Monday, June 4, 2012


I’m not able to ride at all right now and I have to say I miss it a lot. So in lieu of an actual bike adventure I’ve decided to let you all know why I choose my Yuba. I know you’re all interested so don’t pretend that you’re not. :)
I am not a bike connoisseur – I don’t have a wealth of knowledge about different components: handlebars, down-tubes, tires ect… I also haven’t purchased many bikes over my life, I think that I’m at five right now including the Yuba. That said, I’ve only gotten one mediocre bike –a desperation purchase but at least it was on sale.
I did, however, know what I wanted this bike to do. I wanted a bike that could haul ALL my kids and their stuff. I wanted a bike that could bring the family together.
Which brings me to Yuba…
There are quite a few kid-hauling cargo bike options out there. I eliminated the bakfiet – a bike with a front box and the sort of similar family trike because they were both out of my price range. I like the idea of having my kids on the same bike as I am which is why I didn’t pursue the ever popular bike trailer option. I had a trailer and never used it because I feel that the trailer is less visible, less comfortable, and, let’s face it, any two of my kids aren’t going to sit amicably in a trailer for very long. I’ve also learned the hard way that the rider must know where the trailer is when maneuvering. A bike trailer was not going to solve my problems or get me biking again. After I decided on a long-tail cargo bike I narrowed the possibilities down to two: the Xtracycle Radish and the Yuba.
I actually did research on these bikes - lots of research. The Xtracycle seemed to be the bike of choice and had many stellar reviews. My searching led to another company making a similar bike - Yuba. Intrigued I started typing “I hate my Yuba” into my web browser to bring up any bad reviews. Yuba may not have been around as long as some, but it doesn’t take long for bad reviews to appear in cyberspace. I couldn’t find any. The reviews I read – all by writers I would qualify as “bike-y” people - said that the Yuba was a solid product. Next, I researched the difference between ChroMoly and Hi-ten steel. Hi-ten steel appears to have a less than desirable reputation in the bike world. I read many comments on bike forums stating that bikes built out of hi-ten were not worthwhile but didn’t really provide any specific reasons other than Hi-Ten steel was heavy and less expensive thus the metal of choice for big box store/low end bikes. I finally found a few – very detailed, less biased (?) – articles that provided a list of the differences between the two. Basically it boiled down to this:
ChroMoly: more expensive, more flexible, lighter, and more difficult to repair
Hi-Ten: cheaper, more rigid, heavier material, easily repaired
Both are solid, strong metals.
So aside from the material what was the difference? I started test driving bikes. I rode both the Yuba and the Xtracycle by myself and while I could tell the Xtra was lighter it didn’t really make a huge difference in handling. Both rode like any ordinary bike – I couldn’t even tell that they were longer or heavier than an average bike. I tried riding with kids. The first time out I had my older kids on the deck alone and both bikes rode beautifully. The next step was adding the child seat. This is where I noticed the first, but crucial difference. I put my son in the child carrier on the back of the Xtracycle and rolled out of the store. We didn’t get very far because I fell three times before I hit the end of the block. Before anyone goes calling CPS, I was able to catch the bike each time and we never hit the ground. The whole episode was quite embarrassing though. I just couldn’t get balanced much less pedal – I could feel the flex from the weight of the child-seat. In retrospect, I’m sure it’s because we the child seat on the very back of the deck. On the Yuba – the child seat was also on the back of the deck but I had no trouble riding. The bike definitely felt more solid.
The other obvious difference between the two bikes is weight. At 50 some pounds there is no way I'm going to throw my Yuba over my shoulder and huff up four flights of stairs; but then again I don't need to. The Xtra is indeed lighter but I was still unable to pick it up and carry it for any distance - I’m not known for my upper body strength - so it was impossible for the extra weight of the Yuba to make much difference. On the whole, I found the bikes to be very comparable, practical, and desirable. In the end, I (obviously) chose the Yuba. I like the fact that I can load anything, almost anywhere on the cargo rack and ride.
Three months out I am so very happy with my Yuba. It’s easily the best purchase I’ve ever made. We ride almost every day – except just now of course. I love that the Yuba is so uncomplicated – it makes going car-less a natural choice. The cargo bags are huge and hold just about anything but can be removed with ease. The soft spots are comfortable so it’s not too hard to convince my kids to get aboard. The bike shifts well and the gear range makes it possible to get up all but the steepest hills. With the child seats, leg pegs, bags, spoke guards, bread basket , ect… the bike can be reconfigured so many different ways and meet just about anyone’s needs. But best of all, Yuba is just a pleasure to ride.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you recuperate quickly and you're back out on your Yuba soon.

    For anyone out there who really wants a bakfiets and thinks it's the perfect match for their family, haunt Craigslist. We got ours for almost half-price. You can do it.