Bike Rack Help and Kid Seat vs Trailer (for two)
Two questions from a new cyclist: I just bought my first bike... a Del Sol LXi 7.1 and am looking for some input on a couple of things.
1) I am searching for a bike rack of some sort. I have a Toyota Rav4 (2009) with the covered spare tire on the back. It does have the roof rack bars that run front to rear. It is only a 4 cylinder so we do not have a hitch of any type on the back either. I need a rack that will hold at least one bike (adult) and a kid bike. If I can find one that will hold 3 bikes, even better. (I am trying to convince my husband to get a new bike now too!) Ideally it will need to make road trips (300 miles +) to grandma's house etc.
2) A friend is giving me her child seat to attach to the back of my bike. I am not sure if it will fit and I am not sure how comfortable I am with a 30lber riding on the back either. I was looking at trailers to pull behind the bike but have no idea what brands would work best and last etc. I have a 4 yr old (36 lbs) and a 1 yr old (30 lbs) ... I would like to be able to pull both of them on long rides but also be able to pull just the little one when big brother is on his own bike. It does not need to double as a stroller... I already have a double jogging stroller that we use regularly as well.
I did hit the local bike shop to see what they offer. I have found Yakima bike racks for 30% off at Sun&Ski Sports (clearance since they will no longer carry that brand once they sell out). I also have seen some cheaper racks at big box stores but not sure how well they hold up for long distances etc.
I'd suggest going to a truck store to get a hitch installed and then head out to CraigsList to buy a used utility trailer for $4-500. Then you can take any configuration with you. I have three young kids and even our Suburban isn't enough to haul two adult bikes, a Weehoo, and a double-wide kid trailer! I wouldn't dare try to put them on top, either. That's just begging for scratches on an expensive vehicle.
I've been using a Burley Solo trailer - getting a Burley D'lite today since we now have 2 kids to tow around. I do like the stroller attachment for the Burley; you tow them to the store and the trailer converts to a stroller when you get there.
Costco has what appears to be a pretty decent double trailer on sale for $200. It's heavier than a Burley, but what another 5-10lbs when you're already towing 70-80lbs.
Houston is not Amsterdam (duh) the 2 kids, both in seats, front and rear, on the bike,
works better on a bike ridden in a Country that planned infrastructure long ago, to be bike friendly.
Texas, go the child trailer route ..
Picked up a CoPilot double trailer yesterday... it breaks down enough to fit in the back of the SUV I drive. We took it out for a ride and it works well. It didnt seem too heavy either considering some of the ride with with a headwind. My temporary solution was a clearance sale bike rack for the back of my SUV since I am the only one with a bike that rides away from home right now. We are looking at getting a hitch for my Rav4 for down the road... because of the way the back door opens, I would need to get a swinging arm hitch rack (I think that's what it is called). Its on my Christmas List ... along with a road bike if I keep having to share my bike with my husband!
I found a decent, used Trek Transit Deluxe on CL for $75. I saw a bunch of used ones for the couple weeks I was looking and if you are willing to go higher, you could probably find a used Burley or Chariot. The kids love the trailer and its nice to have some extra carrying capacity for groceries or other errands.
IMO, you can't beat the trailer (I see that is the route you chose). The kids can carry their snacks, drinks, toys, etc and keep themselves comfortable and entertained. I'm guessing that isn't true for bike seats.
So far the kids are loving the trailer although we are having helmet issues with my youngest. I think I need to get a different helmet for him as the back of his gets caught on the back of the seat and pushes it down over his eyes. He is a little too short for the "helmet gap". He still enjoys the ride but ends up turning his head sideways to look out instead of forward. We are covering about 5-7 miles on the bike per ride... so far so good.