Maybe driving a car is something you’d like to do less often. A cargo bike can make this a reality and can even replace the gas hog as a way of moving kids and groceries. Yuba, a company out of northern California, has been making longtail-style cargo bikes since 2006, first with the Mundo, Boda Boda and Spicy Curry models. Now, Yuba has expanded into the realm of front-loading cargo bikes with the Supermarché.
Call it a Front Loader, Long John, or Bakfiets if you want to get fancy – the Supermarché puts the load low and in front of you for certain advantages. Compared to a longtail, a front loader opens you up to carry a wider variety of loads more easily. Small children can be sat side by side as you pedal along, chat them up and keep an eye on them. Front loaders are also great for those odd or heavy loads like boxes of bicycle magazines, bass drums or kegs. Not that you need to chat with your drum or your beer, but those are the kind of thing I like to carry. The center of gravity is low, and the cargo space itself can be configured to accommodate a wide variety of “things.” The Supermarché can (soon) be had in an electric version if you live in a hilly area or just want some more juice to go further without questioning your physical ability to do so.
So what sets the Yuba Supermarché apart? One design goal was making a cargo bike that would fit a wide variety of people and carry a wide variety of loads. This is accomplished with a loooong seatpost and a looong steerer tube for a wide range of seat and handlebar adjustments. I had no trouble fitting my 6’4” frame on to the Super – in fact, I found it fit quite well whether I was sitting or standing to pedal. With its short seat tube, the Supermarché is designed to fit riders as small as 4’7″.
Another goal was to make the Supermarché as easy to ride as possible, so Yuba’s team selected a cable-actuated steering system which not only eliminates the usual damage-prone steering rod extension to the front wheel but allows for an even lower center of gravity. They also used different sized pulleys and played with fork rake to make the Supermarché relatively easy to handle.
The drivetrain is of the Shimano 3 x 8 trigger-shifting variety and connected to 20-inch wheels front and rear, providing ample gearing for the steepest of hills. Those 20-inch wheels have fat 2.4-inch tires and 36/48 spokes (front/rear), which provide confidence when carrying heavy loads. Plus, there’s only one innertube size to keep in stock for flats. Braking is handled by Tektro hydraulic discs for ample stopping power. The frame is aluminum the fork is cromoly and a wide kickstand holds the whole thing up without issue when loading or parking.
Other pertinent info? The Supermarché weighs 58 pounds before accessories and is capable of carrying up to 300 pounds of cargo, 220 pounds in the front and 80 pounds over the massive rear rack.
Accessories are a big part of the Supermarché thing. There are a variety of bamboo platforms and boxes available to customize your ride. My review rig came with the $250 bamboo box, which is pretty key if you just want to drop stuff into a box and forget about it. If you want to haul children, there’s a $150 seat kit that attaches to said bamboo box. And for the minimalist with a huge load, there’s a simple bamboo baseboard for $70. You are also free to build your own solutions and mount them to the frame. A third child can be put in a $199 Yepp child seat mounted to the rear of the bike. One more cool accessory is a $35 frame lock that slips through a special bracket that locks the back wheel from turning.
How about the ride? Starting off on the Supermarché is definitely easier than a couple of other front loaders I’ve tried riding. The step-through frame makes it easy to get on, and once you push off there’s no drama, even with a large load. The riding position is comfortable whether sitting or standing and wide MTB-style handlebars with ergonomic grips made controlling the bike a breeze.
Acceleration was great for such a large bike with the smaller wheel size. Loaded, the low center of gravity was appreciated. I have carried some pretty heavy loads with the longtail Mundo, and getting the weight even lower was yummy. The burly center kickstand also makes parking a breeze. Mind you, the wheelbase is quite long, so it doesn’t have the turning radius of a regular bike, but it does feel pretty natural once you get rolling. The only thing that felt odd to me was the five feet of bicycle sticking out in front of the handlebars. This made it a bit weird when, say, pulling out from between two parked cars, but I got used to it. The added length (8’5″ total) also takes the edge off the roughness of the smaller wheels when the going gets rough.
Coming off the Yuba’s Mundo longtail, there were a few things I noticed right away. First of all, I found myself picking up and moving more odd loads of various sizes – a bass drum, Dirt Rag magazines, people, etc. This can be addicting. Why bother with a regular bike when you might decide to do some shopping, stop at a garage sale or flea market, or want to give someone a ride home? The Supermarché is becoming my daily driver.
In the past, I had already been handling many daily chores on my Yuba Mundo cargo bike. But now, with the Supermarché my car is going to be parked even more. Yuba makes it easy to go car-free! Breathe the outside air, enjoy the day and be happy!
More info can be found on Yuba’s website.
(Edited 2/1/18 to reflect earlier use of cable-actuated steering system)
Earlier this summer, Yuba Bikes held a business plan contest to give away a Supermarché front loader cargo bike to someone with a creative business idea involving said bicycle.
The Yuba Cargo Bike Biz Plan Contest aimed to show the world what a bike, especially the Supermarché, can do. This front loader cargo bike can haul up to 300 pounds of cargo (not including the driver), and its big, low front rack can be piled high, watched over and makes the bike easy to maneuver. Yuba boasts that this bike could replace a delivery van, and part of the goal of the Biz Plan contest was to show that.
“What makes this front loader special is the super smooth dual actuated cable steering, 90 degree steering radius and extra low front rack,” says Kate Herr, marketing coordinator for Yuba Bikes. “This all adds up to a powerful cargo hauling machine that steers like butter and turns heads everywhere.”
To enter, applicants had to submit a business plan summary that addressed a series of questions about their business and how the bike would be put to use. The contest ran until the end of July, after which judges Benjamin Sarrazin, founder and president of Yuba Cargo Bikes, and our very own publisher Maurice Tierney chose the winner from 17 entries.
While there were a lot of great ones, The Crepe Cart’s dream of a roving fleet of snack-serving cargo bikes was pretty inspiring, and it took the cake (or crepe?), so to speak.
The Crepe Cart is a wagon push cart that has been serving sweet and savory crepes daily in the French Quarter area of New Orleans, Louisiana for the past four years. Part of the creperie’s vision is to take its mobile operations to the next level and a cargo bike is an excellent way to accomplish that. One of the managers of the business owns a Yuba, found out about the contest and was inspired to make a crepe bike.
The Crepe Cart’s new Supermarché will initially be used to make deliveries during the day and for special French Quarter events. Eventually, the business would like to employ multiple bikes to rove around the city selling crepes, a move that will hopefully cause the Cart to “become legendary.”
Have a great business plan or idea for a cargo bike but missed the contest? Don’t fret; Herr says that Yuba will definitely be doing similar contests in the future. “We’ve found this is a great way to connect with folks who are looking to dive into the cargo bike lifestyle so even if they don’t win the contest we can reach out later and answer any questions or help remove any barriers that might be standing in the way,” she says. “Plus,” she adds, “It’s really fun for us!