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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 02-27-12, 11:31 PM   #1
Jaye
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Question Torn between Ute vs. MinUte

So two days ago I picked up a 2012 Kona Minute. I had done a bunch of research online and thought that it would fit my needs pretty much perfectly, however now I am second guessing my decision.

My purpose of getting the new bike was to go Car-Lite. Our family is my wife and I, and two kids, my daughter who is 4 and my son who is 4 months.

I am looking to use my new bike for commuting to work, hauling groceries/farmers market goods, library trips, carrying the kids, etc.

I was initially looking at the Ute (online) but was afraid that it would be cumbersome when not carrying kids or cargo (i.e Commuting) so I ordered a Minute instead. After having it I realize that there is no way for me to put both kids on at once, and I am also not going to be able to do a full shopping trip with the two smaller bags that come on it, and it cannot hold the larger Ute bags.

So my question for the Ute owners out there is just how awkward is the bike when not loaded? I don't have an issue with needing it to be particularly bus friendly or anything I am just concerned with the ride. I really like the idea of being able to haul both kids and groceries without the need for pulling a trailer.

I have a 30 day return window in which to swap the Minute for the Ute but I wanted to hear some opinions here before I do.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 02-28-12, 06:04 AM   #2
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I think Kona introduced the MinUte for no good reason, really. It barely exceeds the cargo capacity of a normal bike. And it seems like for your needs it's even less usable. I owned a Big Dummy briefly and it was indeed too long for my apartment, I found myself using my normal bike more often than the BD, because the BD was pain in the neck to get out of my hallway. However, it rode just fine when not loaded. So if storage room is not an issue for you then go with the full Ute IMHO.
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Old 02-28-12, 09:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaye View Post
I really like the idea of being able to haul both kids and groceries without the need for pulling a trailer.

I have a 30 day return window in which to swap the Minute for the Ute but I wanted to hear some opinions here before I do.

Thanks for any help.
The kids will grow and you may find you would like/need a trailer...for my utility run needs I like having a triple up front for the gear range it gives me...a nice high end to get there and a nice low end to get back with a fully loaded trailer (150+- lbs.) and panniers. Our grocery runs are 22 mi rt. - our dog food runs are closer to 29 mi rt....so I want all the gears I can spin. Congrats on moving into the utility bike world!!
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Old 02-28-12, 11:44 AM   #4
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Using a trailer when needed may be the way to go for you. You might be able to haul both kids on the Minute by putting the daughter on the back and using something like an iBert for the little guy once he can hold himself upright in the seat.

It's hard to beat a true cargo bike (e.g. longtail) if you are going car light/free. I find mine much more practical to use than my trailer. But if you have much of a commute, you would probably want to supplement that cargo bike with something lighter and more traditional. I love my Yuba for what I use it for, which is several times a week, but I would not want to be limited to only having it for commuting puposes.
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Old 02-28-12, 01:52 PM   #5
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I'll just vote against the trailer to offer an alternative viewpoint:

This only applies if the the trailer is going to get used at least several times a week.

A trailer effectively doubles your rolling resistance in terms of there is more rubber on the road. I constantly hear people tell me that they don't know it's there unless they hit a hill. I certainly can.

You need to decide ahead of time if you want to use the trailer or not. Depending on your routine, this might not be a big deal. Really bugs me.

When the bike is locked up, you need to figure out how to lock the trailer too. This has become a sufficient hassle that I just don't bother locking the trailer anymore.

Braking at speed is tricky. The trailer tends to 'push' the bike around. This can be compensated with a change in technique, but then you still need to think about the trailer before you grab the levers. I can tell you that on the occasions when I've panic stopped with the trailer, I've regularly gone over, and I've always come close. It's just my gut reaction to grab a bunch of front brake. The rear end gets pushed by the trailer, and if I don't react quick enough... This only happens in panic stops, mind you and those don't happen that often.

If the kids are in the trailer and the raincover is on, I can't hear what they are saying to the point of comprehension unless I stop the bike.

That said, they do offer great weather protection for the kids / cargo. You don't have to haul with you when you know you don't need it. And if the bike goes over, the trailer stays upright.

Like all things in life, it's all a tradeoff. In my particular case, I'm fixin' to ditch the trailer in favor of a dedicated cargo / kid haulin' bike. Then again, it won't be my only bike so I don't have to take it unless I want / need to.

What's the weight difference between the two bikes?
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Old 02-28-12, 03:26 PM   #6
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I like the kid trailers just fine, but I would go for the ute in your case. The other option I would consider is a Burley tag along bike. Your 4 year old will be looking to contribute to pedalling and there will be a gap of several years between wanting to pedal and being able to keep up. I have used a Burley Piccolo on several of my bikes and it is much easier to cope with than the other tag-along bikes.A full cargo bike (ute, other longtail, front loader) gives you the option of carrying an extra kid if one of yours wants to pick up a friend.
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Old 02-28-12, 04:30 PM   #7
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A friend of mine has a Ute and I have a Big Dummy. The extra length is NOT an issue when riding. If that's your concern, don't worry about it.

Moving it around in in tight spaces, putting it on a bus, and other stuff like that IS a concern.
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Old 02-29-12, 06:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies. After a bit of mulling I had the shop order me a Ute (they only had the 18" in stock and I needed the 20") and will be swapping the Minute once it arrives. I couldn't get past the feeling of half-assing what I wanted with the Minute by not having the ability to haul both kids via the bike itself.
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Old 03-11-13, 11:01 AM   #9
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A year on how are you finding the Ute? I'm in exactly the same position now - have a two year old boy and another on its way - and am equally torn between the two bikes. How has the ute worked out for you - are you happy with the choice you made?
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Old 03-12-13, 10:51 AM   #10
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Since I have no kids, I'm hoping to pick up the MinUte sometime this year. I live in a 3rd. floor, one bedroom apt, there's no way I can use a full size Ute but the Kona MinUte would be perfect, IF I need to haul more than the MinUte, I'll just hook up my homemade utility trailer, yes the trailer does some the things stated above but for me it's non-issue, I'm NOT in a hurry if I'm "trailer tugg'in", the combo of MinUte and trailer there's not much I couldn't haul!
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Old 03-19-13, 11:45 AM   #11
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UTE owner comment

ANSWER to your question:

Q. So my question for the Ute owners out there is just how awkward is the bike when not loaded?

A. I've owned my Kona Ute for approximately 3 years, having purchased one from a shoppe in Fla. that had it on sale, as the shoppe sold to a new owner, it was carryover stock.

I think the UTE is the best bike I've owned, and I rarely carry much on it.

It's an extremely stable machine on trails or the road due to the long wheelbase and build quality, and so you get a smooth ride without suspension systems needing so much care over time. (Front and rear shock systems are time consuming to keep up to new condition...I've been a bike mechanic so have the skills, just prefer not to have suspension if I can avoid it.)

I've looked at the Min-Ute, just for fun, it looks like it was designed for people who like the concept of the UTE but wanted something a bit more mainstream.

If you can ride both bikes, you've have the best feel for your answer.

Personally, I'd choose the UTE.



dd
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Old 03-19-13, 01:04 PM   #12
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I have the electric ute, and I typically ride it with my 6 year old on the back and groceries or such in the bags and have never noticed much difference whether loaded or unloaded. I rarely even use the motor, thats more for my wife who uses it frequently.
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Old 03-19-13, 02:04 PM   #13
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For folks considering a "mid-tail" bike, be sure to take a look at Yuba's Boda Boda.

http://yubabikes.com/bikes/boda-boda/
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