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First look at Yuba’s new ‘Spicy Curry’ electric-assist cargo bike

Posted by on May 12th, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Yuba Spicy Curry cargo bike-3.jpg
Yuba Bikes Founder and CEO Benjamin Sarrazin on his new Spicy Curry e-bike.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)


When Yuba’s debuted in Portland nearly seven years ago, I can remember the dismissive chuckles. Back then, Xtracycles ruled the market for “longtail” cargo bikes and most people thought the Dutch bakfiets bikes were the state of the art when it came to hauling kids and cargo.

The company’s first model, the Yuba Mundo was stout and overbuilt and relatively heavy at 59 pounds. It took a while to win people over, but eventually the Mundo proved itself. It became a favorite for anyone who valued stability and toughness and it’s a hit with bike-based businesses. Heck, we’ve even met a guy and his dog touring the country on one.

In the past seven years Yuba has come a long way. They’ve grown alongside the cargo bike boom in America and they’ve benefitted from a renaissance in urban biking that has seen many cities add protected bike lanes and other infrastructure that makes living without a car much more feasible.

And it’s people who want to live carfree or low-car Yuba now hopes to attract with its latest offering — the Spicy Curry. Yuba’s Founder and CEO Benjamin Sarrazin rolled through Portland last week and I met up with him at Fields Park to take a closer look.

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Sarrazin pointing to the modular rear rack system. He didn’t have the “truck bed” platform with him when we met.
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Nice graphics.
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Sarrazin said he’s working on a hand-lever released dual kickstand that will be ready once the bikes are available in June.
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Love this huge rear rack!
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1 1/2″ threadless headset.

Sarrazin’s roots go way back in the cargo bike world. He was one of the original employees of Xtracycle when he started there 15 years ago and was a close partner of that company’s founders Ross Evans and Kipchoge Spencer. Xtracycle built its reputation on a kit called the “Freeradical” that would transform the rear-end of (nearly) any bike into a fully-competent longtail. But Sarrazin, now 41, thought the company should make a complete bike. After being rebuffed internally, he sprung out on his own and started Yuba. He designed their first model, the Mundo, and it was the first purpose-built cargo bike in the North American market.

Sarrazin’s new Spicy Curry is an evolutionary step from the “El Mundo” model, which is a version of the Mundo that ships with an aftermarket electric-assist kit built into the rear wheel.

Yuba Spicy Curry cargo bike-1.jpg

The name Spicy Curry name is a nod to Currie Technologies, the company Yuba partnered with top make the bike’s 350W motor. (Currie also happens to be the umbrella company for several e-bike brands and sells more e-bikes than any company in the U.S.) Sarrazin says it’s that motor that sets his new bike apart. “For years now, I’ve been looking at a way to make an integrated e-cargo bike. Then about a year ago, Currie came around.”

Sarrazin says the Spicy Curry’s “mid-drive” motor gives it the best efficiency, power and torque (acceleration) on the market. Instead of driving a wheel, the Currie mid-drive motor drives the crank-arms forward and it’s especially smooth and powerful when climbing hills.

With an estimated 80 percent of Yuba customers carrying kids, the extra power is a huge asset.

The Spicy Curry is made out of aluminum, which allows it to tip the scales at just 55 pounds — that’s lighter than the first (non-electric) Mundos that hit the market.

Another cool feature (that unfortunately wasn’t on the bike I saw last week) is what Sarrazin calls the “truck bed,” an attachment to the rear rack that creates a two-by-two foot loading platform. Pop off the loading platform and two child seats can snap on the deck in seconds. The Spicy Curry comes in one size and can be shipped with either a 350 or 500mm seatpost.

I took a quick spin on the bike and was impressed at how smooth it was. My only quibble so far is that it doesn’t come with a chainguard or a bell (UPDATE: Yuba says it will come with a bell. Yay!). It does come with integrated front and rear dynamo-powered lights – a must for any real utility bike.

I would love to try it out fully loaded to see if it could really be the car replacement Sarrazin hopes it will be. (Stay tuned for a possible hands-on test.)

The bike will be available next month from Clever Cycles in southeast Portland.

Learn more about this bike at YubaBikes.com

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

42 Comments
  • shuppatsu May 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Looks very nice! I love the Edgerunner-style form factor, and it’s always nice to read about another electric drivetrain.

    I wish electric bikes were cheaper. I don’t understand what makes them so expensive.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Steve Bode May 13, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      cargo bikes are more complex than regular bikes. Take a look at the frame. That’s a lot of welding. But mainly, the motor, battery and electronics are really complex. When you look at it, it’s a lot of technology for the money.

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  • Paul Cone May 12, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Aluminum? How strong will it be compared to steel when fully loaded?

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    • Chris I May 12, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, but it all depends on how you design the bike. Surly’s Big Dummy (cromoly) is rated at 400lbs total weight, but I don’t see a rating for this bike.

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      • invisiblebikes May 12, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        It’s rated at well over 450 lbs because of the built in rack rails but most testing of long tales has shown that any load more than 450 becomes to unwieldy even on the lower center of gravity Xtracycles and Yuba’s so if you plan to carry more than 450 lbs you may want to start looking at front carry cargo bikes like the Bullet.

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        • 9watts May 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm

          trailers.

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        • Steve Bode May 13, 2015 at 9:47 pm

          What makes you think a front loader is better for heavier loads? I think front loaders are fun too, but there’s no advantage for heavy loads. In fact, I find a extra stiff longtail like the Yuba to be easier to control.

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          • todd May 14, 2015 at 12:00 pm

            Loads that can’t be split up equally left/right can be placed extra low and centered both laterally and with respect to the axles on long john-style bikes, for very sweetest possible handling. Think full kegs or engine blocks or whatever: better on a longjohn. Longtails more versatile…

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  • Joe May 12, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Of course, there’s a whole other side to the Mundo origin story, but I’m not sure anyone would want to talk about it.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Chris I May 13, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Not finding anything on a Googles search. Do you have a link?

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  • Spiffy May 12, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    for those too lazy to look on the web site:

    $4,500… Order now for June delivery…

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Spiffy May 12, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    “it doesn’t come with a chainguard”

    that’s a new requirement on bikes that I buy… I got so very tired of strapping my pant leg, and then that leg not getting enough air flow and getting too hot…

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  • Adam H. May 12, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Looks nice, but I won’t buy one unless there is a steel option.

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    • Chris I May 12, 2015 at 3:19 pm
    • Eric May 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Mundo was the steel option (high-ten, with some chromoly), albeit with a bigger rear wheel. Edgerunner is all chromoly, but the rack is aluminum. With a ~60-80lb load I love the edgerunner, but it handles a bit like a wet noodle when fully loaded.

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  • invisiblebikes May 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Beautiful… but here are some more in depth pro’s and con’s

    Pro’s:
    -Smaller rear wheel size brings any load (especially kids) closer to the ground for superior weight to stability ratio and easier for kids to get on and off.
    – built in rack’s also add a superior weight to stability ratio and load capacity.
    -much higher weight carrying capacity compared to competitor long tails like Surly Big dummy, Xtracycle, etc
    -Upright position, swept bars for super comfortable ride
    -Single front chain ring and Rock ring/chain guide helps protect pants and less chain maintenance

    Con’s:
    -The Mid drive 350W E-assist is under powered and lacking torque needed for any extended load carrying or hills. this is Portland, we have lots of hills!
    -limited gear range due to mid drive/ no front derailleur option
    -gear ratio of front chain ring to rear gear ranges is limited and relies to much on torque input from mid drive instead of better gear ratio of mid sized chain ring or 2 or 3 speed cranks. Making it harder to ride with out more input from mid drive.

    Best comparison is the new Xtracycle Edgerunner W/ Bosch mid drive, it has more torque and power for better hill climbing and then matches the rest of the Yuba pro’s and Con’s
    I prefer the new Bionx D500 on my Big dummy for ludicrous hill climbing torque… I can carry an extra 200 lbs up a 18% grade at 12 mph, neither the Bosch or Curry will compete with that. And the Bionx D500 lasts closer to 30-80 miles on full charge depending on how much assist I want. Much better than Curry or Bosch.
    Since I don’t carry loads over 150 lbs I don’t miss the lower center of gravity but I do sometimes want it when the kids are moving around while I’m doing 20 mph…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Electric Mayhem May 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      You can also add the motor from local company ecospeed. It’s a mid drive that allows you to use your front derailer and at up to 1200 watts it will get you and your load up any hill in Portland. I am purchasing one for my Xtracycle Edgerunner.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • invisiblebikes May 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm

        That would be rad, but isn’t 1200 watts (or over 800) illegal for bike lane use?

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        • Eric May 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

          1000W

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        • Dan May 13, 2015 at 12:44 am

          Honest question: is anyone policing the size of your ebike engine?

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          • Chris I May 13, 2015 at 6:50 am

            They will be soon if a lot of people start slapping 1000W+ motors onto bicycles.

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          • invisiblebikes May 13, 2015 at 9:46 am

            Its not really a big concern but it falls into a gray area of motorcycle laws and you have to wear a DOT helment and not ride in Bike lanes or bike paths.

            I doubt judging by how rarely traffic officers ticket cars for speeding that a person would get a harassed by cops but I wouldn’t want to be the 1st to know what that ticket price would be for non compliant helment (yes I did that on purpose) and illegal use of bike lane. Lol

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            • John Liu
              John Liu May 13, 2015 at 4:45 pm

              If an e bike is driven like a motor vehicle, not in bike lanes, then I’m perfectly happy to see them with all the power a hot rodder can get!

              Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Chris I May 12, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      I just got a used Bionx S350DX Big Dummy and I absolutely love it. At 6’5″, the “one size” Yuba and Xtracycle bikes just don’t fit me. With the 22″ frame, the 26″ rear wheel size is less of a problem, and I like the more balanced handling.

      Do you have the Surly rack or the Xtracycle rack on your BD? How do you secure it to the frame? We are going to be carrying a kid on our BD soon, and I want to make sure the rack won’t pop off in a crash.

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      • invisiblebikes May 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm

        I use the Xtra cycle rack along with the Hooptie, magic carpet padded seats and wooded running boards. But I prefer the Surly bags because they are easy to use.
        I’ve found that its really a pain for the kids to get on and off with the full hooptie so I only have one side installed and they are super comfortable with that. Also the running boards make it easier for them to climb on.

        I think Splendid Cycles has a Hooptie set up on an edgerunner for test rides if you want to give it a try with your child first.

        I use the 4 point cinch straps of the surly bags that clip onto the frame tabs they secure the entire kids platform to the frame very securely and are rated up to 200 lbs of passenger weight.

        I agree with you that the BD rides much more like a regular bike which is the small trade off of frame flex from the passenger load which is only slightly more noticeable from the xtracycle edgerunner.
        And I like the fact that I can put mtn tires on and go for a real mtb ride!

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    • invisiblebikes May 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Also a big Pro of this Yuba is that they built the frame around the E-assist system which makes the lines a lot cleaner. Not to mention that they centered the weight of the battery and mid drive system as low as possible and in the center of the wheels… makes for great stability and balance.

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    • Steve Bode May 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Good points on the pros, invisible, but I have to question your facts on the cons. The Currie electro-drive (actually a Tran-X motor) is 350 watts and rated as more torque and power than the Bosch. At Yuba, we have all the different motors, and the Currie center-drive is the hill-climbing king. The BionX D-series is also awesome because like all the BionX systems, it’s direct-drive and therefore dead-silent and has regen for longer battery life and their pedal-activation is the bomb. They have different strengths.

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  • Eric May 12, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    350W? $4500? Weight? My fully-custom 750W mid-drive edgerunner was $4000 with 48V 9Ah LiIon battery, kickback stand, x2 bags, and yepp seat – 75lb total. At 350W, you will rarely make 20mph uphill with cargo (1% grade maybe.) I have a hard time sustaining 20mph up a prolonged 6%, which is mainly due to battery size.

    Aluminum might be less springy, but I’m thinking high-ten steel (as in the madsen (sadly: made in china), or the new xtracycle add-on) may be the way to haul really heavy cargo. Test-ride fully loaded on a curvy and hilly course since you may not enjoy the flex with a full-sized passenger.

    10 speed cassette has a good range, but I often want more and at higher power, I generally skip gears. I would love to see an independent transmission 1kW setup (left-side drive, 4speed + neutral w/regen?) and keep the triple crankset+cassette with human-oriented gear spacing.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 12, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Looks very nice.

    Those are large diameter tubes, very triangulated, I’d be surprised if there was much if any flex in the frame.

    Since this bike isn’t meant to be raced, i.e. pedaled at 40 mph, I doubt a second chainring is needed. 1 x 9 or 10 should be a very sufficient gear range. The small rear wheel results in lower effective gearing.

    Some of the ebikes described in the comments sound like they have excessive and illegal amounts of power. I support ebikes, but if too many ebike riders get into a hot rodders war with 1000+ watts, then it will be time to ban them from bike lanes and send them out in traffic to play with cars and trucks.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Eric May 13, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Over 1000W is already banned from bike lanes and could get fined as an unregistered moped. But moving 400+ lb uphill with 1kW is not a fast thing. I would rather not have power limited since climbing a hill at 20 is the same as 35mph+ on flat ground. Generally, gearing only goes to 30 (also the 20mph and 16yo restrictions are a bit excessive, but I understand the fear of irresponsible, unregulated users who don’t follow rules (irony irony…))

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  • anna May 12, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    shop talk folks discussing cargo weight, there is usually a defined load limit for in front and behind the rear wheel axle, in case you’re putting your children, keg, or boyfriend on the back rack

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    • Eric May 12, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      I’ve never seen anything about distribution on xtracycle or any other longtail. Riding fully loaded, I’ll grant that you want to account for your weight vs the distribution. You would have a hard time hanging 200lb very far behind the axle, but even at the extreme, I think it would be more about handling than strength.

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  • Portland's One Stop Electric Bicycle Shop

    invisiblebikes: Hub Motor and Mid-Drive power levels are not interchangeable.

    Because mid-drives transfer power through the chain, you can actually climb a steeper hill with a 350w mid drive than a 500w hub motor. I have found that for steep terrain and large cargo loads, mid-drives are about 40% more efficient.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Portland's Original Electric Bicycle Shop

    If anyone would like to try the Felt Bruhaul cargo bike… (350w Bosch Mid Drive, 24″ wheels, 51lbs total weight, including bosch system and battery).

    Felt representatives will be at The eBike Store on Friday, May 15th from 1-5pm.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Remind me why an electric bike has a dynamo powered head lamp? (Other than for backup?)

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    • Chris I May 13, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Not sure why they went that route (maybe they didn’t and they are in-fact e-bike lights). I use Supernova e-bike lights that plug directly into the battery. Using a dynamo to generate power for lights seems wasteful when you have a huge battery right there. It would only be advantageous if you depleted your battery and still needed the lights.

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    • Steve Bode May 13, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      The Spicy Curry headlight is battery powered. Maybe you are thinking of the elMundo that uses a dynamo because that bike is Based on the Mundo LUX that has a dynamo set up and disc brakes.

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  • JEFF BERNARDS May 13, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Jonathan, thanks for informing your readers about one of the many types of electric vehicles that are available. If, as a nation we’re going to lower our carbon foot-print, the e-bike in all its forms are going to lead the way. The electric car is 50 times heavier and is a distraction from the environmentally friendly e-bike.
    Thanks again and please keep your readers informed in the ever changing e-bike technology.

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  • Champs May 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I disagree with Jonathan’s quibbles because they are two of the Mundo’s weakest features in my experience. The chainring plates are scarcely better than placebos and the bell is lousy. Buy trouser clips and a brass bell (like very few other bike components, this is the only correct material).

    Otherwise, compared to the Mundo those hydraulics are a BIG plus but I’d hold out for that two-leg kickstand.

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  • Joel May 14, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I’d love to see a head to head comparison vs the Bosch edge runners.

    I’ve heard the edge runners have better components, but I’ve never seen that spelled out.

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    • Moleskin May 14, 2015 at 11:32 am

      That would be interesting. I used to have a Mundo and found the components not great and the frame a bit crude (and HEAVY!). The very non-standard hubs and weird disk brake tabs were also awkward, though I’m sure the wheels were plenty strong. That said, from the pictures the Spicy Curry looks a step up in terms of componentry, and the frame a bit more refined. The integrated mounts for Yepp seats are good to see.

      The wife’s Bionx Edgerunner is great; she absolutely spanks me up the hills even when shlepping children…

      As others have said, sometimes I think a bit too much is made of the huge weights that these bikes can supposedly withstand, even though the bike becomes very hard to handle long before they are reached.

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  • Mike Minnick December 19, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    That guy who pedaled the Mundo with his dog sounds like a badass!

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