Cargo Bike FAQs



When riding around town on our Yuba Mundo or Bakfiets.NL cargo bikes, we get a lot of questions. People stop, stare, wave, smile, & comment on our big bikes every time we use them. I thought I'd compile some of the most common questions we get here, just in case you're wondering the same things too.

Isn't it heavy? 

A Yuba Mundo is heavier than a regular bike, yes, but about the same as or lighter than the weight of a bike plus a double child trailer. To give you specifics, the Yuba without accessories is 48 pounds. Your average regular bike is 25-30 pounds. Child trailers are around 25 pounds.

The Bakfiets, on the other hand, is about 88 pounds. I got used to it pretty quickly, but I was accustomed to riding the big Yuba Mundo already.

Both bikes have a decent gear range--the Yuba has a 21 speed Shimano mountain bike setup, the Bakfiets has a Nexus 8 speed internal gear hub--so I find getting up the hills to be doable.

Do you have an electric motor?

Nope! We may add one on when the kids get bigger, but for now their combined weight of 80 pounds or so is quite manageable up the hills in our city.

Is it hard to ride?

The Yuba was quite easy to get used to--it feels a lot like a regular bike, even with two or three kids on it. The wheel base is like a motorcycle. Our Bakfiets, on the other hand, required a some getting used to because it's about a foot longer than the Yuba (same exact length as a Smart car), it has linkage steering (there's a long bar connected from the front fork to the handlebars under the box) plus different weight distribution, being a front loader.

Is it custom made?

Not at all! The Yuba Mundo & all the accessories are right off the shelf at the Bike Doctor. We found our Bakfiets (also totally stock parts & accessories) used on Craigslist, & the only distributor I know of in Canada is Urkai, in Burlington, Ontario.

There are quite a lot of other cargo bike makers out there & more stores are starting to sell them here in Vancouver. This post has a list of the local distributors/builders that I know of: Where to Buy a Cargobike in Vancouver.

What accessories do you use?

The Mundo is fully kitted out with Yuba accessories. The massive panniers are GoGetters. Our kids have grown out of their child seats (L stopped using his at age 4, B refused to be strapped in at age 2), so both of them sit on SoftSpot cushions on the rear deck. We also have LegUp foot pegs & HoldOn bars to help the smaller kid stay secure on the bike when we're riding.

We often used Yuba's cargo straps to attach an umbrella stroller to the rear running boards. My favourite extra accessory has to be the BreadBasket, however. More on why my Bread Basket is awesome here. Newer versions of the Yuba Mundo come standard with wheel skirts, 'deflopilator', & the double kickstand standard, but they bear mentioning. All three are essentials, I'd say, but the StandAlone kickstand really stands out (ha!). Full review of the StandAlone here.

On our Bakfiets, the kickstand is also standard & awesome--a wide, four legged, ultra stable stand attached under the box that allows the kids to get in & out without me holding the bike. The rear rack carries 50kg (or probably more) & I often sit on it when I'm at the playground with the kids. We also have a rain canopy which keeps the kids completely dry & warm in winter. I made a vinyl covered seat cushion for the bench & have added a phone mount & cup holder on the handlebars.

Where can I get a cargo bike in Vancouver?

Cargo biking is catching on in Metro Vancouver, so more & more bike shops are starting to sell them. I collected a list of the ones I know of in the city of Vancouver in Fall 2016: Where to Buy a Cargo Bike in Vancouver. The used market is also picking up, so keep an eye on sites like Craigslist, or join the Vancouver Family Biking Facebook group to help you find a deal.

Was it expensive?

Compared to a big box store bike, yes. But a cargo bike does way more than a cheap department store bike could ever do: it's a car replacement. However, a Yuba Mundo or Bakfiets is a fraction of the cost of owning & maintaining a car.
Here's how it stacks up to some other forms of transportation:

  • Yuba Mundo $1600 + bags, front basket, & kid seats $900 + two years maintenance $500 = $3000 (including tax!)
  • Bakfiets.NL $3500 + rain canopy $350 + two years maintenance $500 = $4542 including tax
  • Two years of one-zone bus pass for one parent & one of the kids (age 5+) = $3432
  • Carsharing with Modo, short trips two to three times a week, for two years = ~$5000
  • Owning & driving a car for two years = ~$19000 (based on BCAA data)

There are other savings too, that are hard to factor in, like the health benefits from the extra exercise you'll get riding everywhere, the fun you'll have while doing it... Also, the numbers above are just for two years. If you calculated the costs over ten years, the savings of using a cargo bike rather than a car would be around $90,000!

But does it really replace a car?

Most trips by car are just a few kilometres, especially if you live in the city. To give you some specific examples of places we've been with the cargo bikes:
Our house to the Vancouver Aquarium is 8km, about a 35-minute ride, a bit faster than the bus.
Costco run: about 4km, 10-15 minutes there, 15-20 back with a full load of groceries & kids (see photo at right).
Confederation Park in Burnaby: 10km, about 50 minutes there, a little faster home.
Kitsilano Beach: 6km, about 25 minutes.
Linny's school: 4km each way, 20 minutes up hill, 15 minutes down.

How much stuff can the bikes carry? 

The official cargo capacity of the Yuba Mundo is 200kg (440 pounds), plus rider. We've tested this by loading up with about 300 pounds of paving stones plus 40 pounds of kid, then riding a relatively flat kilometre. The bike was not easy to balance with that kind of weight, so it isn't something we'd likely do often. (See image at right) When loaded with 100-150 pounds of Costco groceries, it's pretty manageable. We've also carried long objects like 7' shelves, 10' pieces of lumber, & even two 4'x8' sheets of corrugated plastic. Typically, we have 70 pounds of kids, plus 10-20 pounds of gear (diaper bag, lunch, umbrella stroller, etc) loaded on it.

The Bakfiets has a lower official capacity: 50kg on the rear rack & 82kg in the box, plus rider. What's interesting, is that the bike handles better with weight in the box. I've carried many Costco grocery hauls, up to three children (though it could carry more), equipment to set up a table, tent, plastic bollards & booth at Car Free Day, plus a kitchen table.

How many people can these cargo bikes carry? 

A few times we have ridden with the entire family on the Yuba--one parent plus five-year-old on the SoftSpot seat pad, toddler in her seat behind them & the other parent pedaling--but only a few blocks in a relatively flat area. It worked pretty well for a date night with just the two of us on it. Where the bike excels is carrying little kids: two five-year-olds can easily fit on the rack, plus the toddler in her seat behind them.

The Bakfiets has a little bench in the back of the box with harnesses for two kids. We could also have one or two small kids in the front end of the box, sitting on the floor. We've used the front end to split the kids up when they were scrapping. Another person could sit on the rear rack, though it would be better if we got folding foot pegs for the kids.

Do the kids like it?

Yes! Both kids love climbing up on 'our big black bike', as our son calls it. They both wave to all the people who are ooh-ing & ahh-ing over the bike. But seriously, they both have a great view of the world going by, unlike in their car seats or on the bus. They can play together & touch each other with our current setup (big kid on the rack in front, baby strapped into a seat on back). I can easily stop on a dime wherever to tend to their needs, or stop to watch something interesting that catches their eye (construction sites, squirrels, public art like the giant jellybeans in Charleson Park, as seen in the photo on the right).

The Bakfiets soon became their favourite when we got it--the kids like being in front, I think L likes not having to hold on so he can have a snack or read a book & they both liked the novelty of a different cargo bike. Sitting in there is sort of like a little living room. If we're running late to school, L will eat his bowl of oatmeal in the bakfiets on the way. If we are coming home late, they can lie down in the box & cuddle up with blankets & pillows.

Can you take it on the bus/train?

The Yuba Mundo has an extended wheelbase, so it's too long to fit on the bike racks on buses. It does just squeeze into most elevators at Canada Line stations (we've used the ones at Brighouse, Lansdowne, Broadway/City Hall, but NOT the elevators at King Edward Station, because you enter one side & exit the other). It's easy to wheel the Yuba into the bike area on the Canada Line trains.

The Bakfiets, on the other hand, is about eight & a half feet long (255cm), plus it looks very different from a regular bike, so I doubt we'd get it on the train.

What about when it rains?

We ride rain or shine. This is 'Raincouver', after all. We wouldn't get out much between September & June if we didn't bike in the rain. On the Yuba Mundo, both kids wear rain suits & gumboots, which keeps them quite dry, except for faces & hands. They are used to riding in the rain--both have since they were babies--so they don't mind it. I wear a rain poncho & gumboots, then sunglasses if it's really pouring, so I don't get water in my eyes as I'm riding. When the bike is parked, if we can't find undercover parking, I put a clear plastic cover over the baby seat & seat pad on the rack to keep them dry. It's actually just the case/bag thing that one of the carseats came in. Stroller rain covers work well for this too. The giant panniers we have for the Yuba (GoGetter bags, they're called) are waterproof, so the groceries or whatever we've packed in there stays dry.

The Bakfiets really shines in the rain & the cold--the clear canopy covers up the box completely so the kids don't even need raincoats. It also functions like a faring, keeping my legs dry as I ride.

How often & how far do you ride your cargo bike?

It varies, but I'd say I ride five to six days a week. Most of our riding is the school run--6km round trip, with occasional forays five to 15 kilometres from home when we go to the beach, or Stanley Park, etc. Like most people in North America, most of our errands are quite close to home so riding the big bikes is not a big deal. Riding to Science World only takes about ten minutes. It's about a half hour to Stanley Park. Biking groceries home from Costco takes about 20 minutes. We don't ride it everywhere--when we visit family in the suburbs, we take a car for the 35 kilometre trip. We occasionally take the bus too.

How does a Yuba Mundo longtail compare to a front loading bakfiets style bike?

I find that longtails handle much like a regular bicycle, so you can hop on & ride without much of a period of adjustment. With bakfietsen, the smaller front wheel & linkage steering make it feel very different to a regular bike--a little more touchy, especially at slow speeds. The Bakfiets is longer than the Yuba Mundo, which makes the turning radius huge. Because the weight is lower on a bakfiets, it's easier to balance & I think requires less upper body strength to manage. However, the weight is all in front of the handlebars, so you use your arms more to stablize--I think riding my longtail I use my core muscles & legs more to stabilize the bike.

In terms of passengers, longtails are brilliant for older kids & adults who can climb on the rack & swing a leg over. Bakfietsen are better for small children & pets. When it comes to cargo, bakfietsen excel at carrying bulky loads like furniture or boxes, keeping the load centred. Yuba Mundos are pretty awesome for sheer beefy weight capacity--if you have a load that can be divided between the two rear bags or racks, you can load the thing up with 440 pounds. However, even with a lopsided load on the Mundo, as long as it's secured well, I found I automatically adjusted the balance with no problem (example: carrying a 50-60 pound compound mitre saw on one side, maybe ten pounds of plastic sawhorses on the other, plus 70 pounds of children on the rack).

12 comments:

  1. Hi Lisa, your FAQs make cargo biking easy and approachable for people just getting into it. Looking forward to reading more here!

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  2. What kind of child seat do you have on the back?

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    1. The kid seat is a Yuba Peanut Shell. I don't think Yuba is making them anymore, however.

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  3. Hiya Lisa, Thanks for this FAQ, reading about your Yuba Mundo adventures has been very interesting, and my family is on the edge of buying one. One thing I haven't been able to find much information about - I'd love to hear about how you secure it when you park it in a public place. And do you leave the GoGetter bags on the bike, or bring them in with you?

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    1. Glad this is useful! We use a heavy chain lock (about 18-24" long) when it's just me & the kids on shorter errands, etc. When leaving it for longer, we'll often lock it & my husband's bike together with a U-lock & cable as well. I think the rule of thumb is to try to lock it better than the bike next to it... ;) I usually leave the GoGetters when I use them. When used with the child seat, sort of jammed underneath, they're actually quite difficult to get off.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this! Your info is very helpful. My husband and I just bought a Yuba Mundo to ride with our baby and toddler and are so excited to have a family biking option!

    I've been going out for short trips with my 30 lb. toddler to get used to the balance. I don't think it's hard to ride, but definitely a little trickier than an average bike, and I want to be really comfortable with it before going out in traffic, with more load, and risk having baby, toddler and groceries all take a tumble!

    Fun to hear about all the place you take it, too! I'm in California, an hour north of San Francisco, but I have family up there and have done lots of those things in Vancouver. :-)

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  5. Really i'm enjoy this blog and i likes in your kids bike.

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  6. oh! realy nice post. Great blog. Your blog is interesting and so informative.
    Wait for your next blog post. Thanks for sharing with us

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  7. Dude: why re-invent the wheel? The Dutch Court of Audits ("de Algemene Rekenkamer", literally the General Accounting Office) has arrived at this same conclusion several decades ago, and the arithmetic is not changing on this one, especially as the population is ageing.
    Biking is frugal all around, and there is probably no bigger return on a municipal or state investment than a network of interconnecting and safe bicycle paths.

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  8. Hi, I have a bafiets like yours and love it. I live in NYC and we have these grates in the street all over and the plastic bar from the rain cover fell down one. Forever lost. Could you please do me a favor and measure yours so I can get the length just right from a plastics shop? Would greatly appreciate it.. Tom

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    1. Hi Tom, which plastic bar did you mean? The one that goes across side to side at the back of the rain canopy is 69", the one that goes from front to back is 49". I find that the side to side one could be a bit longer, as there's some play in the elastic loops that attach the cover onto the box & it isn't that high for my almost-six-year-old. Hope that helps!

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