OK, this is another picture of one of my kids on a bike (or half a bike in this case), but don’t worry… I am not turning the blog into a family photo album. With this post I want to address the “most useful means to chauffeur a little kid around” in response to an email that I received recently from a reader. Dave has a 5-year-old daughter and is looking for the best way to ride with her. There are quite a few options for cycling with kids, some I have firsthand experience with and others I don’t, so let’s discuss a few.
Personally, I have only used child carrier bike seats, a couple of bike trailers, and a tag along bike (pictured here) to ride with my own kids. I am not a big fan of traditional rear mounted child carriers, but I think the other two are both great options for cycling with a little one (or a couple of little ones). A good trailer will cost a few hundred bucks at the entry level, but it will last many years and can also be used to carry cargo when the kids aren’t using it, so I think it is well worth the investment. When my kids were smaller, I used to ride with two of them plus a load of toys, snacks and whatever else they could fit into the trailer with them. Usually we would ride to a destination like a park so that we could have a picnic and they could take a break mid ride to play on the playground. It was a great experience for all involved, but I can’t say it wasn’t a workout sometimes. In addition to the extra weight I was pulling, I sometime felt like I had two little coaches in the back yelling for me to “go faster” every time I hit an uphill stretch.
A tag along bike is great for riding with kids as they graduate from the trailer. All three of my kids started riding our Co-Pilot tag along bike when they were about 4 years old. They absolutely love riding on a bike that is attached to mine any chance they get. My five year old likes to ride his own bike these days, but he still loves to ride with me on the tag along. Together we can cover a lot more ground than we can on separate bikes and he enjoys the feeling that he is doing part of the work. He loves to show the bike to his friends if we ride to school because it makes him feel big to travel far from home under his own power (at least partially). Based on my experience, a tag along bike is a great confidence builder for kids who are not yet ready to ride on the streets on their own.
As I mentioned though, there are other types of bikes that can be used to transport kids. A bakfiets or Dutch “box bike” is one solution for riding with children that I would love to try sometime. The TrioBike is another nice design for riding with children. The child carrier is modular, so you can ride the TrioBike as a regular two-wheeler when not using it to transport the little ones. Recently, I posted a concept bike, the Fisher El Ranchero, which featured an extra seat for a child passenger. That is an interesting idea, but even without a seat, standard long bikes and Xtracycle conversions are another popular solution for many people who carry kids and cargo on the same bike. In fact, while I was searching for a picture of kids on an Xtracycle conversation, I came across an excellent Bike Portland post about bike set ups for family riding. All the ones I have mentioned plus a few others are discussed in the Bike Portland post, so definitely check it out.
So what other good options are there for riding around with kids? Have any of you tried any different set ups than the ones discussed here? If so, I am curious to hear about them.