Cargo bikes are somewhat of a niche to say the least, but with the big brand names all suddenly making them, it’s clear many think that using bicycles for lugging stuff about isn’t only do-able, but worth doing. Kona have made one called the Ute for a while now, and as good as it is, the company thought there was room for a shorter, more bike-like version.
So here we have the mini version, the MinUte, and it’s pretty much perfect, especially considering the asking price. One of the main things about the MinUte is that it rides like a bike and not like a cargo bike. Even when you have a not-inconsiderable amount of weight on the back it rides in a manageable, if somewhat slow, manner.
But there are a few areas where things could be a lot better. One is its 35mm tyres. Although these offer a good turn of speed when pumped up to higher pressures, they’re simply not big enough when you load the bike up. It works much better with wider tyres, and there’s plenty of room in the frame and fork to go bigger; we’d go for 37mm at least, but preferably a 1.9 or 2.2in.
The cable operated disc brakes aren’t great either, giving a slightly vague feel and not much bite – though offering the ‘advantage’ of working in an equally average manner in the rain – and you can quickly find their limitations when the MinUte is loaded up.
And loading it up is what this bike is all about. We took it to do the shopping for a family of five, cramming the included panniers to bursting and then filling a box secured to the wooden deck with a motorcycle bungee net. It’s when this kind of weight is stacked on the rear that the bike shows what it’s made of.
It rode straight, never flexing around too much or becoming wayward in the handling department, and the gearing was just about right for making steady progress without needing legs like Chris Hoy.
The wooden deck is very easy to scratch, though, so our suggestion would be to grab an old skateboard deck and, using the standard deck as a template, cut and drill it to fit. That way you get toughness and strength topped off with grip.
Kona minute: Paul Smith - www.smithpic.co.uk
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.