Rock The Bike

Chicago has a long, tall history of innovation in the field of tandem tall bikes

El Arbol will not be the first tandem tall bike. Check out this lamplighting bike from Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Read the Full story here:

Or how about this family contraption, complete with treddle-powered sewing machine:

Thanks Flickr friend Whymcycles

More recent but also notable, from Chicago Critical Mass, via Georgeaye. The photo has been viewed 4500 times on Flickr.

Yuba’s new V3 Mundo is here, offering numerous parts upgrades and usability improvements

Yuba releases its all-new V3 Mundo Cargo Bike, with numerous upgrades and usability improvements, making this already beloved bike a true tool for mobility, fitness, and community. Stylish, tough, and highly customizeable, the V3 Mundo stands at the ready for all sorts of missions. The new 21-speed drivetrain and the impressive weight savings — 9 pounds lighter than the original V1 Mundo — mean more riders can enjoy a true cargo bike, in more terrains, with no sacrifice in the Mundo’s legendary stiff ride quality.


Above: 36-spoke front and 48-spoke rear wheels with sealed-bearing hubs mean fewer popped spokes and a stable ride when carrying passengers and heavy cargo.

With a max payload of 440 lbs, the Mundo is still the heavyweight of the long-wheelbase cargo bike world. Riders have raved about the predictability and surefootedness of the frame, which become all the more apparent when the bike is loaded down. The 48-spoke tandem-strength rear wheel with its new sealed bearing hub and oversized axle, is a big part of why the Mundo feels so stable when hauling loads.

Above: 4 strap guides keep straps from slipping, and 24 threaded customization points make it easy
to mount running boards, locking equipment cases, custom equipment racks, and Mundo accessories.

The chassis-style loading system has evolved, with welded strap guides, ensuring your straps won’t slip from road vibration. The Mundo is now easier to customize to your unique cargo applications. Threaded braze-on points positioned throughout the cargo rack allow customers and businesses to integrate specific cargo racks, signage, tools, etc. Yuba’s huge and water-resistant GoGetter Bag is a great way to carry smaller and softer loads like food.

Rock The Bike uses Mundos to haul music equipment to their Pedal Powered Stage events.
For many people a Mundo is the “most comfortable bike I’ve ever ridden”. The long wheelbase makes handling easy and predictable, and puts road shock further from the spine of the rider. The Mundo’s upright riding position gives the visibility riders need to steer, signal, and pedal effectively through traffic. The rider’s weight is evenly distributed between the drive wheel and the steering wheel, making quick accelerations and maneuvers safe and decisive. All this comfort, safety, and control gives riders a chance to relax, breathe, and begin to integrate physical fitness with everyday tasks: dropping the kids off to school, picking up supplies for the home, and doing deliveries for a small business.


Above: Yuba’s Peanut Shell childseat installed on the rear rack. There’s still room for picnic supplies or a second child seat.
Families will appreciate that the new Mundo’s rack accomodates up to two standard child seats. Yuba’s new Peanut Shell is the simplest choice, as the mounting hardware have been chosen to match the rack.

Adam dropping his girls of to school with a Mundo in San Francisco.

Bigger kids can sit directly on Yuba’s top deck, and rest their feet on the bags or the Side Loaders. The Mundo’s new customization points make it easy to add full-length running boards to the Side Loaders for a stylish and secure footrest. And as the kids grow up, they’ll be able to ride the same bike mom and dad used to drop them at school. The Mundo’s low standover height and long seatpost accomodate riders from around 5′ to 6’3″, and the adjustable stem can be positioned to give the desired room in the front.

For mixed terrain, the Mundo now comes stock with a 21-speed drivetrain, including Shimano Acera front and rear derailleurs, Shimano shifters, and lightweight forged alloy cranks. The frame accomodates fat tires, up to 2.75″, meaning that riders with potholed or offroad routes can get the suspension and control they need. For those in wet climates, the stock fenders and disc brake tabs will enable them to get the best performance in the rain. The standard V-brakes have gotten many positive reviews from Mundo customers.

The welded and reinforced rear rack offers chassis style loading for rigid objects like equipment cases.
Previous generations of Mundos had a bolt-on rear rack.

Bike shops and home mechanics who assemble the new Mundo will love the simplicity of assembly. The all-welded cargo system and full-size carton means the build is now well under an hour, with most key parts (derailleurs, brakes, cranks) installed at the factory and in need of only minor tuning.

The V3 Mundo starts at $1099, and includes fenders and a sturdy side kickstand. Most customers will add the $115 GoGetter bag, and a $16 pair of cam straps. A cargo-strength center-stand will be available in early 2010.

Climbing up El Arbol for the first ride

Rode El Arbol down the block with a pvc pipe instead of pedals. by you.

My dad’s been suggesting that I test ride El Arbol as soon as possible before sinking the hours into custom fiberglass work on the trunk, roots and branches. Not a bad idea.   OK, so it didn’t have brakes or pedals, but at least now the frame has at lease now been heat treated.

The ride was great. Tall bike people know that a tall object can actually be easier to balance. The classic example: try balancing a ruler in your palm, then try a yard stick. As you can see in the photo below, El Arbol is about a foot taller than Jay’s tall bike, part of his BayView Space Agency fleet. This makes it easier to balance at slow speeds.

El Arbol scale comparison to Bayview Space Agency patrol bike. by you.

On my first coast, I mounted using the hood of a pickup truck and had Ydran and Adam give a running push in the slightly downhill direction on Channing. The ride is solid. No noticeable frame flex, and that’s before the added stiffness of the fiberglass trunk and branch. The balance was easy, even at slow speeds. I only one little adrenaline jolt on the whole test ride, when I took a roundabout and experienced rapid decellaration. By the end I was doing my own running starts and dismounts in both the uphill and downhill directions. It was Adam’s idea to jam some pipe in the captain’s bottom bracket. That was hope stepped up and down onto the frame, as you can see above.

I had been a bit concerned that the small wheels that originally came with the A2B would make the ride twitchy or sluggish, but it was neither. The traction was great, ans slow speed manuevers felt smooth.

I knew that Jay was leaving for his honeymoon yesterday, and that Tuesday would be our last work session. We welded in the cable management for the root-deployment system. I’ll post more photos soon.

Roots of El Arbol serving their role in stabilizing the rig for welding. by you.

On Wednesday I borrowed a truck to get the frame over to Garner Heat Treating in Oakand. The guys were totally pro and enthusiastic about the project.

El Arbol frame ready to go in the oven at Garner Heat Treating, Oakland. by you.

Apparently there are two ways to restore strength to an aluminum frame after it’s been welded. The more involved one heats the frame to within 30 degrees of liquid, which leaves the frame soft and succeptible to bending under its own weight. Typically at this point bike builders put the frame back in a jig to check alignment. Because El Arbol is a giant frame and a one off, there’s no jig. So we chose the other method, which brings up the frame only to about 300-400 degrees. This method stress relieves the welds but not to the full ‘T6’ strength of the aluminum. With the average wall thickness of El Arbol’s frame being much greater than that of say a Cannondale, I’m not too worried about the strength being compromised.

After bringing the frame back to Rock The Bike, I waited till about 6 last night before ditching the computer and throwing parts back on it. We tied the roots against the frame, since the deployment system isn’t ready yet, and I through an Envy Green Down Low Glow on the bottom tube. Lots of props from the neighborhood, a good omen!

Joel Elrod, LiveOnBike drummer, and an explanation of the LiveOnBike Mundo

Skip ahead to 00:24:

This video gives a taste of the LiveOnBike performances we’ve been doing on SF Cruiser rides this summer. Joel Elrod, who had just finished playing a gig with Pleasuremaker, is drumming on a SPDS electronic drum machine. The signal from the SPDS is carried from the back of the Mundo to the front where it enters a DIT Head Unit containing a Rolls MX56c 4-Channel mixer and Shure Wireless body pack microphone, and DoubleWide Down Low Glow battery that powers the SPDS and a dual tube DLG system for 5 hours.

Skip ahead to 1:15.

The LiveOnBike rig also has a microphone seen in this video of Janaysa performing at the Bicycle Music Festival, but it takes longer to set up, so we haven’t been using it with Joel. The signal of the Shure body pack on the LiveOnBike rig is caught by the receiver on the backrest of the Choprical Fish. I select the tracks from an iPod on the control panel of the Fish. When I pick a new track, Joel listens for a few moments and then picks up the beat and improvises on the playing-card-sized rubber pads of the SPDS.

Both Adam (pilot of the LiveOnBike Mundo) and I have the ability raise and lower the volume level of the SPDS. When I was piloting the bike for Janaysa, I was able to set her vocals and keyboard levels independently using Channel 1 and Channel 2 of the MX56c. We were experiencing a very short range with our wireless transmitter that night, as you can hear in the first moments of the videos.

The DIT Head Unit uses the excellent 1-button KlickFix handlebar mounting system, and the wiring harness simply Velcros to the bike, so we can convert the Mundo from Town Hauler to Rock Star in only 5 minutes, and that includes mounting the SPDS and aTractor seat. I know that’s lot of names for you, but well, that’s how we did it.

Joey Mac, bicycle customizer.

Joey leads the Rochester Cruiser Ride, and is developing a fleet of ‘Spaceliners’ he restores and customizes.


Cruising with ElliptiGO inventor Bryan at sunset along the Embarcadero

Click “more” below to see the video.

I met Bryan at Maker Faire, and immediately got the idea to get some DLG under the foot platforms of his invention on a sunset cruise. It was the first time we’ve mounted the DLG in a way that it moves relative to the frame of the bicycle.

Bryan invented the ElliptiGO out of frustration with driving to the gym to use the Elliptical trainers.

How to build a chopper bicycle without electricity

Chopper bicycle

With its bulging top tube and kinked handlebars, Monroe’s new ride shouts ‘Stretch Chopper.’ Even the large front wheel, while certainly outside of the standard chopper aesthetic, seems pleasantly contrary.

But while this frame was certainly chopped and dropped, it wasn’t welded. Monroe simply chopped an old JC Higgins cruiser frame and mated it to an Adams Trail-A-Bike (the kind used to help kids get the feeling of pedaling) and then pounded loops of chain down over the joints, where the two frames meet.

joints without welding

I had a chance to test-ride the chopper at the pier where Monroe works as a bike mechanic and metal worker. It was pretty satisfying. The leg extension wasn’t as full as I would have liked, but cruising and turning felt great.


Dave’s new Bionx installation. Looks like it was made for it, huh?

Dave gave me a chance to test the Bionx on his Jai Bike prototype. It has four assist settings. Even on the lowest one, “1”, I felt a very solid boost.

“4” just made me laugh. It was so different from regular bicycling, I didn’t know what to make of it. But Dave’s analysis (and Todd’s from Clever Cycles) is that the electric assist is more for carrying heavy loads up hills than ‘cheating’ on the flats.

The problem is that once you have the 18 pound Bionx system installed on your rig, it will feel, well, 18 pounds slower unless you use the boost. So you’ll probably end up boosting all the time. The battery is easy to remove, but not the hub motor, obviously.

I’ve now ridden the Bionx, the Stokemonkey, and my friend Sean’s home brewed electric rig. I’ve enjoyed each test ride, but they don’t stick with me. I don’t wake up, ever, saying to myself “I need one of those.” I’m glad it’s out there as a car-trip-replacer, though.

Discovering Alternate Uses of the Down Low Glow, and rolling with the Long Tall Sally, an Xtracycle Tall Bike

Kipchoge and Eco invited me to a hard-rocking Manu Chao show on Wednesday night and uncovered a new use for the Down Low Glow. Our group of eight people was dancing in an enormous crowd at Bill Graham Auditorium. The room was dark, save for the strobe lights coming from the stage.

A few minutes into the show, we were already dispersed through the crowd. I caught a red glow in the corner of my eye and saw Kipchoge holding this intensely bright red line in his hand. It took me a minute to figure out he had grabbed the Down Low Glow from my bike. Our group came together and danced for a few songs before splitting apart again. Later we put the Down Low Glow on the floor and had a great disco circle a few minutes before a really hard moshing number came up and I grabbed the lights so they wouldn’t get kicked.

Then after the show I still had the lights in my pocket, and our group was totally split up. So I went out to my bike and just there making a peace sign with the DLG tubes sticking out from my finger in a big V. Within a few minutes, people I didn’t know were standing next to me, calling their friends on their cell phones, saying “I’m next to the guy with the neon lights!”

Kipchoge got up on the Long Tall Sally, the first ever Xtracycle tall bike with a passenger deck up at the top level! I had seen pictures from Interbike last year of an Xtracycle Tall Bike made by Aaron from Ride Your, but there was no upper deck on that one.

Kipchoge’s is pretty sweet. I wish I had a shot of him and Eco ‘crowd-surfing’ it after the Manu Chao show, but alas, here are a couple from the night after, coming home from the Citizen Cope show at the Grand. And don’t miss this video.


How to get to a Manu Chao show in style

Whoah, apparently Kipchoge is not the only one to think of a tall bike with a passenger seat. And not only that, it’s also called the Long Tall Sally.

A Beautiful Stretch cruiser

Thanks to Bike Rod N Kustom for posting this amazing cruiser, Elliot Norris’ Full Tilt. If you’ve never read BR&K before, it’s highly recommended. Great community site for the custom chopper and cruiser scene. A new ‘edition’ of this web magazine comes out, roughly, three times a year. And the editors host a cool series of events in Louisiana and New York.



New Worldbike prototypebeing born in Kisumu

Worldbike employee Jacob is a great welder and metal worker. Here he prepares the seatstays for welding. Local materials, including ‘furniture pipe’ were used to Chop ‘N Drop this stock mountain bike into a load carrying utility bike. Keeping the original rear triangle intact allowed Ed and Jacob to keep the design simple, with less chance of rear wheel misalignment.

Should a chopper bicycle have a fake gas tank, fake tailpipe, or fake engine?

Hey bike people,

There’s an awesome discussion of an amazing chopper bicycle over at

Part of the discussion get into the issue of whether a beautiful chopper like this should have a fake engine that is purely cosmetic and offers no functional benefit to the rider.

So what do you think? Yes chopper bicycles do owe their lineage to chopper motorcycles. But on the other hand, a chopper bicycle is a beautiful thing, a bicycle thing. It’s a different experience to be on a chopper bicycle from a chopper motorcycle. Don’t direct motorcycle visual cues like fake engines and tailpipes stick out like an “I’d rather be riding a motorcycle” T-shirt?

I guess I’ve made my own views clear, but wait! What about gas tanks? Of course, they’re just like fake engines and tail pipes, right? Well, maybe, but c’mon, did you look at the swept back ‘tank’ on the ‘NostalgiaRider’s’ chopper above? Holy *&y$! It’s freaking beautiful!

Drop a comment below!