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Old 03-14-07, 10:21 AM   #1
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tandem + trailercycle + trailer -OR- tandem + child carrier + trailer

It seems like every year we have a new family cycling challenge as our kids get older and our family grows. We have three kids ages one, two and four. Our youngest is big enough to ride in a trailer or in a child carrier and our oldest is big enough for a trailercycle but small enough for the trailer (barely). We went for our first ride of the year last week, my wife pulling a trailercycle with my oldest and me pulling a trailer with the other two. It worked great and everyone had a blast!

Enter the Tandem:
I bought an old Schwinn tandem last night for $50! My question is, how will a tandem pulling a trailercycle pulling a trailer work out? Will it handle dangerously? Will the weight be too much for the seat post/seat tube to handle? Would I be better off using a carrier for the little one with the two older girls in the trailer? I'm not sure my four-year-old is going to want to go back to the trailer now that she's been on the trailercycle and she'll outgrow it soon anyway. For now I'll have to do it with a carrier and the trailer because the trailer cycle bracket is too big for the tandem seat post, but I can make a shim or something if you good folks think it will work out.

And before you say TTIWWP, here you go:
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Old 03-14-07, 07:33 PM   #2
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Hey kemmer, nice pick up on that tandem - what a bargain! I can see the potential in her with just a little TLC she'll be a beauty!

I haven't pulled the trail-a-bike with a tandem but as an engineer I'd say that it would make a better tow vehichle than a regular bike. You have a longer wheelbase and greater tow vehichle-to-trailer mass ratio, both factors make a positive contribution to stability.

My tribe is the same age as yours and I currently pull the 4yo on the trail-a-bike, the 2yo and 1yo ride in the Phillips Kiddicarrier hitched to the trail-a-bike. The wife rides her bike with the cargo trailer (packed picnic, groceries, etc.). Towing with my Surly LHT is a little more stable than with my old Giant road bike which I'm sure is due to the longer wheelbase and more relaxed steering geometry on the Surly.

I'm keeping an eye out for a tandem just like yours for when the 4yo outgrows the trail-a-bike and the 2yo outgrows the trailer.
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Old 03-14-07, 08:31 PM   #3
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I would opt for the trailercycle, trailer combo. The baby seats are nice but they really move your Center of Gravity up. Plus I think the child will outgrow a seat before a trailer and as the child gets bigger the handling effect becomes more pronounced in the seat.

With the trailer, as the weight increases it just feels like you are pulling more. I prefer the weight to be in a trailer rather than a seat.

The bike should be able to handle it. Your problems will be that your tandem is a single speed. With all that weight you will wish for gears on any sort of rise. Secondly, your stoker will need to expose enough seatpost for the trailercycle to hook to the post. If there is not enough room, you could use the Burley Piccolo trailercycle. It hooks to the lead cycle via a special rear rack. I can't tell clearly from your picture but it looks like you have eyelets on your rear dropouts that a rack could mount to.

Enjoy getting out with the family with this improving weather!

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Old 03-14-07, 09:11 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info guys! We took the bike out for a 3 mile ride/picnic tonight . We used a child carrier and trailer and it worked great. The bike was much more stable than I expected and it was more work than I expected. Everyone had a blast and by the time we got home 2 out of 3 kids were asleep. After reading your comments and trying the child carrier, I'm even more convinced that I want to use the trailercycle. I'll try and figure out something on saturday, thanks!
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Old 03-15-07, 03:48 AM   #5
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Those child carrier seats that sit on your rack or top tube just scare the hell out of me. Its a loooong way down for that kid, even if tipping over when standing still.
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Old 03-15-07, 09:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Those child carrier seats that sit on your rack or top tube just scare the hell out of me. Its a loooong way down for that kid, even if tipping over when standing still.
Agreed, we only used ours a few times before we bought a trailer. It's much more stable on the tandem, but still, like you said it's a long way down. I read somewhere that the average force on a motorcyclists head in a crash is the same as tipping over.
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Old 03-15-07, 01:13 PM   #7
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Tandem + Trailercycle + Trailer? I hope it's flat where you are! I can barely get myself + one child on a trailercycle up these hills.
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Old 03-16-07, 06:55 AM   #8
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masiman, that train you are pulling in your picture is incredible. Hopefullt you oldest daughter gives you some help pulling it.

I never thought of hitching our trailer to the trailercycle. I will have to try yhis when my wife can't make it on a ride, because I can still get the 2 youngest in the trailer and keep it under the 100 lb wight limit . I am sure the kids will like the change of routine.
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Old 03-16-07, 07:40 AM   #9
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, that is not my train. I currently only have a tandem plus trailer. I will shortly add a trail-a-bike to the configuration.

I actually thought the setup in the picture was a waste. There is only 1 child per trailer. I guess they are packing alot of stuff and the dad wanted them to have a place to lay down and sleep.

I'll see if I can get a pic of our setup after we get the trail-a-bike and the weather warms up. I do hope the trailer will attach nicely to the trail-a-bike.
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Old 03-16-07, 10:06 AM   #10
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I have a friend in Merry Olde England that on family outings rides a Triple with a tandem trailerbike (Custom) and a child trailer behind everything else......

It looks like a Semi going down the road! Then again, he rides with his wive, 4 sons and 2 toddler daughters. It's essentially a peloton connected into one bike! The biggest problem he has is negotiating some of the tighter turns out in the little villages out in the countryside!
Quote:
Originally Posted by kemmer
It seems like every year we have a new family cycling challenge as our kids get older and our family grows. We have three kids ages one, two and four. Our youngest is big enough to ride in a trailer or in a child carrier and our oldest is big enough for a trailercycle but small enough for the trailer (barely). We went for our first ride of the year last week, my wife pulling a trailercycle with my oldest and me pulling a trailer with the other two. It worked great and everyone had a blast!

Enter the Tandem:
I bought an old Schwinn tandem last night for $50! My question is, how will a tandem pulling a trailercycle pulling a trailer work out? Will it handle dangerously? Will the weight be too much for the seat post/seat tube to handle? Would I be better off using a carrier for the little one with the two older girls in the trailer? I'm not sure my four-year-old is going to want to go back to the trailer now that she's been on the trailercycle and she'll outgrow it soon anyway. For now I'll have to do it with a carrier and the trailer because the trailer cycle bracket is too big for the tandem seat post, but I can make a shim or something if you good folks think it will work out.

And before you say TTIWWP, here you go:
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Old 03-16-07, 11:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
I have a friend in Merry Olde England that on family outings rides a Triple with a tandem trailerbike (Custom) and a child trailer behind everything else......

It looks like a Semi going down the road! Then again, he rides with his wive, 4 sons and 2 toddler daughters. It's essentially a peloton connected into one bike! The biggest problem he has is negotiating some of the tighter turns out in the little villages out in the countryside!
You better post a picture of that...
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Old 03-16-07, 11:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
I have a friend in Merry Olde England that on family outings rides a Triple with a tandem trailerbike (Custom) and a child trailer behind everything else......

It looks like a Semi going down the road! Then again, he rides with his wive, 4 sons and 2 toddler daughters. It's essentially a peloton connected into one bike! The biggest problem he has is negotiating some of the tighter turns out in the little villages out in the countryside!
He's short one seat to get everyone on, 2 adults + 4 boys + 2 girls = 8. He has 3(triplet) + 2(tandem trailerbike) + 2(trailer) = 7.

I would like to see a picture of that too! Must be heck on hills. I wonder how the brakes do with all that weight to stop.
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Old 03-16-07, 09:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masiman
He's short one seat to get everyone on, 2 adults + 4 boys + 2 girls = 8. He has 3(triplet) + 2(tandem trailerbike) + 2(trailer) = 7.

I would like to see a picture of that too! Must be heck on hills. I wonder how the brakes do with all that weight to stop.
It's a sight! Here he is with the wife and three of the kids, no third unit and it's still long!
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Old 03-18-07, 11:34 PM   #14
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"Give me forty acres and I'll turn this rig around.
"Give me forty acres, it's the easiest way I've found.
"Some guys can turn it on a dime or turn it right downtown,
"But I need forty acres to turn this rig around."




I rode the tandem + trailer cycle + trailer set up to a friends house yesterday. He's a big schwinn collector and he has 5 speed drum brake rear wheel from a Schwinn heavy duty and I'm going to convert it to 5 speed. He also hooked me up with some new seats and a long seat post so I can get a little better insertion in the rear to provide a little more support for that heavy load.
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Old 03-19-07, 06:47 AM   #15
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Very cool. I'm glad everything hooked up okay. That definitely looks like a leisurely ride about the park setup. The oldest looks so proud of herself pulling the littler ones. I'm going to save a copy of those pics! When my trail-a-bike arrives soon it should look like that too. My connections are slightly different so I hope it can all work out.

For the oldest (and the two of you somewhat), make sure her pants and shoelaces are secured so that they do not get caught in the chain. She has on strap shoes but her pant leg has potential to get caught.
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Old 03-19-07, 07:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by masiman

For the oldest (and the two of you somewhat), make sure her pants and shoelaces are secured so that they do not get caught in the chain. She has on strap shoes but her pant leg has potential to get caught.
Good call. I'm hoping to rig up some kind of chainguard for the trailerbike, but for now it's got a bash guard type thing to help with that. I also need to get her a pair of gloves, I'd hate for her to have a bad experience that a simple pair of gloves could have prevented.

I need to get white wall tires for the trailer and trailer cycle too
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Old 03-19-07, 09:07 AM   #17
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I was thinking that the white walls on the tandem made it look sharp.

If that is the mom with you on the bike, tell her she looks great for 3 kids.

You'll appreciate the 5 speeds more than most, lol.
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Old 03-20-07, 05:53 AM   #18
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Agreed , the white walls are cool !

How much room do you need to turn that rig around , can it be done a normal 2 lane side street ?
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Old 03-20-07, 04:47 PM   #19
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Agreed , the white walls are cool !

How much room do you need to turn that rig around , can it be done a normal 2 lane side street ?

I was able to turn around on the street in the picture, but only barely. I like the white walls too, but the mis-matched tires on the whole set up looks ghetto. (one white + one gum wall + one redline + two whitewalls)
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Old 08-01-08, 05:57 AM   #20
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I probably shouldn't... but I use my back carrier obi belt ( see here www.obi-baby-carrier.com ) with my little one on my back on my big bike for short distances.
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Old 08-01-08, 03:18 PM   #21
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I would not worry about it too much. I rode with my 4 year old in child carrier for a 10 mile ride. Because of the size and the backpack carrier size I could not wear a helmet because I could not lift my head to see with the helmet on. The carrier is like this one from Kelty. It is made more for a kid up to ~3 on average (mine was almost 10lbs over the 40lb limit) but it did okay. My kid did not like being in it at first but had a blast when all was said and done.

You can carry with the front carriers too but they are more awkward, you really need a more upright position to ride comfortably with the front carriers for longer distances.
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