Longtail comparison: Yuba Mundo, Kona Ute, and Surly Big Dummy

Update [5/19/2015]: Though not originally on our list, we ended up choosing the Xtracycle Edgerunner.  We’ve had the bike for a year now, and couldn’t be happier with our choice.  Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to adding it to this comparison chart.

I’ve been drooling over longtail cargo bikes for more than a year now, and, with Sir close to outgrowing the IBert, the time has come.

Over the past few months, we’ve done our research, comparing the options and doing some limited test riding.  I created this table to aid in the comparison process.  We eliminated the Big Dummy fairly early on, given its sticker price and lower load capacity, hence the incomplete column.

Kona Ute

Yuba Mundo

Surly Big Dummy

Base price $1300 $1250 $2400-2600
Weight 35+ lbs 48 lbs
Max Hauling Cap. ??? 440 lbs (+rider) 400 lbs total
Bags X $129 (x2)
Toddler seat $230 $169
Fenders X X
Front-wheel stabilizer X X
Side loaders no X
Disc brakes X $100-$250
Kickstand X X

An “X” indicates that the feature is included in the base price of the bike.

The Ute comes in an 18″ and 20″ frame size.  At 6’2″, Matthew was comfortable on both.  I rode the 20″ MinUte and found it fairly comfortable, although I wondered if I would have felt a bit more stable on the 18″.

The rear wheel on the Ute is larger than that on other longtails, meaning that the load on the rear rack has a higher center of gravity.  I’ve read some complaints about this making the bicycle difficult to handle, particularly for shorter riders.

The Mundo frame is one-size-fits-all riders from 5′ to 6’5″.  I met a local Mundo family, but so far our efforts to set up a test ride haven’t worked (their bike needs a new wheel and some other work to be ride-able).  Unfortunately, there are not [yet] any Yuba dealers in St. Louis.  The closest dealer is two hours away in Columbia, MO, so we have yet to test ride a Mundo.

Since longtails are a rarity around here, our chances of finding a used one of any kind is practically zero.

Despite it feeling a bit like flying blind, since I’ve never ridden either the Ute or the Mundo (or any other longtail, for that matter), we’ve decided to take the plunge.  So, any guesses which bike we’re picking?

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Read more longtail reviews (from people who’ve actually ridden them!) and check out some other cargo bike options at the links below:

Cargo bike pocket reviews
Loaner bike: Yuba Mundo v4
We ride: Our Fleet
Joe Bike — Cargo bikes

Bike lunch date and play date

While I kicked off Bike Month yesterday with a distinct lack of biking (and a car trip at that!), I finished April with three consecutive days on the bike.

Sunday morning I biked to church with Sir for the first time.  The usual timing of services there has not been conducive to biking with him, or really to bringing him at all, but for last Sunday’s ministry fair, they rolled the 8am and 10am services together into a single 9am service — perfect timing for biking there, socializing afterward, and biking back without danger of Sir turning into a pumpkin.

Monday I rode across town to meet Matthew for Gokul’s lunch buffet.  I biked there directly from a dentist appointment, and by “directly,” I mean I was feeling too lazy to backtrack to the route I usually would have taken into Forest Park or to put in the mental energy to figure out another alternative to riding on Hampton Avenue, the most direct route and what I would have traveled without question had I been in car, so I just biked the 2.5 miles north from Chippewa to Forest Park on Hampton.

Most of the time, I only use big roads for short, connecting stretches when I’m driving my bike, but this longer trip worked out quite well (which is rather what I expected when I made my decision).  I pedaled along quite happily in the right lane, while motorists had one to two other lanes to use.

I arrived in good time, and we enjoyed the delicious vegetarian Indian offerings before Matthew biked back to work and I continued on to an appointment.

Tuesday morning, Sir and I headed out bright and early.  We quickly covered the few miles to the playground in Tower Grove Park, where we spent the morning with a friend and her son (and saw another biking mama and son duo).  We also swung by Local Harvest Grocery, where my relatively small purchase of broccoli, rice, and celery pushed my cargo capacity to the max!

After biking in the heat on Monday and Tuesday and the slightly higher mileage of Monday, I didn’t mind a break yesterday, though I would have been just as happy to limit our outings to those we made by foot (the playground and the gym).  However, I’ve been meaning to get BUB in for a tune-up for a number of weeks now.  I’ve been loathe to do so, since it means using the trailer with my other bike, rather than our beloved front seat for Sir until BUB returns.

While a well-maintained bike is ALWAYS important for safety, I am extra conscious of it with a little passenger, so I bit the bullet, loaded BUB on the bike rack, and drove to the bike shop.  I could have BUB back as soon as this afternoon, but since I have another bike to ride, I’ll avoid the one-stop car trip and wait until this weekend when Matthew will be in the vicinity of the bike shop for gardening anyway.

As a final Bike Month note, local blogger Jessica at City in a Jar challenged herself to go car free for the month of May.  She’s inviting YOU to join her, even if for just a day, or heck, a single trip, where you try biking, walking, or using public transit.  So what are you waiting for?  Let’s ride!

Bicycle inspiration from around the blogosphere

True to my word, I’ve spent some time over the past few weeks digging into bike-related blogs.  If my recent food-to-bike posting ratio is any indication, I have indeed found the inspiration I sought.

I’ve mentioned it here before, but one NOT new to me bike blog is Simply Bike.  S. and I both biked through our pregnancies, and her daughter C. is just a couple months younger than Gabriel, so I feel like we’ve been figuring out this whole biking with babies thing together.

I used S’s blogroll as a jumping-off point in my bike blog search, which led me to Hum of the City.  Inspired by a vacation in Copenhagen, this San Francisco family returned to the U.S., bought bikes, and later sold their only automobile.  In addition to detailing their adventures as a bicycle family (with two kids), the site contains a wealth of information on different cargo bikes.

Two recent posts that really struck a chord with me are “Yes, but . . . ” that addresses excuses for not giving cycling a try, and “Bicycles and privilege,” a thoughtful look at how, whether we ride bicycles out of choice or necessity, we are not so different.

Over at Tiny Helmets Big Bikes, the Bustamante family chronicle their adventures using bicycles for transportation (and fun!) in Sacramento.  I especially enjoy reading about their travels on the Yuba Mundo, a longtail cargo bike that I’ve been drooling over for about a year now.

Sara over at Life’s a Bear added cycling to her family’s routine fairly recently.  Since January, she’s been collecting photos for her #everydayonabike challenge to encourage others to give bicycle transportation a try (which reminds me that I need to snap a photo one of these days).

I would be remiss if I did not mention Girls and Bicycles (no, not a calendar with pictures of semi-nude women on bicycles, regardless of what Google thinks), a blog I read regularly before I started writing here.  While “stylish cycling” is not so much my thing, seeing Miss Sarah bike through cold snowy Edmonton (Canada) winters makes winter cycling here look like nothing.   And she was on her bike with her son when he was just a few months old — part of my inspiration for wanting to start early with Gabriel.

Finally, I came across this stand-alone guest post, “Becoming a Biking Family.”

While my selections thus far are heavily skewed toward biking families, they run the gamut from cyclists who became parents and incorporated their children into their preferred form of transportation to families who discovered the joy of active transportation together.  Their stories and examples provide inspiration whether you have kids or not (and, heck, if you don’t have kids, you’ve got it easy — you REALLY have no excuse for not giving biking a try).

I know I’ve just scratched the surface here, but, as I don’t have all day to sit around reading bike blogs, no matter how awesome, starting small makes sense.