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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 05-03-09, 06:40 PM   #1
eggnoggbubble
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starting from scratch to get a cargocarrying bike

I'm wanting to get a new bike for commuting and utility use.

Until now I have been commuting on a sirrus sport, however my sirrus frame has a crack just under the handlebars, i finally took my sirrus to a specialised dealer today and was told i need a new bicycle, apparently i could just replace the frame but apparently that'd cost about the same as a new bike (specialised dont sell the frame separately anyway).

Not so good, but I suppose looking on the bright side it does throw my options for a cargo bike wide open, helpful since there does seem to be a question mark over xtracycles with 700cc wheels (that my sirrus has).

I want to use my utility bike to:

commute during the week, and carry kids and beach stuff at the weekend. I doubt I'll replace the car entirely, but I'd like to head in that direction, and at least maybe replace the scooter i currently use. My commute is about ten km, but can vary, and currently twice a week i have a 20km commute (one way, ie 40km round trip). I do carry a good 10k of luggage on my commute (teaching materials). The road conditions here vary, and I ride on the pavement a lot (so up and down curbs a bit), and it is rather hilly and consistently windy.

My options appear to be:

Buy a new or used mountain bike and convert to an xtracycle (there seems to be an issue with flexing with the conversion kit, but not huge), here I want to go steel not aluminium because of my sirrus experience above Any suggestions for bikes? Also seems like there is a lot of customisation i would need to do, since i wouldnt want some of the stuff that comes with a standard MTB (suspension forks, for example). So maybe it is worth going longtail-purpose built? Which leads to:

Big dummy - great but out of my budget maybe

Yuba Mundo - looks solid and more reasonable budgetwise. Will it work with all those nice accessories for the xtracycle, the freeloader bags look fantastic and footsies, and extra bits for wide/long loads might be handy down the road (haha), i'm thinking about carrying a surfboard.....

Anyway I dont know that much about bikes, so if anyone can spare the time to write a few lines of advice, I would be very grateful indeed.

thanks again for your time
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Old 05-03-09, 10:34 PM   #2
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I'm certainly happy with my Yuba Mundo. Like you, I found the price for the BD too prohibitive, and I chose the Yuba over the Kona Ute b/c when i tested both carrying my daughter on the back, I much preferred the stability of the steel frame as well as having a granny gear (you'll want that too, since you've got hills to climb). The trade-off is definitely in the lack of accessories, as you readily note. That being said, Yuba is now offering a child seat and panniers to fit its rack (check their website). Like any accessories, they're pricey. Final note, this is a wide bike, so riding on the pavement (I assume you mean what Americans call sidewalks) will not endear you to pedestrians --- just something to consider.
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Old 05-03-09, 11:20 PM   #3
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Just to clarify-- no; the Mundo is not Xtracycle compatible. You might be able to fudge the freeloaders, but any "hard" accessories-- wideloaders, longloaders, footsies, etc-- will not work.

From what I hear, the Mundo is very tough and stiff-- to a lot of people's surprise, stiffer and sturdier than the Big Dummy to a noticeable degree. One thing, though: The stock build comes with a lot of cheap components. On the geared (1x6) version, one part that scares me in particular is the rear hub-- it's a freewheel-type hub, which long-story-short means it's pretty vulnerable to bent axles. I'm surprised that they'd spec one on such a heavy-duty bike.
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Old 05-04-09, 09:06 AM   #4
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You could get an '80's mtn bike with no suspension for the xtra. I don't really notice the flexing people keep mentioning. I haul lots of construction stuff and have loaded it quite a bit and it seems fine.
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Old 05-04-09, 09:20 AM   #5
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rear hub

This is funny, because I feel that the rear wheel is very beefy. 18-spoke and 14mm axle. If think they've spec a BMX axle on the rear wheel.
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Old 05-04-09, 06:39 PM   #6
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thanks, that gives me some input, might look around for a used mtb frame before i go to buying a new bike. the mundo still looks really good for the price tho, and gets me a complete solution.

thanks for the tip about wide, that does give me extra thinking. But its no wider at the back than at the handlebars, yeah?

Looking at other options, the radish looks interesting too - complete setup, and (like the mundo) adjustable so my wife could use it too. Anyone any experience with the radish? Can anyone compare the radish to the mundo? I am thinking the mundo is great but might be overkill in carrying capacity for me (and thus unnecessarily heavy).
One drawback: the radish has an aluminium frame again, I'm hoping to go steel this time round (after my last aluminium frame cracked, grrr), anyone any thoughts on this issue?

With either bike, I'm going to need to do something about gears - it's very hilly round here (and windy to boot), i'll need some low gears for long climbs. Any advice or suggestions? One idea i am thinking of is to get my LBS to replace the shipped gearing (with either bike) with the gearing, deraillieur etc from my (now defunct, grrrr) sirrus. Anyone see any reason why that wouldnt work?

thanks again

Last edited by eggnoggbubble; 05-04-09 at 09:02 PM. Reason: extra thoughts slowly occur
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Old 05-05-09, 04:36 PM   #7
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An aluminum mountain bike frame should be stronger than an aluminum road bike frame, so don't be too spooked on that issue. I think the Xtracycle accessories are very useful.
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Old 05-06-09, 05:23 PM   #8
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ERROR: according to one section of the xtracycle website, the radish has an aluminium frame. However, in email contact with them, george told me (with apologies) that this is an error, and the radish has a STEEL frame. Just so no one is mislead by this thread (tho' they still might be mislead by the xtracycle website.....)

Currently the radish is in the lead, anyone have one and like to comment? How is it for riding over longer distances (say, 10-15 miles one way, up and down hills). My last bike (the sirrus) was pretty sporty and fast, i've never ridden a more comfortable bike (the radish looks like a beach cruiser) so am wondering how they ride. I am thinking more relaxed and comfortable might be a GOOD thing, I am less inclined to speed everywhere nowadays.

the radish is still a little expensive, (remember i wasn't planning on buying a new bike, just a freeradical, until i realised the crack in my sirrus frame was fatal), a second cheaper option is to buy a kind of city-commuter bike available here in japan (where i live) for $200 (think dutch shopping bike whieels with a mountainbikish frame and gears, and a steel frame, yay!), and attach the freeradical to that. Might need to change the back brake to a v-brake (its cantilever right now, but the freerad doesnt fit cantilevers i think). Can anyone comment on the comparison between 26" balloon tires (radish) and 700cc shopping bike tires? I'm interested because my 700cc sirrus tires are pretty unforgiving on all the curbs i go up and down.

that's quite a lot isn't it? I don't have that much experience with bikes and i am trying to make a good choice and use my cash wisely (new baby eating the budget - but I want to carry him on a bike so i dont have to drive everywhere, this is how i got started on this whole xtracycle thing).
thanks for reading!
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Old 05-09-09, 06:03 AM   #9
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I love my X. I chose it over the yuba because the X seemed to be more versatile. I have no experience with the Radish, I would expect that it would be a very solid (as in good) ride. It probably would have been cheaper for me to have gotten a radish. However, I have no regrets, It has been a learning experience all the way for me.I hadn't been any where near a bike in over 25 yrs. I didn't know enough to know that I should have gotten a steel framed donor bike.If I was going to do it over I would probably get the Radish,assuming that the budget wouldn't allow a Big Dummy build.
Having said that,if I had the resources I would have a Big Dummy in a heartbeat.
Either way I believe that you would be happy which ever way you decide to go.
As an aside, if the budget would/will allow it consider an e-assist option.
Peace and Blessings,
John
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Old 05-09-09, 06:17 PM   #10
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thanks,

an e-assist is part of the dream for the future (to extend the range of carrying stuff to the beach, mainly) but to get started i think i am going to go with the radish, haven't found any real advice by riders of it but everyone seems to love their freeradicals so i'm gonna guess the radish is of similar quality. One key advantage is that both me and my wife will be able to use it because of the adjustable saddle height.

Long term, i may pass the radish over to the wife (hopefully she'll start to enjoy the x-cycling lifestyle, she already has a shopper she uses so the odds are good) and get either a yuba or BD (tho finances may never run to justifying the BD). And that e-assist for getting it up the hills.....

thanks for your reply
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