The Beastrider fellow who runs the cargo bike FB group asked me to write a review of my new Yuba Mundo. I’m putting it here, as it seems a little long for a FB post, and also so people considering this bike can find it with a google search.
I have only had the bik
e a few days, so this post is just first impressions, and I’ll need to follow up as I use the bike more.
As anyone shopping for a cargo bike knows, there are a number of options. So let me start by explaining why I chose the Mudo. Mostly it is because I am a really big guy. I’m 6’5” tall, and even when I lose another 30-40lbs. I will still be over 200lbs. (I lost 60# last year, so pretty sure I can lose the rest this year) I spent my tweens/teens delivering newspapers on a bike, and I still have the legs to show for it. I am very hard on bikes. I have broken 3 frames, two of them without crashing. Machine built wheels don’t stand a chance with me. When you look at the weight ratings of many of the other cargo bikes, and subtract my current ~240# weight, you don’t have much left for cargo. Yuba rates the Mundo for 400# of cargo PLUS a rider. Seeing the bike first-hand, I have no problem believing it. The ovalised main tubes are massive, and don’t really show in the typical profile photos. They are wide enough that a short rider might have knee clearance concerns with the top tube. The rear triangle tubes are about 1-1/8”…as big as the downtube on standard road bike! The rear axle is a 14mm diameter chunk of tempered steel. The rear wheel has 48 13ga spokes and the front 36. Note that Yuba’s specs say they are 14ga, but I measured mine at 2.15mm (13g) not 2mm(14g) …maybe this is a running change? While I will probably only rarely use the bike’s full capacity, it is nice to have a bike I don’t have to worry about breaking.
Paint: It's orange. Really REALLY Orange. Lots of orange on a really big bike. Did I mention it is orange? The color is very pretty, slightly metallic. Unfortunately, the paint is already proving not to be very tough. It flakes readily when bolt heads tighten against it, and I gouged it badly with the low-rider rack when I towed my commuter bike. As anyone who has priced custom frames knows, paint-jobs don't come cheap...but if Yuba was considering raising the price, powder-coating or Imron, or other tough paint is the the place to spend money that would improve the bike the most IMO.
The mundo uses a long, oversized seatpost, like on a folding bike. Even with my 37” inseam, I could raise the post about an inch beyond my needs before hitting the limit marks. Kevbabe at 5’5” will be able to ride the bike just by dropping the post. The two of us probably couldn’t be comfortable on any single example of the other longtails…though if she ends up riding it too much, I may have to get another cargo bike for her. I might steer her toward something lighter, as she doesn’t break bikes the way I do.
Frame: The Mundo is made of welded mild steel (AKA hiten) . Some are critical of this, but it is probably critical to holding the line on price. In addition to costing less than chrome-moly, mild steel can be mig welded while Cr-Mo really needs to be tig or gas welded or brazed. Those are far more labor intensive processes. The welds on my Mundo , I would describe as workmanlike…If I had made them, I wouldn’t hide them, but I wouldn’t be showing them off either. I don’t anticipate having any issues with the joints failing. Consider that high-strength steels are used to make bikes lighter, and livelier (less stiff) while the Mundo is designed to be stiff enough to carry huge loads. This means the tubes are fat and thick walled. Many people don’t know that ALL steel alloys are equally stiff. (within 1% anyway) An equally stiff Cr-Mo frame would weigh the same, but be a bit stronger. To make it lighter, you would have to thin the tube walls, and then it would be more limber. I would certainly like it to be Cr-Mo, but I am not so sure I would want to pay for it.
The Mundo doesn’t follow Extracycle’s standard, so none of the extracycle stuff will fit it. (freeloaders might, but I don’t have one to try) So you lose some of the modular versatility that you’d have with a Big Dummy, Atlas, or FreeRadical’d bike. The upside of this is that the racks on the Mundo are very solid, and contribute to the overall stiffness of the bike. Also, it is not as if the X accessories are exactly cheap, and Yuba offers most of what I would need at comparative prices. The Yuba bipod stand is a real bargain compared to the X version. The V4 Mundo is a little different here from earlier versions: The top/front rails of the rack terminate at the top tube rather than continuing to the bottom bracket as on V<=3 bikes. This means you need to take care to get the right version top-deck if you don’t order it with the bike.
Wheels: I mentioned the high spoke counts earlier. (48R, 36F) These seem to be machine built. If you are buying through a dealer, see if they will stress-relieve, tension, and true the wheels as part of the deal, especially if you stick with the rim brakes. My front wheel was none too true, and the spokes were barely snug. The back wheel was notably better. A session on the truing stand was needed to bring them up to my Clydesdale standards. Note that many bike shops won’t have a spoke wrench to fit the 13ga nipples. You can get one from a motorcycle shop, or work over a red spoke wrench with a needle file as I did. Also, the 14mm rear axle wouldn’t drop into the dropouts on my truing stand, but I was able to get by with it just setting partly into the openings. The threaded front axle mic’d at exactly .375”…but it might be an undersized 10mm. I was pleased to see cartridge type bearings on the front wheel. The spokes are stainless with brass nipples. The spoke heads are marked “8”…not sure what brand that is. The 21 speed version I have uses a 7 cog freewheel. .. NOT a cassette and freehub. This concerns me a little with regard to future parts availability. Obviously, this was done to allow for the oversized axle, and strong chain. Yuba sells a special tool to remove the freewheel, which I have ordered, but don’t yet have. As on almost all derailleur bikes, the rear wheel is dished. I got the disk brake option, so my front wheel is slightly dished to allow the spokes to clear the caliper. If you need to save pennies and get the rim-brake option, you can console yourself that you are also getting a stronger front wheel! With the long chain, and only 7 sprockets on the rear cluster, all the 21 gears are usable without cross-chaining concerns. I didn’t count gear teeth, but the bike is geared rather low, typical of most mountain bikes. This should be good for schlepping a loaded bike up hills. It was easy for me to get the bike into top gear on just slight downgrades, but it was tall enough that you’d need a tailwind to do that if you live where it is flat. If you want to pedal hard down steepish hills, you will be wanting taller gearing…and probably not a cargo bike.
Other components: The V4 uses a 1-1/8” thread-less steerer. I have never seen one, but I think the earlier versions used a quill type stem. Yuba supplies basic steel handlebars…sort of a classic English roadster bend. After riding with these, I find I quite like the hand position. I may replace them with Jones loop bars at some point, but that item has moved well down on my list. I think my newspaper bike had very similar bars…and as much as I hated that bike, these bars bring back pleasant memories. The derailleurs are SRAM X4, which my spandex wearing, weight-weeny of a cow-orker called “pure junk”. Whatever dude, they seem solid enough and shift great. The X3 shifters work very well. I like that they will downshift multiple gears with one motion, and that they have gear indicators on them. The rear cluster is back where it is hard to see, and the indicator is helpful in deciding if I need to get on a smaller chain ring to prepare for a looming hill. (This has been an issue on our tandem.) One thing I did find is that the shifting was rather poor when the axle was fully back in the dropouts, due to the long distance from the top jockey wheel to the cluster. With the axle in the middle of the dropout, the shifting was perfect.
The cranks are SRAM alloy, not sure what “level”. The chainrings are steel, which I prefer on mountain and utility bikes, and there is a guard ring to help keep pants cuff clear, though a leg band is still needed to keep grease off . With no chainstays to clear, the cranks are wider than they really need to be. Works fine for me, but folks who worry over Q-factor might want to replace them. It came with alloy BMX style platform pedals. The front indexed shifter works great, and I didn’t hear any rubbing of the FD in any gear, so never felt the need to trim it. This has an indicator as well, though not really needed, as it is easy to look down and see which ring you are on. The FD is a top pull unit (first for me) and the RD cable runs under the top tube as well, so there are no cables under the bottom bracket. There are cable stops at each end of the top tube, then sheaths beyond that, so I expect the bike will be immune to “ghost shifting”, even when loaded to capacity. Also nice not having the cables under the bottom bracket where they pick up a lot of grit. Overall the drive-train works well, and seems well chosen for the application.
The saddle is a no-name, with a center trench. Padded with a rather firm foam and narrow enough not to be a problem. It does have a couple of badly placed seams near the edges. It seems to work OK though, and I will probably leave it alone if Kevbabe ends up using the Mundo very much. If I am to be the only rider, I’ll probably change it to a B-17.
The 21 speed version comes with SKS style (not sure the actual brand) aluminized plastic (poly-carbonate) fenders. These offer gobs of clearance for the stock 2” tires, and will probably be OK with 2.3” tires. The rear stays attach to the rack, and are thus short and sturdy. The front fender uses a single stay, and is a bit floppier than I would prefer…will probably have to do something about that soon. I have bamboo fenders on my commuter, and I quite like them. The rear mudflap got a bit compressed in the carton the bike came in, and also when the bike is stood on the rear racks.
The tires are WTB “freedom” cruiser tires. I’ll be replacing them with big apples, as the freedoms won’t stop a goat head thorn, which I pick up regularly. With the fender, nutted axle, disk brake, and the horizontal dropouts, R&Ring the back wheel is a bit of a chore, so I’d rather deal with as few punctures as possible. Nutted axles make sense from a strength and security standpoint, so I really can’t fault Yuba for not having QR quills.
I got the disk brake option. They are Tektro IO cable operated calipers. The front rotor is shipped off the wheel. If you are assembling the bike, you will need a Torx driver to bolt it to the wheel. And you will also need to cut the cable to length. This is the first pedal bike I have had with disk brakes. They work great…not sure if better or worse than other disk brakes. The rims are very beefy, and I think I would probably be OK with the standard rim brakes if the disks had been beyond my means…they do fine on our tandem, though we do have a drag drum for long descents.
Fit, handling, and ride: I was a bit dubious about the “one size fits most” claim, but it really seems to be true. The bike looks a bit odd with the seatpost up as high as I need it, but works well for me. I might end up adding a riser to the steerer to get the bars a little higher, but they are working OK for now…body position is OK, but I might like my arms a little more bent. With about 20# on top of the rear rack, (my mutt in a basket) I found the bike wanted to shimmy with my hands off the bars. Even with my knee (well, shin, in my case) on the top tube. This built slowly, and was not really worrysome. With the seat that high, it puts the weight high and back, and that often leads to shimmy. My commuter is far worse. This thing tracks well and feels totally stable with a hand or two on the bars. It is the first bike I have ridden where I can’t feel the frame flexing when pedaling out of the saddle. I wouldn’t call it nimble, but I was expecting it to be a fair bit more sluggish than it is.
Accessories: I plan to make a rear deck and running boards from bamboo plywood. I only got the front “bread basket” and the bipod center stand for now. Both of these seem sturdy, well designed and well built. The breadbasket will need a floor, as it has but two bars across the middle. It was OK with a couple of 12-packs of beer in it, but a grocery bag of canned goods would be trouble. The basket mounts to the frame, not the fork. It bolts to braze-ons intended for this, so isn’t adaptable to other bikes without torch work or custom fabricated clamps. I was able to use a couple of zip ties to manage the cables so they don’t get molested by the rack when the bar turns. Not sure how this works with the rim brake option…might want to ask Yuba about that before you order one.
Hauling: I haven’t had the bike but 4 days, so not much to say. The first ride, I towed my commuter bike home from work (had the Mundo shipped to office) in the dark, and that went well. Hauled the mutt to the off-leash park…she’s roughly small schnauzer sized, about 17#, and another couple of pounds of basket. On the way home from the dog park, I stopped and got about 10 lbs. of groceries, which I carried in a soft cooler in the front basket.
That’s all fer now. Will update as I gain experience.