As a cycling-mad New Yorker, I’m psyched to see more and more bikes on the city’s streets every day. The cost of gas, increase in bike lanes and CitiBike program have conspired to create a scenario that looks a helluva lot more like Amsterdam than it did a decade ago.
But if George Bliss, proprietor of the West Village’s awesome Hub Cycles, is to be believed, there’s one part of the Euro approach that Americans are completely missing. As Bliss sees it, we are far too concerned with making our bikes really lean and mean, with the result being that when it comes to actually taking anything with you, it’s got to be strapped somewhere on your body, weighing you down and taking half the fun out of the ride.
Europeans, meanwhile, are much bigger fans of bikes that—thanks to baskets, racks and panniers—have all the carrying capacity built-in. And with regard to maxing out in that department, nothing we have ridden comes anywhere close to the Yuba Boda Boda.
Naked, this bike goes for $999. Pimping it out with add-ons can easily inflate that figure.
See, from front to back, this baby is stacked with add-on cargo options. You’ve got the big basket at the front, a rear rack with room for two spacious panniers and the coup de grâce, a padded seat so you can take a friend along for the ride. (Assuming, of course, that your friend is not Kirstie Alley.)
Bliss had one available in his shop, all ready for thorough test-riding on New York City’s streets. I gave it a go—and came away with some key observations that should serve you well should you be in the market:
1. It is oh-so-easy on the eyes. New Yorkers aren’t easily impressed, but this bike consistently turned heads and elicited positive comments. With its beach cruiser looks, it puts almost everyone who glimpses it in a happy place. Especially chicks.
2. Maneuvering can be… challenging. Steering through the Lower East Side with a passenger definitely required a good amount of focus—particularly for someone used to zipping around on a fixie—and getting over the Williamsburg Bridge for a BBQ was a sweat-inducing challenge. Let’s just say I earned my burger that night. On the upside, the bike has eight gears you can shift through to negotiate inclines and declines, and riding solo is a comparatively smooth pursuit.
3. You really can transport a lot. Bringing things full circle, this bike definitely delivers in the cargo-carrying category. Along with passengers, you can easily tote work materials, picnic supplies, sports equipment, beach gear and, most importantly, ample booze from place to place. And when it comes to this type of bicycle, isn’t that really what it’s all about? Well, that and turning it into a pirate ship, anyway…