We’ve been biking, walking, or taking public transit – in other words, “car-free” – for almost 7 years. Since moving to Champaign last year we started biking as a family more than ever. Between moving four people and groceries it was clear that we needed something a little more substantial. That’s why we decided to buy a longtail bike.
What about bike trailers?
We use a bike trailer every day. It makes hauling two kids (or a load of groceries) possible, but not always pleasant. Imagine riding a bike with 100 lbs of weight tugging on your back wheel. It’s not fun, but it gets the job done. Longtail bikes are able to haul more stuff more easily because the weight rides above the back tire.
You’d think a bike trailer would have plenty of room, but we found it to be a little tight for the kids to sit side-by-side. And my son is going to be a biiig boy. We could make room behind their seats for a couple bags of groceries, but it wasn’t great space for that, either.
We had a chance to test drive a longtail with the kids. My daughter said she enjoyed it. When I asked why she explained that she could see so much more sitting outside of the enclosure of a trailer. I’m glad it’ll be a more pleasant experience for her as well.
Another perk is that I had that conversation with my daughter while we were riding the bike. Talking to kids in the trailer meant stopping, getting off, and pulling back the flap. So even that is a nice feature of the longtail bikes!
A longtail bike is a type of cargo or freight bike. As the name implies, cargo bikes were historically used to carry goods and products. Cargo bikes became popular for families and people who want to get more done without a vehicle. (Like us!)
Many cargo bikes are bucket bikes, or “bakfiet”. We rented one during a recent trip to Washington DC and were thankful for the experience. The steering and stability were hard to get used to and I never felt very confident on it. In the end, we decided it didn’t have any more space than a bike trailer and it wouldn’t be a good option for our family.
In contrast, longtail bikes have extended rear ends to carry more stuff in more flexible ways. After a couple test rides it became clear that a longtail would work very well for us.
So we started researching longtail brands, models, and features. We wanted a bike that is durable and long-lasting, but affordable. Disk breaks were a consideration for better stopping power in all weather. We don’t need electric assist, but the bike should be light. We also factored in features for kids, such as connections for a rear child seat and handlebars.
Xtracycle vs. Yuba
Xtracycle invented the longtail bike. Their Edgerunner is the most popular longtail on the market and they’re good quality. We enjoyed test riding every Edgerunner we tried. They seem like excellent bikes.
We discovered Yuba while looking for alternative brands. Our research showed that their Mundo V5 had better value than the Edgerunner. And Yuba has an introductory model for only $1,000 (Mundo V4). We spoke to owners firsthand and even did test rides. The quality is top notch.
The Xtracycle Edgerunner and the Yuba Mundo V5 are almost identical. The price is about $100 different with accessories, but the Yuba has slightly better specs. The folks in the Chicago Family Biking Community told us we can’t go wrong with either of those options. Our local bike shop said that the Yuba looked slightly better, but he agreed that they were very close.
We were passing through Austin, so we reached out to bike shops in the area and get some test drives. Plus, since we were driving home, we were ready to make a purchase!
When we reached out to Cycleast, we heard back from their founder, Russell. He also has two kids and rides them all over Austin on a Yuba Mundo. Russell talked us through the pros and cons and answered our questions. He ordered a Yuba with accessories assembled to our specifications so that we could test drive “our” bike before deciding if we wanted to buy it.1
- We had such a great time working with Russell at Cycleast! He went above and beyond to help us get the perfect bike for our needs and get it home. If you’re ever in the area, stop in to say hi and grab a coffee.