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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 01-13-12, 08:16 AM   #1
bendembroski
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Thinking about pre-ordering a 2012 Madsen or getting a Yuba Mundo.

Hi All.

The family is going to make a move from Scotland to the US (Milwaukee) in the next 5 months or so. Our situation is going to change drastically, and I'm thinking that a proper cargo bike might be a good idea. If you'll forgive the long-winded explanation of my situation:

At the moment, we are a one-car family. I work from home, my wife uses the car for business. We've got two kids -- 1.5 and 4 years old. When I'm looking after the kids, I pull them in around in a trusty Trek Go-Bug trailer behind an old Cresswell Fold-it with a Sturmey Archer XRD-8(w) hub. I use the trailer plus panniers to run to the grocery store with the kids. I tend to just use the panniers on the rear rack when running errands without the kids, unless I need the extra capacity of the trailer. I also have a Brompton that use to ride to meetings, or any other rides that when I don't need to haul a bunch of stuff.

The kids are getting a little tight in the trailer, and it doesn't work that great for hauling bulky stuff. Not to mention that many times I'll run to a shop on the bike without the trailer, and then see something I want to grab something that won't fit in the panniers.

All in all, I've been lusting after a more flexible bike --cargo & kid hauling wise, and making due with the trailer.

I was orginally thinking a Yuba Mundo with a peanut shell for the 1.5 year old and the hold on bars for the 4 year old. When I priced out all the stuff I would want, it came to just a tick under $1,800 USD.

Just for kicks, I headed over to the Madsen site and see that I can get a Madsen Bucket, the optional front and rear rack for 1,440. Similarly equipped.

I'm not in a postion to test ride either bike, but I've had enough experiences with 'one size fits all' bikes that I'm not too worried about how they will fit me.

I know I'm gong to be hauling the kids around a bit. I'll also be doing some cargo + kids, and some just cargo. The truth is, I can't accurately predict the exact nature of my cycling future in terms of distances, and how much stuff I'm going to be carrying. I would imagine there would be a fair bit of riding 5-10 miles taking the 'kids to grandmas', and maybe the occasionally longer trips for some countryside adventures (30 miles round trip).

I'm attracted to the stiffness and roubustness of the Yuba. It also seems to be a better cargo hauler from what I've read in the reviews. I also like the idea that I can have my wife hop on the back of the Yuba for a short run for a cup of coffee or drinks if the mood suits us.

I like the idea of the bucket on the Madsen for carting kids around (better weather protection), and not really having to worry about someone stealing the go-getter bags while the bike is parked somewhere. I could also see rigging up something with rear rack so my wife could still hitch a ride.

I don't find $400 price difference a huge deal, but I could use the savings on the Madsen to pay for better brakes, tires, and a comfy Brooks saddle.

Any thoughts on which bike is the more versatile for the situations I just described?

How easy is it to swap the bucket / rack configuration on the Madsen?

Which is the better bike 'unloaded' ? Would you take either on a 50 mile ride?

Enough questions. Thoughts and opinions are welcome!
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Old 01-14-12, 12:43 AM   #2
ioverholt
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Scotland to Milwaukee, that's a big move for the family. It's tough to recommend a good all-round solution for hauling kids and cargo. The kids have special needs for keeping dry and warm. Most cargo is relatively easy to get on a bike one way or another. But the dry and warm features for the kids can get in the way of general cargo hauling needs.

I own a Yuba and I ride around with my 5 year old son. He loves riding on the bike although keeping him warm is a challenge. Note that I live in sunny Long Beach, CA so this will be a much larger challenge in Milwaukee.

The Yuba rides like a big bike. It is comfortable and easy to ride. The cargo weight does not affect the riding feel much. Now when my son suddenly moves from side to side to see something, I notice that a lot. I'm always telling him to move around slowly. But he always forgets. Hills and wind are hard on the Yuba. I would imagine the Madsen is much the same in this regard.

I leave my go-getters on all the time and I have not worried about them getting stolen even though bike theft is a big issue in my area. I can't imagine what someone would want with such enormous bags. They would not fit a regular bike and I have not seen another Yuba around here. They're highly visible and I could easily spot them in for-sale ads.

In my mind the only advantage the Madsen has is the tub which keeps a lot of (cold) air off of your children. I leave my go-getters on 99% of the time and my son puts his feet and legs inside. So I just need a jacket on him and sometimes I'll wrap a blanket around his upper legs. You will really have to bundle your kids up to take them on the Yuba. Keeping them dry is not easy, but it's easier to adapt some sort of rain cover to the bucket. On the Yuba, they'll need rain clothing that will shed water. I rarely have to think about rain in SoCal.

I think the Madsen has some downsides which would be hard to overcome. The rear wheel is small which will add rolling resistance. Is the small rear wheel durable enough? The Yuba has a tandem rear wheel. The derailer is very close to the ground and vulnerable to damage. The front chainring is small which does not make up for the small rear wheel (most 20" folding bikes have larger front chainrings) so the top speed will be limited. It does not look straightforward to add additional front gears. Finally the bucket is convenient for carrying things that you can throw inside it, but larger items (especially long ones) may be hard to secure.

You could look at carrying children as just a short term requirement. I don't know how long my son will want to ride on the bike with me. But I can give him a lift and tow his bike with the Yuba.

In summary, I think anything with a semi-enclosed space is going to be a big advantage with small children. But that semi-enclosed space is going to get in the way when you want to carry big things or people. The Madsen is better for taking the kids around while the Yuba is better in general.
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Old 01-14-12, 03:23 AM   #3
bendembroski
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Thanks for the considered response!

You hit the nail on the head when you talk about having to keep the little critters warm and dry. That's the main appeal to me for the Madsen it seems more like a bike with a big 'ol trailer attached to it.

I'm not the least bit worried about the smaller diameter rear wheel. They are stronger for a given spoke count. Granted, it doesn't have the monster 14mm axle that the Yuba has, but I don't think I'm going to be carring much more that 200 lbs. max with me at a time anyway... I've been riding small wheeled bikes for years now, and I can tell you from practical experience that the difference in rolling is resistance is real world terms is pretty insiginificant -- espcically when on a bike like a cargo bike. It would matter more if I were racing I suppose, but all in all it is very much a non issue.

Gearing: I think I read somewhere that it is possible to add a front derailiuer to the Madsen, provided you don't mind losing the chaingaurd?

I'd get the optional rack along with the bucket if I went with the Madsen. That way, I could turn it into a more conventional long tail when the bucket isn't going to work. I do wonder how much of a hassle the swap is. Looks like it's a few bolts.

I suppose the real question is: Is the Yuba frame $400 better than the Madsen frame?
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Old 01-14-12, 09:40 AM   #4
jankdc
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I live in Ohio, and I really like having a long bike. They are thinner and can get through traffic easier. I don't know what Milwakee is like, but the Madsen might bea little wide. I would wait until you moved and check out the general biking charicteristics of the city before buying. Also, are there dealers in Milwakee for each bike? I'd do a test ride.
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Old 01-14-12, 10:37 AM   #5
bendembroski
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Normally, I'd agree with you regarding the test ride. However, I really would like to get in on the pre order deal on the madsen if at all possible. I might just take a punt, and if it's not right, I should be able to sell the madsen without taking too big of a hit.

Width: how much wider than the side loaders on a Yuba ?
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Old 01-26-12, 01:46 PM   #6
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That's an exciting move to make.

These folk seem to like their Madsen;
http://mummybikes.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

Practical Cycles do Yuba and used to have Madsen listed but seem not to any more.

Checking their site today shows they'll be doing the 8Freight.
http://www.practicalcycles.com/page51.htm

Might be worth adding to the list as you like 20" wheels.

But I'm not sure what availability or cost would be in the US.
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Old 01-27-12, 01:43 AM   #7
bendembroski
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyh2 View Post
That's an exciting move to make.

These folk seem to like their Madsen;
http://mummybikes.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

Practical Cycles do Yuba and used to have Madsen listed but seem not to any more.

Checking their site today shows they'll be doing the 8Freight.
http://www.practicalcycles.com/page51.htm

Might be worth adding to the list as you like 20" wheels.

But I'm not sure what availability or cost would be in the US.
Thanks for the link. Haven't seen that one.

I looked at the 8freight, but counted it out for 4 reasons:

1. It can only be used as a 'box bike'.
2. 50kg cargo limit
3. I read on a messenger forum that they were having a problem with frames cracking when abused.
4. Considerably more expensive than a Yuba or Madsen.

It does make me wonder why they put a 26" wheel on the front of the Madsen...
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Old 01-27-12, 10:32 AM   #8
hubcap
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I considered both the Yuba and the Madsen before deciding on the Mundo. Although I haul my kids around a lot (not as much in the winter), I use the Mundo for utility trips, sans kids, just about as much. The Mundo seemed better suited to me to pop from hardware store to grocery store to ??? while keeping the purchases in the go getters out of sight when I am in other stores. The go getters keep the contents nice and dry, even in downpours. Nothing is 100% safe in them, but buckled up and parked in a high vis/traffic area in front of a store, I don't see too much risk of someone trying to get into them. And I really don't see someone trying to remove the go getter bags themselves. The way the top buckles squeeze between the deck, or in my case the soft spot seat, and the rack makes them just enough of a hassle that someone would have to analyze it for a bit to get them off. I have left them on the bike (empty) the whole day at the train station a lot of times.

I also have hauled other bikes with the Mundo many times. I'm not sure how easily you could do that with the Madsen. My son is now 6 yrs old and my daughter is 3. The son rides behind me on the soft spot seat holding on to the tandem bars and my daughter is comfortably behind him in a peanut shell seat.

I could probably make the Madsen work for 95% of the uses I have for the Mundo, but the Yuba just seemed the way to go for me. Oh, and I have done some pretty long rides on the Mundo and it rides just fine for longer trips, but it will wear you out if you start loading it up with kids and gear though.
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Old 01-27-12, 10:44 AM   #9
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to get in on the presale would u be shipping the bike to scotland and then moving it to milwaukee or do u have relatives in milwaukee to ship it to? are those bullit's any cheaper in euroland than stateside cause here in the states gas is probably half the costs of europe so cargo bikes haven't caught on yet stateside like in europe
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Old 01-27-12, 10:49 AM   #10
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I think if you're primarily thinking of the bike as kid transport, the Madsen wins hands-down. ioverholt pointed out some very pertinent things about keeping the elements off your kids, which will be especially relevant if you're planning on riding year-round. They're even coming out with a cabriolet-style folding rain cover: https://twitter.com/#!/madsencycles/...152962/photo/1

For general maneuverability, sportiness and utility, the Yuba is going to be a better choice. The Madsen is a big, long wide bike (a foot longer than my Big Dummy) so if you're going to be weaving through pedestrians, traffic, up and down stairwells, parking between other bikes on bike racks... well, neither is going to be great, but the Yuba will be better.

My wife is actually going to be shelving her Xtracycle for a Madsen while the kids are young, but depending on how she likes it, she may very well go back to the Xtracycle.
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Old 01-27-12, 02:30 PM   #11
bendembroski
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Again, thanks for all the input.

No doubt, the Yuba has quite a following! (and for good reason, from what I have read)

A couple of thoughts:

1. With a rear rack fitted (instead of the bucket) should act as a 'regular', albeit longer, longtail.
2. I've got two other bikes that I can use for lighter utility type trips (about 3 large panniers of capacity)
3. I don't really know the specifics of my cargo bike needs, except I know it will involve at least one kid coming along for the ride much of the time.
4. Weather protection is important
5. The weight of the two bikes is similar

On paper, given the pre-order price, the Madsen looks like it's the winner. If I was looking at full price for the Madsen, the decision would be much harder. The plan (In my head) is to just use the rear rack to convert it to a conventional longtail if I don't get along with the bucket.

Now, I'm wondering how long it takes to remove the bucket and install the rear rack. I'm also wondering if something like the Yuba go-getters will work on the Madsen rack.

Oh, and 2dailed, I'll order the bike and have it shipped to a buddy of mine in Milwaukee. He'll test ride it, make sure all is well and have it ready for when I arrive. This is particularly important, as my other bikes are going to be shipped slow-freight across the Atlantic.
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