- A powerful, well balanced and feature-rich electric cargo bike from Yuba, it offers a wide range of accessories and mounting points for hauling gear, passengers or children
- Purpose built frame with internally routed cables, inset battery mount, high-clearance motor interface and smaller rear wheel (for increased strength, torque and loading convenience)
- Integrated lights stay with the bike and run off the main battery, reflective tires increase your visual footprint, large hydraulic brakes stop you quickly without requiring a lot of effort
- Only available in one frame size and color but the handlebar is highly adjustable, standover height is low, seat post is extra long (for tall riders) and the color is highly visible
Yuba is a leader in the two-wheeled cargo bike space, and one of the first mainstream companies in the US that I saw experimenting with electric drive systems. It makes perfect sense because a fully loaded cargo bike can be quite heavy with groceries, lumber, children or even a second passenger! The Spicy Curry was introduced in 2016 after Yuba abandoned hub motors in favor of efficient, well balanced, mid-drives. And for 2017, they’re refining the concept by adding two addition gears to the drivetrain, in order to make pedaling more comfortable, and switching drive system providers. Rather than use TranzX, which offers a solid mid-level product, they have upgraded to Bosch. For you, this means the addition of shift sensing to reduce strain on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur… a lighter weight, more compact battery with a handle so you won’t drop it as easily… a removable display panel with integrated Micro-USB charging port and a world class two-year comprehensive warranty with a wide network of certified and trained bike dealer technicians. The past two Spicy Curry models have actually been a collaboration between Yuba and Raleigh electric, formerly Currie Technologies, who have been producing ebikes for over a decade. And please note, this review shows a pre-production model with a slightly different motor casing and chain tensioner setup, the final version will also have an adjustable angle stem.
With a base price of $4,500 and a veritable cornucopia of accessories, ranging from $30 to $209, it’s good that this electric bicycle is so capable… because in many cases, it could actually replace your automobile and associated license, insurance and gas costs. Depending on where you live, the price to fill the battery on this bike would be less than $0.10 and it will go 20+ miles per charge, up to 50 miles if the terrain is flat and smooth, you aren’t overloaded and are pedaling along more actively. And stopping won’t be an issue with the 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes front and rear. These are mountain bike level parts that provide great power without the need to exert a lot of hand strength. One tip here, avoid touching the metal rotors because the oil from your hands can gunk up the brake pads and reduce effectiveness.
Powering the new Spicy Curry is a Bosch Performance Line CX motor. It’s the zippiest, highest-torque motor they offer and I usually see it on electric mountain bikes! Compared with the Active Line which offers 48 Newton meters of torque and the standard Performance Line which offers 63 Nm, the CX give you a whopping 75 Nm of torque for zippy starts and excellent climbing performance. It’s just what you need when the bike, cargo and rider (or riders) weigh more. The front portion of the bike can support ~200 lbs (rider, front basket, front child in seat) while the rear can support ~300 lbs (passenger, gears in bags, rear child seat) and that’s one of the highest combined ratings of any electric bike that I have seen at ~500 lbs… Note the smaller rear wheel which has 48 spokes vs. 36 on a lot of standard wheels. This smaller wheel brings the cargo weight down for stability but also makes it easier to lift onto the bike. And since the motor is pulling your chain and turning that smaller wheel, it isn’t having to work as hard as if it were turning a much larger heavier wheel. The only downsides here are that the derailleur and running boards can bump up against curbs if you get too close and taller riders who might be sitting on the rack, riding as a passenger, can feel a little squished due to limited leg extension. The front wheel is a standard 26″ which makes it less “twitchy” and spans cracks and gaps more smoothly. When you look at the bike from the side (like the main picture above) you can see that the motor and battery are near the center of the bike… actually a little bit forward, and this is designed to balance out the load and allow you to haul as much gear as possible without reducing traction and steering at the front. In short, the motor is great. It’s well protected from the bottom by an alloy skid plate and is angled up and mounted into the frame so that it doesn’t hang down as much as some of the older motor designs. It delivers some basic software driven shift sensing but you’ll help it to perform best by reducing your pedal force just before shifting gears so that the chain, sprocket and derailleur don’t get so much pressure on them as they move.
Powering the bike is a standard Bosch Powerpack 400 battery. It’s filled with lightweight, long-lasting, Lithium-ion cells and is charged by one of the best battery chargers I have seen in the electric bike space. The charger can connect to the battery when it’s mounted to the bike or when it’s off the bike for convenient fillups at the office or friends’ houses’. And because it puts out 4 Amps vs. 2 Amps on a lot of other chargers, it will fill the pack from empty in ~3.5 hours or about 80% from empty in just under two. The pack has an LED charge level indicator on the side to help you determine how full it is even without attaching it to the bike. It has a plastic loop handle at the top, making it easy to carry, and is relatively light at ~5.4 lbs. You can help the battery last longer by storing it in a cool, dry location at about 80% full. If you haven’t used it for a while, check the capacity by clicking the LED charge indicator on the side and fill it up to four of the five dots if it has dropped down to three, two or one. My only complaint about the battery is that you don’t get the latest Bosch Powerpack 500 standard with the Yuba Spicy Curry… Considering the heavy-duty target use and higher price of the bike, I feel like the larger battery would be both warranted and deserved. The good news is, you can purchase this high-capacity battery later and it will connect to the same mounting interface on the bike. With the charger in tow and possibly a second Powerpack 400 someday if you really need the range, you’ll do just fine. I guess I have to gripe about something! Note how low the top tube is on this bike, it lines up visually with the rear section and makes mounting and steadying at stops less difficult. This was done carefylly because they needed to leave enough space above the battery to clip it in (it pivots at the bottom and clicks at the top). I just wanted to call this out because you may find that unlocking and re-seating the battery takes some hand flexibility… and make sure that it clicks when you push it down to really be sure it’s locked in! It’s a bit tight but they were striking that balance of comfort, strength, and utility.
Activating the bike and getting setup to ride is very straightforward and uncomplicated. Once the battery is mounted and charged, just press the power button near the lower left corner of the Bosch Intuvia display panel. It flickers on very quickly compared to other systems and from here you’ll see a five-bar battery indicator, mirroring the five-LED indicator on the battery pack, along with your speed, trip stats and an assist indicator on the right. This assist chart goes from off up to eco, tour, sport and turbo. You can click up or down through these settings using the up and down arrows on the independent button pad, mounted near the left grip. This pad is easy to reach and press as you ride, even without looking down. It produces a tactile click and has a rubberized i button between the up and down arrows which serves as a reference point (both in depth and texture). This i button (which stands for information) cycles through the different trip stats on the display panel and can get you to an area called Range. I like this readout because it dynamically updates as you cycle up and down with pedal assist settings. The higher you arrow up, the lower expected range you will get. And those range stats are generated based on the last three miles of riding combined with the remaining battery capacity and assist setting. Other highlights of the display are that it’s backlit for ease of reading at night, it’s larger than some other models so you don’t need to have perfect vision to see it, it has a lights button built in to control the front and rear LED lights and it can be changed from miles to kilometers by holding reset and i for a few seconds to enter the settings menu. When you’re ready to stop riding, just press the power button again and consider taking the display off so that it won’t fade in the sunlight or get scratched at the rack.
The Yuba Spicy Curry with Bosch really is an impressive electric bike. A platform that can be used for so many activities but still handles like a bike and can fit through narrow spaces. At ~63 lbs, it’s not unreasonably heavy, and the front wheel, battery and display panel can all be quickly removed to save space or make lifting easier. I’m an avid proponent of safety features and the Spicy Curry with Bosch is painted off-white, has reflective tire stripes and integrated LED lights (with side-windows on the headlight) so you’re going to be highly visible. I realize that the video made some of the motor and chain noises seem pretty loud, and the motor is slightly louder than some competing brands, but it’s not so bad when you’re actually riding. The responsiveness and zippy feel of the motor more than makes up for the electronic whirring noise and while I would’ve liked to have seen a chain cover… the pulley wheel and full-coverage alloy fenders do a solid job of keeping the chain on track and your clothes relatively dry and clean. I test ride a lot of full suspension mountain bikes and found that the rigid Aluminum frame and steel fork were not as cushiony on the streets of Brooklyn, New York as I might have liked… but it’s important to keep the frame stiff and strong for hauling gear. The frame did not flex as much as some other e-cargo models but was still relatively easy to mount and stand over at stops (as you can see in the video review above). So the ergonomic grips, fatter tires and hybrid saddle offer a lot in the way of comfort while still preserving the utility of the bike. Big thanks to the Yuba team for partnering with me on this review, and Ben, the founder, for speaking with me via phone to answer questions before I performed this review with Chris from Propel bikes. We had a blast and I came away thoroughly impressed with Yuba’s iterative improvements and investment in the ebike space since they began tinkering with it in 2011/2012.
- Mid-drive motors bring weight towards the center of a bike which is great for cargo bikes in particular because you might have a lot of gear or even a second rider at the back
- Yuba is known for making great cargo bikes and this is actually their fourth electric iteration… they started with hub motors and then made a mid-drive in 2016 but the latest Bosch powered model is the most refined and offers the most torque for hauling heavy loads and climbing hills, the Bosch CX motor delivers up to 75 Newton meters of torque
- The motor and battery are mounted in such a way that they don’t stick out and lower your ground clearance or force the top tube to be extra high, notice how the downtube is actually flattened and indented to accommodate the battery pack
- The rear wheel is much smaller than the front which allows it to support more weight but also lowers the back of the bike for easier loading and more stable handling (it also has more spokes and fatter spokes than normal), having a larger wheel in the front improves stability and smooths out cracks and bumps
- You get integrated lights! As someone who commutes in the morning and evening at times when it can be dark out, I appreciate lights… especially when they are always on the bike and never having to be charged separately (since they run off the big ebike battery here)
- I like that they went with a unisex color scheme and that it’s light because that will make the bike more visible to automobiles at night, also, the tires have reflective stripes on the side :)
- Soooo many options! whether you need a sturdier kickstand, rack seating accommodations or extra large custom pannier bags and running boards, Yuba has you covered
- Ergonomic grips, comfort saddle, steel fork (steel takes off some of the vibration) and larger high-quality tires improve the comfort of the ride without sacrificing frame strength or stiffness
- A 10-speed Shimano drivetrain with mid-level components lets you pedal the bike easily in all sorts of situations and should stay in tune longer (the older Spicy Curry only had eight gears and used a lower level groupset)
- Weighing in at ~63 lbs, this thing is ~10 lbs heavier than most standard electric bicycles… but it’s actually not too bad for a cargo electric bike and you can easily remove the battery, display and front wheel to reduce weight if you need to, I like that the battery has a loop handle at the top so you don’t drop it as easily
- The tires are an upgrade, they should last longer and get fewer flats because they have Performance Line GreenGuard lining, I like that the front wheel is quick release so that it’s easy to work with if you do get a flat
- Powerful 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes provide the control and stopping power needed for a larger bike with extra gear, these are what you see on mountain bikes, and the brake levers offer adjustable reach so you can bring them in if you have petite hands or are wearing gloves
- The rear wheel is protected on both sides by a plastic cage piece so that bags and clothing don’t rub or snag on the tire and spokes
- Great pedals, sometimes bicycle companies skimp on the pedals because they figure the rider might upgrade them or use clip-in shoes and pedals… but with a cargo bike like this, I think they chose well and that most people will keep them (they are large, stiff and offer plenty of traction)
- The maximum weight capacity for this e-bike is very impressive, you can load about 200 lbs up front (like the rider plus a Yepp Maxi child seat) and up to 300 lbs in the back (children, a Yepp Mini child seat or cargo) whereas most normal ebikes can only hold up to 250 lbs total
- The motor is very responsive, it measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque 1,000 times per second so even though there’s no throttle here, you get the feeling of instant support without the complexity of additional systems that could get bumped or cause distraction, the motor also senses shifting so it won’t grind the gears as much as some cheaper systems
- The Bosch Intuvia display panel has a Micro-USB port built into the right edge so you can tap into the ebike battery and charge your phone or other electronic accessories…
but unfortunately it only puts out 500 milliamps vs. 1 Amp and that isn’t enough for some devices like iPhones, I think it just maintains them vs. charging
- It’s only available in one frame size and color… but the swept-back handlebar,
adjustable seat and relatively low standover height makes it approachable for short riders…
and if you’re tall, the adjustable angle stem and optional extra-long 500 mm seat post offer a comfortable fit as well
- Because the rear end of the bike is lower (due to the smaller wheel) you need to be careful how close you get to curbs and other obstacles because the derailleur and running boards could scrape easier
- This bike costs more than some other cargo ebike options… but you get the best most reliable drive system around (which includes shift sensing), the accessories are well made but they can add up too
- It looks like you get the Bosch Powerpack 400 battery with this bike vs. the newest Powerpack 500 which offers more capacity, considering the higher price point and potential for hauling lots of gear… it would be nice to have the larger pack, but it uses the same mount so you could always buy one later to use
- No chainring guard or chain cover? this might be updated but the stock photos and our demo bike were uncovered which could lead to greasy pant legs or dress bottoms and even snags, I do appreciate that at least they included sturdy alloy fenders with mud flaps
- I was told that the final version of the bike will have an adjustable angle stem which is great for improving the fit and reach but can come loose over time if you ride on a lot of bumpy terrain (depending on which part they use), just keep an eye on the stem and keep it snug
- Official Site: https://yubabikes.com/
- Official Site: https://izipelectric.com/electric-bikes/utility/yuba-spicy-curry-bosch-cargo-ebike
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/YrWoMeQS3Tthczn57