Author Archives


1
Mar 2012
by mark

Big Dummy vs Yuba Mundo vs Bakfiets

Cargo bikes are increasingly viable as car-replacement vehicles, but there are some significant differences between the options to choose from. The Surly Big Dummy is lighter, while Workcycle’s bakfiets puts kids front and center with a large box for cargo up front. Yuba’s elMundo is one way to add electric assist to the equation.

I have not had my own car for a decade. Instead my family replaces a second car with a number of bikes and other gear. Our bikes include WorkCycles bakfiets, an electric Yuba Mundo and a Surly Big Dummy. Here’s how they compare with each other based on our experiece riding each as part of our regular routines.

The basic details about each are readily available online, and won’t be repeated here, although the photos below will give you a sense of each.

Bakfiets

100 mile radius potluck at the park

Electric Yuba Mundo

Electric Yuba Mundo with Bikes-at-Work trailer

Big Dummy

First ride with my new custom Big Dummy. More to come...

Continue reading →


31
Aug 2011
by mark

Now on Twitter, still on Flickr

I now have a Twitter account just for the topic of bikes-as-transportation. You can find me on Twitter as @BikesAsTrans. My hope for the account is to share related content from myself and others around the internet, as well as to provide short timely updates about my experiences with family cycling, cargo bikes, and electric bikes.

I also continue to post photos more regularly to my flickr stream than I do here. If you use a feed reader, you may wish to follow the feed of my latest bike photos, which usually include some short posts with them as well.

I look forward to posting more content here as well. This spring we added a second child to the family, and also added a Surly Big Dummy as my personal bike, complementing our existing bakfiets and my wife’s electric Yuba Mundo. There’s plenty to say about how these three distinct cargo bike options compare, contrast and combine. If you have a question about how any of them compare, leave a comment here and I’ll try to answer your question.

For now, here’s a couple recent photos from Flickr. Click through either for more explanation.
stopping to check out the cows and throw rocks in the creek
Another bike trailer load too big for the car


14
Apr 2011
by mark

A Song about a Purple Pedal Power Berry Bicycle Blender

Smile and enjoy this catchy music video starring some students who readily trade in Halloween candy for purple pedal powered bicycle-blended berry smoothies.

If you’d like to buy your own bike-powered blender and maybe a bike to go with it, Rock the Bike has you covered.


26
Feb 2011
by mark

Electric Cargo Bike as Grocery Getter

Grocery Trip

  • Two 45 Gallon Totes by Sterlite + the Go Getter bag provide 340 liters of hauling volume
  • Up to 300 lbs of cargo reasonably hauled (in addition to the rider)
  • Bar mitts keep hands warm without bulky gloves or mittens
  • Schwable Winter Marathon carbide-studded tires for traction on ice
  • Electric system provides up to 20 mph of assist reliably for 20 continous miles (longer if you pedal more)
  • Much less effort getting up hills, even with a load.
  • Bright front and rear LED lights are powered by pedaling if battery fails
  • Super-stable double-sided kickstand
  • Recharges overnight in the garage for pennies

We’re able to haul more stuff further, faster, with less effort and greater comfort than ever before (like loads of recycled computers, or two children and camping gear). Compared to the alternative of having a second car, the system more than pays for itself.

My electric Yuba Mundo was built and sold by Cycle 9. Trailer by Bikes at Work is expandable to 8 feet for longer loads, like couches. Combining this trailer with this bike currently requires a bit of custom welding.


22
Jan 2011
by mark

DIY battery box for electric Yuba Mundo

boring photo of a 36v 15Ah battery in a Granite Gear Armored Pocketboring photo of a 36v 15Ah battery in a Granite Gear Armored Pocket

I’m trying out a new battery box for our electric Yuba Mundo.

I used the weather-resistant compact file tote from OfficeMax. Inside I’ve placed our 36V 15Ah battery from Cycle9.com, which has first been padded in Granite Gear armored pocket. The padded battery fits snugly at the bottom of the box. Perfect!

The box has small handles, and I used this area to cut a small hole with a utility knife for the battery wire to come through. This placement means water would have to be going up to get into the box, so I’m expecting no rain and very little road spray could make in it there. ( Adding drain holes to the bottom could also be a good idea, just in case. )

Continue reading →


11
Jan 2011
by mark

Christmas tree recycling, 2010

Christmas tree recycling 2010
It was about a 16 mile round trip to the recycling point. In the scene above, I’d just found a second tree abandoned by the side of the road and strapped it on the trailer.

The temperature was perhaps 15F with a stiff headwind going out.
I was comfortable riding out using Bar Mitts with wool mittens inside, along with my usual assortment of gear. I have started wearing a waterproof shell over my softshell jacket for additional wind protection on very cold days.

Once I stopped and hucked the tree, I decided to take the long way home through the country to see the scenery. That plan worked pretty wheel until about mile 12, when I found myself at the bottom of a valley at the Abington/Salisbury intersection with a dying battery and about 120 lbs of bike to get home. Ah well, I succeeded at getting a good workout on a day I might have otherwise stayed inside.


5
Jan 2011
by mark

Mission: Deliver toddler to daycare at 15F

Mission: Deliver toddler to daycare at 15F
“There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Ranulph Fiennes

We had a comfy ride to daycare and she reported that nothing was cold upon arrival, despite the sometimes 20 mph windchill generated from the moving bike at a temperature that was 15F to start with.

The ~3 year old is wearing a winter helmet with built-in ear covers, a “thick and thin” balaclava, ski googles, as well as some snow pants and snow boots. I’ve got a merino wool hat, face mask, OTG ski googles and a scarf. Neos overshoes help keep my feet warm on especially cold days, and bar mitts keep my hands warm while allowing me to wear modest gloves.

Sure it looks ridiculous to many. But I’d rather stay warm with a bit of extra clothing than to wear a 4,000 lb car for a short crosstown trip. I mean, when the primary reason you take a car on trip is a feature associated with clothing– like keeping you warm– then you are primarily wearing the car, right?


19
Dec 2010
by mark

Emundo vs bakfiets for winter kid and cargo cycling

eMundo with trailer, bar mitts on greenway
The electric Yuba Mundo works well asa kid & cargo winter bike. Recently I’ve been trying out Bar Mitts which so far seem to very effective at keeping my hands warmer while allowing me to wear thinner gloves inside of them. Compared to the bakfiets, the child needs to be dressed notably warmer. Since this photo was taken, we’ve also gotten some child ski goggles for her as well. In sum, we’re able to make cross-town trips comfortable at 15F (-9.4C) which is about as cold as it gets here in Richmond, Indiana.

The bakfiets makes it easier to keep the child warm with the greenhouse-like canopy, and the fully enclosed chain guard is definitely a plus for the bakfiets– On the eMundo the drive train got clogged with frozen slush in just about 15 minutes on a cold day– it was easy to clean out a little later with a stick, but no fun– plus the eMundo chain will need to be cleaned more after getting wet.

However, what the eMundo has going for it is a motor which allows me to get places faster and spend less time outside on very cold days. For that reason I currently prefer the eMundo to the bakfiets for most winter uses. The Mundo’s electric motor smoothed over the problem with the slush– while pedaling became “chunky” due to that issue, the motor could pull me along just fine without pedaling anyway.

Here’s same scene in a bakfiets from the previous winter:
box biking at 10F


4
Dec 2010
by mark

Staying Below the Sweat Threshold

dottie_in_suit_500.jpg
Photo by Dottie, a lawyer in Chicago who bike commutes to work and writes for letsgorideabike.com. She has a great related post on how to bike commute in a suit.

The sweat threshold is the level of physical activity above which you begin to
sweat. Bike commuters ride below the sweat threshold– sometimes just below it– to arrive at the destination presentable and without using special clothing for cycling.
Continue reading →


4
Dec 2010
by mark

Christmas Tree by Bike, 2010

Christmas tree by bike, 2010
In previous years I had done the Christmas tree recycling by bike, but this was first year I picked up the Christmas tree by bike. It was about a 15 mile round trip to the tree farm in Centerville, with snow falling and temps in the mid 20′s.

The trip went fairly well, although the drivetrain got frozen slush in the derailleur, causing chunky pedaling. I cleared out the frozen slush at the tree farm, but it happened again on the way back.

There was a stiff headwind on the way back and my hands got cold despite wearing Windstopper gloves inside of overmitts. I stopped at the bike shop on the way home and and bought some Bar Mitts, which are like large mittens that go over the handlebars and shifters, and stay on the bike. I have high expectations for the ability to keep my hands warm and comfortable on cold bike trips. Bar Mitts do seem priced a bit high. After I got home I found there are some similar products targeted at motorcycles that are made in the USA and cost less.

Update 2011: I love the Bar Mitts. You can several more posts and photos I’ve made that reference Bar Mitts.