The Pickup Truck Of Bikes: Yuba Spicy Curry

It costs as much as a used car. But the electric-powered Yuba Spicy Curry can indeed replace your car for commuting, errands, and other urban tasks that require hauling large items.

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Photos (c) Rob Williams

Yuba’s Spicy Curry is a pedal-assist electric “cargo bike” that can haul as much as you can fit in the trunk of a small car. It has a powerful pedal-assist motor that can propel you to 20mph or more. Add to that a “truck bed” area on back, and the cargo bike is a utilitarian dream for those who live in cities and don’t need or want to own a car.

I reviewed this bike for the past few weeks, riding in the city and all kinds of weather. I hauled groceries, gear, extra bikes, and even humans on the back of the bike. Through it all the Yuba Spicy Curry was solid and indeed proved its place as a stand in for a small car.

If you can get past the sticker shock — this bike retails at $4,500 — read on to decide if the e-cargo bike option is right for you.

Electric-Assist Cargo Bike

Cargo bikes are not new. But Yuba upgrades the concept by adding a motor. The company teamed up with Currie Technologies for the Spicy Curry’s 350W Centerdrive motor.

The centrally-mounted motor is lighter weight than hub-driven systems and relies on the rider’s pedal input. The Spicy Curry has four assist levels; you must be pedaling to gain any assistance, and the harder you pedal, the more it goes.

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Pedal-assist bikes are legally limited to speeds of 20 mph, so above that, you’re using your own power. That said, I did get the Spicy Curry up to 29+mph on flat ground, and it really shines when things go uphill — the mid-mounted, high-torque motor let me climb the steepest hills in town, including the classic Ohio St. climb in St. Paul.

Full Featured Cargo Bike

During a downpour full fenders kept me relatively dry while ripping through downtown. Integrated LED lights allowed me to stay out after dark with no repercussions.

Battery charging time from fully depleted to full charge is 4-6 hours, and will last approximately 25-45 miles, depending, of course, on rider usage.

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The company touts “all the bells and whistles” with this model. That includes hydraulic disc brakes, an LCD display for the motor, kickstand, child seat adapters, and the aforementioned fenders and LED lights.

Optional add-ons include bamboo sideboards, seat pads for kids on back, and cargo bags.

Cargo Bike Upgrade

Enhancing mobility is the name of the electric assist game, and I firmly believe that this style of cargo bike is the best use of the e-assist platform. Parents wishing to pedal the kids to school, or swimming practice or just about anywhere, can do so with ease.

Urban citizens can shop for groceries, or make a run to the local mercantile, buy small furniture and haul it home with no worries. Some families are foregoing a second car in lieu of an e-bike, and in many cases, living car-free is even more attainable.

I haven’t owned a car since 2004. This isn’t out of some ideological mindset, or even an environmental stance. I simply don’t want one. Sure, I’m fortunate enough to live in Minneapolis, one of the most cycling-friendly cities in the U.S. But when you add up all the associated costs of car ownership, gas, parking, insurance, maintenance and upkeep, it can be smart for a city person to live without a car.

bike-box-on-bike

Nevertheless, there are times when hauling stuff across town without a vehicle becomes a bit cumbersome, and that’s where the Spicy Curry really shined. The day I picked up the Spicy Curry I also needed to lug an unassembled, boxed mountain bike home from the GearJunkie office.

Cargo Bike Review

The Spicy Curry uses a 20” rear wheel to keep the center of gravity lower, and combined with the optional Carry-On truck platform I essentially had a flat-bed truck at the ready. No problem.

I’ve transported another bike across town by lashing its front wheel to the rear of the Curry. Last week I hauled boxes containing 200 CDs to the record shop and cruised down the Greenway with an electric tailwind the entire way.

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As a tool for urban living, I can find no fault with this bike. The $4,500 price tag will bring significant pause, but for committed cargo bikers — or people who really want to trade in their car for a two-wheel alternative — the Yuba Spicy Curry is a great place to start.

Yuba Spicy Curry

  • Currie Center Drive 350W motor
  • 48 V 8.7A/h, 417Wh
  • Low battery placement for better balance
  • Hydraulic disc brakes,
  • Big Apple Schwalbe tires
  • Full-coverage fenders
  • LED lights
  • Integrated lock tab + Yepp Child Seat Adapters
  • Plug-In cargo system with optional truck bed
  • LCD multi-function display with four-levels of power adjustment
  • Low step-over
  • 1.5″ reinforced headtube
  • Lifetime warranty on the frame, two year warranty on motor, one year on the battery
tagged: #review

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