Attic

Books and candy purchases, bodies cooled, we strode out again for home. During our ride I observed many things about the differences in riding this long tail verses the old mountain bike. The first was the balance. The second was braking and foot position. Third, chain pressure and shifting. Fourth was the impact of the rear passengers over bumps. They took a huge jolt even over minor surface features. There jostling around had me swerving the front end to keep my balance. I do think I was truly bothered by the terrible roads and sidewalk conditions for the first time since riding. Before they were just annoying, now they were dangerous. The fifth thing of notice was the need for smooth transitions between surfaces. This goes beyond jacked up sidewalks and potholes. This bike really needs those ramps at crosswalks. I couldn’t take the curb and just bounce down them like with the other bike, I would loose control. Unfortunately a few spots on our route don’t offer these ramps at convenient places, but I found ways around them. In some situations I used drive ways and others I went an extra half block back to use a ramp. While I realize my place should be on the road, if you were a driver on Norway, you would not be expecting a cyclist, especially a slow one with three children. The sidewalk is safer, but not by much. (Sixth) The Yuba also didn’t like going through thick gravel where the side walk was covered in some portions. Wobbly conditions at best. I believe this is because all the weight was in the rear and if there were more on the front, it could have been a better scenario. Yet I don’t have front racks or bread baskets at this time and this is the best I can do.

Panting up Norway.
Pushing up Fairfax.
This is deceiving, we were actually flying down Wiltshire.

This looks like a long list of complaints. Almost like buyers remorse. I am a complainer but these are just kinks I am working out. I have confidence in this bike and know that with more practice things will be easier. I can’t do much about the route conditions (although I am considering filling out one of these forms) but I can keep trying and be patient.

To give the Yuba Mundo the praise it deserves, it was easier to ride up hills than my other bike. It was great to be able to carry three children at once. It was wonderful to sit more upright and my back is appreciative too. The shifting was smooth, except when I managed to thwart it’s natural talent. It is certainly a show piece, and a fabulously functional one. I was going to have the children give the bike a name, as they have named our cars and it seems appropriate and a bit ridiculous. Suggestions for names? I will run it by the panel judges and let you know what they decide.

All these miles below are approximate because we haven’t keep very accurate records since my departure last week. I hope to get my act together and record them better next week. The two miles on the bus was from Brent taking his entire class on the free downtown bus to get coffee at River and Rail yesterday. I would have loved a professor like this when I was a freshman, but it might have creeped me out as well….

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 46 Bused: 2 Drove: 44 This week
53.7 358.8 12.6 539.2 Since August 14, 2011
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12 thoughts on “My First Yuba Mundo Ride with Our Children”

  1. I spotted this unusual outfit while out for a ride over the weekend. Must have been Brent, I suppose? I waved, but he just looked at me funny. ;)

    I will be fascinated to see how the Yuba pans out. How's the at-speed stability? Are you going for disks because the stock brakes are no good?

  2. Awesome! Almost makes me want to get one. :) Actually, I was telling the two older kids about your cycling adventures, and they think it would be cool to ride into town to do things. There are only busy roads from the house into town, but there's a rails-to-trails that goes into town, and one of the parking lots isn't too far away. So maybe when the kids get a bit better at riding that would be fun. (We rode on the path a little ways the other evening, and it was rather hair-raising a few times when we intersected traffic, but they're getting better.)

    I know what you mean about weight in the back – I notice a big difference with just one toddler in a child seat. Heck, I notice a big difference with just the seat, especially trying to get it on the car rack. On the other hand, I'm so short and my bike frame is so small that I don't think there's any way a front seat would work for me. I've mostly gotten used to the weight, but it will be nice when the little one is big enough for a trailer bike.

  3. Mike, I would like to know what it can do "at speed." I am so slow! Going down hill quickly, it handled fine and actually pleasant and smooth. I hope to get it out all weekend in town and test it on flat surfaces with the children, probably PATH and South Side roads. It does ride fine when I am not dodging rocks, cracks, holes and trying to stay on my two foot swatch of sidewalk (do I sound frustrated?).

    Brent went to Kroger on 7th with Oliver and London on Sunday, so it was probably him.

    Jamie, the front seat was only hindering my knees and if you are shorter, then I don't see it as a problem. Yet, I am not short…the shorter bike folks I read about on blogs like their front seats too. It's a center of gravity benefit, mostly. The smaller bike frame would probably reduce clearance, but my old bike had a small frame, so still, may be worth test riding? I am thinking of getting a new front seat, with a higher back. You might also consider that A will out grow the front seat quicker and you will be left with more weight in the rear anyway.

    Have you ridden with a trailer bike? They look so floppy and heavy. There are a few here and I haven't tested it out myself, but the adult riders don't care for them all that much, but do like riding with their children attached. I guess there is no perfect solution.

  4. Mike, sorry I skipped the disc brake question…the compression brakes are fine, but I felt that if I wanted to ride in wet conditions, on hills with added weight, the discs would be safer. I have never tested this theory, but I am going on research and advice from others. Experience with disc brakes?

  5. I haven't done a ton of research on the front seats, but the posts and reviews I noticed that mentioned people of my height indicated that there were definite issues with the seat interfering with the rider's knees and problems with the rider seeing over the seat and child. I also hadn't thought about the little one outgrowing the front seat sooner than the rear seat. It would be annoying to suddenly have a lot more weight in the back than I do now, so I think I'll just stick with the rear seat.

    I haven't ridden with a trailer bike, but I imagine it would take some getting used to. I have heard of some people doing pretty serious off-road riding with them, so I guess it's all a matter of what the adult and child can deal with. Also, since my kids have universally hated a regular trailer, I don't see an alternative for when they outgrow the child seat but aren't ready to ride them by themselves without training wheels. As you say, there is no perfect solution. :)

  6. Jaime,I like when Brent rides with me too. Despite our differences in opinion, it gives us something to talk about :)

    I have seen the WeeHoos in ads, as well as many other configurations. If you are considering a tagalong of sorts I can put together a list of options for you! I couldn't tell you where to find them to try out.

  7. There is something wonderful about the eminently practical bike. I was a little hesitant at first, but I recently purchased my first folding bike, and am totally amazed both with how well it rides, and how well it suits my combined riding/lifestyle needs.

  8. Thanks, I'd appreciate any info you know on bike trailers. I don't think we'll be doing anything about it soon, as A is still too young for any sort of thing, but I like to know what my options are. :)

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