August 9, 2015
We now have two kinds of mid-drive longtail cargo bikes for you to try back to back: Xtracycle's EdgeRunner 9 and 10E, and Yuba's Spicy Curry. Heck, you could even buy either or both, yesterday.
These represent a convergence of thinking in the upper echelon of the world's longtail cargo bike makers: all two of them. Xtracycle and Yuba are fierce competitors, so there's a certain tension discussing them side by side. So many toes in such a tight shoe. But the competition is fertile, the one company driving the other to ship better, first, or cheaper bikes and accessories. There's a whole lot of copying going on, too.
Xtracycle pioneered the longtail cargo concept with the FreeRadical hitchless trailer. The FreeRad was a breakthrough product that proved hard to sell as great base bikes became hard to find, with too many conversions exhibiting too much flex to make good urban family car replacements. Yuba's founder left Xtracycle to make a complete heavy duty bike version, the Mundo. Xtracycle answered the challenge with a one-piece version of its own, the lighter weight EdgeRunner, lowering the center of gravity of the cargo area with a smaller rear wheel. Unsurprisingly, Yuba has followed with a smaller rear wheel and lighter weight on the new Spicy Curry.
What's new to both companies' flagship models is the best kind of electric assist for cargo: mid-drive. This means that the motor doesn't power a wheel directly, but instead takes advantage of the same variable gearing on the bike that you do. It's a mechanically more complicated approach than hub motors, but decisively better when you need lots of low-speed torque as well as a decent top end.
We've been personally involved using, breaking, inventing, patenting, manufacturing, refining, selling and promoting mid drives for longtail cargo bikes for almost 15 years in the form of our Stokemonkey product. There remain cases where Stokemonkey is the best approach, but suddenly now with both Xtracycle and Yuba offering mid drives as a factory option, those cases are much less common.
So how do these two contenders compare? Here are our first impressions:
It's the bang-for-buck winner, or is at least poised to assume that position if its assist proves reliable. The drive unit, by volume leader Currie Technologies, is more powerful than that of the Bosch assist on Xtracycle's offering. It is lighter than an unassisted Mundo. It has a lower step-over than EdgeRunner, and an even lower rear deck. It is better fabricated and specced than earlier Yuba products, with more sensible features like lights and fenders included in the base price than EdgeRunner, even at $1500 less. The ride is very stiff and confidence inspiring: massive aluminum...Continue reading...
We rent Brompton folding bikes, and sometimes a few other kinds. Bikes come complete with lights, locks, fenders, ample luggage options, etc. Bells are mandatory, no exceptions.
Part of our purpose in offering rentals is to let prospective buyers try our unusual bikes over longer periods. If you buy a bike similar to your rental within a week of return, we refund up to a week's rental fee toward the purchase.
Expert mechanics service what we sell in our four-stand workshop, and also offer general tune-ups, repair, and consultation on all kinds of bicycles.
We specialize in modern internal hub gearing, generator lighting, and modifications for greater comfort and utility.
We are Portland’s first and largest bicycle shop devoted entirely to bicycles as primary transportation, serving urban households like ours seeking to avoid dependence on cars with practical, stylish bikes for everyday use: not just “commuting” bikes, but family transport, cargo, and folding bikes, all equipped for comfort, safety, and reliability. We also sell street clothing and accessories that support a practical biking lifestyle in all seasons.
We are not motivated by the rising costs of motoring, ecological guilt, or a body-sculpting regimen. Bicycling is not a sacrifice or a statement. We ride instead of drive because it is pleasurable and convenient, simply the best way to get around Portland. We do not sell sporting goods or fitness equipment: fitness happens by riding your bike right past the gym in the course of your normal errands.
We opened in June 2007, after our two families became partners to help make Portland an even better place to live and work, slow down in, ride every day. In a town with 70 other bike shops, we expanded our family-friendly shop three times through the recession to 7000 square feet, and in 2012 were named Best Urban Bike Shop in the United States by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.