Hi there! I'm Nicole and I live in San Diego with my husband and two little girls. We first got into cargo -biking because I wanted to expand our range around our house that we could travel car-less. We have one car, and my husband was using it to commute to work (8 miles each way at that point). We walked everywhere, but with a bike- I knew we could go so many more places! And I was desperate to incorporate more exercise into our daily routine.
So, after obsessively reading way too much online, we bought a Yuba Mundo. All cargo bike blogs aside, I wanted to buy something sturdy, that would handle two kids seats, plus groceries or gear, and be "cheap" for a cargo bike. I was attempting to not make this too complicated, and the Mundo met all of these criteria.
In fact, my husband decided to get in on the action and picked out a bike for himself! He chose the Juiced Riders ODK e-bike. He loves it! They are actually based out of Chula Vista here in San Diego and we all went down and met Tora, and test rode it. He now bike commutes and zips around happily. We have a Yepp Maxi seat that we put on it, too, that works great. My 50-something mom rode it on a visit to us, and she like it a lot, too. It has a nice, low step-through, a low deck, two 20" wheels, and is assisted with crazy-range. I think we will get new handlebar grips, but we like it.
Anyways, back to the Mundo. I wanted a basic, inexpensive cargo bike. I worked with the guys at Metro Cyclery, who are awesome, and bought it from them. I also had them put a Bion-X kit on it because while not San Fransisco, San Diego has a ton of canyons and hills, and there was no way I was biking around with two kids plus kit up and down significant hills without an assist. When I first got it, I will admit I was a little embarrassed. I mean, an "electric" bike was "cheating". I have totally changed my mind on that. The e-assist in a hilly area especially is what makes the bike a car replacement. Now, I look at people on road bikes and think they are cheating! I think to myself, "Psh, what does your bike weigh? 15 pounds? Yeah, I'd be fast on that, too." How our perspectives evolve.
Well, the Mundo was a beast. A BEAST! The kickstand was rock solid and I loved it. My toddler used it as a jungle gym. But it was heavy. Really, really heavy. Like 80 or 100 pounds heavy. And it was all top-side. I started with the Yuba bread basket, Yuba's peanut shell, and monkey bars. Then swapped for a Yepp mini and Yepp Maxi trying to balance the weight a bit more, and not have the baby all the way in the back. But I dropped it. I dropped the bike many times actually. I felt like I was fighting a lazy elephant. It was rock solid (like most bikes, I guess), when in motion. But any time we stopped (and we live in the city- it's mostly stop and go traffic), it would want to "rest" I like to say. Imagine an elephant laying down. It would slowly, slowly lean to the side, and I just couldn't stop it. It was a slow motion horror show. "Noooooo". It would lay down. "Up, elephant, UP!" But it didn't obey.
It was embarrassing to say the least. It always happened when I had an audience, too. And with both kids, and probably involved stuff spilling all over as well. But I'm a dedicated sort of gal, so I kept riding. I figured I was in the throes of my learning curve.
I put over 200 miles on the bike, and finally admitted defeat. If I was tall, with more upper body strength, using the bike for cargo, or just one kid, I think it would be fine. The bike seemed well built, but I just couldn't comfortably wrangle in with two kids, their gear, groceries, trying to stop and start on hills. Not even with e-assist.
I was angry about buying this bike I couldn't use as I wanted, and had a nice pity party. I felt embarrassed that we'd spent all this money, and it wasn't working! Talk about hurting my pride. Then I emailed Elle to please, please, please help and share her biking goddess wisdom (editors note: awww, shucks!). Time to take some action!
As you would imagine, she was ever so kind and filled with ideas and suggestions on how to make your bike riding more comfortable with my kiddos. And as luck would have it, she was looking for a new home for her Bullitt! I had ridden one initially, but passed due to price. But, my husband and I talked about it, and concluded the money we'd spent on the Mundo was a sunk cost, and did us no good if I didn't actually ride the thing. (I actually tried to convince my husband that he should ride the Mundo, and I would ride the Juiced Rider's or something else. He was having none of that. He loved his bike, and did not like mine.)
So we brought home the Bullitt and love it to pieces. The lower center of gravity makes a huge difference. I never feel like it will tip over.
I've now put a couple hundred miles on the Bullitt, and the difference is night and day. It does exactly what I want it to: that is to shuttle myself, my two girls, and whatever we might like to carry (beach chairs, groceries, vacuum, diapers, snacks...); and it is carried well with little trouble. I love that it can go fast, and goes up hills well. I had the wonderful folks at Metro Cyclery switch the Bion-X from the Mundo to the Bullit, and had fun towing the two cargo bikes filled with two kids no less, back and forth from the bike shop many times.
I also love the rear rack from Cycle Trucks Elle put on the Bullitt! It adds so much utility. I have the "baguette" pannier from Yuba strapped onto the rack. I also strap our beach chairs and umbrella to it, and I tow our older child's bike on it. Just love it. Also, our older really enjoys straddling the top tub when I let her, a la Dorie from "Hum of the City".
If I were to buy a long tail, I would probably buy a midtail, but either way I would *only* do it with 20" wheels. So either a Bike Fiday "Haul a Day", or an Edgerunner or Spicy Curry, and switch out to 20" wheels front and back. We're a household who loves our 20" wheels! They're so much more stable with the lower center of gravity, and quicker to start rolling in city traffic. I don't think the Yuba Mundo is a bad bike inherently, it just wasn't the bike for us.
I hope sharing our cargo-biking journey will help some others. It wasn't always smooth (and still isn't because San Diego has terrible roads), but it was an opportunity to be gentle with myself for not being perfect, and that different people like different bikes.
Bike away, and don't be afraid to try different things and mix it up to find what works for you!