21
Jul 2010
by don

Yuba elMundo Questions and Answers

 

June 7, 2010

Dear Yuba,

Hi.  My name is Don, and I write a blog about electrically-assisted cargo bikes.  Although I’m pleased with the performance of my Rans Hammer Truck and BionX motor, many of my readers are interested in less expensive alternatives.  The Yuba elMundo and Kona Electric Ute are two possibilities I’ve mentioned in my blog.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information available on the web to help prospective buyers make an informed purchasing decision.  To help fill the void, I was able to arrange a test ride of the Ute, and I posted a fairly detailed review here: http://mycargobike.net/2010/06/15/first-look-at-the-kona-electric-ute/

Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a Yuba dealer in my area to test the elMundo.  I don’t know anyone who owns an elMundo with whom I can correspond.  Lacking first- or second-hand experience, I’m hoping you can answer some of my questions to help me and my readers understand where the elMundo fits in the assisted cargo bike marketplace.  With your permission, I would like to post this letter and your responses on my blog within the next couple of weeks.

Your website provides a brief description of the elMundo, several photos, and a tantalizing price for a bike in this category.  I’m especially excited to see a lithium ion battery and a 750W hub motor.  However, there are few details for those of us who obsess over such things.  For example, who makes the motor?  How did you decide it was a good match for your bike?  Does it have internal gearing to help deliver good torque at low speeds?

Besides the low price, there is a significant advantage of having a motor integrated by the bike manufacturer (as opposed to an after-market build like my bike).  Customers will assume that the manufacturer has carefully matched the capabilities of the bike and motor.  The manufacturer will analyze loads and stresses to enhance the reliability of the product.  The bike will be tested under strenuous conditions, and a single warranty will cover both the bike and the motor.  Can you assure us that this analysis and testing has been done on the elMundo, and can you provide details regarding your warranty?

Yuba elMundo

The Yuba Mundo is rated to carry loads of up to 400 pounds, excluding the rider.  Since there is nothing to the contrary on the web page for the elMundo, I assume that the weight limit is the same.  With the help of that powerful motor, it will now be possible for people to carry some pretty heavy loads up an incline.  Of course, what goes up must come down.  That’s why I was surprised to see only rim brakes in your photos of the elMundo.  From my perspective, that seems a little risky.  I know disc brakes are now an option on the Mundo.  Are they also available for the elMundo, or does the hub motor preclude the possibility of a front disc rotor?

It also seems possible that your motor is likely to produce new stresses on the front fork that didn’t exist on the non-electric bike.  Have you made any modifications to strengthen the fork?

Finally, I’m curious how much the elMundo weighs.  Is the battery removable for remote charging, and can you also charge it on the bike?  How long does it take to fully recharge?  Do you have any estimates regarding the lifetime of the battery and motor?

If you have any customers who would be willing to share their thoughts and experiences on this bike, I would love to talk to them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,

Don


July 7, 2010

Hello Don,

Great to hear from you.  I have visited your blog many times before and I did find the content extremely interesting, your analysis and opinions are well documented. Also this is the first email we are getting from you asking questions about the elMundo.

If you were interested we could put you in touch with a few users of the elMundo Cargo Bike, these users are mostly in the Bay Area. Also one our dealer Cycle9 specializes in electric bikes and cargo bikes and has supplied electric Mundos to a numerous customers. One of them Mark Strosberg has been commenting on your blog, he purchased his Mundo from Cycle9.

Currently the elMundo is a Mundo Cargo Bike frame with an after market electric kit installed on the bike. So a lot of the questions your are asking can’t really be answered since it seems that many customers are riding electric Mundos with different motors or battery packs. The model supplied by us integrates a battery placed between the rack and the seat stays, it is removable but doesn’t need to be removed to be charged.

The motor is made by Aoetema, we have tested various combinations of motors and like this specific 750W version for many reasons one of them being the torque it gets for hill climbing.

The 36V LiPO4 battery offers about 20 miles of charge on flat terrain. Motor, battery, controller are under warranty for a year.

We do ship the elMundo with disc brakes installed on the rear (although it doesn’t show on the pictures!).

We have no doubts that the Mundo bike is the best platform for an electric Cargo Bike in the market place due to the strength and solidity of the Hi-ten steel frame. So the elMundo can take the rider, the loads, the passengers and the electric assist.

The battery can be removed and the current combinations gives a range of about 15-25 miles depending on the conditions and terrain.

Let me know if you have further questions or comments.

Ben


After this email exchange, I asked Yuba further questions about the weight of the bike and clarifications regarding the warranty, but I haven’t received a reply.  If or when I do, I will post their answers.

Yuba’s first response was a bit of a mixed bag, from my perspective.  I’m happy to hear the elMundo now comes with a rear disc brake.  This seems to be a fairly recent development, and it’s a welcome step in the right direction.  However, it doesn’t alleviate my concerns about stopping this bike when it’s carrying a load.  Stopping distances for cargo bikes in general is a topic I hope to investigate in the future.

The Hi-ten steel frame of the Yuba is an interesting feature compared to the aluminum frames of the Ute and the Hammer Truck.  It is heavier, of course, but steel will bend under stress rather than break.  If you’re contemplating moving heavy loads on a cargo bike, that might be important to consider.  But in that case, remember to test those brakes and upgrade them if you need to.

Although I have no experience with the Aoetema motor, the reviews I’ve found on the web have been mostly favorable.  It appears to be a reasonable choice for this bike.  However, it sounds like Yuba views the motor as an after-market product, so I’m guessing they would refer you to Aoetema if you had any warranty issues.  This negates one of the advantages I was hoping would come from an integrated product.  When you buy a car, you get a single warranty that covers the whole car.  You don’t have to go to different companies to deal with motor issues, frame problems, etc.

The one year motor/battery/controller warranty is okay, but only half the duration of the BionX warranty.

Although the elMundo remains an interesting option in the electric cargo bike market, I’m hesitant to recommend it without trying it.  Ben didn’t give me hope that I would get a chance to do that any time soon.  If I could find a Yuba dealer in Seattle, I’m betting they wouldn’t have an elMundo ready to ride.  Like Kona, Yuba seems reluctant to vigorously pursue this market.  I would love to know whether that is due to technical issues, or if these companies are skeptical about the size of the market.  In either case, the cargo bike revolution is off to a very leisurely start in America.

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  • stoney grasshopper

    I talked to the guy who supplies the aotema motor to yuba (Hitechbikes). I asked him specific questions as to the torque of going up hill. He asked several questions about how much weight I would you be carrying?, how steep the hills are?, and in the end he said that he would recommend going with a geared motor over the aotema. He also recommended the 9continent over the aotema since both are better on hills. He stated that the aotema must be rolling at least 8-10 miles per hour going up hill or it will malfuntion. That it was designed more for speed. As far as other places that sell “el mundo” good luck seriously try to find a place that has one. Joe bikes is a big seller of yubas and they don’t have one. In matter of fact if you care to pick up the phone and call any of the dealers of yuba mundo and see who actually has one in stock – GOOSE EGG. The yuba is a great product but their business practices are less than STELLAR. Even answering your questions was poor to put politely. A forth grader could read your very specific email and answer those questions. It’s a shame. The perfect combo for the yuba with an after-market product that would work beautifully is the stokemonkey. If them two (yuba/stokemonkey) can work together and make it possible that would be a perfect match made design. Carry all your cargo with the no flex strength up 30% grades with the silent and super efficient battery draw from a hub going through the stoke crank and always being “connected” to your bike is the ideal. Don, I don’t know if you tried it yet but go ride a stoked dummy or xtracycle you will definitely be a happy camper with the motor set up. YUBA MONKEY would truly be the S.U.B. vehicle that the general public can depend on for its integrity design and low maintenance and reliable performance solution for the person/families to easily enjoy the ride and quite naturally give up the dependence of a heavy weighted vehicle. It’s so plain and simple and common sense that it’s annoying that it isn’t a reality.

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      Thanks for this additional information. I agree with your assessment that the Stoke Monkey is probably the best current solution for climbing serious hills. Although I love the relative silence and elegance of my BionX motor, I also have to keep my speed over 6 m.p.h. when climbing hills to get good performance from the motor. That is possible for me because I have less than a mile to travel up my hill, and I can usually do it as a sprint. However, the resulting load heats up the motor to the point where it has to reduce assistance (and regenerative braking) to protect itself. I’m going to discuss that in a new blog post.

      I seriously considered a stoked Big Dummy when I started shopping for a bike. I’m a bit surprised by your assertion that the Stoke Monkey is silent. I read blogs by Stoke Monkey owners who say otherwise. One says it emits harmonics that he can’t hear, but his wife can, and it sets off a chorus of barking dogs every time he passes by. I was also put off by a bike shop owner who said the Stoke Monkey requires regular maintenance to achieve proper alignment (but another shop owner claims people don’t know how to tighten the bolts properly!)

      While we wait for Yuba and Kona to decide how serious they are about their electric cargo bike offerings, a new player is on the horizon. Trek has a bike on its web site that is scheduled for release in “late fall.” At first glance, it doesn’t appear to break new ground in terms of features, but perhaps this bike will have wider availability and better marketing. I will be blogging about that as well.

  • stoney grasshopper

    Hey Don,
    Yes its funny you read my mind. The trek transport +. It has 200lb cargo capacity. We’ll see and look forward to your write up. About the stokemonkey and adjustment. The guy who let me ride his stoked dummy said that he has to adjust every so often. Then he looked at his chain and said it’s a little loose. He pulled out a little tool which resembled (or was) an allen wrench and tightened 2 of the upper bolts. it took honestly 10 seconds and thats including reaching in the bag (The last time he tightened it was about a month ago). And I thought that if he tightened it properly that would be alleviated as well (like the second mechanic). He put over 2500 miles on it and that is the only maintenance thus far – And weight and hills is not an issue at all. I will say this one more time and I won’t bring it up again. If you haven’t demo’d a stoked bike and since you are writing info about it on your blog please do I am honestly curious to get YOUR personal feedback and I’m sure others would too. Keep enjoying the ride and keep posting I appreciate your blog. (Fyi I like your hammer truck. I wish that there was a place available to ride one. I love the crank forward design and they seem like an innovative company (their experience in the aircraft industry is impressive) .

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      Your point on the Stoke Monkey is well taken. I should ride one to get first-hand experience rather than speculating on the pros and cons. I think I know someone who might let me take his bike for a ride. I will pursue that before I write more on this topic.

      I wish you could try the Hammer Truck. The crank forward design is a leap forward in my opinion, and now I’m appreciating those standard front and rear disc brakes even more compared to other cargo bikes I’ve been reviewing. Have you checked the Rans web site for dealers in your area? My local dealer was so accommodating he let me borrow the bike for several days to test it on my hill before I bought it. He didn’t even ask for my name or phone number before we loaded it in my car! I can’t promise you’ll get that level of service anywhere else, but it definitely helped me fall in love with the whole concept of cargo biking.

  • http://www.cycle9.com Elise

    Hi Don-
    I recently came across your blog through Mark S. who also rides an e-mundo which we designed for him. We are a retailer of ebike kits and cargo bikes and specialize in putting these two together. This year we’ve been working with Yuba to develop an E-mundo that can be shipped complete and supported by us for any problems that occur. Since we have substantial electric assist business, we have support that can handle any issues that come up.

    Our current E-Mundo configuration is based on the 9continent motor, which is excellent for most users.
    http://www.cycle9.com/c9store/electric-cargo-bikes-c-29/e-mundo-complete-electric-mundo-bike-p-147
    It’s not internally geared, but can be run at a bit higher power to handle loads and hills. We also offer a higher torque geared hub motor for people with steeper or longer hills (BMC V2-torque motor) or those carrying especially heavy loads. The stokemonkey (we carry and support that as well) is an excellent design for particularly steep applications such as San Francisco (where it was designed), but unfortunately a safe and sturdy mounting solution for the Yuba is yet to be developed.

    I’ve been using a geared hub motor (eZee) to transport myself and 3 small children with a Madsen cargo bike and had great success. We have rolling terrain here in NC – some of which is too steep for me with that load unassisted – but not mountains. My business partner has a Big Dummy with a 9continent kit currently setup, and that combination she has been very happy with as well. We like to practice what we preach here at Cycle 9!

    I would encourage anyone who is interested in electric cargo biking to consider an add-on kit. You can get excellent power for the money spent. I have not had a chance to try the electric Ute or Trek, but I somehow don’t expect fireworks based on design specifics I’ve seen for (non-cargo) ebikes from these companies. We’d be happy to answer any questions in this area to help others discover the joy and freedom of divorcing their car. My original electric cargo bike was an Xtracycle Freerad kit with a Crystalyte motor, all built up in my living room! It seriously changed the way I got around and caused me to want to make this process easier for people through Cycle 9.

    Thanks for your blog and spreading the word about these great bikes!
    -Elise Giddings
    Owner of Cycle9.com

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      Hi Elise! I am happy to welcome you to my blog. I’ve been watching your videos on YouTube for a long time and admire what you and your company are doing in the cargo cycling arena. The information in your comment is especially timely, because I’ve been working on a new article for my blog about hub motors. I’m finding that there is a pretty fine line I’m balancing between low-speed torque and higher speed overheating with my BionX motor on our steep hills. I now believe overheating was the issue that caused the motor dropout during my Ute test ride. Although there has been some discussion regarding this topic on the web, I’d like to bring more light to the issue if I can.

      Happy cycling!
      Don

  • viveik

    Don, did you finally get to try a StrokeMonkey equipped bike ?

    • http://mycargobike.net Don

      Unfortunately, my schedule never quite aligned with a friend across town who had volunteered to let me try his Stoke Monkey-powered Big Dummy. For big hills, I still like the idea of a motor-assisted crank (as opposed to a hub motor), and crank motors are becoming more common on new electric bikes. However, if you need to retrofit an existing bike, the Stoke Monkey is currently the only option I know of.