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Biking with Babies & Toddlers
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We are in the market for a baby bike seat in order to take our baby to and from daycare and have been considering both front and rear mounted bike seats. Does anyone have a recommendation for why one would be better than the other? We have looked briefly at bike trailers but I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of a trailer in traffic.
Personally, I much preferred the front mount because it was so much more stable-the rear mount wobbles a lot. I loved having my child right near me an found it much easier to talk to her. It can be tricky to find the right bike-many complain of bumping knees or feeling crowded. An upright bike works best. Another advantage to the front mount is the flexibility to bring paniers on the rear. You can't attach the bike bags with the ear seat.
I recommend trying both if you can and see what works for you. Good luck! Biking Mama
I need to be able to tow my son's 20in bike behind (or next to) my bike without him on it, and I'm wondering if there is a product out there that will do this or someone who can make one? As it is, I've stopped riding my bike to work because I don't have a way to get him home from afterschool if he doesn't have his bike with him. Any recommendations? want to ride my bike to work again
We just bought a bike trailer so we can bring our baby with us on rides and I'm wondering what the concensus is on road rules. We usually ride in busy urban areas and it seems like not the best idea to ride the way we usually do with the baby in the trailer. One specific example is crossing traffic to get into the left turn lane to turn with the cars. I would prefer to join up with the sidewalk at busy intersections and ride in the crosswalk to make a left turn, but so far I have gotten two conflicting opinions on this. Do other people follow the same urban biking rules when traveling with a little one? I want to be safe and follow applicable rules/laws/practice. Thanks. wants to keep baby safe
The California Vehicle Code treats bicycles as vehicles, and as a motorist and cyclist myself, I cringe every time I see a cyclist magically transform from vehicle in a travel lane to supposed ''pedestrian'' in a crosswalk, simply by riding through. (No motorist would get away with driving their car into the cross walk because it was convenient.)
Otherwise, put a big orange flag on your trailer, and use the turning lanes as a vehicle. bike rider myself
Has anyone had experience with using a bike trailer on BART? If so, were you able to get the bike and trailer into the elevator at the station? Was it difficult to find the train that wasn't too crowded to take the bike and trailer on? How did the other riders respond to you? Biking mama
I'm not sure what route you'll be taking but check out the elevators ahead of time to make sure everything fits. Biking Momma
If you have a Burley or other trailer with a hinge near the bracket, once you're on the train, you can kind of fold the bike onto the trailer and fit into one of the bike spaces or in front of one of the bench seats near the door.
The advantage of the trailer is kids can nap in them and be protected from rainy weather, but otherwise a bike seat is easier to use on transportation, can also be taken on the bus.
I also recently just took a longtail bike (xtracycle) on BART, and it was not too bad either. Just have to stand it on the back wheel in the elevator.
As long as you avoid the really busy commute times, I think it's doable to take any of the kid hauling bike setups on BART. Bike Commuters
I'd like to use my bicycle more and my car less for errands and whatnot, and I have a baby seat on the back of my bike that my 2 year old daughter rides in and enjoys. My problem is that getting even a few groceries while I'm out is uncomfortable because I have nowhere to put them but in a backpack, and then the pack is inches from my daughter's nose. So--I'm thinking of new options. The top of my list is a bike trailer, but I'd like to hear more about safety considerations in traffic considering that the trailer runs so far behind the bike and so low to the ground (like, have you ever heard of a car clipping the trailer??? That freaks me out. I live in El Cerrito, BTW--not SF, so it's pretty tame riding). Also, do you think it would be more comfortable/safer getting one of those bike seats that go over the front wheel, and then panniers over the back wheel for carting supplies? Or are there other options that I haven't touched on? I'm hoping that there are some biking experts out there who can help with recommending a riding configuration as well as some good brands/models!
That said, front-mounted seats probably are safer than rear-mount (though they can interfere with pedaling), and something like a Bakfiets or Xtracycle which has the child seats designed and built into the frame of the bike is probably safer than a separately mounted accessory seat. And trailers do have their risks; the motion may be more jarring to the neck and spine (one reason that babies should not ride on bikes nor in bike trailers at all), and the passenger may be affected by dust/grit or noise. Also, you need more space to maneuver and to park, and more storage space at home, if you're using a trailer.
But still, where are you going to carry your groceries? A trailer offers the huge advantage of cargo space, for using your bike as daily transportation for shopping and other errands. So I say, go for the trailer; make sure it's a respected brand (e.g., Chariot or Burley, not the cheap knockoffs you might get at Target or Walmart), that the cover is BRIGHT yellow or green, and that you always use flags and reflectors, and lights if you ride at night, dawn or dusk. Happy biking!
Looking for recent recommendations on front- and rear-mounting baby bike seats and trailers. Would like to know experiences with or reasoning on choosing one vs. the other and recommendations of specific brands. Thanks. biking mama
I would like to hear from experienced family bicyclists on options for biking with my 4 year old son. I've seen the Adams trail-a-bikes and tandems, and would love recommendations and hear pros-and-cons of each. I've been searching the web for answers, but have not found much. Also, I would love to hear Brands I could research. Many Many Thanks. We want to go and ride! heather
does anyone pull kids up into the hills with a bike trailer? About to hitch up a double trailer to my roadbike. Would still love to hear if anyone has a setup that works great. Do you feel like you need bomber brakes? What gears do you have? (I am asking here, since I only see spandex and single commuters pedaling uphill. Most parents are either getting in a car or pushing a stroller). thanks!
Trailer-wise, it might be easier to get one that attaches to the seatpost and swivels around that as opposed to attaching to the rear frame. If it swivels off the seatpost, it might help reduce resistance if you need to cut Z's back and forth on a particularly steep hill.
Bike-wise, road bike is fine unless you're riding sandy/dusty/off-road bits in which case you probably want a mountain or cross-bike. Definitely want good brakes for your eventual descent as you'll have a lot more mass. Brakes are a huge cheap upgrade (Shimano Ultegra's are phenomenal for stopping). A compact double or triple setup on your crankset is probably best since it will give you an easier granny gear combination with whatever your rear cassette gears are. Also make sure your handlebars and seat position are adjusted so you can easily get up and climb in a standing position when you need to. Stephen L
What I consider absolutely essential unless you are a pro cyclist are low gears.
A 'triple bike' with three chainrings up front are essential. You can gear down your rear cluster using mountain bike gears and have up to a 34 cog using a mountain bike rear derailleur.
On my triple bikes as the child grew heavier, I geared down my front chainrings from the stock too. Feel free to contact me for futher advice. You can also find info at www.ttoshi.net/bicycling/blog
Enjoy your riding time with your kids. My children absolutely love it and we spend lots of quality time together! Toshi
Re: Child-Friendly Bike Seat Bike for short 4 yo?
I'm of the firm belief that trailers are MUCH safer and easier to use than bike mount seats, but at 4yo your child is probably getting a bit big for a typical trailer anyway. The simplest next step option is a 'trail-a-bike' where the child sits either on his own bike (with the front wheel raised off the ground) or a sort of half-bike with a pole that connects it to your bike. The towbar type that attaches the child's own bike is less expensive and more flexible to use than the half-bike style, but you have to teach your kid not to use his brakes. Search TrailGator, Trail-a-Bike, tagalong, pedal trailer, trailer cycle. There are a number of bike forums you will find when you google, where you can see some discussions of the pros and cons of the different types and brands.
Other than that, you could try an XtraCycle or a tandem bike. XtraCycle has a lot of cool options for carrying people and/or things, and it's better than a traditional tandem for riding alone, but it's pricey. Holly
I have bought a city bike and together with it a child carrier for my 2.5 year old son (He is a pretty big boy). Although HE sits very comfortable I continuously hit his feet with my heels. Of course it has to do in some way with the construction of the bike. However, I did have a look online at other carrier constructions, but they all seem to be to close to the peddling feet when you don't sit up straight on your bike. Does this problem sounds familiar and do you know a carrier without this problem, please let me know. Thanks
I'm looking for some advice about a bike seat for my 15 month old. I'm primarily interested in a front-mounted seat, and would love to hear from anyone who has used one. What brand do you have? Do you like it? Does it affect the way you pedal/steer/stop? Is there a local bike shop you recommend who sells/installs the seat? (I've tried Missing Link and Tip Top, and the both only sell rear mounted seats). Has anyone tried the Yepp Mini? I like it because it seems to have a higher back than other brands like the I-Bert. I'm open to suggestions.
I'm sort of a novice bike rider, so am looking for a seat that will affect the bike's center of gravity the least. I've been told that front mounted seats are easier to handle than rear seats in this regard, but am curious to know people's experiences with this.
We plan to ride mostly on paved trails or empty streets- please no cautionary tales or scary stories about traffic and bike accidents! Thanks.
With my older child, I used a rear mounted seat. It was great, too. But I prefer the front mount because I can hear/interact with my daughter and I feel I have much more control. I'm an avid biker and have good bike handling skills, but the rear mounted seat felt very wobbly, especially if I stood up to climb a hill.
Also, the front mounted seat allows for carring a trail a bike on the back and/or bike bags!
Good luck and happy riding! kris
We had front mounted seats for both of our girls from 9-months until 3 1/2 years (and then we moved to the mountains, so we pretty much stopped riding with them). They were great. Our girls even took naps in them, despite our best efforts to get them home before they fell asleep.
I did have to adjust my ride slightly. It may have been because I was riding on a bike that was too small for me. But, considering that my riding was flat and recreational, I didn't really care. It never seemed to bother my husband who was riding on the proper size bike. jan
Hi, We want to buy a child bike trailer. I like the usual ones - Burley, etc. But my husband is concerned about how wide they are with their two wheels. We live in the Berkeley Hills and he thinks they're too wide to be safe on our curvey roads with cars going round the corners. So he bought a BOB Ibex trailer with one wheel, and he's jammed the car seat into it. I think that's unsafe because there is no protective covering or gear, and it's impractical because there is no storage space. Never mind, the question I really want to know is: if you have a two-wheeled child bike trailer and if you ride up in the Berkeley or Oakland hills, do you feel it's safe? How does it handle the curves, and do cars have a hard time avoiding you? Thanks! - biking mama
A second point is that the trailer has to have a windshield to protect the child from dirt and stones kicked up by the back wheel of the bike. biker dad
The width of the trailer is not a problem with respect to cars because the trailer is narrower than the margin by which cars will pass. All trailers are pretty heavy, though, so you will need to have adequately low gearing to make it up the hills.
The bike + trailer combination is exceptionally stable since there is additional downforce on your rear wheel. We've gone 30+ mph on parts of Tunnel without any problems at all.
The trailer is low to the ground, the child is secured with a multi-point harness and is completely surrounded by a rollcage, so the setup is quite safe. The trailer won't tip over if you do.
Sometimes, communication is a bit difficult. So, if you need to hear ''Go faster! Daddy/Mommy'', you can use short range walkie talkies with an earbud for the puller. (former) biker daddy
I would love some recommendations/advice for how to ride with my 5 year old on the same bike. We have a tag-a-long but I am not a strong rider and it feels too wobbly. My son is too big for a rear or front seat.
I recently saw a guy with two kids (maybe 3 and 6?) riding on the back of the bike- it may have been a hand-made contraption- they were seated behind him on a flat wooden surface and seemed to have a foot rest- they were holding on like motorcycle passengers. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Is it too unsafe compared to the tag-a-long? I would love some advice and recommendations on this. biker mama
Other Options: The kids you saw seated on a ''flatt wooden surface'' were most likely riding on an ''Xtracycle.'' You can read about Xtrcycles at this website: http://www.xtracycle.com/ Xtracycles are wonderful, however, I think you should try one before you invest in one. The Xtracycle is a wonderful way to convert a bicycle into utility vehicle capable of carrying all sorts of cargo, children included. They can be modified in all sorts of ways to fit your needs.
It is wonderful you are trying to get your children on the bike and are open to incoorprating cycling into the life of the family. I encourage you to join a group of like minded people, like the Grizzly Peak Cyclists. They are the only cycling group in the bay area that holds rides explicitly for parents of small children. Feel free to contact me for more information. I am a cyclist and would be happy to talk to you more. I ride with my kids! jeremiah
I ride on a tandem bicycle with my son, but am an experienced rider. The length is not as long as with a tag-a-long bike, so it should be a bit more stable, but it is still wobbly, especially when the child moves around in the back.
--I don't know if you have ridden your bike with a child seat in the back. If you were okay handling the bike with a child seat, then a tandem may be ok for you. If you get a tandem bike, then you may need a ''child stoker kit''. They are attached to the drive train and pedal along with you. Kids really love it. Good luck, Cycling dad
The Xtracyle is an extension added on to a regular bike that moves the rear wheel further back and thus gives you great kid-/cargo-hauling capacity. The company website is very informative: http://www.xtracycle.com . I bought mine at Tip-Top Bike Shop on Telegraph Ave (Temescal part of Oakland). I highly recommend Tip-Top - their deal on Xtracycles was excellent, and they can help set you up to carry a kid.
I love my Xtracycle! I am a bike nut, and the Xtracycle rides great and is easy to manage: parking it, carrying it up stairs (heavy-ish, but not awkward), putting it on a bus rack, taking it on BART, putting it up on a car rack, etc. I ruled out the trail-a-bike for the same reasons as you, and also because my commute often requires me to do all those things with my bike that I just mentioned. Justin
1. a regular bike with an Xtracycle attachment on the rear: http://www.xtracycle.com/
2. a purpose built long bike, like a Kona Ute: http://www.konaworld.com/09_ute_u.cfm
Solano Ave. Cyclery is listed as an Xtracycle dealer, and Kona bikes are carried by Hank & Frank's (College Ave), and also REI I think. Dad on a bike
I happen to work for Xtracycle and commute on a bike very similar. And I tote my kids around on one as well. We make a cruiser bike with the extension already attached and we make the extension that you can add onto an already existing mtn or road or hybrid bike.
We also make a kid specific seat that fits on the back for toddlers - as well as the footsies and stoker bar set-up that you described seeing. And even better is the amount of stuff you can carry in addition to two kids. Lauren
My husband and I have finally gotten on our bikes since having kids. Now we have a 2 1/2 year old and 1 year old that we would like to take out on rides with us. We live in West Berkeley, and would be mainly biking on wide streets or paths with moderate street traffic. I am 5' with a traditional mountain bike and my husband is 6' with a cruiser. I am seriously considering the iBert seat or the Hamex Discovery front seat, anyone had any experience with these? Alternatively, an InStep Rocket or similar trailer for both of them? Any advice or product suggestions from your experience? New biking mom
Trailers also give you the option of bringing two children along with one adult bicyclist, or of carting groceries or other cargo along with a child. And some of them convert easily to jogging stroller, ski trailer, or other uses -- so, more value for your money. We have an ''Equinox'' which is designed to be a multipurpose bicycle trailer and has worked well for our family; the Chariot trailers are also very popular and I know many people who absolutely love theirs. Insisted on the Trailer
Trailer: If your bike falls over, the trailer is still okay. Plus, the child can shift weight all he wants and that doesn't screw up your balance on the bike. Negatives: low to the ground and some people think this means they will be breathing in more fumes. Also, some say this means less visibility, which translates to more danger. Difficult to park sometimes.
Rear seat: Benefits: you can park your bike just like you normally would; less expensive, child is up high. Negatives: if you get hit by a car, your child goes flying, too. In a trailer, they're strapped into a safety cage.
Front seat: awesome because you can actually SEE your child at all times. Negatives: They take the brunt of wind and rain themselves.
Apparently all parents bring their own biases into which one, if anything, to get -- if you and hubby disagree, perhaps this will reassure you: I am happy with my trailer, and my wife is happy with the bike seat. (Of course, she did ask me to buy another coupling so that she could attach the trailer when she wanted. It was cheap, ten bucks. Also, the trailer is awesome for going grocery shopping in and of itself, and if you're into feeling superior, there's nothing like rolling up to Whole Foods on a bike...) kevin
I am wanting to get a bike seat for our one year old. I've heard that the kind that trail behind the bike are safer than the bike seats that get attached behind the seat. Or than the ones in which the baby faces you, which look like so much fun. Still, I would like to hear what other people's experiences have been with various bike seats. Thank You!
The downsides: Like cars with trailers, you have to take wide turns or run the risk of hitting a curb or parked car. They're heavier than a carseat.
More upsides: They carry more cargo (I put my laptop in the back of the trailer and drop my daughter off at preschool on the way to work). My daughter can have a toy or a snack during the ride (probably not an issue with a one-year-old, but they grow). The trailer has a net screen and a rain screen.
Other issues: Install a flag on the trailer for safety and a flasher if there's any chance you'll be riding at night. The trailer comes with reflective stripes. Child should wear a helmet regardless of the type of seat. Be sure your child's neck is strong enough for the helmet--12 months is marginal for this, so you might want to wait until you are sure. Also it's hard to find helmets this size. I had to visit several stores--I think we got ours at Missing Link in Berkeley. Good luck!
My husband and I recently moved to Davis, and we love the bike trails and flat riding terrain all over town. We'd love to find a way to bike around as a family, but I have some questions about safety and logistics.
1) Which is safer, a trailer or a seat? My husband and I disagree on this: I think the trailer looks more stable, but my husband thinks the seat is safer because it would be easier for a car to hit the trailer.
2) How old should a child be to ride in either of these contraptions? Our son is 13 months old and pre-walking. I haven't seen any posts in the archives about trailer riders under 18 months.
3) Where can I find a helmet small enough for a 1-year-old? What other safety gear do we need? We would only take him out on the bike in daytime, and mostly on bike paths and low-traffic streets. Thanks for the feedback! Psyched to be cycling again
Most bicycle accidents -- whether a collision with a car or just a tire getting caught in a pothole -- involve the bike falling down. A child in a bike-mount seat will thus fall to the ground from a height in even the most minor accident, and can be seriously injured. And ''small'' accidents are made much more likely, as well as more severe, by the fact that the weight of the child and the seat upset the adult rider's balance.
A trailer, on the other hand, remains upright even when the bike towing it falls over. Any accident is less likely to cause serious injury to the occupant of a trailer. And the trailer has very little effect on the bicycle rider's balance.
Sure, if a car hits a trailer dead on, the trailer could be smashed. But then, if a car hits a bike, the bike is even more likely to be smashed than would be a trailer -- which is low to the ground and more likely to skid along than to fall down and get run over. A trailer is also large and brightly colored, and thus a bike with a trailer is much more visible, and drivers tend to give it more room, than a bike without a trailer. Obviously, when shopping for a trailer you want to pay attention to safety features like reflective striping, harness construction and so on, as well as to its overall size and color, weight and center of gravity.
As for how old a child should be in order to ride in a trailer, the usually given minimum is 1 year. Before then, the baby's neck and spine aren't strong enough to support a helmet, let alone cope with the amount of vibration and jolting that can be involved. I personally wasn't comfortable with my kids riding in the bike trailer until they were walking well, around 15-16 months. I have no real scientific basis for this; just instinct. I'd go younger if the bike were being used for necessary transportation, as opposed to just for fun.
You can buy a toddler sized helmet at any bike shop or sporting goods store, or at a mass merchandiser like Target. A bike store that caters to families and recreational riders is most likely to give you good advice about fit. You don't need any other special safety gear, but you do need to be aware that your child will tend to be colder than the adult rider, since he's not expending any energy, so make sure he's well bundled for the ride. And rearview mirror of some sort for the bicyclist can help in keeping an eye on the child. Insisted on the Trailer
2. Babies can ride in trailers once they are old enough to hold their heads strongly on their own. Walking isn't an issue. Your 13 month old should be fine.
3. We bought a helmet for our one year old at the local bike shop. Ask--they had them in the back, but not on the floor. Our ToysRUs has bike helmets, but not small enough for him. Happy Biking!
As for bike helmets, check your local bike shop or REI. Have fun! one who's been there
In the town I live now, Park City (with bike trails comparable to Davis), people do the bike trailers (i never see kids in seats...I haven't ridden my children as our bikes are currently in PODS). But, that may have to do with elevation. jan
I got my daughter's helmet at Missing Link in Berkeley (the first shop I tried didn't have anything small enough, so it's probably worth calling and asking before driving all over looking for one). That and a flag should be enough to get you going.
Good luck. I've been biking my daughter to preschool and then biking to work (I have to haul the empty trailer to work and park it, so there's one downside to the trailer), and it is great to be cycling. Carrie
Hey all you biking moms and dads. I'm looking for advice on biking in the Berkeley hills with my 17 month old son. We live near Grizzly Peak Ave. and I would like to be able to bike down to campus or the Shattuck Ave. area and then, potentially, bike back up with groceries, etc. (or we'll take the bus). He already weighs close to 30 lbs and is over 34 in. long. A trailer doesn't seem like a good idea because I assume it will be too heavy for me to tow uphill, and I'm worried about visibility issues with inattentive car drivers. The two options I'm considering are a rear bike carrier and a front carrier. Do any of you have a carrier you really like? Where did you get it? What are the issues I need to consider? Thanks for your help.
I'd like to get a Trail-a-Bike to attach to my bike for my 5-year old. I've seen many around town but know very little about them. Any suggestions on what to look for? Favored brands? Pros? Cons? Cost? What age-range are these usually meant for? Any reason not to purchase a used one? Thanks, Marian Marian
I am thinking of getting a front mounted seat for my toddler on my bike. I checked old postings and there was only one message from 2002. I'm hoping design has changed and improved since then. Has anyone had experience, good or bad, with a front mounted seat? Is it hard to reach the handlebars around your child if you are an average sized woman (5'4'')? Any other impediments to riding comfortably? Where did you get your seat? Finally, anyone out there have a seat that they are ready to get rid of for a fair price? Thanks for any information. holly
I can't tell you if your arms would fit around it since I'm pretty tall. I was initially concerned that my knees would hit the seat but I found that since I'm going slow anyways that I just adjust my peddling accordingly. A great addition to the front seat is one of those jellibells that your kid can spin. Alex
Can any cyclists share their experience with bike trailers? How old was your baby/child when you started using it? What routes in the Berkeley/Oakland area did you take? How long/far did you bike with your baby/child in the trailer? Did you ever get hit by a car? I'm interested in hearing how others biked with their babies in tow. Thank you. AM
I try to avoid rush hour when I ride. It just isn't worth it to me for one stressed out driver to be drinking the starbucks coffee on their cell phone shaving/applying make up to then sneeze or something and not see us and hit my kid or me. Walk, take the bus, or stay off the main roads.
Otherwise it can be great... Another alternative is the cool bike seats where the child sits on the front of the bike and can see, and not have to look at your rear-end... But the one advantage of the trailer (along with the child being able to keep some toys/blankie/books at hand) is that if your bike goes down the trailer is perfectly safe. biker mama
Good luck to you. It's hard to fit in exercise with a young one, and biking is a great way to do it. Sometime biker
Anyone have any advice about which toddler bike seat is safe and sturdy. I have read about the Kettler Dumbo seat. Also I can't seem to find any bike shops with a good selection, any recommendations? Is it safe to buy a used one?
I'm planning a 4-5 day bicycle touring trip with my son (he'll be almost two then) and his grandfather. My son will go in a trailer that I will haul, and grandpa will cover the rear. Am I insane? Any advice from parents who have done this? We are planning to camp, ride an unchallenging terrain, and put in 40-50 miles a day. Is that a reasonable expectation? Will we have enough energy and time left to play with my son at the end of the day? I'd love to hear from anyone who has attempted a similar trip. Thanks!! marjorie
40 to 50 miles a day may be a lot for your little one. I would plan on 2 hours before lunch and maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours after lunch. I would do lots of 2 hours stints before the ttip so that your child gets used to it. Actually, I guess that is 40 to 50 miles a day on flat ground moving pretty slowly. Jan
I am trying to decide among the available models of front-mounted bicycle seats, and wonder if anyone out there has tried one or more of them. Which model do you use? How easy is it to get your toddler in and out of the seat? How much does it affect your pedaling? How easy is it to take on/off as needed? many thanks! Rebecca
The ride isn't as comfortable as your knees need to be angled out a little. A nice feature of the wee-rider/Centric Safe Haven is that it comes off the bike pretty easily. It mounts onto a bar that runs just above the bar on a 'boys' bike. The bar stays on, but the seat is easily removed without tools. I have a 'boys' bike, so the bar isn't noticeable to me when I ride without the seat.
We also looked at purchasing a front-mounted Dutch seat, but they didn't look as comfortable as the Centric Safe Haven. Feel free to contact me directly with more questions jan
I'm not a huge bike rider but I did start riding right before I got pregnant and I really loved it. I would love to start biking again if there is any way to do it safely with my baby. I read some previous reviews that indicated that you can put an infant seat in a Burley Trailer and you cannot put a child on an attachment without a helmet unless s/he is in an infant seat.
1. What is the earliest you can ride with a child and how?
2. What type of seat, attachment or trailer would be best to start with?
It's not my goal to be unsafe or put my baby in harms way so if it is a bad idea to start soon just let me know and I have no problem delaying riding with my baby until s/he is ready J
When the child is older, however, dump the trailer and get a front seat. They're way more fun for everyone involved Bryce
I have heard of people putting a baby in a bucket type carseat, rear facing, in a bike trailer. I suppose that's a good solution if you MUST use your bike for transportation, but I don't think it's worth the risk just for recreational riding.
I made my husband wait until our kids were over 12 months and walking well before taking them in the trailer.
However, I will note that the trailer is a safer choice than the bike-mounted child seat, so you are on the right track. Safety Conscious
My husband and I have been having a disagreement about his plan to go mountain bike riding with our daughter (who will be three in October) riding in a bike trailer behind. These would be rides that take about two-three hours. He's an avid mountain bike rider and wants to share his love of the sport with her. He says he'll stop periodically along the way to let her walk around. I have several concerns. First, it seems dangerous to me -- I'm afraid he could lose control going up or downhill. We were once hiking down a steep hill while he was pushing her in a jogging stroller and he was struggling with it. I'm also concerned that that the trailer could knock against a rock or something and flip over. His response is that he's a very experienced mountain bike rider (he is) and that he would not take her on the kind of steep trail we encountered while hiking, and if he did come across a steep grade he would get off the bike and walk with it (but he was having trouble with the jogging stroller!)I've also questioned why I've never seen anyone else on real mountain trails pulling a bike trailer, thinking that perhaps it's because of safety issues. His response is that most people don't have the strength to do it, and he does. He also points out that it's much safer than pulling a bike trailer on paved roads. Another concern I have is that I don't really see our daughter getting all that much out of it -- it seems like it would be mostly a passive activity for her, sitting in the bike trailer. Sure, she would have the chance to walk around in beautiful open space, but she can do that without the risk of going on a mountain bike ride. I basically feel he should wait until she's old enough to ride a mountain bike on her own. I've told him I'm happy to watch our daughter once a week while he goes bike riding, but he really wants to do this. Am I worrying needlessly? Any advice would be appreciated
On the safety issue, single track is obviously out of the question ( I hope that's obvious to your husband; if not, he needs a shrink), but I think a fire trail would be perfectly safe (since they are designed to be navigated by trucks, the are wide and not very steep).
What I'd do is let them have a trial run, but insist that your husband not do anything more difficult than a fire trail. I suspect that your child will make her feelings known if it is too jouncy, too long, or too boring. If it works out better than expected, then you negotiate on safety. But I suspect that he will get so much complaint that he will lower his expectations and stick to short trips on paved trails Carrie
From my experience (as a cyclist and as a mother of two) it's best to stick to the paved paths. My kids prefer fast to bumpy any day.
Check out Iron Horse Trail in Contra Cost County. There are places to stop along the way (Peets! Playgrounds! Andronico's deli!)
Hold firm on this one. You are absolutely right. Been There
If your husband is a good cyclist he will be able to control the trailer and keep it from flipping. They don't flip easily, and they actually add a lot of stability to the bike so it's a bit easier to ride at slow speeds with a trailer. I'd have no worries about this myself. I really don't think there is much physical risk here philrides
Tell him they can go biking all they want on normal, flat trails and he can go mountain biking all by himself (Is that what he is really getting at, perhaps?). I cannot imagine a burley-type trailer going over the smallest mountain-bike- type bump. Even with his limited jogging stroller skills, that would be much safer. I don't think that even walking the bike with the stroller attached would be safe anon
I don't care how ''good'' a biker your husband is, there's no way one of those bike trailers is going down a steep bumpy rocky narrow path. He really has no choice but to take wider, fire roads. And it would take a LOT to tip over the trailer we have....even if your husband falls over, the connection between the trailer and the bike prevents the trailer from tipping.
Your daughter is old enough to tell you if she wants to go for a ride. Ask her. 2-3 hours is a long ride though. What about compromising....take a few short rides down at the Berkely Marina. Yes, it's paved, flat and probably boring for your husband but it might be a good ''baby step'' for you to get used to the idea. Do you have a bike? make it a family trip. Pack a picnic. It'll be fun. Make sure she has a helmet though. --formerly bike-paranoid
I am considering buying a rear bicycle carrier (seat) for my almost 2-year old (24 lbs), and would appreciate recommendations for or against different brands. I would rather not spend top dollar but if that is what it takes for safety/tolerability I will. Recommendations for toddler helmets (that she might actually wear and is less likely to ride forward if there is a high headrest) would be helpful too. Thank you! Anna
I am thinking if I should buy a trail a bike to go bike riding with my 4 year old daughter. It's the kind of bike which attaches to an adult bike. It's pretty expensive, anywere from 200 to 350 dollars and I want to make sure if it's worth the money. I don't see a lot of people riding it with their kids and I don't know anybody who has one. It looks like fun. What are the pros and cons for this bike ? Can it attach to any bike ? I have a mountain bike. Is it dangerous in traffic ? Is it popular with the children ? anon
As far as being dangerous in traffic is concerned, the trail-a-bike changes the weight and balance of your bike as well as it's length. I ride more cautiously because of that. In addition, we ask our daughter to make an extra effort to sit still and not peddle on tight turns or curves because it makes maneuvering easier for us. But that may not be the case for you. In general when I'm riding with my children, I try to ride the bike boulevards if possible because I find those streets calmer with better crossings for busy streets.
We bought our trail-a-bike at Missing Link and didn't ask to test drive it. But you can take any bike there (and at most bike shops) on a test ride so I don't see why you couldn't test ride a trail-a-bike. They work without a kid on the back just as well as with a child in the saddle (maybe even better because you don't have worry about balance). So you could start out getting a feel for it. Then you could pick up your kid and see how she likes it. Susan
He liked it, and we still use it some around town (he now is at a walkable school, so he doesn't bike commute anymore). It was good to have him connected to the adult bike and unable to cross streets when he shouldn't, etc.
I found it much harder to manage and less safe than the bike trailer, however. When he turned his head to look at something beside him, I had to compensate immediately to keep my balance. I'm an experienced bike commuter, but I never felt 100% stable on it - I couldn't turn my head safely to look at him behind me, for example, without wobblinng. It was like biking in gusty wind, but as if the wind mostly comes directly from the side but you can never tell which side it will come from next. I suspect this doesn't vary much by brand.
With the trailer I never felt unstable. Also, if for some reason I was to fall when pulling the trailer, the trailer stays upright so it is safer that way too. The trailer was of course better for hauling cargo too - we each always had a backpack, plus I had to carry the extra lock for the trail-a-bike, which adds up.
We had to frequently switch whose bike it was on, and that was a little annoying but didn't take too long. I think it fits most bikes, unless you have unusually fat tubes. - Looking forward to the transition to a two wheel bike
I am thinking about getting one of those ride along attachments for my bike - looks like half a bike with a long pole attachment - so that my almost 4 year old daughter can pedal along but still be attached to me. Can anyone who has used one of those share their experience? Was it sturdy and safe? Do you recommend a specific brand? About how long was it useful for your child? My daughter does fine on her bicycle with training wheels, but if she is riding then I can't ride too because I have to walk next to her to make sure that she stops at the corner, doesn't ride out in the street, etc. The website has some old reviews, but they are more about the kind of trailer that a child sits in, not the kind where they are actually riding a bicycle too. Wants to bike!
Does anyone know of a seat attachment for trailer bikes like the burley piccolo that provides a seat back & shoulder harness to keep a kid on the trailabike? My 3 1/2 yr old son really enjoyed his first ride on the piccolo. I thought it was great too until he told his mom about how he was riding no hands like curious george!
I'm wondering when I can safely put my child into a bike seat (he is now 2 months old). At the least, I'd like to ride around town, maybe on the bike path for some errands or exercise. But I also love longer distance road riding and want to know if anyone has done this with a little one on the back or in a carrier. Can you recommend a seat or carrier? Thanks! BikerMom
I personally don't believe bike seats are safe, period. A trailer is the safer choice. (Though obviously opinion among bicyclists varies; I don't know if anyone's ever done any sort of statistical study.) In general, trailers also are recommended only for age 1 and up, and I was not comfortable allowing my son in one until he was walking well and fairly verbal, at around 15 or 16 months, but I have heard of people putting their baby's infant carrier carseat into the trailer, rear facing. I don't *think* there are any laws governing this, so it's up to you whether you feel comfortable with that solution. anon
We are trying to decide whether to purchase a Burley D'Lite, Solo or a Wike bike trailer and are trying to figure out if manuevering any of these 3 will be reasonably manageable on BART elevators.
Alas, the D'Lite sometimes feels more like D'Spair when walking my bike or using it as a stroller in narrow or crowded areas. Like BART & the BART stations. It handles well, but it's just too darned wide. Nonetheless, I'm learning how to manage.
But you'll also want to make sure that the elevators at your BART stations are working, because getting that thing up the escalator would be tough (would it even fit?). The reason I mentioned the stroller attachment is that when dealing with BART & any other tight/crowded area, it's easier if you can detach the Burley from your bike & use it as a stroller & have your spouse, partner or friend come along & carry the bikes.
So the Burley Solo might be the way to go -- it's smaller & hence easier to manage. This depends on whether you think you'll need the extra seat for a future sibling, a friend of your child's, or carrying stuff.
As for the Wike Bike trailer, I've never heard it before. Everyone I talked to recommended the Burley so highly. And I see them all over the place & rarely see anything else. I'm not sure whether that's because the Burleys are vastly superior (as their owners & bicycle retailers insist upon), or that the Wikes aren't as well-marketed. Elisabeth
We are trying to decide whether to purchase a Burley D'Lite, Solo or a Wike bike trailer and are trying to figure out if manuevering any of these 3 will be reasonably manageable on BART elevators. River
Alas, the D'Lite sometimes feels more like D'Spair when walking my bike or using it as a stroller in narrow or crowded areas. Like BART & the BART stations. It handles well, but it's just too darned wide. Nonetheless, I'm learning how to manage.
But you'll also want to make sure that the elevators at your BART stations are working, because getting that thing up the escalator would be tough (would it even fit?). The reason I mentioned the stroller attachment is that when dealing with BART & any other tight/crowded area, it's easier if you can detach the Burley from your bike & use it as a stroller & have your spouse, partner or friend some along & carry the bikes.
So the Burley Solo might be the way to go -- it's smaller & hence easier to manage. This depends on whether you think you'll need the extra seat for a future sibling, a friend of your child's, or carrying stuff.
As for the Wike Bike trailer, I've never heard it before. Everyone I talked to recommended the Burley so highly. And I see them all over the place & rarely see anything else. I'm not sure whether that's because the Burleys are vastly superior (as their owners & bicycle retailers insist upon), or that the Wikes aren't as well-marketed. Elisabeth
Can somebody advise is there a big difference between Burley and InStep Turbo Trailer? It looks like new Burley cost $300-400, and InStep trailer can be bought at costco.com for about $200 including delivery. Does that mean that Instep so much worse than Burley? Thank you. Natasha
My husband wants to get a bike trailer for our two toddlers. I am worried about accidents. Does anyone know how safe they are? Bene
Where can I get a front mounted child seat for my bike? I'm not sure what they are called, or what name brands they are. I've seen a few around town and would feel much safer with my child in front than in back. I've already had a couple of not so good experiences with the back mounted child seat and do not want a trailer. Thanks Biking mom
I'm looking to get a bike attachment for my five-year-old to pedal along behind me. Anyone know anything about brand, quality, weight limitations? Any recommendations? Sue
We are considering ordering a Trail-Gator tow bar and wondering if anyone else has experience with one. It's a substitute for a kids trailer bike that allows you to attach their bike to yours using a tow bar (it lifts the front wheel off the ground). You can ride tandem with your kid to a park or flat bike path, then disconnect the bar which slides into a bracket on the adults bike. It has primarily been sold in Europe for 4 years and meets their (stricter) safety standards. I spoke with the designer in Florida who said they have no reports at all of failure or breakage. Here is the website in case you are curious... I am going to try to talk REI into carrying it if it seems like a good alternative to a trailer bike. www.trail-gator.com Kristin
However, my daughter and I have logged some 1,000 miles or so with a Burley trailer bike in the last year and a half, so I have some experience with add-on bikes for kids.
My first concern with the Trail-Gator is that the child's bike is tipped up compared to the normal riding orientation. For the child, this changes the whole seating geometry a bit -- the seat is tilted back, the pedals are relatively farther forward compared to the seat, and the handlebars are higher up. I know that I'm fussy about micro-adjustments to the seat and handle bars on my bike, and would be bothered by the amount of tilt shown in the pictures; probably the same goes for kids.
Their Web site indicates that it should only be used with freewheeling bikes, or those without coaster (pedal) brakes. Such bikes will still have hand brakes for that rear wheel. The situation is much simpler in an arrangement where the child cannot apply brakes; the Trail-Gator set up adds that complexity to the equation.
(I've thought about what it might be like to add brakes to my daughter's trailer bike. The first issue is one of communication or mixed signals: if the kid is braking while the adult is trying to pedal, there's going to be a problem. Another thing that occurred to me is that on a heavily braked, steep descent, if the child's rear wheel were to break free into a skid while the adult was still applying brakes heavily, it's possible for the trailer to swing around forward, kind of ''folding'' the whole double bike setup -- or at least swing out away from the center track of the adult's bike. No brakes on a trailer for us.)
Also, those little bikes for kids are often geared *very* low. Even at moderate speeds for the adult, the kid will likely not be able to spin her cranks quickly enough to push or feel any resistance. Even our six-speed Burley is geared a bit low for our taste; I'm currently investigating replacing Emily's cranks with a set that accomodates removable gears so that we can put on a much larger front sprocket.
We're sold on the Burley trailer. We got an amazing deal on a used one, but, given that we ride it most days of the year for our daily commute, it would be worth it to us to pay full price for this trailer. I've talked with parents who ride with trailers from other manufactures, most of which attach to the adult bike's seat post (as does the Trail-Gator). The Burley attaches to its own special rear rack on the adult's bike, which seems to make for a sturdier attachment. Also, adult riders of seat-post-mounting trailers have told me that those trailers really feel very long and kind of bouncy, due to the length of the whole assembly. The Burley pivots right above the adult bike's rear wheel (making for a shorter lever length), while the Trail-Gator gives me the impression of being longer still than the typical seat-post-mounting trailers.
While it seems like I'm slamming the Trail-Gator, I suspect that it's great for the occasional short local ride on the Greenway or the Bay Trail, or for taking on vacations from time to time. However, if you're thinking of doing 5, 10, or 20+ miles at a shot, or if you were to ride it several times per week or daily, I think that the concerns that I express above would start to make the riders unhappy. Good luck! -Greg
Is there *anyone* out there who actually likes their bike seat? We live in an apartment, and there just isn't space in our living or storage areas for a Burley trailer. I want to bike with my daughter once she turns a year old, and of course we will get a helmet for her, etc. It would be nice to have some feedback from people who actually use a bike seat, rather than only from those who use a trailer. Thanks Donna
With a 35-40 lb. kiddo above the rear wheel, the bike is very differently balanced from normal though, and it takes extra skill and diligence to ride the bike. Because of the reduced stability, I avoid heavily trafficked streets, parking lots, and other car-infested places. I can easily talk to my son about the stuff we pass, etc. because he is right there behind me. My son always enjoys the rides too. If I were commuting with my son or riding long distances, I would probably consider investing in a Burley, but for short jaunts, I find the bike seat to work well. Peter
At first, I was actually most worried about him falling out of the seat, but this is, in fact, not a problem at all. Falling asleep turned out to be more worrying. Any movement, including cycling, helps to put a little kids to sleep. Our bike seat at least provides little support for a flopping head. When our son was smaller, I always stopped riding and walked when he snoozed off, because I was worried about his neck.
Our seat is quite solid, curves a fair way around the sides, and I think would provide quite good protection were we to fall. We bought the seat in the UK - I think it was manufactured by a Scandinavian company - so I can't really give any useful advice on buying kids' bike seats here. You should, however, check that you bike is long enough for the seat to fit onto. In some cases the kid can end up with his or her face only a few inches from the adult's back. The proximity of a child on a bike seat has one important advantage: it must be a lot easier to talk to your child on a seat, than it would be in a trailer.
I hope that is of some help, and reassures you that bike seats are not necessarily accidents waiting to happen, Chris
On the negative side, I can't carry as much with the seat (but I did put on a front rack with a pannier, which helps.) As far as safety, you're only as safe as the drivers around you with either the trailer or the bike seat, so you must be assertive in taking your rightful space on the road, or avoid traffic roads. I have felt comfortable riding in Berkeley and Oakland, but I choose routes/roads carefully. Some of the other moms with whom I've ridden prefer to stay on bike paths or designated bike routes. It can help to put a flag or reflective stickers on the back of the seat to make you stand out. Anonymous
I have heard from many people that they are afraid that the child's extra weight & movement will adversely affect their ability to balance & maneuver. I have never had any trouble. I started when my son was pretty young (didn't weigh or move around much), so maybe that helped me make the adjustment. I have cycled quite a bit & I had concerns regarding a trailer affecting my balance & movement, not to mention concerns about clueless motorists not realizing that they need to wait not only for the bike to pass, but also the trailer. I think both arguments have valid points & you have to make the right decision for your own situation. Good luck & happy trails:) Romy
If you do choose to get a bike seat, make sure that the toddler helmet is one of those completely rounded styles vs. the pointed aerodynamically designed ones. That way, it's comfortable for your child to sit back against the back of the bike seat. Enjoy! Liz Many thanks to all who posted, and to the even more who emailed. I will be getting our bike seat soon...and maybe some panniers so we can shop as well as exercise. Thanks again. Donna
It's been a few years since there was discussion in this forum about using a bike seat vs. a bike trailer for carting your kid around. I'm debating whether to invest in a Burley bike trailer or a Rhode Gear bike seat to use for recreating on bike trails - paved and unpaved - and commuting on streets that have bike lanes with my 24-pound, 10-month-oldb oy. Any advice or new thoughts from those who've done both? Danielle
1. Even a high-speed rollover of the trailer didn't upset the equilibrium of the bike, thanks to Burley's well-designed hitch.
2. My young daughter, who had decided to take her nap during this ride, was entirely unharmed. Indeed, she didn't even wake up! I attribute this to the full set of restraining straps built in the Burley's seat, and to the "roll cage" design of the trailer's frame, which wraps the aluminum tubing entirely around both the wheels and the passenger compartment.
I've been riding, with and without trailers, for many years, and am convinced that an occasional crash is inevitable--and when that inevitable crash occurs, I would much rather that my precious cargo be in a trailer than on a seat.
One final note: my Burley is eight years old now, much traveled and heavily used. And although it looks a little down at the heels, it's still fully functional, runs fine, and has retained much of its original market value. Wish I could say that about my car! Steven
Personally, though I see people all the time using them, would *never* use a bike seat - especially after the incident described above. Also recently, I was riding behind a woman with her infant in a seat and the mom's big backpack kept sweeping across the baby's face making Baby really mad. Mom was oblivious as to why her kid was fussy until I pointed out the obstruction. I'll also add that no matter what the method, try to avoid busy streets and follow all traffic and safety rules (they apply to bikes too) to reduce your risk of an incident. Otherwise, this is one activity you will really enjoy doing with your kid. Happy riding! Rue
I'd like to hear from parents who use trail-a-bike attachments where the kids can pedal along... in terms of overall safety, how well the adult's bike handles with the attachment, if the kids like them, at what age or size the kid should be, etc. I had a burley trailer (which I loved) when I lived in SF but now that I'm back in Berkeley, I don't like how narrow the roads are and don't feel right about using the Burley here. Plus, my 3 year old is more interested in "doing" rather than just "sitting." KK
We started shopping last December, phoning bike shops from Pinole to Fremont to research models, features and pricing. The low end of bike-shop price seemed to be about $189. This was for single-speed models that mount to the adult bike's seat post. As you go up in price, you add things like gear shifting for the kid and and folding hinges on the trailer for stowage/transport. The Burley is the only model we found with a fancier mount design -- there's a special rear rack for the adult bike, and the trailer mounts to it with a beefy universal joint style hitch.
The Burley isn't cheap, but we were amazingly lucky to find one on consignment, virtually unused, for about the same price as the base models of the other brands.
We've talked to a number of parents who've seen our trailer and remarked on how much they like the Burley's hitch design when compared to their seat post mounting trailers -- "our seat post mounting trailer feels unstable" and "my bike was damaged by the trailer, and I had to get the frame welded" are some of comments we've heard. Given what we've heard since buying the Burley, we suspect that the lower price of the other brands makes for false economy in the long run, given heavy daily use. (To be fair, we have actually not tried any of the others.)
Emily was surprised by the feel of the first couple of turns we took on our test ride, but quickly learned to recognize that the normal leaning of a bike through turns is o.k. (She's only just started riding a two wheeler on her own, and had only ridden solo with training wheels at that point.)
The Burley rides very smoothly. I can feel that it's there, but it tracks very nicely. There wasn't much adjustment or "getting used to" the trailer that was required. You have to make sure you allow for the length when rounding tight corners (or in any other situation).
On any given day, I either take my daughter to school or pick her up in the afternoon with the trailer bike. We live near Alcatraz and MLK, and she goes to Berkeley Montessori School near the "top" of Cedar (a block east of Euclid) in north Berkeley. It's about 3.5 miles, but the kicker is the 400 foot net elevation difference. It took us a week or two before we could climb the last couple of blocks to school, and the trip took us about 45 minutes. Now we pedal all the way, and we do it in under half an hour.
The gears on the trailer are critically important to us. While Emily doesn't have the strength and endurance to completely pull her own weight, her contribution is critical to us making it up the hill; I cannot do it without her effort.
It took a little doing to find the best route between home and school. There's a free map of Berkeley bike lanes and bike routes available at the commute store on... is it Center Street? half a block from Shattuck. We have a mix of bike-laned roads, bike routes, bike-friendly streets, and "regular" streets that we take. We will occasionally ride on Shattuck.
We follow automobile traffic rules, as cyclists are supposed to do. (Besides -- I've got an enforcer right behind me at all times, and she'll rake me over the coals if I blow it.) Following all of the rules can be strangely awkward at a four-way stop when an auto arrives first, but assumes that the cyclist will ignore the stop sign. Car stops, waits for bike, but bike stops, waits for car, etc.
We typically dismount and walk the bike across crosswalks at busier streets. Once, Euclid was dead of auto traffic, so, after a pause, I began to pedal across. Emily had presumed we were going to dismount, and gave a quick shout to let me know I'd began without her! We've now got a very clear system of confirmation before dismounting. ("Let's hop off and walk the bike." "Hop off?" "Yes, let's hop off and walk.") Ditto for mounting the bike and starting off on a trip -- "Are you ready?" "Ready, dad" or "just a second."
We've learned that neither of us is very comfortable when the other stands up -- the standing rider will tend to rock the bike side-to-side when pedalling.
If Emily needs to stop, she lets me know ASAP -- uncomfortable clothes, an itch under the helmet, etc. This is especially critical when going up the hill, as I need her continous, steady effort. If she's gotta stop pedalling on the climb, she lets me know right away and we just stop the bike altogether.
Gloves are a must for chilly mornings. Also, Em will wear a thin rain jacket as a wind breaker, and will wear the hood under her helmet. A scarf is required on the coldest east bay mornings. (This is not a terribly big deal in this climate if you're prepared -- she was used to getting pulled to school through the snow to in a little sled when we lived in Michigan!)
We don't ride at night very often, but we can get caught out. We have front and rear lights, and have just ordered a monster (2mi visibility) flashing red rear light. I may actually start using the rear light all the time, even during the day. The Burley has an orange flag, and the bikes have the regular reflectors. The biggest factors for safety seem to be picking a sensible route and being very conservative in how you ride.
We've gotten caught in the rain a few times. Makes for a nice hot chocloate session afterwards. Also, www.wunderground.com's up-to-the-minute radar has helped us to decide to ride or not -- we can often hit gaps in scattered showers. We're gearing up with fenders for all three wheels so that we can ride more comfortably through the puddles and wet streets after a rain.
Our trailer has paid for itself in saved AC transit fares, we've cut our commute time in half, we get fabulous exercise, and we're more inclined to patronize local businesses since it's much easier to take a side trip or stop for a few minutes when you're on bike. Bike parking downtown is free, easy, and abundant, too. The trailer can swing around to nearly parallel to my bike for lockup -- the whole grand assembly pretty much folds in half.
There are also the intangibles. Emily absolutely loves the trailer. Bike time is very "quality" time for us. We actually have more conversations on the bike than we did riding the bus! The hill climb is also an activity that absolutely requires a joint effort, and, though routine, is also a hard-won accomplishment every time we do it. Once my chain broke, and she did all of the pedalling for the two of us for many blocks on flat roads -- she still beams with pride about that. Other kids point and "wow" as we ride by, and it's a very stylish way to arrive to school. We've also taken it to Angel Island on the ferry, and have gone on a docent-led bike tour of historic Oakland.
We got it when she was six and a half. I think that the biggest issues with a three-year-old would be related to questions of cooperation and communication -- never standing up, being certain of when to stay on the bike and when to get off, etc.
We'd be happy to show you our trailer some afternoon. Also, I work on campus, so you could stop by to check it out if you're near. Greg
A few other notes. I'm not very comfortable riding on Berkeley Streets. The bike is long, requires good verbal coordination for stops, has a much longer stopping distance (a particular concern on down hills) and Berkeley's potholed streets can be disturbing to the low riding rear rider... That said, there is nothing to prevent you from doing so, and we know others who do. What to buy. We got the single speed model, I think it was about $125. Great value, and seems perfectly adequate to me. I agree that the hitch which attaches to the seat post seems ultimately destined for metal stress failure, but I doubt it would crack the frame or seat post, and I don't think that there is any instability. I have wondered if gears would have made my son who is a good peddler even more helpful? I still doubt it. Good luck! Kevin
I am looking for information on the safety ratings of pull-behind vs bike rack carriers for transporting a toddler behind or on her parent's bike. My husband and I would like to get back into biking on a semi-weekly basis around the neighborhood and through nearby parks (in Walnut Creek) and would like to take our 25 lb 18 month old daughter with us. I am concerned that the pull-behind carriers would be susceptible to being hit from behind (they are wider than the bike) and/or would compromise the turning and easy operation of the parent's bike. How safe are on-the-bike rack seats? Are they even sold anymore? My gut feeling is that I would prefer to have my daughter as close to me as possible, because it would give me more control and she would be safer in an unexpected situation. I would like to hear any personal insights, experience, and preferences you might have. Thanks! Rachel
As for getting rear-ended, the trailer is typically bright yellow with an international-orange pennant flying on the left (traffic) side; a motorist oblivious enough to rear-end something like that would rear-end anything. As the one driving the bicycle, you have the job of watching car traffic from all directions and keeping both bike and carrier out of harm's way. I think there's no significant difference between rack-mounts and trailers in that regard. A bike with a rack-mount carrier presents a smaller target, but if motorist and cyclist are out to lunch nobody's safe.
Both rack-mount carriers and trailers degrade the bike's turning and handling, of course: the rack-mount makes it tippier, as I said, and a passenger inclined to lean and wave unpredictably can make for some thrilling moments (though to be fair I should say they quickly learn to hold still!). The trailer makes it feel like you're pulling a house, but it doesn't hurt the turning much. You do need to mind the trailer's turning characteristics, which are not the same as your bicycle's.
With either carrier, of course, you want to make sure the kid is securely strapped in, and make several practice runs before carrying a "live load"; the first time I towed my daughter in a trailer I took a corner too close and flipped the darn thing. Being well strapped in, she was unhurt (though somewhat disposed to criticize). Well-fitted Snell-standard helmets for all, of course (or at least ANSI-standard--it can be hard to get a Snell-standard helmet for a toddler).
I think your gut feeling is, with all due respect, in need of calibration. Having the kid close to you doesn't necessarily make her safer, or help you stay in control; if that were true, you'd hold her in your lap when you drive your car, not put her in a child-safety seat in back. On a bike, I think she's safer six feet away in a stable two-wheeled trailer, with lots of protected space around her, than two feet away in a seat that makes your bike hard to mount and tippy to ride. With the rack-mount, whatever happens to you and your bike happens to the kid: if you wipe out on a turn, she goes down with you, and no way will you be able to twist around on the way down and hold her off the pavement (the seat will do a lot of that for you, but you can depend on some abrasions on her arms and/or legs). With the trailer, no matter what happens to you and the bike, she's got two wheels on the ground and an aluminum cage around her. My two cents. John
When we ride an Alleycat/pull-along with him riding 3 feet behind me, I have to evaluate a much larger space (both physically and psychologically) for our safety. While I am still learning and adapting to these new factors, it is exhausting. Frankly, I am dreading the day (very soon) when my son exceeds 40 pounds and can no longer ride in the seat, because hauling him and the Alleycat feels like much more work. And with both types of transport, my son needed to learn what was acceptable (wiggling, waving wildly at a neighbor on the sidewalk, or whatever).
I suspect there are stats somewhere on bicycle accidents with children in all types of transporting devices and maybe that information would shed light on the particular conditions of danger or safety, eg. trailers make sense on wider rural or suburban roads, but not necessarily in urban congestion.
Happy cycling! Claire
Some connect to the seat post, which raises the center of gravity and causes pbs similar to a rack mounted seat. Others connect to the axle of the rear wheel, which keeps the bike's and the trailer's weight closer to the ground.
I bought a tandem trailer that attaches to the seat post and that my son loves, but now regret not having gone for the fancy and expensive Burley brand, that attaches at a lower level (on a rack, w/ joint right above the wheel, vertically lined w/the rear axle) and would make it easier and safer to ride with. Eric
The rear seat arrangement works great for urban cycling in Oakland where we ride in traffic. I feel more manueverable and more difficult to hit. The worst part of any bike trip for us trip is getting the bike helmet on our son's head. His neck has been pinched in the buckle so he is very wary of the process. Once in the rear seat, he often sings to himself, and often falls asleep. When we do tour with our son on the back, we are unable to carry cargo on the rear rack. Thus we haven't toured with the tandem, and when we took our bicycles on the train to Pismo Beach this past summer, I carried our boy, and my wife packed all of our gear on her bike when we rode between Pismo and San Luis Obispo. Protectection from the sun is also more difficult on the rear seat as opposed to a trailer.
We debated purchasing a third rack for my wife's single bike, but we are seeking to purchase a collapsable trailer, in anticipation of a second child down the path. We rented a trailer while riding on some grade separated bike paths in Wisconsin this summer and our 14 month old son enjoyed himself in the trailer, despite the fine grit that the bike's rear real tossed up and filtered through the screen mesh (it was too hot to have the cover on). I did find a web site that addressed some of your concerns, and reaffirmed some of mine.
http://www.ibike.org/infant.htm Good luck. Kevin
Personally, I dread seeing those bike trailers on the road. They always take me by surprise. Usually, I'll see the bike first, then the flag, then LO AND BEHOLD there's this trailer DOWN there where I least expect to see a vehicle. I always find it startling. Then I breathe a sigh of relief that I saw it THIS time and pray that next time I won't be distracted by something else on the road to see the bike trailer in time.
A contributing factor could be the busy streets on which I usually encounter these trailers (such as MLK around Cedar). You are dealing with narrow streets, garbage trucks, double-parked cars, etc. The flag helps (better than nothing), but is not as obvious as you might think when there's numerous other stuff going on.
BTW, I do consider myself a safe driver. I am usually carrying precious cargo myself (my two kids), so I do try to be extra careful. But, ugh, I shudder every time I see one of them bike trailers...
After cycling (and driving!) around Berkeley for several years, I have discoverd that jaywalkers are just as dangerous as cars. I consider myself a paranoid cyclist, but twice today I almost collided with a pedestrian, and a few months ago, I did. She stepped out into the street without looking, and while she stayed standing, I hit the pavement hard enough to wreck my helmet. I was just thankful my son wasn't in the bike seat, or he surely would have been injured.
So I prefer a bike trailer :-). That said, I agree with a previous poster concerning busy streets and trailers: they don't mix. I think cyclists should be wary of *cycling* on busy streets (such as Ashby or Shattuck), let alone pulling a bike trailer. I use "bike routes" or residential streets as much as possible and cross busy streets (like Telegraph) with the help of streetlights. So far, cars have been very considerate and both my son and I have enjoyed our rides immensely. YMMV Laurel
Thoughts on: Biking with baby: My husband and older son rode all over North Berkeley together for several years, starting at about 18 months, with my son riding in a Burley trailer. The trailer is very easy to use, very stable, and probably safer than a seat on the back: (1) it will stay upright even if the bike falls, which a frame-mounted seat will not; (2) people can see a trailer from far off and so tend to be more careful when driving by. The trailer also allows a child to look at books, play with small toys, have a drink, or figit a little while riding, which makes it easier to go longer distances. The real obstacle was the helmet at first; once my son got used to that, he did fine. The trailer is not cheap, but sometimes you can find them used. We will grow out of ours in a year or so; my second son is now four, and loves the rides (now in Orinda) but is getting a bit big for it.
We've tried three different ways: (1) trailer; (2) rear bike seat; (3) front bike seat. (1) The trailer is very stable, and is safe if you fall (the baby won't) and doesn't add too much difficulty to steering. The significant drawbacks are that cars may not always see the trailer; the child sits closer to the exhaust pipes of the of cars; extra weight to tow. (2) Rear bike seats are lighter, but the baby falls with you if you fall, and the extra weight in back may make your bike a little harder to maneuver. Other drawbacks: If you wear a backpack, the backpack will be in the baby's face. When the baby wears a helmet (get one at Target, Toys 'R' Us, etc. Fisher Price makes some), she may be uncomfortable with the high back seat pushing against the helmet, pushing her head forward. (3) Front bike seats are harder to find, weigh about the same as the rear seat, may make the bike a little easier to maneuver than the rear bike seat since the baby's weight sits on the handle bars (essentially). We actually like this one the best. I can keep an eye on her since she's in front of me, and it's easier for me to interact with her and talk to her, and make sure she doesn't take off her helmet. The biggest drawback is that, depending on the design of the seat, you may have to alter your peddling to avoid hitting the seat with your knees. This is the most enjoyable for our daughter, but I wouldn't recommend this for very long bike rides, or rides up steep hills because of the knee thing. We bought ours from this company: http://www.leisuresports.com/. You can call for a local distributor. A note about helmets - make sure you get your baby used to the helmet before you go out. It'll save a lot of stopping when you're on the road.
We also carted our son around in a Burley trailer for a while. I think trailers are safer overall, and maybe a better deal in the long run, than baby-on-back-of-bike seats. They'll hold twice as much weight, the bike is much more stable, and the kid is a little better protected; they're also good for other cargo, like groceries, long after the kid's too big to ride in them. Of course, they can tip, too: on our daughter's first trailer trip, I took a corner too tight, clipped a curb, and tipped the damn thing over; again, she was displeased, but she wasn't hurt.
In Berkeley, my favorite shop is Velo Sport, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way; Missing Link is also good, and REI, though I think REI usually has the worst prices of the three.
The other day I saw an interesting sight. A woman was riding a bicycle with a child seat on the back. The child riding in back was pre-talking age but was fussing rather noisily which caused me to take notice. It seems the woman (mom?) riding the bike had a backpack on her back and the bulge of the backpack was rubbing back and forth across the baby's face, which was obviously irritating to the child. I don't think the woman was aware that the pack was even touching the baby and she rode by so fast I din't get a chance to say anything. So, bike riders with babies on back...be aware that your backpack may right in the baby's face.
VeloSport (MLK and Virginia) and Solano Cyclery (on Solano in Albany, just east of Safeway) both carried it when we got ours 5 years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if prices vary by a few dollars from store to store. Also: there is more than one model of Rhode Gear bike seat. We've had the two top models-- I think they're called the Taxi and the Limo. The Limo's front safety bar is longer lasting and probably more convenient than the Taxi's, but they were both very sturdy seats. And Rhode Gear is good at sending replacement parts when necessary, for safety's sake.
Our Taxi model also tipped back for resting. The main difference I noticed between the Taxi and Limo is the restraint system. I thought the Limo's was easier to use and its restraining bar was sturdier. However, when our son became strong enough to pull off the Taxi's restraining bar, RhodeGear said the restraining straps were enough and not to worry about it.
we just purchased a rhodegear limo...i called all the bikestores in berkeley and oakland and virtually all carry the brand. the taxi is less expensive ($99-100); the limo reclines for when your child falls asleep and is $118-120. if you want to put the rack on more than one bike (the seat easily detaches), a separate rack costs $43-45. i have found the owners at square wheel to be very knowledgeable about baby/kid biking stuff, but i recommend just going to your cloest bikeshop since prices are comparable and depending on your bike frame, you may need some extra assistance when installing the rack.
Hi, I was the one who asked a few months ago about bike seats. My question was specifically about back seats vs trailers, and the age at which babies can start riding, but people replied with useful general information too. Below are the replies I got (I didn't know whether I should keep or strip contributors' names, so erred on the side of anonymity, but if you want to know who said something i can look it up). Basically the advice, in summary form, is:
BTW: We have the Road Gear bike seat and our toddler loves riding in it and finally loves to wear her helmet, especially since Mommy and Daddy wear theirs as well.
Trish. mom of 22-mo-old
We use front panniers mounted on a (recrafted) front rack to carry diapers, lunches, laundry and whatever else we are carrying that day. I think a trailer would be preferable in more suburban, or at least less urban environment, or when Simon gets older because his movements (gesturing wildly at a cat crossing the road...a lost balloon...) can really make the bike sway. It is hard work carrying so much stuff if you add up the pounds (child, seat, wet diapers, bottles, 2 lunches, extra pants...something to the tune of 37-40 extra pounds!) but it sure is a lot of fun and feels really good to get off of a bicycle at the end of the trip, better than look for a parking place. Simon and I can sing, stop and look at things, and get lots of fresh air just getting to and from work, and it is such a pleasure. There is an article in the April issue of Mothering magazine about bicycling with babies & children which gives more good advice about gear, but I think most of it is attitude and commitment to bicycling. The lovely lad in the checkered pants is Simon and that's his mom on her trusty steed!! Good luck! Claire
1) I'd be reluctant to put a child much under 1 year old on a bicycle. Their necks are not strong enough to hold the helmet up. In Massachusetts, it's illegal to have a child under 1 on a bike; I'm not sure about in a trailer, but they do still need a helmet.
2) RhodeGear makes great bike seats ($70-$120, I think) that are extremely easy to mount and demount from your bike. We started with a cheap one from Toys R Us, and it was terrible, despite the advertisement "mounts without tools" on the box.
3) Bikes are definitely less stable with a child seat. I compensate by lowering my seat so I can put my feet almost flat on the ground, and have never had any trouble. The advantages to bike seats over trailers are that you can have a conversation with your child while you ride, and you don't have to worry about the trailer in tight places. If you'll be commuting on city streets with the baby, I'd get the bike seat; if you'll mostly be sticking to bike trails for recreational use, the trailer would be better.
4) As far as I know, neither one will hold your child until s/he is big enough to ride a bike without training wheels. Bike trailers are generally rated for ages 1-4; kids will grow out of a bike seat between ages 3-4 (my very small daughter barely fit through age 4.5).
5) There are trailers, made by Adams Trail-A-Bike, that will hold older kids -- the child rides on a regular bike seat and has pedals and handlebars. I use one now for commuting and drop my daughter off at school on the way to work. It's a little scary riding through the city with a trailer -- they're not very maneuverable, and even with the tall warning flag I'm afraid that some drivers won't notice the trailer. However, at least it's narrower than my bike, unlike the trailers for little kids. I think that some of these trailers can also be mounted with an infant seat, so you could look into getting one for the baby, but I'd be more comfortable with the bike seat.
Happy bicycling! Beth
I've had a trailer made by "Burley" for several years and I recommend them VERY highly! It folds up pretty small, converts to a great stroller, and I think it's very safe. I was even hit (well, nudged) by a van once with my daughter in the trailer and she didn't even notice ('till she saw me screamin' at the bonehead who did it).
In any case, 5 months is probably still a little young. I would wait until you can fit a helmet on him (and he can still hold his head up). Our pediatrician made me wait until our daughter was about 10 months. And don't you dare take him anywhere in a seat or a trailer without a helmet on both of you! :) Craig
When he was one, I got the cheapest toddler seat model available, and he loved riding with me right away. The helmet was no problem, only he always made sure that I would wear mine too! I also love being able to talk with him and knowing I can check on him whenever I want to. The problem now is that he weighs 45 lbs at 3, and the seat has a max. capacity of 40 lbs. I love the idea of trailers in terms of weight distribution and carrying capacity, but not in the middle of city traffic. Eric
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