I love Spicy Curry: 2,000 Miles on a Yuba cargo bike

I now have almost 2,000 miles on the Yuba Spicy Curry e-assist long-tail cargo bike I bought from Fyxation back in August. At more than $5,500 with tax and all the accessories, it is the most expensive bike I have ever purchased, but in the four months or so that I have been riding it, I haven’t regretted the purchase for a minute.

My daughter Frankie bringing home our Christmas tree.

I live in a family of three drivers and we all share one car. My wife and daughter use the car most often because they ride horses three to four days a week in 30 miles south of our home in Milwaukee, so the car is often gone when I need to haul something. We have managed this way for years with me relying on our Workcycles Omafiets, which is a workhorse, and our old Burley trailer, repurposed for cargo once our daughter outgrew it.

Our 14-year-old dogs are now too old to run along side the bike all the way to the Menomonee River for a swim, so I haul them on the Yuba.

I have been intrigued by cargo bikes and “bakfiets” since I visited Amsterdam and Copenhagen ten years ago, and I have always wanted one. Because I like the Dutch and Danish style, I have always preferred the traditional bakfiets (translation: box bike) in which cargo is in the front. The reason I bought a long-tail style cargo bike is that as a photographer, long-tails allow me to sit on the back and photograph a person or group of people riding behind me for the stories I do.

A photo I took sitting on the back of the Yuba while Tristan Klein pedaled.

The reason I got an e-assist long tail is because it is a lot easier to find volunteers to pedal me around for photoshoots. I had run out of friends willing to pedal me around for an hour and trying to stay in front of group rides. With the electric assist on the Yuba Spicy Curry, people love to volunteer as my stoker.

Me hauling my Schlick Northpaw in to the office so Greg Smith could pick it up and swap the rear wheel for a new Rohloff after the Shimano Alfine 11 broke for the third time.

Unlike a throttle controlled hub-drive electric assist bicycle, the Currie Technologies mid-drive assist on the Yuba only works when the rider is pedaling. There are four levels of assist and I most often use 2 or 3 depending on how much of a hurry I am in on a cargo run or how fast the rider I am photographing is going on a shoot.

While that was the primary reason I spent the extra money to get an e-assist bike, I have since found it has other advantages. Foremost is that I no longer worry about adding extra trips to pick something up or consider hills when I have to haul something. With the assist, hills don’t matter. Without the assist, I might not add an extra trip to fill a growler after I go grocery shopping because it adds three pretty big hills to my round trip in order to get to the liquor store that typically has a sour on tap.

With the Spicy Curry, I never have to worry about buying more at the grocery store or farmers market than I have room for on my bike.

The other advantage that the e-assist has over a regular bike is that I always get where I am going faster. I still have to pedal, and if I am in a big hurry, I still have to pedal hard and might be sweaty when I arrive, but I always arrive faster. In assist level 3, I can pedal 20mph+ on the flats if I push it, even with a heavy load. I can pedal 20mph up hill if I really crush it.

Pedaling hard on an incline and I managed to hit 22mph with the 55 lb bike and a load on the back.

The extra speed means I don’t mind adding extra trips. One caveat is that the battery life drops off quickly at assist level 3 or 4. I often travel 25-30 miles in a day between going to the office, to meetings and running errands. If I try to do that on assist level 2 or 3 all day, I might run out of battery power. When that happens it isn’t a big deal as I can still pedal the bike normally, but I don’t understand why Yuba and other e-assist cargo bike companies don’t offer a 15 or 20 amp hour battery with cargo bikes. All the couriers who have added e-assist to their cargo bikes run custom made 20 amp hour batteries.

The accessories I have are the “Bread Basket with liner” front rack, the rear “Carry-On” rack, the “2-Go Cargo Bag,” the “Stand Alone” double kick stand, and the “Soft Spot” rear seat pad.

A minor quibble I have with the Spicy Curry is the front headlight it came with shut off every time I hit a pot hole or bump in the road so I had to add an aftermarket light. I added the Schmidt Edulux II headlight, which now works perfectly and is much brighter, but that is an easy fix for Yuba with a different OEM light.

After the liner for the Bread Basket front rack tore at the corner seams, I replaced it with some hardware cloth I got from my neighborhood hardware store for $5.

Second problem: while I love how the front “Bread Basket” rack allows me to haul heavy loads without affecting steering because it mounts to the frame instead of the front fork, the seams of the liner bag it came with tore after a month of use. Adding two more cross bars on the bottom at the corners would solve that problem.

My fix for the sliding dropout problem.

The biggest actual design flaw with the bike is that after a while, the rear wheel began slip in the semi-vertical dropouts. I could not tighten the quick release enough to keep the wheel from slipping under a load, so I had to make a custom metal bracket to hold the drive side in place. This could be fixed with a bolt-on axle or a rear-facing track dropout with set screws.

The only other design flaw is with the very cool Yuba Carry-on rear rack system. It is an incredibly versatile rear rack that allows me to haul large loads when I have it in the upper “flatbed” position and in the bottom position it works well as a foot rest and to keep heavy loads low, like when I have both 45lb dogs in the plastic tubs. The problem is that it is very difficult to install and remove, even though it has snap tube release system similar to a vacuum cleaner tube. The clearances are just too tight, so it gets jammed if I don’t pull it out perfectly square. I typically need a small hammer to install or remove the racks.

Finally, Fyxation has not been able to order me a second battery either from Yuba or Currie Technologies. It seems the dealer service from both Yuba Bicycles and Currie Technologies is really bad. The owners of Fyxation have called and emailed many times and they just don’t get a response. I have heard the company is sold out of the bikes and many accessories and might even be moving production to a different factory, so maybe that accounts for the slow service they give their dealers.

Carry-On racks in the lower position work well for foot rests.

The Carry-On racks are incredibly useful in the upper position to work as a faltbed. Note the Two Go bags fit on the bike no matter where you have the rear rack positioned.

All-in-all I love the bike though. This is the first generation of a new bike, so there were bound to be a few issues. I hope Yuba fixes the few minor design problems with the bike and improves their dealer service, but like I said in the beginning of this blog post, I haven’t regretted the purchase for a minute.

So, after 2,000 miles, would I still get a Yuba Spicy Curry instead of a similar Xtracycle Bosch Edgerunner 10e? I can definitely say “I think so…” I have never been able to try riding a Bosch Edgerunner because no dealers stock them in my area, so I have no idea how they ride or if I would have similar quibbles.  I tried to get one from Xtracycle to test, but their production was really delayed (even more so than Yuba) and they never said they could help me, so maybe the slow customer service just comes with these new cargo bikes. The Edgerunner is also another $700 more and they don’t offer the really cool flatbed style rear rack, which despite the difficulties mounting and removing, is incredibly versatile for hauling everything from passengers (canine and human) to four full crates of fresh peaches.

I totally love that rear rack and can’t imagine living without it. I would be really bummed if I didn’t have that option if I were to ride an Edgerunner for some reason. So, bottom line is that after hauling everything from my wife and daughter to my dogs, fresh peaches, bicycles, and even our Christmas tree, I still love the Yuba Spicy Curry.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

24 thoughts on “I love Spicy Curry: 2,000 Miles on a Yuba cargo bike

  1. This was an awesome article, thank you for the great review as well as the honest feedback. We are currently fixing the problems that you mentioned as a first generation there have been a few growing pains as well as successes. I do have a fix for the sticky carry on attachment for you. If you sand the excess paint inside the attachment holes as well as the attachment points on the carry on and them liberally grease both, then the binding action you experience will go away completely! Hope that helps you out in the future, Thanks again for the review. Your story was truly inspiring!

    • Thanks for responding Ted. I will definitely try the sanding and greasing bit on the Carry-On! That sounds like a great solution. Honestly, I’m still loving the Spicy Curry and I totally understand a few minor design changes on the second bike. Let me know if there is anything I can do to get a spare battery too, or contact Nick Ginster at Fyxation, your Milwaukee area dealer.

        • Thanks for letting me know that Erik. I will ask Fyxation to try a little harder with Currie to get a battery. They did call, but got nowhere with it.

          • Currie Technologies is a pain in the ass to deal with because their parent company is Accell North America. It took me almost THREE MONTHS to get an account set up with them.

          • Tom, are you talking about setting up a shop account to get parts like extra batteries or controllers? I had problems with my controller and they were very quick about sending me a replacement, but that was customer service, and I didn’t need an account to get help. Chawn Weingarten from Accellna was pretty responsive.

  2. Fantastic post. I’ve ridden a Lapierre/Bosch commuter. It was excellent. As your post suggests though, an accurate review would involve at least a few hundred miles. I’m a road biker but I love battery bikes.
    My two biking slogans are: ‘Replace car miles with bike miles’ and ‘Park your car and ride’. There’s a new product just out in Zurich, Switz. called ‘Dryve’. It’s a 29″ wide, 9′ long rain shield that attaches to the handlebars, loops well over the rider and attaches to saddle or rack.Check it out @ dryve.ch . I’m trying to be the first customer in the US

  3. I can’t wait for the cargo bikes to be efficiently manufactured! Especially the e-assist types, since it’ll be carrying heavy loads. Great review – for a first-generation model, the Spicy Curry already seems to be one of those products with significant potential.

    • Good point Lisa. When fat bikes first came out, they were all very expensive. Now you can pick one up for $300. When you can get a good e-assist cargo bike for $2,500 or less, we will see a lot more of them on the road.

      • Right you are on the fat bikes, Dave. The e-assist cargo bike is gonna get a lot less expensive sooner or later once the demand for it increases. Exciting times!

  4. I love the review and would agree about 3 months ago I was riding my spicy curry with my wife on the back and the dam wheel came completely out of its placement area. We almost crashed and I was puzzled by this and told the dealer i bought it from. He could not figure it out and said they tighten it. This happen at least 7 times so far and it can be downright scary, upsetting . This could cause someone or the single rider to have a bad accident. It is a design flaw and should be recalled and fixed with some sort of new and improved hardware. Thanks for your review.

    • Hey Martine,

      Glad you didn’t crash and get hurt. Just ask your dealer to take a saw off small piece of a stainless steel rear rack bracket, put the rear skewer through it to mark where to bend it, remove it, bend it at a 90 degree angle in a vice, then reinstall the wheel with that little piece as the keeper. That is what I did and it fixed the problem. You can show them my photo so they get the idea. Pretty simple, virtually free fix. I agree though that Yuba should address the issue by sending out little brackets to everyone who has a first generation Spicy Curry. They told me they fixed the problem on the second generation bike.

      • Hi Dave, Thanks for the response and information. Strangely this entire post was seen and sent to Yuba. I got an email from Yuba “Marc”. They asked me to answer some questions and take a few pics. Looks like my dear friend Larry Pizzi (CEO) of Curry Tech is looking out for his customers. These guys are unbelievably great at taking care of theirs. To this day they have looked out for me and sometimes it seems like Larry is in my pocket following me around, lol He’s quick at addressing the issues and does it like no other. I Love my spicy, and won’t give it up for no one. In fact, I’m a little heartbroken because I can’t ride it much right now as the weather is tremendously cold this year. Can’t wait to spring. Anyways, I have taken your info and will forwarded it to Marc over at Yuba. Thanks Dave

        • Hey Martine, If you have an email contact for Currie Tech, please share it with me. I’d like to get a spare battery and my dealer had trouble ordering one from Currie.

          • I purchased the Yuba Spicy Curry on 4/24/16 and I was riding my bike with my 3 year old on board and the back tire completely came off too! I thought that this problem would of been addressed by now but it has not been!
            I’m really loving the Spicy Curry and I’m hoping this doesn’t stop us from riding.

          • Hi Shonda,

            I suggest you take your Spicy Curry back to the shop where you purchased it and ask them to fix it. You could show them what I did to mine. You should also email Marc Azevedo at Yuba support directly. Yuba might have something they can send you to fix the problem: marc@yubabikes.com

          • No, I did not and range anxiety remains a big enough problem for me with this bike that I am thinking of selling it to get non-OEM long tail and an aftermarket kit from Lectric Cycles so I can use a bigger battery. A local company, Slow Poke Cycles, can make a 20 amp/hr 48 volt Lithium Polymer pack for me for a little over $500. I could probably sell my used Curry use the money to get that pack, a 750 watt mid-drive from Lectric cycles and a used Edgerunner or similar.

  5. Thanks for the detailed write up.

    How is the battery in cold weather? I have a different ebike here in Nebraska and in the week the range has dropped tremendously.

    • Hi Tim. In cold weather the batteries range will be lower. I had the same issue also. Both my batteries in the cold show a range of 54 when in normal warm weather show a range of 34. I asked John Tai of mottostrano about this as I was not sure if I had a defective battery. He assured me that this was a normal occurrence with these type of batteries. Hope this helps.

  6. Try Crazy Lenny in Madison,( Odana Rd) for ALL of your E Bike needs. He is the largest e bike dealer in the country. JUST E Bikes! Nothing else, if he doesn’t have it, I would bet he will find it for you! I bought an e trike 2 years ago and could not be happier with it. He Is great to do business with!

  7. Has Bike Fed spent time thinking about e-bikes, law, and policy? Specifically, are they bikes, motorized vehicles, or are they something new?

    I never gave it much thought until was dangerously passed by a 25+ mph e-bike on a narrow, windy rec trail. It was then that I realized these are really just mopeds without a tail pipe, and legally they shouldn’t be allowed on rec trails, in bike lanes, or on off-road bike paths.

    But, that’ wouldn’t be fair to the new demographics who will take to e-bikes — the new commuters and errand-runners and neighborhood cruisers who would never have thought of biking previously.. We need to welcome them to the sport, and make the bike infrastructure available to them.

    I’m really torn on the issue, and am curious what other municipalities are doing.

    • Hey Craig, thanks for the comment. As I mentioned in today’s post, e-bike assist cuts out before 20mph. If someone hot-rodded their bike, they could ride faster I guess. Sorry you had a scare. That said, I can go faster on my road bike without assist than I can on my electric assist Yuba or the Bosch Edgerunner. I don’t think the problem is assist or no assist, it is courtesy. Getting passed at a high speed while waking is always uncomfortable, whether the discourteous rider is on a bike with e-assist, a cargo bike or just a regular road bike.

      I’m hesitant to suggest a “speed limit” because we all know how effective posted speed limits have been for motor vehicles. Even with millions of signs and millions of dollars spent on enforcement, we can’t seem to get the majority of people to obey the posted speed limit, so adding a speed limit to trails when we know there is no money for enforcement seems a bad idea.

      In my experience, as the number of people using trails increases, like we all want it to, people on bikes who want to go fast move to the road. I think the best solution is to do more encouragement campaigns to get people to be courteous on trails (which includes lowering the sound when walking with ear buds in so you can hear people on bikes who ring bells or say “on you left”), and do all we can to make trails more convenient so they get more use and add protected bike lanes to get more people riding in the street.

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