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Outside Magazine: The Best $1,000 Utility Bike: Yuba Boda Boda Cargo Cruiser

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Best $1,000 Utility Bike: Yuba Boda Boda Cargo Cruiser



The Yuba Boda Boda Cargo Cruiser. Photo: Yuba Boda Boda


It’s the minivan of bicycles, though with more panache than that designation suggests.

With a swoopy, whimsical frame and whitewash balloon tires, this bike seems perfectly suited to neighborhood pedaling and easygoing afternoons strolls. But the Boda Boda is more than your average beach cruiser, thanks to a hefty cargo rack system integrated into the frame. It’s a stylish ride for trips to the farmer’s market or pedaling over for an afternoon on the water (yes, it can carry a surfboard or SUP).

Built from sturdy 6061 Aluminum, the Boda Boda is a pretty cool piece of engineering, with seat and chain stays that extend straight into the built-in rack system. We prefer the continuous lines of the Step-Over model, which has almost as much clearance as a standard mixte, but women who often ride in dresses will appreciate the Step-Through version. The geometry is decidedly upright, which a few of our testers said resulted in slightly wobbly handling. And all the extra metal in the frame for the rack system pushes the weight to a hefty 36 pounds, making the bike more stolid workhorse than chipper speedster. Those niggles aside, several testers said they’re considering getting Bodas of their own.

In contrast to the stylish looks, the components are mostly a good hard-working mix, including the 8-speed SRAM X3 drivetrain which, thanks to a generous 38-tooth ring up front, got us up even the steepest hills with a full load of groceries. It’s been awhile since we’ve ridden V-brakes, and Yuba’s reminded us just how well this simple design can work. Cork grips, springy faux leather saddle, and bamboo rack decking are all nice touches that add style. However, we found the kickstand inadequate for a bike this size and recommend upgrading to the Boda Double Stand ($69). That raises one other quibble: Though we’re happy to pay a little extra for true accessories (cushion and seat tube-mounted bars for passengers, for instance), features like a sturdy kickstand, a spring to keep the front wheel from over-rotating, and bamboo decking for the feet should be standard at this price.

Like the bicycle taxis in Africa from which the Boda Boda gets its quirky name, this bike can haul a surprising load, including, we found, two full-size adults in a pinch. It’s the minivan of bicycles, though with more panache than that designation suggests. If you’ve ever dreamt of ditching your car once and for all for a two-wheeled lifestyle, the Boda Boda might just be the perfect replacement. And if you need even more capacity (think SUV instead of minivan), Yuba’s Mundo Cargo will lug as much payload as your legs can manage.

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