Category Archives: test riding bikes

Our 2012 Summer Excursion: Days 8-9 Friends, Bike Friday

Welcome everyone! Our 2012 Summer Excursion series will recap our experiences from June 3-?? by time and location, and follow up with more detailed topics about finances, family and finesse. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally.

D8: The next morning, Sunday, we arranged to have breakfast with my childhood friend, Jennifer Kitta, her husband and their three girls at Karen’s before they headed out for vacation. This brought the head count up to six adults and nine children! I seem to be attracted to larger families.

Nearly all those children were ours. One little girl was the neighbor, one of Jenn's girls was hiding and London was still with my mom.
The Kittas.

That afternoon Elliot and Avery went to a Dayton Dragon’s baseball game with Karen’s crew and Brent, Oliver and I caught up on laundry and housekeeping. Our first day of staying put. Ok, we all biked to Dairy Queen for ice cream, but that was all.

Most of the DQ crew. It was nearly a Kidical Mass.
We mixed it up with sidewalks at the Main Street crossing and streets in the residential areas.

D9: Monday June 11, we arranged to drive down to Farmersville, OH, to test ride a Bike Friday triple tandem. Bike Friday found this owner for us months ago and this was the closest we would be for quite a while. This was our first day in the van and it happened to also be our first day of rain.

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Brent took the two eldest for a test ride, then we mixed it up with Avery and then I gave the tandem a go. Brent seemed to really be getting into it, and I must say it was beautiful to watch all their legs pedal in unison, however, I found riding the bike very odd. It was awkward for me to turn and get a sense of who was pedaling and how to balance, but it was a quick ride. There was certainly a lot of cooperative communication that would need to happen to ride such a bike. I can see it being a good source of team building or couples/family therapy. I keep thinking this bike would be a good solution to transporting children to school, but I don’t see it being useful for much beyond the commute. We haul too much cargo, and we have four children, not two. While I could put one more child on the tandem in a child seat, I just can’t imagine how to fit the fourth. I would love to rent/borrow one for a tour/extended trip (such as the one we just completed!), but I don’t see adding it to our fleet just yet.

Mr. Lindstrom, the very accommodating Bike Friday owner, myself, Avery and London. She was very happy to be riding this tandem. Avery even got into the pedaling, a little. I don't think I did any pedaling!
Brent, Elliot and London. London would have loved to have taken this bicycle home with her. She felt very confident being a pedaling passenger who didn't need to concern with where she was going.
Elliot's pant leg was wedged into two chains, we had to rip his pants to get them out. Does the BF have a chain guard option?

That evening Karen took me and our eldest girls shoe shopping in Dayton. I had been on a quest for summer shoes for years and we were successful in finding a pair of Merrells that fit most of my criteria and my feet (wide, size 10-11 depending on fit, higher arch and just plain picky). I would liked to have had a closed toe, but so far these shoes are proving to be very durable and bike worthy.

What ever did we get into next?


Towing Bikes with Bikes

One of the challenges of having your children ride independently (for recreation or transport) is the growth. This time last year Elliot (now 8yo) was on a 16in. By fall he took on London’s 20in, because she moved up to my old 26in mtb when the Yuba arrived. I see a lot of children riding bicycles that are too small for them, but bikes are not inexpensive.  Neither are good shoes, if they walk, run and play. Nor medical bills if they are inactive and succumb to diseases linked with lifestyle choices.

Today we picked up a 24in bike with 18speeds from a friend who had an extra in her garage. We are forever grateful for the kindness of friends. We are going to let Elliot tool around on it after school and see if it’s a good fit. We set out for the bike with the intention of towing it and then picking up some groceries. The heat (83F and sunny) was getting to me. It was heading closer to nap time. Brent had taken time out of his work day just to keep me company. We headed home without groceries.

“That worked better than I thought it would. I am impressed.” ~Brent Patterson

Brent has never seen me tow a bike. He was a skeptic, now he’s a believer. As I finished strapping the bike in I looked up to see a Subaru with the hatch up and two lawn mowers inside. I immediately thought, I could haul that! It’s a symptom of having a cargo bike. You think you can do anything.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 36.3 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 1.7 This week
134.6 2154.5 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

Children Love Riding Cargo Bikes


My enthusiasm for my bicycle is suffocating. My friend Rachel was at the Earth Day Fair at the Barnett Center tonight and witness to my crazy, overbearing, “see how much fun this is” attitude. I was trying desperately to get her to ride my bike. She never did. I am feeling guilty for how much I was pushing on her, I hope she feels free to push back on me about yoga and Pilates, the loves in her life. That’s what friends do right? Share their passions with each other? Then know when to back off and enjoy each others differences.

Directly after school the children and I rode the mile to the center to share our cargo bike with those in attendance. It was slow going at first, everyone was enthralled with COSI on Wheels, the drummers and fire dancers, garden projects, art making, farmers, and so much more. When the organizer, Alex, came over to say hi, she agreed to take the bike for a spin, and that’s when things turned up a notch or three. Alex had a bit of trouble trusting the bike to be stable and wouldn’t go fast enough to keep her balance. She gave it a couple of tries, then I took over. The children began flocking to me asking for rides on the deck. I entertained them with loops around the courtyard in the middle of the fair.

After I managed to give every child, young and old, and a couple of adults a ride, the older children, I estimated tween to teen ages, wanted to ride the bike as well. I hesitated for just a moment, then gave them the ok. As if things couldn’t be any better, they launched into wicked cool territory. These girls, and a boy, had no fear and tons of determination. They loved every moment of riding that bike. I had strong doubts about one little girl who couldn’t even reach the ground when on the saddle, but she insisted, and she was a natural! She even managed to take her little sister on a ride.

I couldn’t believe the excitement these children had for bicycling (my own children have far less). Being able to take their friends and siblings along with them, added to their enthusiasm, delight and sense of pride. This was exactly how I feel all the time with my Yuba, and being mobbed by their eagerness was elating. I was filled with excitement and pride too. All because of a cargo bike. Wow.

There were many moments of helmet guilt here too. I brought along two extra helmets, but things were moving so quickly, the area was fenced and grassy and no one asked for a helmet (I did offer them), so we rode on.

At one point Oliver was feeling very left out and tired of chasing me through the grass, so I put him back in the iBert as we gave rides.

We had four children on the bike with me giving them “taxi” rides at our maximum. The children were laughing and hollering to each other, “Where do you wanna go?” “Hop on.” “Let’s catch the cab!” What a hoot.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 23 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 10.2 This week
132.6 1946.2 1176.6 3679.8 246.2 Since August 14, 2011

Bits of a Bikey Afternoon

Our 30daysofbiking adventure has been more trips around the triangle in pajamas than it has been taking our bikes out to go somewhere. I have always said I don’t really like to ride, just for the sake of riding, anymore than I like to watch TV for the sake of having something to do. Brent’s been at his usual commute, but my trips have been few.

Tonight London was invited to South Side elementary to watch our neighbor in her spring school program. Conveniently, a friend wanted me to look at her iBert installation troubles, and she lived across from the school. Oliver and London took the deck positions on the Yuba and we rode the two miles over to South Side. Brent stayed home with the others.

South Side is the only elementary in the city that has a bicycle rack, so of course I nabbed a photo. They also have an unique feature on their preschool playground, a tricycle track. Should be fun to visit at arrival time some morning. Maybe I will stalk the entrance way and do a bike count after my babysitting position expires.

The bike and the iBert that won't install. We surmised the handle bars need replaced or raised. I look forward to her being able to ride with her son too!

I left London to watch the show, having arranged for her to get a ride home with her friend. Oliver and I hung out with my friends across the way and talked about bicycles, the new local food market, traveling, toddlers, neighbors, gardens, and more. My friends have a front porch, across from a school. It was a sweet sight to watch folks walking home after the program. That’s something we need more of, front porches, and walking.

Oliver and I rode home slowly, talking about this and that and gnawing on our carrots. While I was away Brent installed the new shifter and cable on London’s new-to-her bike. This was the final element to get it on the road. I took it for a spin around our triangle, and when she got home, she did a loop around too.

I requested the smile. We need to do some more adjustments and she requested a basket. We shall see.
Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 16 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 6.8 This week
132.6 1939.2 1176.6 3679.8 243.2 Since August 14, 2011

Our Yuba Mundo Review

Reader Karen wrote, “I can’t find your ‘what we ride’ post after a few searches, and was just curious if you have any tips on accessories.” I was excited she was researching the Yuba, that she considered asking me what we had done in terms as add ons, and that I could help. Maybe you are considering a Yuba Mundo as well and wonder what this family of six has done to make this bike work well for us. Karen didn’t have any children, so I think some of these decisions could apply to anyone, and some were very specific to our needs.

Our children are currently 10, 8, 5, and 2. That’s 100, 60, 40 and 30 pounds respectively.

I am 5’9″ (maybe 10″) and 150 lbs. Brent says he is 6′, but I never think he is that tall. He weighs somewhere near 190lbs. He’s in much better physical shape than I am. Much stronger. I am doing a lot better now, after six months of more frequent and regular cycling than when I started, but I wouldn’t say I am extremely fit, just average with a below average start.

Our general cycling range is 2 to 4 miles out, so 4 to 8 miles round trip. The majority of this is on level ground. Our house is in the bottom range of a set of hills and the children’s school is at the top. Inclines vary from 4% to 15% (staying mostly within 4-8%) according to MayMyRide.

We did a considerable amount of cycling in darker conditions in the winter and we do bike in all weather, but limit our inclement experiences to those that are necessary. Since we have only been traveling by bikes for one full calendar year and we had an extremely mild winter, we can’t speak for snowy roadways and performance.

With all that out of the way,

Going to school and work. Three bodies (340lbs) and cargo (45lbs?).

The accessories we currently have from Yuba for our V4.0 and why:

  • Wheel skirt, to protect little toes and fingers before we got our bags. Now it keeps the straps and strings out of the spokes.
  • Double kick stand, the bike arrived with the single and the double is a much more stable set up with children and with cargo.
  • Wheel stabilizer, with the double kickstand the front wheel lifts off the ground to keep the bike from rolling off the stand. Unless you have front cargo, then the rear wheel lifts off. Think teeter-totter.
  • Disc brakes, based on reviews of hauling a lot of weight over hills and in
    Stoker bars, soft spot, deck, freeloaders. Clip light on the rear. IBert on the front.

    possibly slicker/wet conditions, this seemed to be recommended.

  • The deck, which is a black piece of thick plastic that lays over the frame and you can sit on or load cargo/racks/baskets.
  • Seat cushion, for the top of the deck plastic piece to make sitting back there more comfortable. It has room for one adult or two children close together. Two of them would be needed to cover the deck entirely.
  • Stoker handle bars, attach to the seat post and can be used for the rear passenger to hold onto.
  • Peanut Shell, when we did our initial research we couldn’t find any pictures or accounts of mounting any other child seat to the deck of the Yuba. Yuba recommended this seat and said, at the time, they didn’t know of another seat being mount on to the deck.I have since then had another conversation with Yuba representatives and read their blog post comparing the Peanut Shell to the Yepp Maxi. We bought the seat to hold our third child  (now 5yo), who has since graduated to the deck, so the PS waits patiently in the garage for the next child, or when I dare to take four children out on the bike, as it bookends them all nicely.
Yuba with trailer attached, post donation drop off. Two children and a mama rode to and fro.

Things we did NOT purchase from Yuba, and why:

  • Running boards, we knew we were going to use the space on the protruding frame to haul other bikes and they slip into that space very well. The frame itself can handle as a step for the children and a landing place for their feet while we travel, so they didn’t seem necessary for us.

    Two on a single soft spot both holding the stoker bars, feet on the frame.
  • Second soft spot, if we put three children on the deck we use the PeanutShell child seat as a rear book end and a second soft spot doesn’t fit under the PS. But the soft spot is extremely easy to remove, so having one on hand, would be handy later.
  • Bread basket, I want this for more cargo space and to balance the front of the bike with the rear, especially on hills, but it is not compatible with a front child seat. No front seated children? No problems. Not sure how easy it would be to remove if you wanted to add a child seat for occasional use.
  • Rumble strap, the children sit very close and both hold the stoker bars, hold each other or the deck. I did create my own strap from a bungee cord one day, but they didn’t use it. The bars were more sturdy for them.
  • The GoGetter bag, we read a review from FullHands and emailed with her personally. We looked at the costs (GG more expensive) and what we were carrying and choose the FreeLoaders from Xtracycle. I now think we would like to have both as they serve different purposes.
    • The GoGetters are larger and would hold more free floating items and bags of groceries, but they are bulkier with rear legs and not compatible with the PeanutShell according to the Yuba site.I have recently seen a photo of the PS with the GG bags. The installation seems to be compatible, but the legs keep the top flat down, hindering access or coverage
    • GG are covered, which is good for weather issues, but not good for tall/long items.
    • They remove very easily, but we never need/want to remove our freeloaders, even with the child seat.
    • The FreeLoaders have a large inside velcro pocket which I store first aid/tools/personal items/locks, etc, out of sight and safely. That inside pocket flap can be pulled up to cover things in the rain.
    • The FreeLoaders frame attachment straps have only caused problems with installing the PeanutShell seat but it still works.
    • The FLs do not have enough strap/outside wall coverage for holding large and bulky things in, so we use bungee cords, and that’s ok with us too. I think a box of cords should come with your bike. Or a cargo net, as Hum of the City suggests and my friend with the Topeak utilized on our recent camp trip.
    • The GG seems to have reflective sides and ends, the FL do not, but we got our FL in red, for added visibility. This is good in daylight only, of course.
    • We just discovered the buckles on the FL are able to cross over the deck and latch together to hold things on the flat surface. This was a good find for when Brent made a bungeeless stop for pizza the other day. Besides, bungees would have been too tight, and crushed the box. I was also able to use the FL strap to hold extremely large bags and boxes.

      Enormous bags cross-strapped into the FreeLoaders. Avery did sit on the deck atop all this.

What we may NOT purchase next time (should there be a next time) and why:

  • Wheel skirt, the bags keep out the fingers and toes and the skirt hinders access to the wheel/chain/trailer hitch, etc. It does help keep the extra straps of the FreeLoader bags out of the spokes. It may help in keeping things cleaner, but we are not clean people :) A lot of mud on the Yuba!

    Wheel skirt attached to the brazon, upper left. Detached at crucial entry point, LL. Frame area where we mount our hitch, center. Trailer hitch mounted, right.
  • Disc Brakes, we had a lot of trouble getting the brakes installed correctly by our LBS (local bike shop) and they are considerably more expensive to have/maintain. The caliper brakes were working just fine for our uses and the LBS agreed. Certainly a personal preference. The disc brakes were much harder to realign after a flat change, but do work well.
  • Peanut Shell, this is a questionable item from this vantage point. We would certainly need a child seat for the deck whether we were doing this purchase over again now, last year or next. Here are some of the advantages and challenges of the PS from our perspective.
    • The seat accommodates a child up to 48lbs, 10lbs past the range of the iBert we use for our youngest (see bottom of this post).
    • When I travel with the Yuba and three children (sometimes four), the heaviest child is easiest to manage if (s)he is directly behind my saddle. Placing the light child on the rear of the deck helps with center of balance and the feeling of carrying the momentum forward verses dragging or pulling the weight along. When the lightest child needs to be in the PS, the legs of the seat significantly hinder the use of space in the FreeLoaders, and would make it difficult to use the Go Getters.
    • Despite the blog post Yuba made about the ease of installation of the PS, we don’t think it is easy. It’s was actually a stressful task to move the seat mid-ride, away from home (I had the proper tools). If you don’t need to move the seat, then you have nothing to worry about. Our LBS installed the seat the first time and we would have been good to go, except we play musical bikes/bike seats, often.I re-installed the PS last week and it took 45minutes. I watched the Yuba install video and discovered  the LBS installed the seat incorrectly and bent a rail. The ratchet we had was the correct size but didn’t fit the nut (maybe these are replacement nuts?), and the space I had to work in was very tight. I have yet to call Yuba to replace the rail and inquire about nuts.
    • There are small parts, and we drop them, a lot. Perhaps these small parts are for installing the seat without the deck plastic? This might have been our first mistake, using the seat without the deck board is how we began, and thus the LBS installed the seat with these little plastic spacers to keep the frame from being scratched. With the deck board, the spacers are not used.

      Small parts
    • The wheel skirt gets in the way of installation and the FreeLoader straps get in the way of the seat brackets (the Go Getters wouldn’t from what I gather, but they are not designed to be used with the PS.)

      Straps and tight spaces.
    • The seat is secure on the bike. It never moves, compared to our iBert that needs tightened a little every now and then.
    • When the PS was in the front position I didn’t check to see if I had clearance for my own feet as I pedaled before tightening the nuts. I didn’t, so we had to more the seat, again.
    • The cross over lap bar on the PS is difficult to remove. I believe it was designed to stay on the seat, but with our now five year old we often had to take it off to get him in the seat, so we just left it off so he could get in and out by himself. This is an observational comparison to our friend’s Topeak seat (not on a Yuba) that has a lap bar that snaps in on one side and hinges open on the other.
    • Because it has a fabric liner, it gets wet in the rain. The liner is removable, but you would have to take out the seats belts to do so. The liner does makes the seat cooler when sitting in the sun and more comfortable all the time. We try to remember to carry plastic bags on rainy days for coverage.
    • The foot rests in the leg trays are adjustable and removable. We adjusted them and used them for a couple of rides because we thought we were supposed to. Now we have them removed because we didn’t need them, and it took less time to ready children without them there.

Things we added from other sources and/or wished came standard, and why:

  • Lights, we are burning through rechargeable batteries and constantly switching out the clip on lights we purchased from our LBS/Target/online and having to remove them at our destinations, which adds up in time. We switch them out because we overlight our bikes when we go out solo. So Brent might put three or up to five front lights on his bike or mine if they are all avialable, then we put them back on individual bikes when we go out as a group. The rear light we fixed in a way it’s more difficult to steal, but we do have to replace the batteries. We ride at night more than we anticipated, especially in the winter months when the sunsets early, and Brent works nights and there are meetings and dinners and trips to friends, etc.We don’t necessarily need lights to brighten the path, there is decent street lighting. We use them for visibility from cars, pedestrians and other cyclists. We want to be seen.
  • Water bottle cages, the Yuba came with one mount/braze-on and the shop added the cage as a kind gesture. The Xtracycle Surly Big Dummy (a comparable longtail) has THREE! and being a family of six, we just put extra bottles in bags, but the accessibility of three on the frame is very appealing. A handle bar bottle holder is in my sights as summer approaches but might not be compatible with the front mount seat. Public water access is scarce in town and I don’t wish to unload the children every time I want to go in a retail establishment to refill.
  • Locks, we like the wheel locking systems of other bikes, such as Madsen. It’s just convenient and less to haul and forget when we leave. We have small locks and big locks, some with combos, one with a key. I don’t worry too much about locking up the Yuba. I even told the mayor and police that I would move from Huntington if they can’t find this bike if it were stolen! I do lock it up, just not diligently if I am nearby.
  • iBert front seat, we had made this purchase for this bicycle. I checked with Yuba to see if it was compatible before purchase. We considered two PeanutShell seats, but due to the compatibility of rear seats with cargo bags, we decided to split the child seat needing children into front and rear positions. We chose this brand of seat because of the higher weight limit (38lbs) and cheaper price (ours was $89 on Amazon last year). The extremely easy install and simplicity of the seat remains a positive feature, as we take it on and off frequently. A front mount seat does hinder using a breadbasket. The added weight on the front of the bike is easier to handle on a climb uphill than placing the same child behind me.Initially we thought the iBert didn’t have enough back coverage for our toddler or head support for napping. Then we realized he slumps over in the iBert, the PeanutShell and his car seat, so we just go with it.

If there is something you are wanting to know more details about, please leave me a comment or send me an email. See something I left out? Let me know. My experience with bikes is limited to what has been in my garage for the past year and we have only had our Yuba for about six months. Overall, we continue to love our Yuba and have not yet found another bike that would meet our needs, in any price range.

Recycling drop off.

We are looking to add another bike to our fleet. We want the option of transporting four children and cargo with a single bike, some of the time. We also would consider transporting four children with two bikes. There is also the thought of electrifying our current bike to aid in transporting so much weight. A second Yuba has been a high contender, a Bike Friday Triple or Onderwater are also on the list.

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