I have been exchanging emails with a reader who shares my first name and Matt recently sent along an email exchange he had with a friend about utility bikes. We did feature a tandem that was turned into a utility/touring bike a while back. I myself was quite impressed with the hack that Andy documented.
I would love to own a utility bike, but as I have stated before, living in a 4th floor walk up apartment puts a damper on that notion.
As far as the recent email exchange, the text below is all Matt, and he did note that this is by no means an exhaustive list. Do have experience with utility bikes? Feel free to comment or contact us if you have pictures or post material . . . and better yet utility hacks!
First you have the Surly Big Dummy.
In my opinion this is a very nice bike, they have a lot of nice
features built into the BD that make it even better than a regular
Xtracycle. The frames are really strong and battle tested. As you
mentioned these are expensive. I saw a guy ride a Big Dummy in MS TRAM
last year! I am not sure that would be my choice of bike for a 300+
I had not looked at the Yuba Mundo before last night. They look even more sturdy than the Big Dummies (I didn't think that could be possible). My guess is they would be quite a bit heavier and the extra weight would possibly restrict the range on one of these bikes. I would be interested in comparing the weight of the Yuba Mundo and a Big Dummy. This has the advantage of being less expensive.
I have seen a Kona Ute in person and it looks pretty good. The shop that sold me my road bike had a Kona Ute in stock and was heavily discounted at $800 (they might still have it). The draw backs for this one was it was a 1x9 set up and lower end components. However I was VERY tempted because it had a lot of extras already included, like disc brakes, fenders, and bags! An added bonus is that the Ute would piss off Ron, especially with some carefully placed comments/questions about which bike was better, the Ute or the Dummy.
Another model I have seen is the Madsen. These bikes look a little funny with the small rear wheel, but the tub in the rear is really sturdy. I was at a bicycle film festival last year and saw one of these bikes in action. The short movie showed a guy loading this bike down and moving his household belongings on the bike. I was surprised how much weight the Madison could carry. According to the web site it looks like a 1x8 set up. The Madsen without the tub looks to be as expensive as the Yuba, and looks to include fenders too.