In his days as a professional cyclist, Phil Mooney wanted to carry as little as possible on his bike. Today, as a parent of two, that view has changed. Now, he can be found cruising the streets of San Rafael on an Electric Supermarché handling local errands, taking his kids to the park and more. Although no longer racing, he is still an avid cyclist and stays involved as team manager for professional cycling teams and as a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee for the City of San Rafael in California. Outside of cycling, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters, and his profession as a geologist.
A Guest Blog By Phil Mooney
The Mooney Family is a cycling family. Our family of four consists of me, my wife, and our two young girls (4 and 1) living just north of San Francisco in the city of San Rafael, CA. Our house is centrally located near the kids’ schools, it’s a walkable distance to grocery stores and our eclectic downtown, and the hiking and biking trails of Marin county are close by. Count us lucky that we live in an area with a solid bicycle culture, a strong bicycle advocacy network, and continually expanding bicycle infrastructure.
We’ve always been bike enthusiasts and bike commuters, with a dozen or so bikes of all varieties kicking around in the garage, including electric bikes and a double wide bike trailer for the kids. But with the frequent pickups and drop-offs at school and countless small trips to our local parks, I thought it was time to start looking for an electric cargo bike as a quick and easy kid hauler. I had seen several other local families with long-tail cargo bikes, but I was also made aware of Bakfiets, better known in the US as Dutch-style front-loader cargo bikes, ten years ago when racing in the Netherlands. I was drawn to the idea of quickly throwing our gear and the kids into an electric-assist Bakfiets and pedaling away into the sunset.
Yuba Bicycles headquarters is located an hour north of us in northern California and their bikes are distributed by several local bike shops, making it easy for me to test ride the electric-assist Supermarché that I had been researching. I had two major revelations on my first test ride of the Supermarché. The first revelation: it pretty much rides like a normal bike. I thought it would be heavy and unwieldy, but it isn’t. I thought the long wheelbase would be difficult to get used to. It isn’t. I don’t have a way to explain it other than it feels like riding a bike. After a couple minutes of getting used to the longer length, I felt totally comfortable!
The second revelation: it feels very stable when riding with a load. Anyone who has ridden with wiggly kids in a seat behind the rider knows how their movements can drastically affect the handling of the bike. Even a very experienced rider can get thrown off their line by a sudden movement out back. This bike is different. The cargo load placed down low helps maintain a low center of gravity with stable and predictable handling. When wiggly kids are strapped into their seats, their movements don’t matter nearly as much. This makes for a more relaxing riding experience, and it also makes it much easier for my wife to comfortably ride around while hauling two kids.
Our Supermarché Electric, better known within our family as the “Mooney Minivan”, has become a fun addition to our everyday life. I save time in the mornings when I can quickly buckle in the kids, pedal them to school, and park right in front of the door. I’ve added Yuba’s optional pin-style bike lock that integrates into a slot in the frame so I never have to worry when making an impromptu stop at the store. There’s plenty of space for a cart full of groceries, or space for the kids and whatever gear we need to haul around with us. This bike attracts attention, and motorists are generally kinder and more patient around the cargo bike than more traditional looking bikes, which makes me feel safer. My girls are seated directly in front of me, making it easy to continue a running conversation or point out interesting sights along the road.
They love the wind in their face and the excitement of rushing down a hill, screaming with their hands up like they’re riding a rollercoaster.
My favorite part of all is that the journey to get to an activity is often just as fun and exciting as the activity itself. There’s a joy to getting fresh air and exercise, being able to connect as a family with my wife riding her bike next to us, feeling focused on your surroundings and connected with your community, and being freed from the distractions and stress associated with car culture. Who knew getting around could bring out so many smiles?!
Watch the “Mooney Minivan” in action: Our video below gives you a glimpse of Phil’s life on a Yuba.