Feb 07

A Dinner with Steve Bode of Yuba Bicycles


Recently, I was able to meet up once again with Steve Bode, director of outreach for Yuba Bicycles, the manufacturer of my beloved cargo bicycle the Yuba Mundo (Version 1). We enjoyed Tex-Mex and live music while sitting outside on a warm late January day at La Hacienda. Steve was in town on the Yuba Powered Up Tour 2015 and sent me an email to say he wanted to meet back up. I always jump at the chance to talk with someone who is a fellow cargo cyclist. Not only is he that, he has a good lay of the land so to say on the whole movement and industry behind it.

Tina and PJ met Steve for the first time. Steve was captivated by PJ. We chatted about our views on all kinds of cycling topics such as Critical Mass Rides, Bike Share programs, cycling in Minneapolis and the changes to New York as far as cycling infrastructure since Tina and I were last in Manhattan. Steve reports that it has changed a bunch, and I know this because I’ve seen this on the net through the blogs and sites I follow. On the critical mass topic, Steve had a much different approach than I do. I enjoyed the discussion about bike sharing and Steve, who isn’t a fan of bike shares, had some valid points in his favor.. perhaps this discussion could be a whole blog in itself, so I will save details for such a post. It was refreshing to meet a fellow cyclist who challenged my views on Bike sharing and critical mass.

The part of the conversation I want to share with you is this: Steve brought a really revolutionary idea to the table and that is that perhaps we shouldn’t focus on calling the bicycles we ride that are modified to haul people and things cargo bike but rather we should call them a “Family” bike. Steve went on to explain that thought the movement of cargo bikes started with non-living cargo i.e. stuff, it has evolved to be much more about the human cargo these bikes can carry. I would agree as most of the blogs that I read about are families who are car free and car lite. They are writing about their kids on the back of the bike and how they get around as a family. I guess up until now, I’ve been the rare exception because I’ve been the one without kids blogging about hauling stuff back from the hardware store. Steve told us about one of his favorite stories of a woman who ordered a Yuba Mundo “cargo bike” from Yuba’s website and there was a mix up on the stock status so Steve had to call her to let the woman know that her bicycle was going to be delayed for a while and the woman on the other end of the telephone said, “That is ok, Steve, I’m just now pregnant”.

Steve then went on to say that many in the cargo bike industry have made a recent switch in marketing and they now are focusing on selling the family station wagon bicycle rather than the U-Haul truck. He also explained that in dealing with customers at Yuba he sees a pattern: Cyclists enjoy riding their bike, then along comes baby and they wonder, “Do I have to take a break from cycling until the little one gets older or do I get a sitter so I can keep the rides up etc.?” So they ponder this for a while. Before too long, hopefully, they google cycling with kids, bicycle carrier for kids, etc. and eventually they will see a site like A Simple Six, You Ain’t got Jack, Car Free Days, etc. and they will learn about this new style of bicycles. They realize that it creates a much more shared experience than a enclosed bicycle trailer. With this bike, they can share the road/trail with their little ones and the little ones can truly experience the bicycle the way it was meant to be experienced.  I agree with Steve on this. For a long time in my mind, I’ve been thinking about my Mundo version 1 and I know from my research that because the back rack is so wide I can’t simply put a Yepp Maxi child seat on it. So the thought progression went something like this… “Well when we have a baby, I’ll have to upgrade to a new Yuba Mundo, so I can take the little one along since the new bikes hold the child seats and even older kids.” So in some respects I’m taking the same thought path that many who end up getting a “Family Bike” have. However, with me it was a move from Cargo Bike mindset to a”Family Bike” one. Family bike is the term that Steve said the cargo bike industry is wondering if they should switch to.

The evening went well.  We talked about the blog-o-sphere of cyclists that we both follow and then Steve showed me his newly converted Sprinter Van that he is traveling around in. It is a cool van part RV part Cargo van. I also was able to purchase and bring home a newer V4.3 Mundo Lux from him. We shared our final good byes, and I wished him safe travels on his tour of the US and we parted ways. It was good to catch up on things and also get a new bike that will allow me to transition into the family biking habit.


Steve Bode and his Yuba Bicycles Sprinter Van


1 comment

  1. JT Miller

    We have been calling our Mundo “the Family bike” since we got it 2 years ago. This summer we went car free in DC and loving every minute of it. We bike or bus to school and can get anywhere else in the District via bike. I think more people might consider cargo bike if they were called “Family” bikes because that is what they do- haul families.

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