Comparing the Yuba Mundo with Surly’s Big Dummy

So last weekend I grabbed my electric bike with the XtraCycle attachment, and biked over to a friend, who has a Surly Big Dummy. He agreed to swap the two bikes for a short time to allow me to compare my other long-tail, the Yuba Mundo, with his.

The following is my comparison, which is based on the setup I had for each bike, and that may not be optimal, as the Mundo was set up for my body size and preferences, while the Big Dummy wasn’t.

Overall I found them both be very similar in how they felt: normal to ride, easy to maneuver and not swaying under loads unlike the Xtracycle attachment that tends to. The Big Dummy seemed to have built with flexibility in mind, that’s why most of the loading area’s hardware can be removed, while the Yuba Mundo has been built for strength, thus the framework on the back is integrated to the bike, making the frame stronger, but non-removable, thus unchangeable.

The differences I found:

  • The biggest difference is in the panniers. The Mundo’s Go-getter bag is well-built, fully covered and keeps the water out. Not so with the general XtraCycle bags, that the Big Dummy uses.
  • The gearing is wider for the Big Dummy, and that means I don’t run out of gears going on flat roads or downhill. I suspect the gearing components are lower quality on the Mundo, however for me shifting works well.
  • Both have a very stable kickstand, but the Big Dummy’s kickstand is mounted under the frame for the loading area, thus it is harder to use.
  • The bottom of the loading area is wider on the Big Dummy, which I like. However the front of it tends to bump into my ankle as I take off. The Mundo’s bottom area is a bit narrower, and also comes out in a 45 degree angle, not a 90 degree one, so instead of hitting my ankle, it pushes it out of the way at worst.
  • The Mundo is heavier, but it is stronger as well as cheaper. The Big Dummy is more flexible, as the whole loading area is removable so it doesn’t add strength to the construction. The Mundo’s frame is made more torque and bend-resistant because the rear load-holding frame is part of the bike frame (not to mention the super strong 48 spoked and extra wide axle’d rear wheel)
  • Interestingly enough, after all this flexibility talk, the Mundo comes with an easily adjustable seatpost, but the Big Dummy needed an allen wrench for changing the height.
  • The Mundo comes with fenders, more ready for rain.
  • This may be selectable before shipping, but the Big Dummy’s handle bar in my case is a mountain bike-style straight bar, while the Mundo’s is an ergonomically more correct comfort bike-style bar. Both need quite a bit of lifting to be comfortable for me.
  • The Big Dummy I am borrowing is black while the Mundo is light blue. There are other colors available of course, but in general the Mundo is more visible in traffic.

There are some smaller differences between the two as well, that I didn’t assign too much importance to, maybe others would. One of them is that the Big Dummy is a few inches longer, and another one is that it is fully compatible with the various XtraCycle attachments. I believe the newer version is also compatible with Yuba’s Go-Getter bags, which is a good thing as those bags are truly marvelous!

I even tested the two bikes on a neighbor of mine, who was walking by. He was willing and afterwards I got a few words from him as well about his preferences. He did like the rear handle bars (with a bell!) on the Big Dummy. I don’t have that on the Yuba, but Marianne, who also tested traveling on the two bikes said, that she likes the ‘adult treatment’ of the handlebar-less setup – it provides more freedom.

some more comparisons:
Another blog

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2 Responses to Comparing the Yuba Mundo with Surly’s Big Dummy

  1. Dave Cohen says:

    Hey, I’ve heard about you through Ted White. My name is Dave Cohen and I’m up in Brattleboro, VT. I started a bike delivery service in Berkeley, CA called Pedal Express. That was in the mid-90’s and it’s still running.

    So, I love your blogging about cargobikes. On that note, I was also wondering what kind of electric assist you have on your Xtracycle. We’re thinking about getting a Yuba and trying to decide if we want the elMundo or just get the Mundo and add on a Hill Topper 250 watt motor to it. I don’t know it you have tried the Hill Topper from Clean Republic, but it puts out some awesome power for a little motor. So that’s why I’m interested in your electric Xtracycle and how much you’ve carried with it and have you done major hills with cargo. I have a Long John just like Ted’s, but we feel having an assisted Mundo would be really great for us.

    I’d love to meet you when I’m down in Amherst sometime.


    Dave Cohen

  2. gaborzol says:

    Thank you for the comment, Dave.

    I have experience with three distinctly different electric bike systems. Here they are:

    1) front hub 450W motor, and LiFePo4 battery, on a 36V system: all from china as a kit. They send the whole front wheel put together, you choose the size. Poor documentation, but really easy installation. The only difficulty is that you are responsible where the controller box and the battery will go, only a battery bag comes with it but no mounting kit. The motor is strong especially on low speeds. That’s the one in the XtraCycle currently. The battery is large and heavy, but there are several shapes you can select from, that makes it easier to fit into the panniers, and once charged, they go for a long time. The system comes with a charge display integrated into a front light, which is not very good for the evening: the LED-s are too bright, not so the ligth with conventional bulb. All in all I like the overall system, as it works well for carrying cargo, but it is on ebay and going through ebay is always a bit fishy for me.

    2) The one in the Europa bike from UltraMotor also 36V, 400W, is quite loud, but well integrated into the bike, a rear hub motor with a small Li-ion battery in a case in the frame (removable). It doesn’t go fast, and the rear installation makes the wheel hard to remove, so when I have a flat, the patch system better work, or else. Not as strong as #1 and doesn’t come with a light. But it does have a horn, and a coasting setting, that leaves the motor on without turning the grip or pushing on a lever. The bike itself is great, the electric attachment is okay.

    3) The low-end Ezip and Izip system from Currie: external motor attached to the back wheel with an extra chain. Sealed Lead-acid battery – the case slides right into the rear rack, a clever solution. The whole bike comes assembled, except maybe the front wheel. A cheap bike but well put together.

    Thinking about the Mundo, getting ‘el’ with it may be expensive, but helpful, because it already is integrated and the assist is a great help uphill, plus the system is geared for for cargo, and not for speed. But the XtraCycle is not a good host, as it becomes wobbly above 90 or so pounds weight on the back. The Mundo could take about 280 pounds without any wobbliness, (I work on a post about carrying loads right now:-) the gearing is low enough for anything pretty much, but balancing the bike with the load on is a challenge.
    And one extra thing about electric: it does make the bike quite a bit heavier, and once you have it, you are kinda committed – the weight goes with you on the bike. In my opinion the motor is always much smaller than the battery or than I expect it to be. So the battery is a more decisive part of the system. On the upside the price will be returned. Electricity cost is a fraction of food cost today, so you can get the system charged for $0.07 but a lunch costs hundred fold.

    I would be happy to get together. I work full time, but if you shoot me an email (gaborzol at gmail dot com) before you are in Amherst, we could arrange a time so I could show what I have.

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