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Old 06-02-05, 12:30 PM   #1
veloellen
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Help! Too big for a bike seat, ?too small for a trail-a-bike?

My son has been riding with us since he was 9 months old. He never really cared for the trailer so by about 1 1/2 we put him on a Rhode Gear bike seat (you know - the one that sits on a rack behind your seat). He loves it - he can look around, etc. MUCH BETTER! Well, he's 4 come September. He's too big for the bike seat. His knees come up high and get sqeezed by my bike seat (hard to explain) and he kept telling me this weekend he's too big for the bike seat. I don't road ride with him much - mainly rail to trail, some mileage at the beach and 1 or 2 organized rides a year. So, here's the question - is he too young? too small? for a trail a bike. We bought an Alley Cat from a neighbor that has barely been used. My husband wants to get him out on the trail a bike but think we're about a year from that? Who has used a trail a bike on a child less than 4? He's not quite 40 lbs yet, maybe about 39 inches tall.
Thanks for your responses.
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Old 06-02-05, 12:38 PM   #2
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When my kids were that size I used to tape a regular bicycle seat to the top tube in front of my seat on my mountain bike. The kid would sit on the seat, put their feet on top of my shocks, and their hands on the handlebars. It was great for them and for me. Their head ended up being just in front of my chest, and they were protected from branches and such by my arms. It also helped keep my front tire on the ground when on a steep climb.
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Old 06-02-05, 04:12 PM   #3
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Hey Ellen-

Good for you and your son! Sounds like you've been having a good time.

I got a trail-a-bike for my son this spring, right after he turned 4. He's a big kid (both mom and dad are above average height) and handles the ride just fine. Our long ride has been 13 miles so far, on a former railroad grade, and it was great. The seat of the trail-a-bike hasn't been extended very far, and he coasts a lot, but it's worked out great for both of us. I was a little worried about the greater potential for falls (well, greater than from the trailer we also use) and so got him some little Cannondale bike gloves in addition to his kids helmet (kids sizing, looks pretty much like an adults, no toddler helmet)- he thinks they're very cool, and loves to suit up for rides.

Try your son on the trail-a-bike for a short ride, bring your husband along to observe, and see how he does. He'll feel a little wobbly at first, but keep with it. Balance grows.
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Old 06-02-05, 04:15 PM   #4
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How big can a kid be and still be on the trail a bike? I'm just wondering. My nephew has balance issues at 6 years old, and I want to ride with him, but he wouldn't make it down the street, poor sad kid.

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Old 06-02-05, 08:17 PM   #5
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I had the same problem, all of my kids are small for their age. I couldn't find a trail-a-bike that would fit a kid with an inseam less than 20 inches. Frankly, I feel both the Burley and the Adams are poorly designed in that the cranks are way too long for the intended use. This is one area where I think the Adams is better designed than the Burley.

For my just-turned-three year-old, I've worked up a contraption that works quite well, mostly from parts that were lying around. On the seatpost I put the Adams backrest:



(Which is a steal at fifteen bucks from REI: http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...cat=REI_SEARCH)

I then put two handlebar stems onto the seatpost. On one I put a set of "chopper" handlebars that reach up over the seat. On the other I put an old seatpost for foot pegs. So my son sits strapped onto the backrest, holding the handlebars and putting his feet on the foot pegs. He loves this.

Since everything is attached to the seatpost I can switch between this setup and a setup for an older kid by switching seats. If this description is confusing I can post a picture.

Adams makes a baby seat that is functionally equivalent (http://www.trail-a-bike.com/interfac...p?loc=b&sku=bs) but it's kind of pricey (about $100) and I can't find anyone who sells it. It's rated for ages 1-3

My five-year-old has an 18-inch inseam. I was able to fit crank shorteners to the trail-a-bike (and the Burley Piccolo) that allow him to ride comfortably. I think this is a good solution even when your kid's legs are long enough to reach the pedal; the stock 140 mm cranks are really for someone who is 5 feet tall or so. The downside is the cost, about $70 for the Prism Ride2 shorteners I got.

You can shorten the seat by about an inch on many bikes by flipping the seat bracket upside down. I did this on the Piccolo.
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Old 06-02-05, 08:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koffee brown
How big can a kid be and still be on the trail a bike? I'm just wondering. My nephew has balance issues at 6 years old, and I want to ride with him, but he wouldn't make it down the street, poor sad kid.

Koffee
85 lbs or half the weight of the adult on the lead bike. The Adams has a 12" seat tube and 130mm cranks and about a 6" maximum seatpost extension. The Burley is slightly bigger.
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Old 06-02-05, 09:19 PM   #7
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You're in that gray area where I can't say yes or no. It's up to the child.
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Old 06-02-05, 11:10 PM   #8
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Cool. The kid is skinny. He's like 43 pounds and about 4' 1" or something in that range. He just doesn't have much stamina, can't talk 100% without the baby talk still, is very sensitive, and still pees the bed... but I love him! I want to go for long rides, and my older nephew wants to come too, but the younger one is just so... unathletic that I haven't been able to do anything with him.

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Old 06-03-05, 04:26 AM   #9
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My daughter turns 7 today. She weigs in at 40 pounds even, 40 inches tall, 1 pound per inch. She has ridden in an attached seat since 8 months old, at age 2 we moved to a trailer. At age 4 we moved to a trail-a-bike. She loves the current setup and rides 40 miles at a time, peadling the whole way. Even at age 4 riding 40 miles was good for her, she did'nt pedal much, just rode.
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Old 06-03-05, 06:33 AM   #10
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Thanks DCcommuter (we're in Towson actually) and everyone else who has posted their suggestions. I love the idea of a back rest. We will head to REI today to buy this (wonder if they have this in stock....?).
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Old 06-03-05, 07:00 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veloellen
My husband wants to get him out on the trail a bike but think we're about a year from that? Who has used a trail a bike on a child less than 4? He's not quite 40 lbs yet, maybe about 39 inches tall.
Thanks for your responses.
Ok my son will be 4 at the end of Sept and he got a Gary Fisher Freeloader 20 for his 3rd birthday from Grandpa who is also an avid cyclist. When we got it we had to jack everything to the min level and if we are being honest he was probably a little too small for it as he rocked a little, but he loved it that is for sure. Fast forward to this spring...clearly he is taller and the bike fits much better. When we got it he was 42 lbs and he is now around 43 lbs and about 41" give or take an inch. Wed night we took an 11 mile ride and we have done as much as 16 miles but with a big stop (30-40 min) in the middle to watch planes at the airport.

It would seem to me that your son would fit on our Gary Fisher the way we had it set up when we first started out...I wouldn't wait another year.
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Old 06-03-05, 05:38 PM   #12
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My oldest daughter got the Addams Trail-a-Bike the day she turned 4 and was barely able to reach the pedals. Within 13 months and 1800 km, we had worn out the hitch and I replaced the bike with a Burley Piccolo. My youngest one has started to climb on the Piccolo at 3.5 years old and had no problems in reaching the pedals, but she is on the tall side. And BTW, the Piccolo has a seattube 1/2" taller than the Trail-a-Bike.

So on the young side, I would say that as soon as your child is able to stay upright on the Piccolo or Trail-a-Bike, he is ready for it. As for how long the rides may be, it depends a lot on the kid. Even at the tender age of 4, my oldest one had no problem with 80-100 km per day, but she might have pedalled 10-20 of these kilometres at most. At that age, my youngest one had problems riding more than 60-70 km, but she pedalled all the way.

I never got a backrest, but I do keep an eye on the children! My mirror is useful for more than one thing!

On the upped end, as far as I am concerned, the weight of the child is a flexible limit. I would have less problems with a very stable 85-lb stoker than with a wiggling 60-lb one. Apart from the weight of the child, another problem is that handlebars are too close for a tall person. For instance, I suspect that a tiny 5' 2" woman weighing 85-90 lb would feel that she has her hands much too close to her body.
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Old 06-03-05, 06:03 PM   #13
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Good lord! Whatever woman who's 5' 2" and 85- 90 pounds needs an eating disorder clinic!

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Old 06-03-05, 06:20 PM   #14
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Michel,

How tall is your 3.5 year old?
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Old 06-05-05, 05:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Good lord! Whatever woman who's 5' 2" and 85- 90 pounds needs an eating disorder clinic!
I know! But I also know of a really tiny 5' or 5' 1" woman who probably isn't much heavier than that. Except when she was pregnant, I'm sure! Tiny bone structure. But my point is that even if we were upping the weight limit a bit (and I think the Piccolo could support a 90-100 lb person if she is well behaved), the Piccolo wouldn't work for someone with adult proportions.


Quote:
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How tall is your 3.5 year old?
Good question. It happened in October 2003, and I think she was about counter height (i.e. 36-37") when she started riding the Piccolo. Now, she is 5.25 years old, 1,15 m tall (3' 9") and her seatpost is extended by about 6 cm.
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Old 06-25-05, 06:32 AM   #16
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OK, so here's the update. We actually have 2 trail-a-bikes in the garage from yard sales, etc. The Alley Cat has smaller cranks so we put it on and off we went. I put my son on the seat behind me and we rode to a high school track and put our son on the trail-a-bike that was attached to my husbands bike. He did great. We rode home with him on my husbands trail-a-bike and the seat behind me has been empty ever since. On wednesday we did 7 miles on a rail to trail and last night we did 9 miles on the rail to trail. We're going to try 14 miles tomorrow. He pedals about half the time and is easily distracted. There is a small auto body shop on the trail so that is our bribe - we'll stop at the body shop (he loves cars, trucks etc) so he can "shop". I also bribe him with power bars (he loves power bars!).
Thanks for everyone's encouragement.
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Old 06-25-05, 06:00 PM   #17
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Way to go. We ride to the park and to ice crem shops as well. Of course the ice cream shop is a good 1:30 round trip ride. We also have a 12 mile loop we do like 2-3 times a week.

Have fun out there and be safe.
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Old 06-27-05, 07:09 AM   #18
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My daughter is 39" tall, 33-34 lbs and just turned 4. We rented a trail-a-bike and though she was scared at first (mainly traffic on the way to the trail) she ended up loving it. She fit fine once the seat and bars were adjusted to her. The guy at the LBS who rented to us said, "She'd be an example of the minimum size requirement."
The one we rented was a bit wobly and I'm not sure if the hitch was worn or what but it definitely "flopped" from side to side a bit. Can others comment on the "flopping" issue?
Thx,
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Old 06-27-05, 11:28 AM   #19
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I don't know about flopping othe rthan maybe the hitch was worn or loose. Our FreeLoader (Gary Fisher trailer bike) has an ok hitch IMO and I don't get any flopping but when my son moves side to side I do have to fight it...no slop but he CAN move the entire rig with his weight shifts which as th epilot you have to watch out for so you don't go out into traffic or ff the path or road.
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