Tuesday, May 13, 2008

El mundo - mi perla

So last month I finally received my new Yuba Mundo after months of waiting, and suffered two tantalising weeks to building it up. Since then I have taken it camping, bought a sack of rice, and commuted every day.

The big rack looks wide from behind, and gets such respect from cars that I plan to retire my blond wig. In reality it is no wider than the handlebars, so I can still fit through the same gaps. You do have to avoid cutting across the front of a car before you've actually passed into the gap, given the extra length. The maneuvreability is really noticeable with a moderate load of 10-20kg; where my old tourer would have become whippy in the tail, this monster truck rides just like normal.

"Monster truck" I said, but clown-mobile is more how I felt the first week. The whole bike is so big and heavy that you feel ludicrous without oversized boots and a giant red nose. Then you become familiar with the commanding presence on the road. You learn to carry momentum into hills, and settle into the steady rhythm of gearing suitably low for the Mundo's immensity. You learn that you can pick up those extra items at the supermarket, without worrying whether the panniers will fit them or regretting leaving the trailer at home. Then you learn that the load doesn't stop you climbing the hill between stationary lanes of traffic to position for the right hand turn towards home.

For Critical Mass last month I rode the Yuba. One of the ubiquitous fixies had a puncture, and I offered him a ride. He sat on the carrier, and held his front wheel off the ground so that the bike trailed after us. We had to trade off a couple times, as much because it was hard work holding the bike at arm's length, and we walked the last part of the major climb out of town. This was my first real load, and I was pleased with the handling. We wobbled drunkenly for a moment at the low speed of initial movement and just before stopping. In between we were pretty stable. Sadly, although many pictures were taken none seem to have reached the Flickr group and I wait until this month's ride to ask


Anonymous said...

we left the chainguard off of ours, too...

adrian said...

I noticed you said that when you were carrying the guy with his bike the starting and stopping was kind of wobbly and unstable.

Is this the case in general with a load? (Is it difficult to ride a loaded Mundo slowly?)

the Scarlet Manuka said...

Wow - comments from outside my family!

As for the load, I did find it shaky to start and stop with the guy on the back. Only when I was well below walking pace - hoping not to put my foot down at the lights, that sort of thing.

Basically you have a transition between standing still and moving fast enough to get the various effects which keep a bike upright and stable. It don't know how you could avoid a sticky moment by designing the bike differently - basically the rider has to get up to speed as fast as possible when starting. Sharper braking might help at the other end - I was perhaps too cautious in that respect.

Right at the beginning it took a moment to find the balance for holding the bike with one foot on the ground - leaning it a bit towards that foot to avoid falling the other way but not leaning too much. Probably I ended up holding the bicycle like I do my motorbike, and took a moment to get the subconscious aligned to the new reality.

The nearest comparable load I have carried is a rice sack and some beans. They weren't as heavy, but were also lower on the bike and didn't try to adjust their own weight. I had no trouble at all with them.

I'll see if I can offer somebody a lift over the weekend and post a followup.

the Scarlet Manuka said...

Update - took my pastor for a couple of slow circuits around the building after church, and felt very comfortable with the weight. Conveniently the circuits include uphill and downhill legs, and I can report that it does get hard if you forget to change down until almost too late - I was almost stationary for a moment, and balancing a lot more weight than usual. Still, the bike likes to be stood up on and responded nicely.

Maybe I'm more comfortable with the bike now?

adrian said...

There's not a lot out there on the Mundo. And as there is no way to try it before buying, I was trying to read everything I could find about it.

I was asking about riding slowly because I expect to ride with my 6 year old on her bike, and she might not be going fast, but she's faster than a walking pace.

In any case, I've taken the plunge. My Mundo has been shipped.

the Scarlet Manuka said...

Good on you, Adrian. I'm confident that you'll enjoy the bike.

Anonymous said...

I have had the Yuba for a week now. Agree about the stable ride and extra respect on the road. I find the 6 speed suitable for off-road, hills and heavy loads but it does take a high cadence to get any kind of speed. Going downhill forget about pedalling unless you can make your legs blur. A rugged 18 speed would be nice, if there are such things.

Did you have any problems with the lowest gear? On mine the chain rides on the plastic spoke guard and slips once per wheel revolution. My LBS suggests removing the guard but I haven't done that yet. The wheel came preassembled, but I wonder if a spacer is missing.

theScarletManuka said...

Great to hear you've got your bike. I know what you mean about speed - this isn't the sports model. Ben Sarrazin suggests here
a wider rear range which gives you lower gears but possibly a higher one as well. You could complement that with a larger front ring, if you get hold of some extra chain.

I am considering putting my NuVinci hub on the Yuba eventually, which will certainly give a better top end. It will be a while before I have the time to act on these thoughts.

As for the slipping chain, I haven't had any such trouble. I don't see any spacer in there, but you might like to email Yuba or ask in the forum linked above.