New: Yuba Supermarché and Sweet Curry

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Yuba is jumping into the frontloader market with the new Supermaché model. Built from aluminum, its two-piece frame can come apart for storage or shipping, and it keeps the weight of the full bike under 60 pounds.

The steering operates by a double redundant cable system that relies on a double-ended brake cable. The tab you see on the fork is from an early linkage-driven steering prototype. When it goes on sale next summer it will be available with a modular box system build from marine-grade plywood or a set of soft-sided carriers. Naturally kids seats will be available both front and back.

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While Yuba said an e-bike version will probably eventually happen, for now it is equipped with a simple 1×8 drivetrain, though you can add a front derailleur if you’d like. Look for it to sell for $2,599.

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The Sweet Curry is a spinoff of the Spicy Curry e-bike model we sampled last year. Essentially the same bike, it eschews the motor for a 2×9 drivetrain to keep the price down to $2,199. Unlike Yuba’s other longtail bikes, it shares the 20-inch rear wheel with the Spicy Curry to keep the payload weight down as low as possible.

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Look for the Sweet Curry to go on sale in the spring.

 

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Review: Yuba Spicy Curry

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Tester: Eric McKeegan
Price: $4,200
Weight: 55 pounds
Sizes: One

Cargo bikes and electric assist are the peanut butter and chocolate of low-impact transportation. Maybe I shouldn’t be using a sweet food metaphor for a bike with a savory name like Spicy Curry, but right now my belly is full of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and I’m having a hard time thinking about anything else.

The Curry part of the name comes from the electric motor manufacturer: Currie Tech. With almost two decades of e-bike experience, Currie Tech was recently purchased by Accell Group, an international company which owns a huge portfolio of bike brands including Raleigh, Diamondback and Redline. Currie Tech teamed with Yuba to develop the Spicy Curry solely as an e-bike platform.

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The aluminum frame is bristling with mounting points for cargo accessories, and the bright color is sure to attract attention on the road. While there is only a single size to choose from, the huge standover, long seatpost and stack of stem spacers make it easy to dial in a good position for riders of many sizes.

The swept-back bars are immediately comfortable, but the 1.5 inch steerer makes sourcing a shorter or longer stem more difficult. The components are all basic and functional. With the torquey 350 watt motor to back you up, the Shimano Acera 8-speed drivetrain has plenty of gearing for even the steepest of hills. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are a nice touch for all-season stopping power. Front and rear LED lights, wired to the battery, are a welcome stock feature. It’s something I think should be on all e-bikes meant for road use. Full coverage fenders and a kickstand round out the build.

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I also tested some accessories. The Bread Basket ($169) bolts to the frame, not the fork, and includes a stretch cargo net and water-resistant liner. Passengers sat on the Soft Spot ($30) padded seat, which strapped onto the Rear Deck ($40), and held on the Hold On Bars ($70) mounted to the seat post. The Carry On ($139) rack extenders created a wide platform for all kinds of bulky cargo.

The Spicy Curry may be the easiest cargo bike to just get on and ride. The well-triangulated aluminum frame and low center of gravity afforded by the 20 inch rear wheel makes the bike amazingly stable under heavy loads, even heavy loads of two squirming kids who are starting to get too big for me to haul around anymore. Frame stiffness plays a huge role here, and Yuba nailed it with the Spicy Curry.

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The gearing might sound high (48 tooth chainring, 11-32 cassette) but the 20 inch wheel effectively lowers the ratio. In fact, I was left wanting an even bigger gear for those stretches where I was spun out at speeds below the motor’s cut-off point of 28 mph. This top speed makes the Spicy Curry a “Class 3” e-bike in California and your local laws might vary. Although, to be honest, we are probably at least a decade away from anyone enforcing e-bike speed laws.

The motor itself has plenty of power, although it isn’t as refined feeling as the Bosch mid-drive motor. At low speeds it is reluctant to kick in much power, which makes it very manageable, but sometimes it was hard to get moving with a heavy load and poor gear choice. As speeds increase the power does too, but gear shifts can cause driveline noise and surges in power.

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I spent most of my time in the highest assist levels of 3 or 4, depending on traffic conditions, load and distance. The display predicts 16, 25, 29 or 33 miles per full charge in power modes 4, 3, 2 or 1 respectively, which I found to be quite accurate. The display is large and easy to read, but I’d like to see more info on each screen.

Without adding the pictured accessories, the stock bike isn’t capable of handling that much cargo. I highly recommend the Bread Basket to start—it is huge, and since it doesn’t turn with the front wheel it barely affects handling, even with a lot of crap inside. The oversize tubing of the rear rack wouldn’t work with any panniers I tried, although the copious mounting points had me scheming various DIY methods to make use of bags I already have. Yuba sells the 2-Go ($219) cargo bags that look to be a wise investment, with a large capacity and stirrups for passengers’ feet.

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It’s been interesting watching the evolution of the long-tail cargo bike in the United States. What we see here, in my opinion, is what will be sticking around as the default orientation for the electric-assist cargo bike: mid-drive motor, 20 inch rear wheel, single ring drivetrain and a la carte accessories to personalize the bike for each owner’s needs.

Yuba is fully invested in e-cargo bikes (or is it cargo e-bikes?), this being one of four you can order directly from Yuba or a dealer. Price-wise, the Spicy Curry compares most closely with the elMundo V5 ($4,500) an e-bike version of Yuba’s oldest model. I’ve spent a good deal of time on the non-electric version of the Mundo and the best way I can describe the difference is another metaphor: The elMundo is a Ford Econoline van—heavy, sturdy, versatile and capable of hauling just about anything. The Spicy Curry is a Honda Odyssey— refined, comfortable and easy to drive.

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Yuba is working to secure an agreement with a lender to offer consumer financing for its bikes, which should put them within reach of more families that don’t want to pay up-front or carry a large credit card balance.

The stock bike comes with a lot of things that are add-ons for most cargo bikes, at a price that undercuts its closest competitors. The lack of stock cargo capacity is easily offset by the lower price. Even with the generous amount of accessories I tested, the Spicy Curry is hundreds cheaper than the similar Xtracycle Edgerunner e-bike. This is a bike that I can see really making a dent in car use for many people.

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I am as happy taking my kids home from the bus stop as I am hauling home remodeling supplies. The motor also made me much more apt to grab this bike rather than the car keys when I was tired or felt pressed for time. In the city, with a top speed nearing 30 mph, most trips are faster than in a car, and parking is easier, too. The Yuba Spicy Curry makes me hopeful for a transportation future that is more centered on people and not cars.

 

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Yuba debuts all-terrain Macho cargo bike

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The Yuba Boda Boda Macho is a new, mountain-meets-cargo bike riding experience. It features 26-inch wheels, WTB All-Terrain Sport 1.95-inch tires, a 2×10 SRAM X5 mountain drivetrain, Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes and an all-aluminum frame.

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Built around the classic Boda Boda chassis, this bike comes with side stand, wheel skirts and the standard Yuba cargo rack allowing riders to carry 220 pounds of cargo—including the option for an additional adult passenger or two children. It will accommodate rider heights from 5’5″ to 6’6″.

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The Macho will initially be released in the New York City, Denver, San Francisco and Portland markets at an MSRP of $1,999. It weighs 48 pounds and is 62 inches long. It will ultimately retail for $2,100 and includes a two-year warranty.

 

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NAHBS 2016 – Pretty Pictures, part 1

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We’ve got lots of goodness lurking in our memory cards, here is the first taste.

Rick Hunter – Rick Hunter Cycles

“Can he build it? Yes he can” award

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Rick Hunter had perhaps the booth with the biggest variety of bikes at the show. Drop bars, mountian bikes, 26plus swampers, etc.. It was this cargo bike that really got my attention. It is an odd, but functional, marriage of a long john and a long tail. The custom bags are by Randi Jo Fabrications. Everywhere I looked, there was interesting detail, or well-thought-out design. The singlespeed front wheel can be swapped for the rear in case of a cassette body failure, chain tension is provided by an linkage and wingnut under the bottom bracket. The components are an interesting mix of old and new, with Suntour friction shifters and derailleurs , Paul’s Klamper brakes and a Surly crank. The live-edge wood was pretty swank. More info: Hunter Cycles

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Ben Farver – Argonaut

“Laser focus” award
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Argonaut makes road bikes with just a few obvious options. Standard seatpost or seat mast. Rim brakes or disc. That’s about it. Select from those options and Argonaut will take it from there. Utilizing customer’s proportions and power numbers, Ben Farver decides on custom geometry, tubing diameter and carbon lay-up making for one of the most truly custom bikes you can buy. For going fast on the road, there really might be anything else out there quite like this.

I’m guessing there isn’t much overlap between the average Bicycle Times reader and the average Argonaut customer, but talking to Ben made me want to ride one. More info: Argonaut Cycles

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Danielle Schön – SCHÖN STUDIO

“MMMM, Dönuts” award

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Danielle Schön and Schön Studio make more than bikes, in fact are a full service fab shop in Toronto, Canada. Schön has a table in the new builders isle, and this bike was hard to miss. Handcut lugs, stainless tubing and an inset head badge were obviously made with love. The top-cap revealed the bike’s donut theme. The 1.5″ tapered steerer tube is not a thing in cast fork crowns, so Schön made one. Not an easy task. More info: Schön Studio

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Bruce Gordon and Paul Sadoff – Schnozola

“Aren’t these guys busy enough” award

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Gordon and Sadoff have been building bike for years. Like a Jewish, bike-building Voltron, they recently joined forces to create Schnozola. All Schnozolas will share two things in common: all will be painted red, and all will be built around Gordon’s Rock and Road tires (700c or 650b). There will be a few different models to choose from, including this “Grinduro steel racer”, which is set up for bikepacking in these pictures. More info: Bruce Gordon Cycles or Rock Lobster Cycles

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Aaron Barcheck – Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles

“A flask and two small bottles of Bulleit won’t buy you an award” award

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Unlike most custom bike builders, Mosaic works with about 30 dealers in the U.S. and abroad to provide hands-on fit service and a local contact for service. Building in both steel and titanium, Mosaic offers a 6-week turn around, something that is exceedingly rare in the custom bike world. The Ti road bike I shot was a showcase of modern standards (T47 bb, flat mount disc brakes) and classy finish. I’m glad I took this one outside, the bead-blasted logos are somehow both sharp and soft at the same time in the daylight. More info: Mosaic Cycles

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More to bikes and bike stuff and bike people to come. Stay tuned for part 2.

 

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Field Tested: Madsen kg271 cargo bike

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The kg271 is Madsen Cycles’ latest version of its fully equipped longtail cargo bike. The rear bucket—which straddles the rear 20-inch wheel—has been its signature look from the beginning. I’ve been curious about this design from the first time I saw it, and I’ve been stoked to haul my kids and stuff around for the last few months in this thing.

My kids have named almost every cargo bike I’ve reviewed in Bicycle Times, and the Madsen affectionately became the “bathtub bike”. Adults seemed equally as stoked on this bike, with comments about either the feasibility of filling it full of ice and beer and/or a rolling hot tub party. Could this be a commentary on the company I keep?

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The Madsen’s molded plastic bucket has always struck me as a practical and simple kid and cargo solution, and after this extended test, I can confirm is certainly is. The bucket has a pair of padded bench seats at both ends, with seatbelts for four kids. The benches are held in with hook and loop material, and can easily be pulled out for more cargo space.

Ride quality

The bucket is bolted to an obviously proprietary steel frame with what may be the world’s longest chainstays. Unlike most longtail cargo bikes, the rear axle sits behind the cargo area, which puts the entirety of the rider, passengers and cargo between the axles. Combined with the low passenger seat height afforded by the 20-inch rear wheel, the result is the most stable two-wheeled cargo bike I’ve ever ridden. I was able to ride at walking speed (or below) with no worries of tip over, and even do a short trackstands at intersections.

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The bucket has a very stable centerstand, which pops back into place with a push forward on the handlebars when everyone is ready to go. The reach back to deploy it may be difficult for shorter riders; keeping a solid grip on the bars and seat while stretching a foot back for the centerstand was strech for my 5’6” neighbor. But once it’s down it was secure enough to allow my 10- and 8-year-old to climb in and out without an adult to hold things steady.

Extras

The stock drivetrain is a 1×9 speed SRAM set up. I was fine with the stock gearing, but long-term I would want a double ring up front for lower gearing. The frame has the necessary cable stops for a front derailleur and shifter, but the handy chainguard would have to be removed. When the time came to replace the drivetrain, I would also opt for an 11-34 cassette instead of the stock 11-32.


Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #32 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.


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The long run of chain is kept in check with an upper and lower chainguide, a nice touch, and it keeps the whole bike very quiet. A front disc brake is matched to rear v-brake mounted under the chainstays; the design of the frame in the rear leaves very little space for a disc brake mounting tab  Plenty of braking power all around, but I still wish there was the rear disc option for foul weather use. Full metal color matched fenders come stock, and my tester has the Front Basket option installed, a $95 option. The front rack mounts to the frame, and doesn’t turn with the front wheel, so heavy loads have much less effect on steering. The front rack was handy for book bags or extra large trips to the store.

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Parting thoughts

As an everyday option to the car, the Madsen is a winner. I’m a big fan of the turnkey nature of the Madsen, it is ready to haul kids right out of the box. I’ve used various front loading box bikes in the past, and loved the ease of dumping kids and bags and groceries in the box and rolling off, no need for extra straps and bags and lashing. The Madsen has most of those advantages, while taking almost no time to adjust to the handling. Since the box has a central channel and tapers from top to bottom, cargo space can get tight with two kids and a weeks worth of groceries, but for daily runs to school there was plenty of room.

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I have very few complaints about the Madsen. One drawback to all that stability is a distinct lack of speed, but one can’t expect a minivan to accelerate like a Ferrari. The chainguard could use a little more coverage and rigidity, my pants still snagged in the chain at times, and it was easily bent far enough to rub on the chainring.

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The reach to the bars felt just about right for my 5’11” self, but my shorter neighbor was more stretched out than she wanted. The stock stem is 45mm, which is about as short as they come, so bars with more sweep or a zero offset seatpost would need to be used to get things set up for shorter riders. The step-through frame is a very welcome feature for riders of all heights, as swinging a leg over the box or children’s heads is not a good option.

Madsen will soon be offering a fold-away rain cover option, and has a layaway program, too. 2015 models can be pre-ordered right now, and for the price and feature list, I would recommend this bike to families looking for a car replacement option. There are aftermarket options for an electric assist, but I’m hoping we see something like the Bosch mid-drive as a stock option in the future. In the near future I expect to see more bikes like the Madsen on our roads. Simple, approachable, easy to ride, lots of cargo space, and a price that is easily justified, the Madsen is ready for a starring role as cargo bikes become prime time.

Vital stats

  • Price: $1,875
  • Hauling Weight: 600 pounds (rider + bike + load)
  • Sizes: One
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Field Tested: Xtracycle Edgerunner Electric Family 27D

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Making the transition to a car-free or car-light household can be daunting. I experienced something to this effect a few months ago when my family of four went from two cars to one. It’s not as if we went out of our way to drive each vehicle every day, but there were circumstances in which having two vehicles made sense. Between kids, errands, my husband or I traveling out of state and daily life, there seemed to be plenty of reasons to hang on to the second car, until we realized we didn’t actually drive it all that much. So, we sold it; but in so doing, opened ourselves up to the realization that the multitude of small around town tasks still needed to be done with or without the car.

Since bringing the e-Edgerunner home I’m more prone to inviting one or both the kids along on my routine, not worried whether or not I’ll be able to make it home with upwards of 100 pounds worth of children and groceries stowed on the back of the bike.

What I wanted was a car replacer; a bike that would give me the confidence to load up two kids, ride to the grocery store, library, music practice or anywhere else our daily adventures take us without feeling like I missed our old car.

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The Xtracycle Edgerunner Electric Family Bike 27D is that bike. First released in 2012, the hub-motor, pedal-assist  Edgerunner longtail was the tip of the iceberg for the California company’s venture into the e-bike world. Xtracycle’s view of marrying the two realms makes sense: “We see cargo and electric becoming inseparable in the coming years.” I agree; electric assist makes an otherwise heavy bike, that might otherwise break your spirit, more approachable.

Since bringing the e-Edgerunner home I’m more prone to inviting one or both the kids along on my routine, not worried whether or not I’ll be able to make it home with upwards of 100 pounds worth of children and groceries stowed on the back of the bike. Having the pedal assist makes my treks seem achievable. Don’t let the pedal assist deceive you though; it does take some muscle and pedal power, depending on bike loads and the terrain.

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The e-Edgerunner has a PL-350 BionX system with a 350-watt rear hub motor. There are four modes for pedal assist: One being minimal assist and four being the most. I only used levels three and four, but I always had at least one kid or multiple heavy-ish items on the back. The motor has enough power to quickly accelerate, which is the big hurdle for most people, as starting from a dead stop with 50 pounds or more on the back of your bike is a challenge. Once you get going, getting the bike up to and maintaining 20 mph is pretty easy if you’re pedaling at a steady cadence. You can also take it easy and maintain a cruising speed of 12-15 mph with minimal effort. It takes about three hours to fully charge the battery and assist cuts out at a top speed of 20mph.

Ride quality

The e-Edgerunner dispatches hills with ease and while that’s not a problem for some, it’s certainly was a benefit I had to adjust to. Going downhill I had a few moments where I was doing 24 mph and didn’t realize it, a prime opportunity to use the Bionx PL-350’s regenerative braking!

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What is regenerative braking? It works in one of two ways; either switched on via a the brake lever, or set as a “drag brake” with the motor control panel. When using the hydraulic disc brakes, the hub motor switches to generator mode collecting what would otherwise be  wasted kinetic energy, generally dissipated through heat and uses that energy to help recharge the battery. In Generate mode the BionX hub runs in generator mode continually, which in turn creates energy that recharges the battery. This is helpful when going down steep hills as it acts as a secondary brake. You can also employ Generate mode to get more of a workout while recharging the battery. It’s great to have regenerative braking, especially if you plan to ride longer distances, given that run time for the motor is somewhere in the vicinity of two hours.


Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #31 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.


There were certainly times when, fully loaded (80-100 pounds without riders), it took quite a bit to keep the bike in check when stationary. I don’t mean to sound like it was impossible to handle—it wasn’t—but it certainly took some effort. The low standover height afforded by the small rear wheel creates a low center of gravity and allows you to plant your feet firmly on the ground and grasp the bars, keeping the bike upright and ready to roll.

Extras

This version of the Edgerunner Family bike comes equipped with cargo bike bags, a Hooptie Bar, U-Tube foot supports and a kickback center stand. The cargo bike bags are great and can hold quite a bit. At full capacity I was able to pack in three days of groceries, for a four-person household and a 16-pound bag of dog food. While the openness of the cargo bags was great in the fair summer months, I could see wanting something a little more weather proof for rain and or snow. Xtracycle offers the X2 bags ($250) with a waterproof flap.

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The U-Tube foot bar played double duty as both a platform for all my grocery getting and gave my kids somewhere to plant their feet that was out of the way of the drive train. The Hooptie Bar works as a parental reassurance. Knowing that my seven-year-old is still on the bike without feeling the need to check on him every few minutes was stress-free. Getting in and out of the thing proved challenging to the kids until they realized they weren’t going to break it by crawling all over it. We opted in for the Mini-Magic Carpets, which are bench pads, and cost an additional $20 each. It’s worth it for me to not hear my kids complain about their sit bones.

Parting thoughts

This bike is meant to replace your car and the price is going to reflect that. The Edgerunner 27D Family Bike (no assist) retails for $2,599. The electric assist BionX PL-350 kit is $2,100, making the total MSRP $4,699. Xtracycle offers a less expensive model, the 24D Electric Family Bike (which has a little less spit and polish: mechanical disc brakes, 24 speeds, less robust headset) for $4,099.

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Weight and learning curve aside, I really enjoyed my time on the e-Edgerunner. It performed as advertised, and the peace of mind gained by the extra add-ons helped me focus on commandeering the ‘family truckster’ everywhere I wanted to go.


Vital stats

  • Price: $4,699
  • Weight: Heavy
  • Sizes: S/M (tested), M/L
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This Just In: Bike Friday Haul-A-Day

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The Haul-A-Day haulin’ gear for a product photo shoot.


Bike Friday is perhaps best known for its line of folding bikes, including the New World Tourist I reviewed a few years back, but it also makes some excellent tandem and cargo bikes.

The Haul-A-Day is a new model for the Eugene, Oregon, based company, which designs and builds all its products in the Beaver State. The Eugene Safe Routes to School program co-ordinator though it would be great to have a cargo bike for class leaders to lead their fleet of Bike Fridays, and company founder Alan Scholz took the idea from concept to reality.

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While it does sport 20-inch wheels and a one-size-fits-most geometry, it does not fold. The main boom can be extended (or in this case retracted from its current setting) and the handlebars and saddle obviously adjust quite a bit.

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The cargo area is not quite as long as that of an Xtracycle, but it is still plenty room for groceries, kids, or whatever you’re hauling. An additional bonus is the ability to clip traditional panniers to the bed rails for more versatile carrying options.

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The basket out front mounts directly to the frame so it doesn’t turn with the handlebars, which is a bit odd at first but greatly benefits the stability of the steering.

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Bike Friday says it wasn’t looking for outright cargo capacity when it designed the Haul-A-Day, rather it wanted something that was slightly smaller, more maneuverable, more manageable for women and smaller riders, and can fit a wide variety of users. I think they’ve checked all those boxes, as it fills the void nicely between a normal city bike and my massive Surly Big Dummy. Think of it as a two-thirds-sized long-tail. The 20-inch wheels are super strong and keep the weight down low. Being able to step through the frame is also a lot easier than swinging a leg over when it’s loaded down.

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There are a bunch of cool mounts as well, including a little flag holder, as well as mounts for a stand that can lift the rear wheel to be connected to a power-generating device.

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Each Bike Friday is built to order, so you the kit you see here isn’t “standard,” but all these accessories pictured here are available. A base model with a rear disc brake, V-brake in the front, rear rack, dual bags, kickstand, straight handlebar and pedals starts at $1,498.

Watch for our long-term review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Order a subscription now and you’ll be sure not to miss it.

 

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