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Old 07-29-05, 08:19 AM   #1
plin
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For all the parents in this forum.

I will soon be joining your ranks as I am expecting a little boy in a couple of weeks. I have a few questions that need your enlightenment.

1. When is the earliest age where I can take him for a ride.
2. I doubt that I will be using my road racing bike. What type of bike should be used?
3. What type of seats? Should it be at the front or the rear?
4. What's a good ride duration before the baby is bored or saturated?
5. Is climbing excluded since going downhill can be quite dangerous?
6. How to correctly protect the baby?
7. General advice.

Thanks a bunch. It's going to be hard to reconcile riding and baby stuff. cheers.
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Old 07-29-05, 08:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plin
For all the parents in this forum.
1. When is the earliest age where I can take him for a ride.
I waited until my daughter was a year old before we introduced her to family rides. I think you need to wait until the baby can hold their head up properly. Sitting up is also probably a good time.

Quote:
2. I doubt that I will be using my road racing bike. What type of bike should be used?
I think it depends on what kind of carrier/seat you desire. I use a flat bar commuter bike to pull a trailer. Since we do some bike paths that have some steep hills, I find some low gearing is required to haul the trailer up steep grades.

Quote:
3. What type of seats? Should it be at the front or the rear?
I was never that keen on the seats. I figured that it was a LONG way down for a kid to fall if I dumped the bike. I opted for a Chariot trailer instead. I dumped the bike once while crossing a very wet wooden bridge, and the trailer remained upright. In fact, my daughter didn't even wake up!

Quote:
4. What's a good ride duration before the baby is bored or saturated?
From my experience, an hour or so is about it until a rest break is required. We like to find a park or something like that so our daughter can run around a bit. In my experience, the younger they are, the more prone they are to sleeping.

Quote:
5. Is climbing excluded since going downhill can be quite dangerous?
Big, fast descents are probably not a great idea. The instructions for my trailer suggested an upper speed limit of 30(?) kph.

Quote:
6. How to correctly protect the baby?
A helmet (but they have to be able to hold up their head). Using a trailer also helps, as the child is very close to the ground. My trailer has a frame that looks like it would act as a roll hoop. Use the harness.

IMHO, trailers are safter than seats.

Quote:
7. General advice.
Sharing your love of cycling with your family is lots of fun. Just have patience and understand that sitting in a trailer for long periods of time can be a bit boring. Make sure to stop lots and enjoy!

Trailers are also great because you can carry along toys, books and *ahem* pit stop matierals for the child.
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Old 07-29-05, 08:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJRoberts
IMHO, trailers are safter than seats.

Sharing your love of cycling with your family is lots of fun. Just have patience and understand that sitting in a trailer for long periods of time can be a bit boring. Make sure to stop lots and enjoy!

Trailers are also great because you can carry along toys, books and *ahem* pit stop matierals for the child.
Thanks a bunch for your advice. +1 for the trailers. Do you think that trailers can be a bit dangerous because it takes up quite a bit of road? I have already had quite a few 'close encounters' with cars on my road bike. I am a bit afraid of the extra width of the trailer.
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Old 07-29-05, 09:23 AM   #4
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1. When is the earliest age where I can take him for a ride.

I agree with the other poster, no earlier than 1 year.

2. I doubt that I will be using my road racing bike. What type of bike should be used?

Something with some beef; MTB or beach cruiser is perfect.

3. What type of seats? Should it be at the front or the rear?

I know many find more security in a trailer over a rear-seat; I know someone who one had their bob-trailer hit by a carelss motorist and, personally, I find a bit of solace knowing my girl is immediately behind me. I do agree with the others though, in that it IS a long way down in the event of a fall, and the bikes natural balance is offset with a rear-seat, fwiw.

4. What's a good ride duration before the baby is bored or saturated?

At one year, my girl was usually bored/irratated after 10 or 15 minutes. At two, I could ride for hours and it wasnt enough. She started asking ME for rides!

5. Is climbing excluded since going downhill can be quite dangerous?

I would hesitate on downhills with a trailer. Also, with a rear-seat the bike is already very back-heavy; a heavy grade can result in some front tire lift.

6. How to correctly protect the baby?

helmet and avoid all traffic if possile. A flag wouldnt hurt either.


7. General advice.

Get a lot of sleep now, while you still can. Accept any help offered from family/friends/neighbors; the offers wont last forever, and even if you dont realize you now that you need the help, you may find out later that you actually did. Cancel your cable now; television is a tempting babysitter. Sometimes putting him down and letting him cry is the only way to get him to stop crying (their form of stress relief). Take pictures in the hospital; they change so fast, you'll actually forget what they looked like just 1 month ago. Enjoy every moment.
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Old 07-29-05, 10:04 AM   #5
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There is a stronger probability in falling than being hit by a car while riding but at the same time the consequences of falling is less serious. It's really a hard call.
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Old 07-29-05, 10:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plin
For all the parents in this forum.

I will soon be joining your ranks as I am expecting a little boy in a couple of weeks. I have a few questions that need your enlightenment.

1. When is the earliest age where I can take him for a ride.
2. I doubt that I will be using my road racing bike. What type of bike should be used?
3. What type of seats? Should it be at the front or the rear?
4. What's a good ride duration before the baby is bored or saturated?
5. Is climbing excluded since going downhill can be quite dangerous?
6. How to correctly protect the baby?
7. General advice.

Thanks a bunch. It's going to be hard to reconcile riding and baby stuff. cheers.
1. Our ped recommended one year for riding, but I'd been taking the twins in the same Chariot configured as a jogger since they were 7 months. So, I cheated a little and we went for our first bike ride at 10 1/2 months. The important thing is that they be able to hold their heads up with a helmet.

2. I have occasionally used my CF racing bike, actually. If you have the kind of hitch that goes through the rear skewer, it shouldn't be a problem. OTOH, I wouldn't put a seat-stay hitch on a CF frame.

In the end, though, I "rescued" an old 80s vintage steel MTB. Good low gearing and canti brakes (and a kick stand!) make for a good trailer-hauler.

3. Another strong vote for a trailer rather than a baby seat. It takes up a bit more room and it's heavier, but I think it's just a lot safer. For one, it's more visible and most motorists are going to give you a fair amount of room when they see a baby trailer. Second, it's got an aluminum cage which provides some protection if you happen to roll it. Third, if you do put down the bike, the trailer is almost always going to stay upright. And in the last two years, I've had 3 falls, all of them at less than 10mph, because of debris on the road. I wasn't hurt, but I sure wouldn't want one of the kids taking that tumble.

4. Depends. For us, it's been any time between 15 minutes and two hours. The key is to be flexible.

5. We live in superflat Sacramento so for me climbing is an overpass. But you have to be the judge of what's safe.

6. Again, I recommend a trailer. We have a Chariot and it's been an excellent value even though it was a bit more spendy than some others. The kids have a three-way harness, they wear helmets, and it has a nice screen to protect them from bugs and pebbles.

7. My advice is to make sure that your child knows that bike riding is fun. Don't make it a training ride. If you need to do that, go out and ride hard first, and then make it an easy spin with the kids. Have a fun destination like a park. Be sure to take along an extra diaper, wipes, etc.

And finally, congratulations! Many blessings to you and your family.
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Old 07-29-05, 11:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plin
Thanks a bunch for your advice. +1 for the trailers. Do you think that trailers can be a bit dangerous because it takes up quite a bit of road? I have already had quite a few 'close encounters' with cars on my road bike. I am a bit afraid of the extra width of the trailer.
Drivers seem to give me a much wider berth when I'm pulling the trailer. Anything out ouf the ordinary seems to make them slow down. I've also got a cheerful little orange flag on the trailer. I don't really know if it helps.

I try to use quiet streets and multi-user paths when we go for family rides.
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Old 07-29-05, 12:09 PM   #8
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I use a Chariot Cougar 2, moved from a Burley. The burley's a better bike trailer, more storage. But the Cougar converts to a better jogger. I'm more of a trailer guy than a seat guy. Whatever you pick, use a helmet that fits properly.

I use all my bikes including my cyclocross bike, but then again, it's steel. The burley has a better hitch, IMHO, cause it doesn't involve involving the skewer, just the rear triangle.

Initial rides will be short, but take it for what it's worth. Don't force it or your kid will hate the experience. Make the first few rides to the park or ice cream or something fun. Let them enjoy the "prize" at the end, until their ready to enjoy the "journey".

W/ the helmet, make sure to acclimate them properly. You don't want the helmet to be a torture associated w/ the bike. Then they may never like the bike. I made the helmet part of our playtime inside the home, that way my daughter was OK w/ it.
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Old 07-29-05, 12:14 PM   #9
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I began taking my nephew for rides in a trailer when he was about eighteen months old and had good control over his head and neck when bouncing along. Riding tended to put him to sleep rapidly, and he would soon be sagging against the straps. So, when you buy a trailer, look carefully at the arrangement of the restraints, and look for a design that holds the child in place without getting up around the neck area.

Cars clear me by six inches when I ride alone. When I had the trailer, they slowed down, and cleared me by six feet. The drivers were so courteous, I was tempted to use the trailer whether my nephew came along or not.

The other thing I liked about the trailer was lots of room for blankets, toys, teddy bears, milk, snacks...it was like a traveling recreation room.
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Old 07-29-05, 12:56 PM   #10
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"Make the first few rides to the park or ice cream or something fun. Let them enjoy the "prize" at the end, until their ready to enjoy the "journey"."

That was my strategy; now my girl insists on riding the bike whenever I offer icecream; even when I'm referring to the stuff in our freezer. lol.
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Old 07-29-05, 08:19 PM   #11
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If you are worried about the width of a trailer, burley makes a narrower one for just one child, the "solo".

Also, if you want to buy a new burley trailer or piccolo when the time comes, (you'll think this silly) but start saving your betty crocker points and buy at a discount through the catalog at bettycrocker.com.
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Old 07-29-05, 09:29 PM   #12
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1 Our pediatrician said one year; consult yours.
2 Any bike will work fine
3 A trailer is safer and won't twitch when the child wiggles around.
4 Rather than saturate, he will likely fall aslep after an hour or so.
5 I wouldn't consider either climbing or descending dangerous.
6 Buy a child-sized helmet and fasten all the straps in the trailer.
7 You are both in for years of fun, until that fateful day when your child is six and wants to ride a trail-a-bike instead. Then, you both have even more fun.

Paul
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Old 07-29-05, 09:49 PM   #13
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I thought I should throw this in. I think I mentioned it in my original post but I want to emphasize how much easier your life will be if your tow bike has a kickstand. If not, you'll have to find a place to lean up your bike while hitching/unhitching and loading/unloading the kids.
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Old 07-29-05, 10:05 PM   #14
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Lots of good advice here. Some points:

In some states (specifically New York) it is actually illegal to transport a child less than one year old by bicycle. One year seems to be a sensible cutoff.

I never felt the need for a kickstand with a trailer, the hitch pivots and I just flop the bike on the ground. However, with a trail-a-bike I'm always looking for something to lean against while we load; if a kickstand could hold the whole rig it would be very handy.

Kids love bikes, just don't overdo it, keep it fun and build up slowly. A couple of weeks ago I did a 20-mile ride on the tandem trail-a-bike with my five-year-old twins, and when we stopped for a water break one said: "Why are we stopping so much? After this, no more stopping for the whole trip!"
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Old 07-30-05, 12:21 AM   #15
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By the time your child is 4, he/she (sonogram, eh?) will be too heavy for a child seat, so you might as well make the investment now and get more years of use out of it. My child was too heavy by 4 even though she is a lightweight and the seat was rated to 40lbs. It *looked* wobbly to people even if it was technically bolted on.

Plus, if your child is young enough to fit in a bike seat, you will definitely need emergency supplies (drink, milk, diapers, change of clothes -- for both of you, heh-heh). None of that is easy to carry with a seat ("Here kid, hold this bag, OK?").

If you buy a trailer, consider getting one of the new ones that makes room for the *back* of the child's helmet.

If you have hills, make sure your breaks are in good order. When you are breaking, you will have to stop not just your own mass but that of the child and trailer (about 70lbs).

About visibility, I have this theory. Car drivers put everything in two categories: "Dangerous", and "Mostly Harmless". They prompty forget anything that they have labeled as "Mostly Harmless". Yellow jersies do not label you as "Dangerous". Hauling a trailer with a child does. Like other bikers have suggested, I've thought of putting a large doll in the trailer so that people will cut me more slack. Or wearing an Osama Bin Laden t-shirt. Something to make them look, fear, and remember.

Good luck! Be sure to report back in 4 years when you've started to get regular sleep again.
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Old 07-30-05, 02:37 AM   #16
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Wow, thanks everyone for all the great advice! I'm going to wait when the boy is around 1 and buy a trailer and use my commuter bike. It's reassuring to know that people give more clearance when they see you riding with a trailer. I actually don't see that many on roads here. Once I have the set up I will go for a couple of 'test' rides before putting the boy in. It will be hard to wait for a year though. Cheers!
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Old 07-30-05, 10:42 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso
I thought I should throw this in. I think I mentioned it in my original post but I want to emphasize how much easier your life will be if your tow bike has a kickstand. If not, you'll have to find a place to lean up your bike while hitching/unhitching and loading/unloading the kids.

That depends on the trailer. We use a Chariot and it allows you to lay the bike compleatly on its side with out affecting the trailer. There are other makes that do the same as well.

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Old 07-30-05, 02:24 PM   #18
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The trailer also makes it easy to carry the all important diaper bag.

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Old 08-09-05, 11:44 AM   #19
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Here's another vote for a trailer. I think my son was about six months when I started pulling him and if I wasn't such a weanie I would still be pulling him in my Burley Solo (which was really worth the money). I can even go on small grocery trips with the trailer and fit the kid and the food in there. Before I got the trailer I used a Topeak BabySitter that had an attachable baby bag. I fell right over on our first ride out. I guess I'm not good at balancing but that scared me. I ended up just putting that on my camping bike for trips to the bathroom and stuff.

I never had problems going up or down hills, but I don't do steep hills (all goes back to being a weanie). A helmet is a must for protectiong your baby. I found the older my child got the longer we could ride. The last road rally I took him on was about 40 miles. He sang, pointed to cows, and played with his toys. He was three at the time.
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Old 08-09-05, 06:12 PM   #20
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In regards to trailer safety, my experience was that with the trailer in two (with the orange flag!), I got consistently wider berth from passing cars. I once went riding with a friend who was a cycle commuter and recreational rider. He was so impressed by how much more room cars gave us with the trailer, that he considered getting one and just riding along with it empty!

As for the seat v. trailer thing -- I did both. The seat takes a little more getting used to, at least on my road bike. In all the years I rode with child, I had major falls twice. In the seat, my boy went down, got startled, but was otherwise fine (wear a helmet!). In the trailer, I wouldn't have gone down except I hooked the trailer wheel on a path-side rock, and the trailer flipped first and then threw me. Child was fine (wear a helmet!), although a little startled. So, basically, both require a little more awareness (seat raises center of gravity, trailer increases width) and a little faith that, with proper helmet, your kid will pretty much handle what comes along.

Heck, I was introduced to cycling in a wicker basket that just about came up to my waist and might have had a little strap that went across my lap. I happily rode on the back of my mother's old 3-speed wherever she was willing to take me. Only really lasting damage is this intense fascination with bicycles.

Oh, and about those front seats -- all I know is, BAD! Putting a child between you and your ability to steer and see the road just does not work. Detracts from that whole "must be more aware" thing mentioned above.
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Old 08-10-05, 10:06 AM   #21
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1. When is the earliest age where I can take him for a ride.
This depends on your childs development. Most parent/riders I know have had to wait until atleast the 6mo mark. My little girl and another friendís daughter were both big enough and strong enough to ride in a trailer at 3mo.

2. I doubt that I will be using my road racing bike. What type of bike should be used?
I use my mtb when on trails with her and my road bike (racing geometry and gearing) for anything on the road and have no problems with it. If you do not want to use your current bike a low level mtb or comfortbike will work great and not break the bank

3. What type of seats? Should it be at the front or the rear?
As I mentioned we use a trailer. Much easier to do so and carry the required "extra" supplies needed for the diaper changes and bottles and help keep the child out of the sun.

4. What's a good ride duration before the baby is bored or saturated?
This again depends on your child. Our little one loved going for rides from the first time and the longer the better. Usually she will stay awake for the first 30 or 40 min then take a nape wich will give me an extra hour or two to keep riding.

5. Is climbing excluded since going downhill can be quite dangerous?
All we have around us are hills. Clibing is no propblem if YOU can handle it and just do not go as fast on the dh. Unless you child is like mine and the faster the better

6. How to correctly protect the baby?
If you use a trailer then a good trailer will have a 4 or 5 point harness that will secure the child in and you should get your child used to wearing a helmet.

7. General advice.
Remember that you child is now the number one priority in your life. Everything will now revolve around helping him grow and learn. Keep him safe but also allow him to learn on his own. It is tough with a first child where to draw some lines and what you should or should not do but it is also a learning time for you as parents as well.

Aslo, be sure to bring enough diapers and milk/formula when you go out. If mom will be with you on the rides then the bottles wont be as neccessary if she is breast feeding



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Old 08-11-05, 01:57 AM   #22
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Little Theodore just arrived last Wednsday. He's just a small bundle of pure joy despite the anxiety that first time parents can experience. Riding with him is going to be a lot of fun.
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Old 08-12-05, 06:23 PM   #23
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Congratulations on your new baby! I have 2 children, a 10 year old and a 2 year old and both have cycled with us from about 15 mos. of age on up. My husband always liked having a seat on the back of his bike with my son (9 years ago). He felt it was more fun to have the baby closer to him because they could talk and he could pass him snacks, etc. He always ended up with interesting things in his bike shorts, though: (candy wrappers, twigs, weeds, etc.). With my daughter, I decided I wanted to take her out by myself but was never comfortable with the seat so we bought a trailer (Burley Solo). I love it and so does she. She can have her books, a walkman and snacks in there with her and she's happy now (she's 2 1/2) for a couple of hours. It took a while to get to this point, though. 30 minutes used to be her max. So, be patient and carry lots of snacks!

Have fun
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Old 08-12-05, 08:05 PM   #24
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Congratulations on your new baby!

I have a four year old and a four month old.

I like the idea of a trailer, but always worried about it being so low. Aside from the visibility issue, there is the little one's proximity to car exhaust and hot pavement to consider.

I have made a hitch which replaces the front wheel of a jogging stroller and attaches to the bike. Between the rack-mounted seat and the jogger I can take two kids. Combined with a folding bike, I can put the whole business in the back of the car and avoid the use of an externally mounted car rack. The jogger is more visible than a trailer, and keeps her up out of the fumes and heat.

I feel confident towing the four-month-old now. I put her in the jogging stroller, outfitted with one of those horseshoe shaped padded head restraints to stabilize her head. When I have her in the stroller, I do restrict myself to bike paths that are not shared with cars, as she is a constant distraction and I turn to look at her or stop frequently.

I can't imagine why someone would need so desperately to feel "cool" that they would not use a kickstand. Compared to the extra little person you have with you, the weight penalty of the kickstand is moot. Here's another cred-shredder: a fender isn't a bad idea to keep your towed passenger from getting pelted with road debris.

Last edited by CaptainSpalding; 08-12-05 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 08-14-05, 02:14 PM   #25
caloso
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Captain Spalding:

It's not a coolness thing. God knows that as a minivan-driving, drool-wiping, diaper-changing dad, I'm waaaaaaaaay uncool. It's just that most roadbikes, particularly race bikes, don't come with kickstands. In the case of a carbon fiber bike like my Trek 5200, there just doesn't to be any way of safely installing one.

You can certainly pull a trailer with a race bike, but the lack of kickstand is one drawback in my experience.
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