- Sturdy cargo bike with add-on electric kit that struggles in some areas
- Lots of great mounting points for baskets, cargo racks and a rear seat sold separately
- Basic display unit shows battery level and power input but doesn't make great use of space
- Oversized full-grip twist throttle is a bit clunky vs. standard half-twist designs
It’s tough to write a critical review for a company with such a positive heritage and well meaning founder. Yuba is a bike company that is best known for creating unique cargo bikes. It was started by a European man named Benjamin who grew up in France and worked in the bicycle industry in Germany before eventually settling in California. It’s a company named for the Yuba river, which Benjamin was inspired by during multiple kayaking trips… So what about the “elMundo”, the company’s first electric bike conversion? Well, it has a few challenges to overcome and thankfully, the newer models are working to address those. For the improved model which uses a BionX drive system check out this review.
From here on out, this review focuses on the older pre 2013 model of the elMundo which does not use the BionX kit with rear hub motor. I felt it was important to review this bike because there are several commonalities between it and the newer version and there are lots of them floating around being sold used that people might want to know about before choosing to spend more on a new one or considering other brands. Without further ado, here’s the review.
The Yuba elMundo lacks good range, has a cheap controller, is uncomfortable to ride and is overly expensive – especially considering that all of the cool extras like the rear rack board, wheel guard and runners are not included. It’s a bike that does pretty well on its own but was pieced together with an after market electric drive system that just doesn’t work to well.
Riding the elMundo is a bit uncomfortable because the stock seat is hard and the bike has no shocks. The tires are medium sized but would benefit from being larger and a bit more cushy. The front wheel uses a standard v-brake which provides less stopping power, especially if the rims get wet, than disc and seems like a miss on such a heavy oversized bike. The twist throttle used to provide power to the bike uses the entire right grip instead of just a half grip. This makes it a bit harder to keep steady when going over bumps and could even become dangerous if you slipped when riding. The elMundo only provides twist and go, there is no pedal assist option which means you always have to keep the throttle turned when riding.
The 500 watt front hub motor works well enough but considering that so much weight is placed at the rear (even without a rack) it can spin out more easily. On the plus side, having the motor at the front of this bike does balance out the weight a bit more from front to rear. The battery on this bike is pretty standard at 36 volts with 10 amp hours but that’s actually a bit weak for a cargo bike that’s heavier. It is also Lithium polymer vs. Lithium-ion and doesn’t get great range as a result. It also will not last through quite as many charge cycles meaning you’ll have to replace it sooner.
Electric system aside, the frame of this bike is very sturdy and burly. It’s setup with lots of threaded eyelets for adding racks, running boards and baskets. The downside is, these are all sold separately and cost a lot. The front basket is cool and works well with the built in spring “deflopilator” meant to help steady heavy loads however, it doesn’t work very well with all of the wires coming off the front. This seems like a case of bike first then electric as an afterthought.
Another point I’d like to see improved is the chain system. It’s super long due to the extended rear wheel and it’s positioned very low to the ground. Other ebikes such as the A2B Metro have utilized chain guides to lift the chain up out of the way and keep it tight but Yuba opted to do nothing here. The front chain ring does include a plastic mini-guide to keep the chain from falling off but lacks a chain cover so your pants can get greasy or even ripped up in some cases when riding. These are simple things to address, even post-purchase, but that costs more money.
In conclusion, I love the mission of Yuba and appreciate this attempt at an electric cargo bike but there are just better options. Apparently the support hasn’t been great for these either and some have arrived to users and shops with bent rear derailleurs which can be hard to adjust or fix without the right tools. If you love Yuba or have found a great deal on this bike used it might be worth trying but I can’t recommend it above other similar bikes on the market.
- Unique bike with lots of add on options: rear seat with seat post handlebar setup, running boards, giant panniers, tool boxes etc.
- Comes stock with front and rear fenders
- Built in deflopilator keeps the front wheel stable when using optional basket
- Awesome double sided kickstand is super stable and very durable
- Fun positive company culture
- Front hub motor design slips easier
- Twist throttle is the entire right grip, not just half, easier to mess up with and more tiring to use and keep stable
- Battery pack is a bit under powered and lacks range
- Lithium polymer battery won’t last for as many cycles as Lithium-ion
- Long chain could benefit from guide to keep it from bouncing
- No chain guard so pants get greasy and ripped up more easily when riding
- No lights built in
- Display panel is too large and offers very little useful information
- Seat is hard, no shocks or springs on this bike so the ride can be uncomfortable
- Extra wires get in the way on the front part of the bike when using optional basket
- Seven gears is okay but could use extra low gears for heavy loads
- Could use a disc brake on the front wheel to provide more stopping power with large loads
- Official Site: http://yubabikes.com/bikes/el-mundo/
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/irNZQCkb4DpVpzpbA