I have 4 kids: almost 9 yo son, 7 yo son, 5 yo son and a 1 1/2 yo daughter. We were using a tandom (Trek T900, eldest as stroker) and a kid trailer (also a Trek). My kids are all on the lighter side (Dad's genes). My older two can ride without training wheels, but I wouldn't trust my 7 yo on his own. Both have single speed Trek bikes with coaster brakes (one is 20", the other 16").
I'd like to take trips up to 10 miles (total) - maybe more eventually. I'd also like to use the truck a LOT less (we are a one-car family, and my husband will have the truck most days this summer). I can get to anything I want within 5 miles of my home but that requires biking a steep hill, bridges and/or a 4 lane road. Most of the roads near my home are 2 lanes with no shoulders, ~35mph. Most drivers are nice (when I have the trailer anyway) but some are not.
We did a short test ride with my 7yo stroking and eldest on his bike. It went okay other than telling eldest to get back on the side of the road a few times and making drivers nervous. I also can't see my eldest when he is behind me, I assume a mirror will cure that? (My eldest is a good kid, but still gets distracted and doesn't always look to consequences.)
Sorry this is so long. Here is what I'm thinking of doing:
Option 1: buy a [good brand, used] geared bike for my eldest, work on safety skills and endurance.
Option 2: make a train by adding a trail-a-bike. I see the WeeRide one starts at $70 and my LBS has new Trek Mountain Trains around $200. I've been unable to find anything on the Burley. My concerns are brakes (v-brakes on tandem, coordinating braking with the TAB) and that the boys will probably outgrow the trailer soon (I could switch the younger 2 sons between the TAB and the trailer though - they are both light). I'd hope that having my eldest as stroker would get me a slight net gain on power. Also how do I lock something that big up?
Option 3: have my eldest stick with his current bike. It's been a long time since I've ridden a single speed, is that even fair to him? I'd want it to have a professional tune-up before we got far from the house (I bought it used).
I was planning to upgrade my eldest son's bike next year anyway, and I'll probably get a TAB eventually - either for my youngest son or when my daughter is old enough. I just can't afford much this year - but I need to do something so we can get out of the house sometimes!
Thoughts? Other options I haven't considered?