I used to ride a lot on a road bike (Cannondale CAAD 10) and previously hybrids (Trek), but have not been on a bike in 2 years. I want to buy a bike and a seat that I can use to go on casual rides with my 15 month old. I would like to be able to use the bike with and without the seat.
Seat : choice of a rear seat, front seat, or trailer. My objectives are safety, comfort, ability for child to fall asleep and be safe/comfortable. Since I am in NYC and space is tight, trailer may the worst option. If you ride in NYC with little children, I'd love to hear your opinions.
Bike: Steel frame touring, hybrid or road bike. Bike paths and roads are terrible in NYC in general so I want something with a long wheel base that is sturdy/steady (with and without a load), ability to add a child seat easily, fatter tires than skinny performance road tires, non-aggressive geometry to put less strain on my wrists (I have wrist issues), prefer not to have flat handles bars but also definitely not ultra low drop bars (again due to wrist issues). Some bikes I am looking at are Surly LHT, Surly Cross Check, REI Novara Safari Bike, MASI CX/ CX Comp/ Strada, Bianchi Brava. I expect to spend $500-$1000 on a bike, new or used. I would like to come up with a short list of possibly bikes and go to a couple of stores and buy the bike after trying them out for comfort. Any opinions on bikes that could fit my needs greatly appreciated.
I would *not* do a trailer here in NY. I used to have a Topeak seat like this: TopeakŪ Cycling Accessories ? Products - BabySeat? II , though an older model. Fortunately, kids grew up <grin>. These are well built and easily detatchable. You have very good control on the bike with this. Don't skimp on most precious cargo, which seems to get heavier every week, btw.
Don't live in NY, but had some of the same questions. We ended up going with the Co Rider seat for our daughter. It mounts on the top tube up by the headset. The bracket is a bit of a pain to take on and off, so I left it on all the time but removed/installed the seat several times when she didn't go with me. We chose this because our daughter was In Front of me between my arms so I could more easily keep an eye on her and was able to control her if I had to (never did though). Another huge benefit in my mind was that she had an unobstructed view while riding. She LOVED it and it was extremely easy to talk with her while riding. I think it's much easier and safer for her to turn around and talk to me than me turning to talk to her. The seat came with grips that attached to my handlebar for her to hold on to and feel as though she was steering too. ALOT of people argue against the front mounted seats but I never experienced any of the things others were citing as the inherent dangers of that mounting position.
I used a mid 90's Cro Mo framed mt bike as my bike. Put fenders on it and changed out the stem for a more upright riding position. I recently put skinnier higher pressure tires on it and moved to a tag a long bike as my daughter has now outgrown the child's seat and has more interest in pedaling and going "faster".
Good luck with whatever you choose. So far, I think this has been our best recreational quality time activity and I honestly think it was due to the intimacy of her being "the front of the line" and the first to experience what was going on around us while being securely between my arms. She noticed LOTS of things and had a lot of questions (bike trails through green belts and woods) and it was very easy for us to talk about those things "secretly" just between her and I.
I love my Bobike Mini with the handlebar and windscreen. If you think lots of sleeping is a possibility, I would check out the Yepp Mini with the Sleeproll. Both of these allow for putting the seat off and on in about 30 seconds. I personally didn't like the angle of the Yepp--I felt like it angled back too much and impinged on my cockpit space, but I know lots of other people who are very happy with the Yepp Mini. I believe Adeline Adeline carries both of them in store. Unless your child is abnormally large, you should get about 2 years of use out of either seat before it would be outgrown and they have decent resale value. The iBert is less expensive, but it doesn't offer any good sleeping option, is likely to be outgrown by length before your child is very old, and isn't as comfortable because of the low back.
You will get more longevity with a rear seat, but I think you lose out on a lot of the interactive experience. Another thing to think of with a rear seat is that the road noise may make it hard to hear your little one.
The Topeak Seat is a nice rear seat option, especially the newer one that is compatible with all of the Topeak MTX accessories (trunk bag, basket, etc.). The Yepp Maxi or Bobike Maxi are also good options and, depending on your frame geometry, may allow for mounting of a standard rack below the seat.