Archive for the ‘Mundo’ Category

Bad ideas

July 29, 2011

I’ve had a tough couple of days on the road and I suppose this kind of post was inevitable and is often found in bike blogs the world over.

But first for those interested the Yuba and the Elation are going strong 4 days and maybe 50ks per week, Everything ticking along beautifully.

I have some very set routines in my bike travel and some very tried and true routes. Two days per week I travel in evening peak hour on the very busy but very slow moving Cleveland Street in Inner Sydney. Until now I have not had a problem. I keep up a cracking pace and really only the most inpatient driver could ever accuse me of holding anyone up.

So this week for some reason I have had my life threatened with a car two days in a row. All cyclists have at some point experienced the the close pass but this it the first time I have experienced a driver purposefully changing lanes to drive directly at me; both drivers missing me by maybe 12 inches.

The thing that has shaken me is that these “attacks” were completely unprovoked, not the aftermath of some incident or exchange of words as might be expected if not condoned.

I was simply riding on the road. Indeed this is what the 2nd driver accused me of. “Get off the road you *&;^%&;$*” is about as intelligent as his explanation got as I rode up next to him only 20 metres on. He went on the say he hadn’t touched me and that next time he would hit me! Great death threats..just what I need. To be honest despite his foul language and bravado, I could see in his eyes and hear in the tone of his voice that he wasn’t comfortable being confronted like this (especially when I pulled out my iphone and asked him to repeat his threats, which he wouldn’t). So maybee he will think twice next time. Maybe.

Maybe I’ll think twice about riding on that road again, or riding at all if I can drive, it would be a sensible personal reaction to this kind of thing. So if they are trying to scare me off, it might just have worked.

It was not smart of me to approach him at all, I know this, but in these situations, adrenalin often gets the better of me (as with most males). I mean how do you feel when your life is threatened?

Why does this happen and what can we do about it?

Maybe these are just bad people, but I think they are more often good people with a bad idea. In Sydney and other parts of Australia the print and commercial radio media is in bike story overdrive. There are weekly news stories and shock jock tirades, mostly related to some controversy over bike path infrastructure, but always with an anti-bike slant.

Is this emerging antibike sub-culture giving weak minded individuals a bad idea, swerve at bikes?

What to do? Smile, be courteous, move over, wave drivers past, ring my bell? Well ask me again next week because this week I say *&^% that…

What we need is more bikes, riding in small groups. Mostly in Sydney bike don’t ride together, we are like lone antelope surrounded by leopards, but really there are enough of us around now to form little groups and I’m convinced that this would be safer even if it doesn’t lead to more acceptance from good drivers with bad ideas.



February 23, 2011

I’ve been fully ebiking on the Yuba for 12 months now. I would estimate I have travelled around 2000 ks in that time. So I thought I would just update how it was all going.

I travel 2 days per week with 50Kg of children plus school bags for about 2ks before carrying on to work. Two day per week I just have 30kg of children. Of course the drawback of this load is that it grows steadily heavier every day. When I started I used to ride up the short (30 meters) steep hill at the start of the trip fully loaded now I just get the “cargo” to meet me at the top of the hill.

The Yuba climbs hills fine really and I could ride up almost any hill fully loaded. However in the required very low gears the forward speed is so slow that balancing the bike with wiggly cargo becomes an issue.

My boys are pretty much over the novelty of the bike and treat it just like any other daily routine, which is good I guess. However the rest of the population is yet to get over the apparently amazing sight of 2 kids on the back of a bike. Every journey is constant attention from every passer by. We get pointing, shouting and head turning double takes everywhere we go. It’s all usually positive attention and good I guess but gets a bit boring after a while.

It reminds me of when I rode my Vespa ET4 in Sydney with very few other Vespas on the road about 10 years ago. Then I would often cop outright abuse. Ten years later they are everywhere and an accepted alternative form of transport.

So what is good what is bad, what has worked and what hasn’t.


The weather has at no time I can remember in 12 months stopped me riding. This I think is a testament to the good weather we have in Sydney but also to the idea that if it does rain the worst thing to happen is you get wet…The Yubas huge bag allows me to carry full wet weather gear and the only problem then becomes keeping the electrics in the eLation dry, so far so good. The recent heatwave was tricky and for 2 days I wore a tshirt and changed at work to cope with excessive perspiration.

Yuba Frame and forks

Good not broken, what else can i say, looks like it will out last my grandchildren.


This thing is good. Enough said. But to carry on.. it is robust, water resistant, adds good assistance when I need it and none when i dont. The 10 Amphour battery is is great and seems to have a range of 15-20 ks but really I have never let it run down and charge it every chance I get. I have only seen the orange low battery light once after about 15ks. Things have failed like the freewheel coming loose from the bottom bracket and the battery moving and shorting inside it’s housing but Allan at ELation has always been quick with service and advice. He now has a new model base on a 48volt battery, but unfortunately it seems to sacrifice the terrific forward mounted battery position.

Wheelset – Spinergy Xylone

Light lovely slick, I really loved these wheels they seems to roll forever…and broken. The rear rim failed after about 9 months (thankfully not catastrophically). I live and learn, the rims are just too narrow to support the tyre widths I was using at a pressure that made the bike rideable. I have updated to a nice reasonably priced Halos SAS wheelset with a 48 spoke rear and nice wide rims. I can now run much lower tyre pressures and this has improved the ride considerably allowing the balloon tyres to do the suspension work they are designed for.

On a positive note the rim was replaced under warranty and I am now thinking about building up a hardtail mountain bike with these wheels and a few spare bits and pieces I have left.

Go- Getter bag

I think my bag is great but it does hang down a bit off the side of the bike. I think this is because it is a V1 bag on a V3 Bike the newer ones look a little different and might sit a bit better. It’s a great bag for losing stuff in I’m often pulling things out that I lost 6 months ago. I used the separator panel to create a false bottom so I can hide my tools and stuff underneath when I lock up in public areas.

Pletscher Stand

How good are these things! In a word TOUGH. I must admit I really feared it wouldn’t last long with it’s spindly looking legs but it has been excellent and taken a world of abuse in the last 12 months. It’s no good for serious cargo loading and will tip if the bike is too unbalanced, but really I love the lightweight and great design.

Other Stuff

I’ve broken a few things over the last year like chains and derailleurs and things have worn out like brake pads and the rear tyre is going a bit bald, but overall the bike has been a fairly reliable form of daily transport. That said, it would have been different if I had to attend a bike shop everytime I have a little problem, in terms of both time and money, so having the skills and tools (a basic bike repair kit has been a great investment) to keep the bike on the road has been an important factor.


June 30, 2010

So I’ve broken my foot. I’m not good at being unwell, I moan alot and tend to limp around the house with a pained expression while of course attracting little sympathy from the family (not true really my 7yo boy has been very caring really).

No I didn’t come off my bike, no it wasn’t that dangerous downhill skateboarding thing I sometimes do. I was switching off a light and just took a bad step…such is life.

With the greenewheels bike I’ve not mounted the battery in the original location yet, although I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to, I’ve got it sitting in a rear basket to test the whole thing before I go to the trouble of making a more permanent solution.

The Ping battery will physically just fit in the space where the original was so in order to make a casing for it out of plywood I need to be millimetre perfect in it’s construction or it will foul either the rear wheel or the cranks. My first attempt at cutting out the wood just didn’t fit so I’ll have another go making the box a little bigger and slowly reduce it’s size until it fits perfectly.

So I’ve got the Greenewheels going with it’s new battery and even with a broken foot it is the best way to get to work as I can ride right up to the front door (it’s walking that is difficult!).

The handlebar change and front disc fitting was very easy really and the brakes are great, strong reliable (no shudder!) and work well even with the pretty average original electric cutout brake levers. The bike is again pretty much the same as it was when I was riding it last year but I have disconnected the primitive pedal sensor setup. It took too long to come on, too long to turn off again and added too much power when I didn’t want or need it.

I have really been able to appreciate this lighter and faster ebike this week or so. I’m convinced the new controller makes the bike much torquer but it’s been a while since I rode it in original configuration so it’s hard to remember. Top speed without pedaling feels basically the same (28-29ks) but I’ll need a speedo before I can be definitive.

Riding this style of bike with the whisper quiet hub motor makes me realise that my “eLated Mundo” is really a bike for the enthusiast. More pedaling, more gear changing and more noise. My wife for example is an Ok bike rider but she has just not been able to come to terms with riding the heavier, longer, more gearchangier Mundo. I think for your average non cycling person the hub motor style bike is a compelling ride and makes a strong case for the ebike in general. Now all we need is reliability, good aftersales backup and reasonable cost and these things will be everywhere!

Brake 4

June 21, 2010

Just a quick and hopefully final update on my rear brakes.

I got my first puncture last week in the rear (Kevlar tyres or not this nail still got in!) so I took the opportunity to have another look at the rear brake. Basically I tried a bit harder to mount the 160 mm bb7. But really it was never going to mount well, ie have the caliper grab the disk correctly without significant modification of something so i have gone back to the 185mm. Which is still working fine and locking up the rear wheel whenever I want.

Anyhow given that Yuba seem to have changed the rear disk mount point in recently sold frames my experiences with rear discs are probably a bit out of date. Check some of the other Yuba links in my blogroll for pics of the new offset mounting point, and some pics of some great new mundo creations!


May 12, 2010

For the mundo rider who has everything, a colour matching Jellibell! Look good and sound friendly!

And get that tight rear end you have always wanted with these little beauties! 25mm furniture endcaps. Available from your local hardware store now! (warning end caps may cause rear end fluid retention leading to premature rustification).

…and for the nature lover why not go troppo with this great garden setting for your Yuba Mundo! (children not included)


April 6, 2010

It’s done! Well it’s never done and I do intend to keep up the odd post here and there as I experience riding and repairing things, but its on the road so time for a bit of summing up. It’s been a long project from conception last October to completion now. Most of this time was taken up with research and decision making. I didn’t keep track of all the time the construction took but I guess about 14 nights, 3 or 4 hours per nights so maybe 40 or 50 hours for the basic build (not counting tinkering adjustments and brake problems) but remember I have been in no hurry and had to learn a lot about running brake cables and tuning gears along the way, so you might not take as long.

I am thrilled with the bike and the reaction it gets from others (too much reaction at times, makes it difficult to get where i’m going!), and due the the Mundo’s well designed frame and the high spec components, it is the best bike I have ever ridden. I think I’m pedaling more than I would have liked so a bigger hub motor would be a more pleasant ride but I’m limited to the Australian 200wat legal limit and I’m sure the eLation is making the best of this limit. You may ask why not just get a more powerful motor as the police wont be able to tell anyway. As Allan at Elation explained, it is not getting picked up, it is being involved in an incident/accident when you will be required to prove that the motor is legal. Allan tells me this has happened to an Elation owner already, thankfully he had the 200watt option.

I have really enjoyed “making” my own bike (well assembling anyway) and I think this experience will pay off when i need to maintain or upgrade things. Money wise I have certainly not gone down the cheapest path with little change out of $4000 aust dollars. My budget was about $3000 but upgraditis seemed to take hold at every turn!

If your considering doing what I’ve done I think you could easily knock $1000 off my spend with different wheels and lower spec components, but personally I wouldn’t change a thing on my bike. Cheaper faster and likely better would be to buy a complete bike like the Surley Big Dummy, or even a complete Mundo, but again I’ve enjoyed the process so much that my next bike will be made this way too.

In the end the bike does what I wanted it to do; it stops me driving a car. It is also a statement, a very loud bright orange statement, about what is possible on a bike and that personal transport is a series of options not just choice between crowded public transport or driving in congested traffic.

That’s kind of why, when I could, I went for aesthetically appealing or matching colours. It’s a more convincing statement if it looks cool. And yes I am up myself…a bit.

Regrets I have a few…but may I say….


The Mundo frame is a well designed but not very well constructed piece of gear, but by all accounts the V3 is far superior to previous versions and I guess if I boil it down I only had a few niggles like over-sprayed paint and brake compatibility, and the already known dropout issue. However from a business goodwill point of view, I don’t think Yuba are doing themselves any favors selling this as a frame to end users unless they can sort out the quality and comparability issues. Mine came shipped direct from China which means checking on quality must be difficult for the Yuba guys. It will lead to many, like myself at times during this blog, underselling what is really a very good design.

I really don’t need the capacity of the Mundo, I’ll likely only ever have 60-70Kgs of cargo and passengers so a lighter better made bike might have worked just as well if not better. But the  Mundo frame is great to ride and it still needs to be in the shortlist of any serious cargo bike buyer.


The Spinergys are great, light and stiff but only time will tell if the rear takes the weight. I rode about 1k the other night with my wife and 2 young boys and bags etc aboard and the wheel still runs perfectly true so so far so good! I’m sure the light freewheeling feel the bike delivers is due, at least in part, to the low weight of these wheels. I should have gotten a wheel with a wider rim to suit the fat balloon tyres, but they ride fine with 60psi.


The big discs look great and eventually work fine but are likely overkill, 160mm front and V rears would work just as well. I am still having front shudder so if further adjustment can’t sort it out I guess I’ll be looking for a new set of forks.

eLation Kit

The other bits and pieces on the bike are pretty good stuff but the eLation cranks and front cogs are not as good, thankfully the front cogs are upgradable when i feel the need, and with the motor helping I really don’t change the front cogs much anyway.

Overall the eLation kit is great.  It will pull and give good assist at any speed, providing your in the right gear. It will cruise on 30Ks with no problems at all and can in the right conditions sit on 36ks or so for considerable periods (all this of course with moderate pedaling).  It is noisier and not as pretty as a hub system but until hubs get some kind of gearing it is the best way to take full advantage of the 200Watt Aussie limit.


Hmm maybe its just me but I still got the flop.


The side stand I salvaged off my old cheap mountain bike was working great until I put any load on the bike then it just plain failed! I bought a cheap centre stand (from Morouya Bikes), seemed good but fouled the chain when folded up and in a low gear.

Eventual solution? Pletscher kickstand, the 2 legged stand that folds up on one side, very neat. Expensive and not able to cope with really any cargo loading but better than finding somewhere to lean the bike all the time! Thanks again to Cheeky Transport for this and a their generally interested and helpful service.

Azonic Pedals

Look good, cheap ($20- I think), went well until the first time caught in the rain now they are making the most awful groaning noises ever. Marked for upgrading. ****UPDATE*** These pedals have stopped groaning (after I lubed them up a bit more) and are still going strong 600+ks later! I do like the grip pegs, very secure, but they are ruining my work shoes.

Go Getter Bag – Yuba

Big – great, you can take anything with you with this bag. It’s an on bike bag,  it could be carried around at a pinch but if this is required just strap on a backpack instead.

Soft spot seats – Yuba

Good solid comfortable but for short trips sitting on a wooden board would be just a good! Easy to steal off the bike too.

Alligator Bullet Proof Brake and Gear Cables

Look good seem to work well, until I went to fit last bit of the rear brake cable when I discovered the last bit of cable was kinked.  Couldn’t really remove the whole kit from the bike now in little bits and return them. Mismatching cable now but not the end of the world.

Thanks to all for you views (over 1000 hits in 3 months or so) and to all for your helpful comments and encouragement.


March 21, 2010

Passenger handlebars on the mundo are not really stoker bars just some thing for passengers to hang on to. It’s not like they are pedaling or leaning on the bars like a true stoker would be. So I don’t think the position and height is too important.

This may seem like an easy thing to do but I spent a long time on the net zooming in on pictures of other installs to get the details of how to do this on the cheap. I couldn’t find anywhere which explained how to do this  in detail hence the following.

The principal of stoker bars on the Mundo is easy, attach some handlebars to the seatpost. I considered proper stoker bar stems but they are not easy to source (in aust anyway ) and they are about $60 to $100 not counting the bars. Yuba have a kit with bars and grips for $49US which looks Ok but I wanted a cheaper solution and the one I came up with is about as cheap as it gets.

I used an “ahead” type bike stem which suits handle bars of 31.8mm (same as the Mundo seatpost), and a steerer clamp of 1 1/8 inch; that way I could reverse the stem using the handlebar clamp on the seat and the steerer clamp to hold the handlebars. Most stems come with some degree of “rise”, usually 6 deg or so, and of course if you reverse the stem this rise will turn into a sideways offset. So you need either an adjustable stem which you adjust to 0 deg or just get a 0 deg stem, which is what I used. These are not as easy to find as riser types but they are available.

Ritchey do an adjustable stem for about $20-30 on but I just got a very cheap ($6-!) Answer AtacPro 0 deg, 120mm stem (also from Jensen). I also needed a shim for my handlebars, but this depends on what bars you use.

The bars I used were cruiser/riser type (again cheap Dimension brand about $15) but I think they were too wide and I cut them down to avoid taking out pedestrians! I made them slightly narrower than the side loaders.

120mm Stem just fits without fouling the rear carrier.

Total cost all new parts (excepts grips) about $25- and looks like a bought one.

Brake 3

March 20, 2010

The adapter for the rear bb7 185mm disc arrived from Yuba. It seems they have gone to a lot of trouble to have it CNCed and are likely not making any money selling it for $30. I had a lot of trouble working out how to use this adapter (no instructions included) but finally worked out that you need to use one 1/2 of the BB7 adjustment shims with the bolts and washers they send with the adapter. After a bit of  moving the caliper position with washers etc I got it to mount ok.

Correctly mounted adapter before I broke it

 Then I broke it.

The caliper mounting bolts only go into the adapter about 3 or 4 threads deep so of course when tensioning it up I was a bit over zealous and stripped the thread in the soft alloy adapter. I might work Ok for you but watch out you don’t tension it too much. I probably didn’t need to do it up that tight but I have used a similar tension on the original BB7 adapter with no problems. The Yuba adapter is certainly weaker than the original, so maybe it wouldn’t have coped with braking forces over time and I’ve saved myself future problems?

Yuba adapter compared to the original Avid BB7 adapter note same bolt used

OK so long story short I had a 160mm BB7 rotor and after stuffing about with the adapter I thought I would just put that on and be done with it. But it didn’t fit! Certainly not with the standard adapter and mounting bolts. It might fit if the caliper bolts are adjusted/shimmed etc. I may try again if I can be bothered changing the rotor yet again.

I wonder how many people have successfully mounted rear discs on the Mundo? I only know of one other on the web and he mentions having to “man handle” the mounting tab.

So I have the 3 rotor sizes for BB7s and adapters and none of them mount on the rear of my Yuba without significant change to the mounting bolts or using a fairly weak adapter, nice.

Never fear on we go on this glorious rear brake adventure! I would have given up long ago and gone rear V Brake but as I previously mentioned my rims don’t have a V Brake track.

So nothing to lose with the ruined Yuba 185mm adapter I drilled it right through, made a couple of  “shelves” with my Dremel tool and some cutoff discs (a free Dremel tool should really come with every Mundo frame!), and mounted using some longer bolts with nylock nuts. Mounts nice and secure and so far so good with a 185mm rear brake!

Modified adapter

Mounted on the Mundo

My front brake mounting (original Mundo fork) was never all that good (203mm rotor) and needed alignment but I couldn’t get it to line up without bending the brake mount tab slightly and grinding all the paint and some metal off the inside of it. But it seems Ok now, but it does still shudder a bit if I really pull on the brake, not sure if this is the fork or something else.

Victory? Well it feels a hollow victory really. Are you building a Mundo with disc brakes? Ask youself do you really need them? Anyway maybe I’ve made all the mistakes for you. My pleasure that’s what I’m here for!


February 19, 2010

yes my workshop/corner of the garage is a mess...

My grand father was a carpenter but unfortunately he wasn’t the mentoring type and I didn’t pick up much from him. He mainly made formwork anyhow. but I’ve got a couple of his tools. These are pretty easy to make with or without power tools, I used a cheap jigsaw and a belt sander and powerdrill which made the whole thing pretty quick, maybe 3 or 4 hours start to finish.

It has been hot lately (up to 41deg C the other day) with lots of evening storms and rain perfect weather for disappearing into my cool basement garage to do some woodwork.

I bought some 6mm hoop pine plywood but I wished I had time to look harder for some 2nd hand stuff, you don’t need much. The 6mm stuff is very light (the top deck and the side loaders combine to just over a kilo). The 6mm is fine for the top deck as its well supported along its length but its a bit flexy for the side loaders. It would be quicker just to use thicker ply, but I just screwed and glued an extra “stringer” of ply underneath to increase the strength. However standing towards the inside edge is still pretty flexible.

Just trace around the side loaders and cut with a jigsaw

It’s tricky to figure out exactly where to drill the holes for the mounting screws (which are already on the V3 Mundo). I just clamped the boards into position and it left an impression in the wood showing where I needed to drill. I also greased all the mounting bolts so they don’t rust into position. The heads on these hex bolts are notoriously easy to strip.

These are the dimensions I got for the top deck but measure for yourself!

I used some leftover Tung based flooring oil to seal the boards; 3 coats. It created a beautiful yellow-gold matt finish which I think suits the bike well.

boards getting oiled - stringers on sideloaders

As well as the top and lower boards I put some side boards to keep my boys feet out of the spokes and allow me to easier mount some kind of foot rest for my younger shorter fella. I drilled some holes in these to allow strapping points for cargo and to keep the weight down (shaved a whole 200gms off, yes I am embarrassed to say I did weigh them…), plus it looks funkier!

I’m kind of glad I’m still waiting on the rear brake as it has made me focus on the boards this weekend. Test ride was great all tight and good. There was a weird reverberation off the lower boards from the drive drain, just sounded a bit weird.

I’ve now got some Yuba soft spot seat which seem pretty good and sturdy. With these you don’t need a topdeck, they have a thick flexible plastic base. I was going to drill some cutouts in the topdeck to allow the pannier bag to fit but I’m just going to go with the soft spots without a deck. A pity it looked great with the deck!


February 7, 2010

As you may know the Mundo has those big 14mm dropouts on the rear.

I have had word form others that a well tightened quick release using the 14mm adapters will hold it just fine and mine did hold Ok eventually on a recent test run. However I thought I would try to devise some better means preventing the rear wheel slipping in the dropout.

Firstly, I looked on the net for some burly splined washers as I don’t have alot of time to get to bike shops except Saturday morning, which is not a good time at bike shops! But I think I will still try to source some of these at a local BMX place at some point.

The first issue with adding extra washers to a wheel with quick release (QR) skewers is that the skewer needs to be long enough to accept the extra width. The Mundo frame is already extra thick at the dropouts and this can limit the depth of bite a skewer bolt gets into the “nylock” bit of the  skewer nut.

I ordered some extra long skewers made by Halo called “porkies” made to fit bikes with thick dropouts (by thick I mean the thickness of the steel, not the extra big 14mm dropout slot). These are Ok about 5mm longer than standard but are all alloy for lightness, so I’ll keep looking for a steel alternative a well.

Also, a washer designed for a 14mm dropout has a huge hold in the middle compared to the thin QR skewer, so it might tend to float around a bit. I tried making my own washer from “Mudguard Washers”  which are big and have a smaller hole in the middle. I tried to punch divets into them, and drove holes into them in an effort to make a grippy surface, but really the metal was too weak and offered little extra grip when in position.

Finally I dug out a couple of large “cup washers” from my longboard skateboard gear ( It is alloy but the cup shape gives it rigidity. I drilled 2 holes to size and screwed in a couple of  “sprigs” from my new platform pedals. The sprigs bite into the frame offering grip (which can be adjusted with a small allen key), I might even drill a couple of shallow holes in the frame to give these some more grip. These are really like “tugnuts” without the tug!

Drawbacks could be the the light alloy washers tearing or the cup shape working “sled like” to negate the extra grip, however it test rode fine in a high gear standing up on the pedals applying lots of pulling force. We’ll see how it hold ups.