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  1. #1
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    Trailer bike? Trailer? Kiddo Bike Seat?

    First post....

    Which to get?

    I used to ride 100+ miles a week recreationally both with a mtn bike and road bike (back in my 20s). Then got married....wife started MTN riding w/me. Then....too busy at work...then kids....no time for staying in shape....you get the idea.....Will be making the lifestyle change to get back into it this year. Now self employed....more time....etc.

    Along the way.....Would love to have the little ones in the training mix w/me....throw in going to the park....maybe some longer distance rides (organized rides), etc., etc.

    This would be for a 2.5 year old (29lbs) and a 1 year old (18 lbs). Both little ladies. Mom has given me the OK to go with any option. Thinking of getting the Chariot Cougar 2 (went to LBS and the kiddos were already trying to climb into it). Or maybe just take one of them via a trail-a-bike or something like a Kettler seat?

    But....how long would any of the above be used? Will they get bored with a trailer? Seat? Trail-a-bike? What age range(s) for a trail a bike? Safety issues? I'm not really liking the the child seat option but willing to hear the pros.....

    The Chariot trailer option looks like I can have it all (necessities, snacks, drinks, etc.)....where as the others?

    Opinions and comments?

    Thanks Much!

    hartphoto

  2. #2
    A New Creation! Ritz's Avatar
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    Check out the set-up my three year old and I use: http://www.tourdepants.com
    "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the de@d , you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NIV

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  3. #3
    Now with racer-boy font! Moonshot's Avatar
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    I've had a bike trailer and now two trailer bikes.

    My kids grew too heavy for me to lug them uphill with the bike trailer when they were 4 and 6. At this age they were ready for trailer bikes.

    So, if you get a bike trailer I think you'll get several years out of it before the kids weigh you down too much. YMMV.

  4. #4
    Now with racer-boy font! Moonshot's Avatar
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    Oh, and I had a Kettler baby seat too. They are built well, aren't they?

    I think it was around age 3 when the oldest was making the bike too top heavy with that and so we went to the bike trailer.

  5. #5
    A New Creation! Ritz's Avatar
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    My Boy is still only topping the scales at 35 pounds, so we're cool for a while. I plan on getting the trailer bike as soon as he starts showing some interest. The "Kid" trailer will then be converted to cargo only with a couple of rubbermaid boxes I have.
    "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the de@d , you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NIV

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    I am in the same situation as you are. My kids are 3 and 2. We have been using a cheap trailer for more than a year and have been having lots of fun. A few months ago, my wife and I started getting more serious and got real road bikes (previously had a mountain bike and hybrids). The kids liked the trailer but it was not comfortable for rides over 12 miles. I resisted buying a nicer trailer for fear that my kids would outgrow it too fast. We looked at the trail-a-bikes this weekend and even at tandems but found my kids are not near ready for those yet. I broke down and bought the chariot caddie this weekend and went straight to the park to test it out. After 20 miles I can say I made the right choice. The kids did not complain (except "stop touching me") and they actually both fell asleep for the first time. For $230, I will get 2-3 more years of use and then will pass it down to someone else.

    I would definately say you could get plenty of use from a trailer before they are ready for anything more.

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hartphoto
    First post....

    Which to get?

    I used to ride 100+ miles a week recreationally both with a mtn bike and road bike (back in my 20s). Then got married....wife started MTN riding w/me. Then....too busy at work...then kids....no time for staying in shape....you get the idea.....Will be making the lifestyle change to get back into it this year. Now self employed....more time....etc.

    Along the way.....Would love to have the little ones in the training mix w/me....throw in going to the park....maybe some longer distance rides (organized rides), etc., etc.

    This would be for a 2.5 year old (29lbs) and a 1 year old (18 lbs). Both little ladies. Mom has given me the OK to go with any option. Thinking of getting the Chariot Cougar 2 (went to LBS and the kiddos were already trying to climb into it). Or maybe just take one of them via a trail-a-bike or something like a Kettler seat?

    But....how long would any of the above be used? Will they get bored with a trailer? Seat? Trail-a-bike? What age range(s) for a trail a bike? Safety issues? I'm not really liking the the child seat option but willing to hear the pros.....

    The Chariot trailer option looks like I can have it all (necessities, snacks, drinks, etc.)....where as the others?

    Opinions and comments?

    Thanks Much!

    hartphoto
    My kids are way past trailers but while they were small, I used a trailer to pull them all over Colorado. My oldest (now 19) rode in a trailer over Rabbit Ears Pass when she was 6 months old. The kid slept almost the whole way. She started riding in the trailer when she was only a month old! I did have a couple of advantages that you don't have in that my girls didn't top 30 lb before they were 5 and my kids are 5 years apart.

    Once they were past trailer age, which was at 4 years old for both, I put them on the back of tandems. I prefer the tandem to trail-a-bikes because the bike is more solid and the kids learn how to pedal better. They are also closer to you so you can talk without too much problem. You can also have water fights if you don't mind kid spit on your back With my tandems there is no coasting for the stoker when the captain is pedaling. I put clipless pedals on them and they learned how to get on and off the bike and clip themselves in.

    I pulled a trailer for a number of years with the older daughter on the tandem and the younger in a trailer. It made me enough slower that my wife could keep up with us. Without the trailer, the older kid and I were like a rocket! She is still the best stoker I've ever had! Smooth as silk and as powerful as a locamotive!

    Tandems are a bit more expensive than a single and a trail-a-bike but worth it in my opinion.

    Stuart Black

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    Thanks all for the feedback.

    Sounds like the trailer is the setup to go with for a few years. Just needed the verification from others that have 'BTDT' :-).

    We did buy the 2 year old a helmet while at the LBS for her to use on her tricycle (she's still a bit short-so I still use the pusher). She's been wanting to go 'bicycle' ever since.....

    Thanks again!

    hartphoto

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    excellent, I've been tossing up the same decision. I was told by one person that trailers got a lot of road noise and smoke because they are down low but it seems as though the benefits of them outweigh anything negative I've heard. Plus, the trailer will not be going on too many main roads, there's no way I would want to risk an accident with my kid in the trailer.

    How about helmets? At what age can they get a helmet that fits, my little girl is only 1. Do they make them that small?

  10. #10
    A New Creation! Ritz's Avatar
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    MICHAEL HAS HAD HIS HELMET AND BEEN RIDING IN HIS TRAILER SINCE HE WAS ONE. YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE SURE TO SECURE THEM WELL AND PAD THE HELMET PROPERLY. Oops, caps lock!
    "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the de@d , you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NIV

    VIVA LA PANTS!

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    Actually, finding helmets the right size is not difficult. I would suggest that you spend a little more for one that is adjustable. I saw one at our LBS for $29. I did not go that route and now have 3 helmets since my son outgrew the smallest one at 18 months. I did not listen when everyone told me they grow really fast.

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    When we were at the LBS, they had a very nice selection of infant & child helmets, Giro and others....even sizes down to our 1 year old. Our two year old however.....ended up with a Giro Women's 'Universal Fit' size. Only disappointment for her was that it didn't come in pink and all the neat 'girly' stickers. No biggie. We bought our own, and she felt all 'grown up' cause she got to pick the color (light blue) and put the stickers on herself.

    Everywhere I've seen says that even in a trailer....helmets required (we were going to do anyway)!

    It seems that the 'kiddo' default price is $29 at our area LBS's (Dallas/Fort Worth). $35 for the 'really' nice ones....

    hartphoto

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    My daughter is six, and she has been riding in our trailer for half her life. She loves the thing. It has the appeal od a little house on wheels. However, she is starting to indicate that she wants to try a trailer bike next summer.

    Paul

  14. #14
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Trailers are great for kids the age of your two. We briefly used a kid seat (really bad idea) and quickly moved to a Burley "Roo" trailer. Nice thing about the burleys is it was easy to attach to either my bike or my wife's, and if the bike tipped, the trailer remained upright. You want to make sure there's enough room to secure your younger child - you may want to use a smaller car seat for her to help her sit up.

    Pulling a trailer with kids isn't too bad - you WILL notice the added weight on climbs (think of how fast you'll be on your own) and allow more distance for stopping. Most people on the local bike trail (W&OD rail-trail) were considerate and gave us adequate room.

    We kept the trailer in good shape and got a good price for it when we sold it (new owner was going to haul his pair of Bishons to his job ata veternarian clinic the plastic pan was perfect for containing and cleaning up any messes)

    When our eldest outgrew the trailer, we bought an Adams trail-a-bike. A little harder to attach to the adult bike, and you could really feel the child when they leaned a bit but I got used to it. They were a bit put off at first about the speed of the pavement moving under them, but got used to it, too. AND they would even help Dad pedal on occasion. My kids have outgrown that one, and I was able to sell it for a significant fraction of what we paid for it. Good trailers and trail-a-bikes seem to hold their value.

    I once saw a dad and son finishing a bike tour on a MTB plus trail-a-bike combo. Kid had his own panniers and handlebar bag and looked like he was having way too much fun as 'stoker".

  15. #15
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    cool, time to go shopping !!

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    I was thinking of getting a trailer bike for my five year old but have never actually looked at one first hand. How exactly do they work? I mean if the child does want to pedal does he/she have to maintain the adult's speed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdnguy
    I was thinking of getting a trailer bike for my five year old but have never actually looked at one first hand. How exactly do they work? I mean if the child does want to pedal does he/she have to maintain the adult's speed?
    The trailer bikes are basically a kids bike with no front wheel - the front of the frame extends with a large arm that attaches to the seatpost of the parent's bike. The child can pedal independent of the parent (unlike a tandem). I pull my daughter on a trailer bike - sometimes she feels like pedalling, sometimes she doesn't - it doesn't matter, i just keep motoring on.

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red2000SS
    The trailer bikes are basically a kids bike with no front wheel - the front of the frame extends with a large arm that attaches to the seatpost of the parent's bike. The child can pedal independent of the parent (unlike a tandem). I pull my daughter on a trailer bike - sometimes she feels like pedalling, sometimes she doesn't - it doesn't matter, i just keep motoring on.
    Whenever I see a trailer bike going down the road, it seems to me that the kids are always leaning way over to one side. Considering where the bike attaches to the adult bike, I'd think that this would have some negative effects on handling. Is this true?

    A tandem on the other hand is a more rigid structure. If I were doing long rides (have done 80 to 100 miles), I would prefer the tandem. Having kids pedal with the adult isn't that much of a problem because they just let their feet go 'round if they get tired. But if they get up and honk on the pedals, it can feel like you have an afterburner!

    Stuart Black

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    I too am interested in a trailer bike for my 4 yr. old. What is the difference in the cheaper vs. more expensive trailer bikes. The Instep trailer bike is $80 on the Target website. Do you think it's any good?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Whenever I see a trailer bike going down the road, it seems to me that the kids are always leaning way over to one side. Considering where the bike attaches to the adult bike, I'd think that this would have some negative effects on handling. Is this true?

    A tandem on the other hand is a more rigid structure. If I were doing long rides (have done 80 to 100 miles), I would prefer the tandem. Having kids pedal with the adult isn't that much of a problem because they just let their feet go 'round if they get tired. But if they get up and honk on the pedals, it can feel like you have an afterburner!

    Stuart Black
    Well, a kid can lean way over on a tandem also, but I suspect a tandem is more stable with a kid with marginal balance / riding skills. My 6 year old daughter can't ride her own bike without training wheels yet, but loves to do shorter rallies with me on the trailer bike. I can definately feel it when she decides to go "supersonic" - basically when she decides to pedal hard. Typically this is a *small* portion of the ride LOL... I don't think stability is a huge issue - yes it feels wierd at first, on a trailer bike - you are limited to pulling smaller kids - I think mine is only rated for 80lbs or so. You could ride with a much larger kid on a tandem. So even though my daughter daughter doesn't have great balance yet and does all sorts of gyrations basically trying to make me wreck (not on purpose) - I still outweigh her by 180 lbs so I can easily muscle the bike on a straight path... As she gets bigger / heavier I expect her balance to improve such that it would be easier to pull her.

    80 - 100 miles pulling a trailer / tandem with your young child is CRAZY - maybe with an older kid on a tandem. I find about 20 miles is just about right. We have done a 30 mile rally, but that is about as far as I would take my daugher. Kids like to have fun - sitting on a trailer bike or tandem for 80 - 100 miles is not fun for a child. Come to think of it - it's not fun for me either... The longest ride I have done is 64 miles and I was basically in need of medical attention at the end... LOL

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red2000SS
    Well, a kid can lean way over on a tandem also, but I suspect a tandem is more stable with a kid with marginal balance / riding skills. My 6 year old daughter can't ride her own bike without training wheels yet, but loves to do shorter rallies with me on the trailer bike. I can definately feel it when she decides to go "supersonic" - basically when she decides to pedal hard. Typically this is a *small* portion of the ride LOL... I don't think stability is a huge issue - yes it feels wierd at first, on a trailer bike - you are limited to pulling smaller kids - I think mine is only rated for 80lbs or so. You could ride with a much larger kid on a tandem. So even though my daughter daughter doesn't have great balance yet and does all sorts of gyrations basically trying to make me wreck (not on purpose) - I still outweigh her by 180 lbs so I can easily muscle the bike on a straight path... As she gets bigger / heavier I expect her balance to improve such that it would be easier to pull her.

    80 - 100 miles pulling a trailer / tandem with your young child is CRAZY - maybe with an older kid on a tandem. I find about 20 miles is just about right. We have done a 30 mile rally, but that is about as far as I would take my daugher. Kids like to have fun - sitting on a trailer bike or tandem for 80 - 100 miles is not fun for a child. Come to think of it - it's not fun for me either... The longest ride I have done is 64 miles and I was basically in need of medical attention at the end... LOL
    I know that kids can lean over on a tandem but what I have seen with the trailer bikes is not just the kid but the whole rear assembly - kid, bike and all. It's not all the time but I see it on a regular basis. It may be the cheaper knock-offs rather than a good trailer bike. I know how much my kids could affect the handling of a tandem with me (a big guy) on the front, I couldn't imagine going more than a block with the set-ups I've seen out there.

    Actually, 80 to 100 miles with a child isn't all that bad. I did an MS-150 once when my daughter was 6. The first day we did 80 miles in brutal heat and she was fresher at the end of the day than I was. We did a full century when she was 8 and she still talks about it (she's 19 now). You can't pound that kind of mileage down like you would on a single (Centuries typically take me 5 to 8 hours depending on the terrain) but if you keep plugging it goes by pretty quickly and your kids have more fun than you'd think.

    You also can't just go out and do 100 miles when ever you like. You do have to build up to it. That time is time well spent. You are out with your kids, you're doing stuff together and you are seeing things you might never see otherwise. Watching a calf being born in Kansas is one of the highlights of my children's childhood. Just the stories my kids would tell me while riding made me much closer to them than I ever was to my own father.

    Stuart Black

  22. #22
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    A agree with Cyccommute on the ability of children to do long rides. Just like adults, they need to be trained, to develop their bicycling skills, to toughen their rear end, etc. I have had successively an Addams Trail-a-Bike, a Piccolo trailercycle and now a Co-Motion tandem. No Alleycat, though.

    The Trail-a-Bike attaches to the seatpost of the tractor bicycle. The major problem I found with it is that the universal joint developped some play over time. WHile the trailercycle was quite stable at the beginning, it could wobble by 5-10 degrees when I abandoned it one year and 1800 km later.
    My Trail-a-Bike was the single-gear model, and I think the gearing was way too high to be useful. I should have changed the cog for one that was 4-6 teeth larger.

    By comparison, the Burley Piccolo attaches to a special rack, and the hinge is vertically in line with the rear wheel axis. As a result, wiggling actions by the child don't affect the tractor bike as much. Another strong point is that the articulation uses a ball-bearing system: like a headset and bottom bracket assembly, so it doesn't develop play over time.

    One difference between a trailerycle and a tandem is that the child doesn't need to pedal all the time. There may be good and bad points about it, but I think that at a young age, it's a good idea to let the child coast at times. With my eldest, I noticed she learned gradually the skills. The first rides we did on the Piccolo (at 5 y.o.), she didn't shift; then she played with the shifter, then she tried to find an appropriate gear, then she tried to spin more or less in the same gear as I did.

    As for the tandem, it's even more stable. Since the kid-stoker doesn't need to touch ground while pedalling, it is possible for a 7-8 year old child to use a small tandem with crank shorteners. When we got the Co-Motion (23"-18" size), MBS Tandems installed a rear seatpost that allowed the saddle to be slightly closer to the seatclamp, and I installed the pedals on 125-mm arms. A few months later, I extended the pedals to a 135-mm circle, similar to what she has on her single.
    In terms of stability, the tandem is light-years ahead of the bicycle + Piccolo, which is light-years ahead of the bicycle + Trail-a-Bike. And since my stoker was already used to cycling a lot with me, including pacing herself to my rythm, the learning curve wasn't too bad.

    In terms of distance, the longest I could ride with my then 4-year-old child was 80-90 km; her maximum distance per day hasn't increased too much over the years, but she actually cycles all of it. I am sure we could ride more than that in a day, but almost all our rides occur around Montréal, which means lots of red lights, stop signs and the like.

    BTW, now that the eldest rides on the tandem, the youngest uses the Piccolo. She is 4 and hasn't found any use for gears yet, so I have blocked it around mid gear.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  23. #23
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    A agree with Cyccommute on the ability of children to do long rides. Just like adults, they need to be trained, to develop their bicycling skills, to toughen their rear end, etc. I have had successively an Addams Trail-a-Bike, a Piccolo trailercycle and now a Co-Motion tandem. No Alleycat, though.

    As for the tandem, it's even more stable. Since the kid-stoker doesn't need to touch ground while pedalling, it is possible for a 7-8 year old child to use a small tandem with crank shorteners. When we got the Co-Motion (23"-18" size), MBS Tandems installed a rear seatpost that allowed the saddle to be slightly closer to the seatclamp, and I installed the pedals on 125-mm arms. A few months later, I extended the pedals to a 135-mm circle, similar to what she has on her single.
    In terms of stability, the tandem is light-years ahead of the bicycle + Piccolo, which is light-years ahead of the bicycle + Trail-a-Bike. And since my stoker was already used to cycling a lot with me, including pacing herself to my rythm, the learning curve wasn't too bad.

    In terms of distance, the longest I could ride with my then 4-year-old child was 80-90 km; her maximum distance per day hasn't increased too much over the years, but she actually cycles all of it. I am sure we could ride more than that in a day, but almost all our rides occur around Montréal, which means lots of red lights, stop signs and the like.

    BTW, now that the eldest rides on the tandem, the youngest uses the Piccolo. She is 4 and hasn't found any use for gears yet, so I have blocked it around mid gear.
    Just wait until your kids have grown some. They turn into the best stokers you could possibly want. (Much better than a spouse!) Smooth and powerful.

    Stuart Black

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    I know. My oldest is 8 and she is great! And all the time except maybe in her first year (at 4), she was very stable.

    The youngest is not yet as stable. But she has less experience, has only been riding the Pïccolo rather than a Trail-a-Bike (so I have less reasons to complain), and because we ride with a tandem + Piccolo, she is further away from me.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  25. #25
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    I know. My oldest is 8 and she is great! And all the time except maybe in her first year (at 4), she was very stable.

    The youngest is not yet as stable. But she has less experience, has only been riding the Pïccolo rather than a Trail-a-Bike (so I have less reasons to complain), and because we ride with a tandem + Piccolo, she is further away from me.
    My oldest is 19 and we can flat out fly! She's not to bad on her own bike either.

    Good luck and enjoy!

    Stuart Black

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