Decisions, decisions

Before last Friday, I had gone almost four years since my last professional hair cut!  Over those four years, I saved a lot of money by trimming my own hair (with a pair of professional-grade hair shears).  But I was ready for a change, so, after getting some recommendations, I visited Erinn at Bouffant Daddy in Maplewood, with the intention of chin length or shorter.

After talking with Erinn, we decided to start with a chin-length bob.


I like it, but I’m still tempted to go shorter.  In some ways, this is an awkward length — too short to really pull back, but long enough that it takes a decent while to air dry (I don’t get along too well with blow dryers).  Shorter might play nicer with bike helmets and sun hats, too.

It also doesn’t feel completely different, or “new,” since it’s similar to a cut I had at the end of high school / beginning of college (minus some excessive Sun-In highlights). On the one hand, I could live with this cut for awhile, and just go shorter in a few months.  On the other hand, I have seven days from the date of the initial hair cut to change my mind and get a different cut for no charge.  The clock on that is ticking.

Bike Seat
The clock is also ticking, somewhat, on a child bike seat color decision.  Unfortunately, the Yepp Maxi seat I bought on EBay is the ‘standard’ model, which doesn’t play nicely with the Edgerunner rack.  Instead, we need the ‘Easyfit’ model.  (Since I can’t return the EBay purchase, I’m hoping I’ll be able to resell that seat . . . . )

I am not finding any used Easyfit seats, so we’re planning to order directly from Xtracycle (apparently what I should have done in the first place!) . . . which means we have color options.


We’ve narrowed it down to these four (orange, lime, blue, and silver), but it still feels like too many types of cereal to choose from at the grocery store.

Matthew’s leaning toward the lime, which would look like this with our blue bike . . .


The ‘silver’ seat (which mostly looks gray to me) was not on our original list, but I found this photo of the silver seat with the blue bike, and I like the look.


Lime or orange seem like they would have some visibility advantages, though.  Gah, decisions!

Ready for that longtail
At any rate, it will be nice to have the cargo capacity of the longtail.  My decision to buy not one, but two furnace filters at the store today (they were on sale!), seemed great until I reached my bike and realized the diagonal of my milk crate is the perfect size for ONE filter.

I managed to rig up something that worked well enough for the short ride home . . . 0224141450-00

. . . but it was not the most secure set-up, so I stuck to smaller streets than I might have otherwise.  I made it home with everything (two furnace filters, a fire extinguisher, and a half-gallon of milk) on board and intact, but it would have been much easier on a longtail!

Photo Credits

Waiting on our longtail bicycle

At the end of December, we started talking with a local bike shop (LBS) about options for ordering an Xtracycle Edgerunner.  The guy we worked with did a great job helping us price the different options.  Then came decision time.

To make the comparison easier, I added some details to the “pricing” page of the standard bike specs document for the Edgerunner, so we could see options with prices all on one page (details here: EdgerunnerOptions).

We were fairly sure we wanted an internal hub, and the most affordable option was to just start with the frame & fork and build it up from there (by which I mean the bike shop will be building it up from there, with some input from us as to the components).  As for accessories, we’re getting Standard Racks, the FlightDeck, the KickBack Center Stand (a super-stable, two-legged kickstand) and the X2 bags (which are waterproof).

By the time we made all of the decisions and finalized our order, Xtracycle was sold out of the frame & fork in our chosen color (Zone Blue) until mid-March.  (A note on frame color: we quickly ruled out both the white and the orange frames, leaving light blue or black. Despite blue being my favorite color, I didn’t love that shade of blue for a bicycle, and I had some temptation toward the sleek simplicity of the black — but we went with the blue.)

So now we wait.  The fact that we’ve had so much crappy weather and so much snow and ice on the roads actually makes the wait easier — even if we had the bike already, it would mostly be sitting around, lonely and gathering dust.

UPDATE: I wrote this post on Sunday.  Yesterday, our LBS guy checked in with Xtracycle, and they’re now not expecting this shipment until early- to mid-April.  Boo, hiss!!!

I decided not to order the child seat (Yepp Maxi EasyFit) directly from Xtracycle, in the hopes of finding a used one on EBay or Craigslist.  Turns out, there aren’t many out there, at least not on EBay or my local-ish CL options (StL, Kansas City, Colombia, MO), so when I saw an auction for a “new, opened-box” blue Yepp Maxi on EBay, I decided to go for it, and I won the auction.  Once you factor in the shipping, it wasn’t a great deal, but it did save some money.

The seat I bought included the adapter for attaching it to a regular bicycle, which we won’t need once we have the Edgerunner.  However, since we don’t expect the Edgerunner for at least a month, I installed the seat on Matthew’s bike.


When I first opened the box and started looking at the seat and the mounting hardware, I had a moment of panic where I wondered if we would, in fact, actually still be able to use our rear racks and panniers with the child seat.  The assumption that we would not was largely what led us to purchase a longtail in the first place.  Had we just spent all that money for nothing?

While you can’t necessarily tell from the above picture, my fears were quickly assuaged once I actually started installing the seat — no way is the rear rack useable with the seat in place.  (We noticed that Yepp UK has a rack extender accessory that would theoretically allow you to use the seat and standard panniers on a regular (i.e., non-longtail) bicycle.)

At just over 35-pounds, Sir is still under the 38-pound weight limit for the IBert front seat (though his height means his legs are a bit cramped), and I’ll enjoy getting at least a few more rides with him up front with me.  Once we get the Edgerunner, I’ll be looking for a new [long-term loan] home for the IBert (if you’re interested, and local, let me know), hopefully someone who will use and enjoy it as much as I did!

Life’s leaps and bounds

Remember that job Matthew and I both applied for back in December?  Well, less than 24-hours after the initial interview, they notified me that I was not in the running.  While being notified of your application status in a timely manner is nice, this was almost so fast as to be insulting.  I was pretty sure I cleaned all the chia seeds out of my teeth before going in to the interview.  Had I made a some other glaring mistake?

I guess I’ll never know, but fortunately, over the last month-and-a-half, Matthew made it to the second round interview, then jumped through some additional hoops, and then waited.  His efforts culminated in a [full-time] job offer this week, which he accepted.

This is good.  It makes our in-progress purchase of a bicycle that will be worth more than our car seem not quite so insane.  We’ve ordered the bike and made a down payment at the bike shop.  The frame color and style we want is back-ordered until sometime in March, but we should have our Xtracycle Edgerunner cargo bike by spring!

In case that wasn’t enough excitement to end January / begin February, we looked at a house on Friday afternoon.  We’ve had various realtors sending us online listings for about a hundred years now.  Between the listings and looking at satellite images of the property, we rule most of these out, based on factors including being too close to something unfavorable (e.g., a highway or railroad) or not the right size and/or sunlight for a very large garden.  Every now and then, there’s one we deign to see in person.  Usually we go, take a relatively quick look inside and out, shrug, thank the realtor for his/her time, and walk away unimpressed.  Many realtors don’t have the patience to stick with us.

Friday afternoon was different.  I won’t say it’s our dream house, but given how long we’ve been looking, this might be our “good enough:” decent house that we can make our own over time, decent space and layout for gardening (after we remove some trees), inner-ring suburb, decent/good public schools, and not much further than Matthew’s current bike commute.  Its downsides are mostly things we can fix, with some time and money, though the location is not as walkable as I would prefer.

Anyhow, we’re planning to make an offer this week.  What will happen after that is anyone’s guess.  It’s a foreclosure, and the bank is accepting owner-occupant bids for the first 10 days.  We won’t know how our bid stacks up to other bids, so once we make the offer, it will just be a waiting game.  At the end of which, we will either be making the largest purchase / investment of our lives and becoming home-owners rather than renters, or not.  Not nerve wracking at all.

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?


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