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  1. #1
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    Best infant/toddler seat/trailer - HELP!

    Hi,

    Well, it's been TWO years since having been on the bike (and the forum!) - firstly I became pregnant with our first, and then having a baby without family nearby to babysit caused the long drought! BUT finally our little girl is 15 months old and we feel comfortable to take her along for the ride ....

    SO my VERY big question to you, seeking your greatly experienced and awesome advice is:

    WHAT is the best mode of accessory/transportation to have her join the ride with us: A bicycle trailer or a bicycle child carrier seat - and if so, which model would you recommend and why?

    We own a DaVinci In-2-ition.

    We've done a little bit of research but the deeper we dig into trying to find the right gear, the more confused and at a loss we are.

    The advantage of the trailers are that when (long ways down the road!) the second baby arrives, we have a piece of (expensive!) equipment which will be used by both, as double trailer options are available, plus many of them have the stroller and jogging stroller option ... but that's of course not the main reason for buying it, the down side is the fact that adding a trailer makes our bike-train even longer ... does this pose a safety hazard?

    The advantage of the child carrier seat is that we are not extending our train to be much longer, but the downside seems to be that most of these seats are pretty wobbly?

    The models we've looked into seems that either the Burley D'Lite or Bee for a trailer, or the Kettler Flipper Child Seat Carrier are possible options.

    What do the experienced folks recommend between the trailer or the seat carrier for a tandem, and which model/brand? (Please consider ease of use for biking and safety for the kid)

    Thank you in advance for any and all feedback - GREATLY appreciated, and welcome back to us to the BIKE world!!

    Yeah!

    Regards!

  2. #2
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    What sold me on a trailer was that with a seat, if you crash, the baby crashes with you. I got a trailer, and though you look like a freight train going down the road, the baby is belted in and will stay upright if you go down. Get something with ball bearing hubs, a guard system that prevents you from catching a tree or sign post between the wheels and the trailer and a good hitching system that rotates 360 degrees. Also, very important is seat belts! A trailer will usually have a cargo area in the back. The last advantage to a trailer is that after the children have grown, you can use it to tour!

  3. #3
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    We have a bike seat which we carry our 3 yr old in. He has used it since he was 6 months old and is now getting toward the upper size limit. We also have a Cannondale trailer which we use sometimes.
    I find the seat preferable as it doesn't slow the bike down so much, or add to the length and width like a trailer does. The child can also see more and is easier to talk to in a seat.
    Also you may find that by the time your second child arrives the first one is too big to fit in the trailer with the second. When required we carry our 3 yr old in the seat and our 6 yr old in the trailer. You certainly don't get anywhere fast but at least you can still get out for a ride.
    We don't find the seat too wobbly and it has served us very well with all of our 5 children having used it. I am fairly sure it was made by Blackburn.

  4. #4
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    I'm not a big fan of baby seats for single bikes, but I think they work better on a tandem. The stoker could conceivably hold the bike upright while the captain loads the baby. Also, I'm worried about hurting the baby by flipping the bike over the handlebars in a crash, but I don't think that tandems tend to crash that way. Plus, the baby seat keeps the length of the bike down, and it's more social for the baby.

    However, baby seats are outgrown faster than trailers.

    I have a Topeak Babysitter baby seat on my tandem (it is outgrown, though, so it's going to be replaced presently with a Piccolo). I highly recommend the Babysitter. It is made to quickly release from a special rack. The special rack mounts to rack eyelets.
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  5. #5
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    I'd go for the cart. Our start in tandems was to do rides with the cart pulling our two sons.

    When you ride with a child, it isn't as much a ride as an outing. You'll probably go somewhere, lets say a park, of interest to the child. The bike seat isn't stable. You can't lean up the bike and walk away with the child in it. No, if you get off the bike, the child has to be taken out immediately. With a cart, the child is safely ensconced in the cart when you stop. His stuff is in there. If he is sleeping (which often happens), there is no need to disturb him. Later, he will get in and out of the cart on his own.

    Yeah, the tandem/cart is long, but your captain will manage and adjust. The safety has to go with the cart.

    The cart detaches, and makes for a stroller as well. This adds to the outing potential, for example, a ride to the zoo.

    When your second child arrives you'll need a cart anyway. In fact, once you get a cart you'll think about how nicely the second child will fit in there.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Stray8's Avatar
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    I used a child seat (the type that is installed on top of rear rack) and it served pretty well on a single bike for kids up to about 40 pounds. Like this:




    41C14YESX4L._AA400_.jpg

    There is a newer type that seats them in front of you with a crash deflector guard type of thing which I think would be better since you can monitor the kid without mirrors or turning around. Like this:



    41kpe-APZPL._AA400_.jpg

    But these may not fit on a tandem.


    I never pulled a trailer so I don't know about them. I think that the type of riding you do should factor into whatever type you choose.


    Here's Consumer Reports advice:

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    Don't buy a bicycle trailer or a bicycle-mounted seat until your baby is at least 1 year old. We don't recommend bicycle trailers and bicycle-mounted seats for children younger than that because they may not be physically equipped to withstand the forces they'll be exposed to when riding in a bicycle seat or trailer. And when they're younger than age 1, they can't support their head properly with a helmet on, which all riders should wear.

    Choose based on your needs, riding ability, and where you are riding. Trailers are "off-road vehicles"; use them only in parks and on safe, smooth trails where there's no risk of encounters with cars. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the maximum weight, which is usually up to 100 pounds.

    The better bicycle trailers have sturdy construction, tinted windows, a comfortable interior, and a wide wheel base. But before you buy, ask yourself if you will use the trailer enough to justify the price. If you think you'll use it only occasionally, buy the most durable trailer you can find at the low-end price. Also, consider how much weight you'll tow. If the weight of the bicycle trailer plus the passenger or passengers exceeds 50 pounds, you may start to feel like a beast of burden. Pedaling uphill can be especially difficult. At that point, maybe it's time for riders to get their own bikes.

    Take your cycling ability into consideration. If you opt for a bicycle-mounted seat, you might find a rear-mounted seat with a child in tow unnerving and exhausting to operate. If you're a novice or not in top shape, you'd probably be better off with a front-mounted seat. If you go with a bicycle trailer, ride with only one child at a time if you're an infrequent rider. Finally, have your child wear a lightweight, well-fitting bike helmet, and never leave a child in the seat with the bike on the kick stand, which isn't made to support the weight.
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/b...hildren-ov.htm
    Last edited by Stray8; 03-31-10 at 10:55 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    When we got a trailer (something like 20 years ago), the guy in the bike shop said that these were easier on the kid's spine than child seats. I don't know whether he was just trying to sell trailers. One thing that it does offer in that line is if you've got a kid that's threatening to fall asleep, you can put more padding/cushions around them than you could in a child seat (and yes they'll fall asleep there too).

    At one time (pre-tandem) we had a tag-along with the trailer in tow. We called it "pentacycling".

    Who-ever wrote the consumers reports article claiming trailers are only for off-road is full of it. The Burley we got (hey, I already dated myself) came with a flag for extra visibility, and was designed to ride slightly off-center so that the left edge of the trailer was about even with the left edge of the handlebar. In fact, all of our experience with traffic was that we got more courtesy from drivers when pulling the trailer than when solo. They can't pretend they don't see it, and they naturally assume there's precious cargo within (even when we pull it these days with two tanks of propane instead of the (now grown up) kids.

    I wouldn't take it where traffic is particularly heavy and dense, but then I'd rather not go there anyhow. A trailer is actually worse in some off-road situations, like multi-use paths that aren't built to national standards, and therefore more suitable for two bikes (sans trailers) to pass, or one bike and single file pedestrians. And some of these places have posts to negotiate to get on and off the trail from the road. Although there are some single-wheeled trailers that might be no wider than the bike (but then it's a limit of one occupant).
    Last edited by WebsterBikeMan; 03-31-10 at 12:01 PM. Reason: grammar police

  8. #8
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    I don't have kids, but what we have used in the past is our Bob Yak trailer. Take the bag out, and the child seat fits into the trailer frame. It worked perfectly. The trailer option looks to me far safer for the child. The stoker can get some great moving pictures. Sure it is longer and limits your turning, but no penalty for just a stroll through the neighborhood.

  9. #9
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    I'm for trailers.

    Seats and trailers have their pro's and con's as mentioned above.

    I can only offer a different opinion about fitting kids in the trailer. On longer rides we have the older kids swap in and out of the trailer seat so they can get a break. We can fit a 35lb and 80lb kid in the trailer. It is a little tight for the 80#'er but they do appreciate the break.

    I'd recommend that if you go for a trailer get a 2 seater and get the larger one if there is a choice. The width only comes into play on some MUP's and I guess if you use it as a stroller. Otherwise the extra inch or two in width can make a big difference in comfort.

    Cadillac trailers would be Chariot, Burley, Wike and Cycletote. There are others but I have not seen or read much about them such as Equinox. You'll pay $400 plus, probably more like $600 for these. They each have various features and strongpoints. If you want the more cupholder style of trailer, then it will be Burley or Chariot. I think Chariot has the nicest finish, but you'll really pay for that. In the austere specialty market is Wike and Cycletote. They offer things like cargo conversion, larger wheels, trailer brakes, special needs (handicapped adults), dog, etc. options.

    Burley and Chariot do much better with the baby and comfort accessories, like helmet pockets and reclining. The specialty trailers offer more customizations for the extremes. We've been in our specialty trailer for ~11 years now. With the second set of side panels and a couple extra hitches later, it should last us another 10-20 years. All the kids should be through it in a few more years and then it will become a cargo trailer with the conversion kit.

    Kettler makes good stuff and I imagine Top Peak does also for seats. For really young kids the front mounted child seats are a great option IMO. Bobike and Ibert are two manuf. that I know of, there are probably others. They work well with smaller kids. I think the weight limit is 40# with them. Reach around and leg clearance could be an issue for smaller parents.

    Good luck, any of the options available will let you ride comfortably and safely with your child.

  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    I'd definitely go Trailer.

    1) If the bike goes over, the trailer likely stays upright. (We have personal experiencee to vouch for this.)

    2) If you do crash, the kid's head has a lot farther to fall from the child seat.

    3) the trailer provides a bit of a roll cage.

    4) Cars give trailers a wide berth.

    5) you can stuff the trailer with toys, blankets, pillows stuffed animals, bottles, snacks, music boxes, etc.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  11. #11
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    We adopted about 7 years ago. Since we were pretty sure that number 2 was not going to arrive, I had my LBS order for me a Trek Rocket. It was a single seater trailer that was very light. Once the little one could hold his head up with a helmet, we started to get out again. It was a hit or miss proposition, as we never n=knew how he would be. It still sucked pulling that extra weight, but what options do you have? Never really felt comfortable or even gave a thought to putting a seat on the bike. High weight and more potential for him to get hurt or cause issues if they shifted weight. More protection in the trailer. Now we have a triplet!

  12. #12
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stray8 View Post
    This is why I never rely on Consumer Reports. At best CR's advice is not applicable to enthusiasts. At worst, it's clueless. In about every circumstance where I have personal experience,or have done substantial research I disagree with CR.

    And trailers are a perfect example. Obviously you need to consider where you ride with your kid. That said doing it with a trailer is going to be safer than a car seat for all the reasons previously articulated in this thread. CR's opinion on trailers is just a knee jerk reaction that appears to make common sense, but doesn't bear up to analysis, and isn't supported by experience.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  13. #13
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    We cycle nearly every day with our little one in the trailer behind the tandem. I chose the Chariot CX1 (there won't be a 2 for us) because I thought it offered the safety features I was seeking along with comfort considerations for the passenger. If he is safe and happy, my world is great.

    I have a seat mounted on my 'mommy bike' for short, slow rides to a local park.
    ~Kat

  14. #14
    Senior Member ScottCarney's Avatar
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    For a young one like that, I'd probably vote trailer just for kid comfort. In agreement with other comments above, I'd recommend a single child carrier unless you're really sure there will be another occupant soon. The double-wides, in my experience, are just much more cumbersome. When the kid outgrows it, it;s a good grocery getter.

    Having said that, I think that a seat is just as good and I prefer a seat for kids 18mo and up. I spent half a year in Holland and I saw kids carried in fairly precarious-looking ways: propped on the top tube, sitting on bare racks hanging on to mom, sitting on handlebars, etc. Of course almost none wore helmets (hats for stupid foreigners) etc. Now, I'm not advocating for any of this. We wore helmets and my kids rode in the bakfiets or on a proper seat with a strap or on his own bike for the elder. However, child biking deaths are almost nil (in NL) and biking death rates overall are so low that you are much more likely to be murdered randomly in the US than to be killed cycling in NL. Why? Because cars are not anything like the threat they are here (In USA). Licensing standards are higher, most drivers also bike, bikes are everywhere so drivers look out for them, etc etc. My point is that the risk associated with dropping your kid while on a rack-mounted seat is not significant compared to the threat posed by cars. Unless you're likely to drop your bike often and on hard surfaces . Even then, with a helmet on it's not that big a risk. Just ask my kids, Lumpy and Bumpy.

    I have a favorite rack-mounted seat made by GMG that I found in Holland. They're made to go on and off a standard rack in a few seconds. A pair of tongues hook under a crossbar on the rack top and a spring-loaded pair of hooks grab the side rails. I used it on a Surly Nice Rack (rear) on my single for many hundreds of miles with my 1-2y/o (he had a birthday while we were there). I would regularly go out for a few hours with him and he would fall asleep with his head resting on my back. The rapid on/off thing is very handy and does not permanently occupy the back of the bike. Lately the now 3-y/o has been riding on one on the back of our Da Vinci with the 7y/o stoking. The only US distributer I could find was the Dutch Bike Co, based in Seattle and Chicago. They only advertise the delux model with a big back and arms. I prefer the model 911 which is minimalist and with no arms can carry a skinny adult in a pinch (I once carted my mother-in-law across town on one). They (the DBC) will sell you a 911 if you call and ask.

    http://www.dutchbikeseattle.com/_pro...-30_Child_Seat

    Added later: The one slightly irritating thing about the GMG seat (for me anyway) is that they sell for 40 euros in Dutch hardware stores and I didn't bring one back with me (we were packed to the limit already). So I paid about $140 for one here with taxes and shipping. Not to sound ungrateful to the very very good folks at DBC, just mad at myself for not bringing one (or five) back.

    Oh, and one last thing: I also own a Burley single trailer and the 3y/o chooses the seat over the trailer everytime. YMMV.

    Yet one more thing: I have an iBert front mounted seat also. As one poster mentioned, this is nice as you can keep tabs on your kid without taking your eyes off the road. My younger son loved it, but I don't really have the right bike for it. You need something with a lot of stem so you can mount it high. A "cruiser" or "comfort" bike probably fits the bill. I mounted it on my commuter, a drop-bar bike with the bars just a smidge below the seat and it was really tight. My knees would just brush the seat. So we got a few months use of it and now the younger one is too big. Anyway, this might be a really good solution if you got your DV with an uncut steer tube or if you have a single with a lot of stem. I think it works well for smaller kids.

    Oh, yeah, really the last. My wife has a Bobike (like nearly all good, practicle bike stuff, it's Dutch) Peapod mounted on her extracycle. This is a great semipermanent installation. It's marketed as easy on and off but that's only compared to most of everything else sold in the states. It's still pretty clunky and we leave it on all the time. It's very comfy and solid but a bit spendy. I believe it can be mounted without a rack.
    Last edited by ScottCarney; 04-13-10 at 08:11 AM. Reason: added info

  15. #15
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    Can't say enough good things about our Burley Solo. Our son was in it from ~7 months (with a car seat installed) up until last year when he was ~4.5 years old (he moved up to the middle seat of our triplet). We looked seriously at the Chariot, too, but the extra cost, heavier weight, and especially the lack of storage space turned us off (it's a nice product, though, just not for what we wanted it for). We have the version of the Solo before they added suspension; we never found it necessary. Our son would happily ride in the trailer for long rides and often ended up napping, "reading" his books, playing with his trucks, or simply looking at the scenery. We actually owned two of them: the first one was destroyed by an airline when we were bringing it back from a vacation in Europe (tandem+trailer+kid+bags of kid stuff+other stuff makes for a lot of baggage!).

    You can see my in-depth review on Epinions at http://www.epinions.com/review/Burle...t_192665390724

    We still have our Solo and may be selling it soon, although we are torn by the decisions. Lots of good memories, and it is useful for other stuff.

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    Thank you for all the wonderful and GREAT recs. There's so many things to think about - we haven't made up our minds yet! Scott Carney - you had a lot of good food - now it's going to take some time to research your links and digest it - THANKS!! Will keep you posted on what we finaly decided to get!

  17. #17
    PMK
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    Reviving something from 6 months ago.

    We are starting to look for a used trailer to use with our Granddaughter.

    Plan is some easy riding around our neighborhood, some rides on the paved bike trails in local parks and so forth for now.

    She is just under six months old currently.

    Obviously this is all great reading, and advice.

    We are without doubt going the trailer route. Any new info to share.

    Also, in regards to the connection of trailer to bicycle, I have seen some that are axle mount style, and some that possibly are frame style. I think I prefer axle style on account of the frames being very light tubing. So are 145mm axle mount trailers available, and do they work with conventional quick release designs?

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  18. #18
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Any of the Burley trailers that suit your needs.
    Trailer allows kid(s) to nap or play with toys, a child seat inhibits that.

  19. #19
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    As posted previously, absolutely loved our Burley Solo trailer. Started our son around 8 months, using an infant seat securely strapped into the trailer. He rode happily in the trailer up to about 4.5 years old, when he moved to the center seat of our triplet. Here are some pics from when he was an infant, in the trailer:
    mattytrailer3..jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by briwasson; 11-15-10 at 07:37 AM.

  20. #20
    PMK
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    We lucked out on an eBay win. A 2008 Burley D'Lite is headed our way.

    Sounded like a good trailer at a good price, and when I spoke to the girl at Burley to help identify the age via the Serial Number, they gave a very positive reflection on the company.

    Just on customer support and advice, about the trailer, and more importantly about knowing when our granddaughter is truly ready to wear a helmet and ride around the parks and our small neighborhood, I would easily consider them for more items.

    So we begin a new page in our household world of cycling.

    PK
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  21. #21
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    A suggestion: we greatly preferred the Burley "alternative hitch" over the OEM "universal" hitch (big plastic hitch that clamps onto the chainstay/seatstay) or the hitch they now provide with a bracket that attaches via the QR skewer. The alternate hitch actually replaces the QR skewer and makes for a very easy hookup. The OEM bracket they include is similar, but I found that it did not swivel very well and really messed up the paint on my dropout.

  22. #22
    PMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
    A suggestion: we greatly preferred the Burley "alternative hitch" over the OEM "universal" hitch (big plastic hitch that clamps onto the chainstay/seatstay) or the hitch they now provide with a bracket that attaches via the QR skewer. The alternate hitch actually replaces the QR skewer and makes for a very easy hookup. The OEM bracket they include is similar, but I found that it did not swivel very well and really messed up the paint on my dropout.

    I didn't notice it in their catalog, is this something offered in 145mm for tandems?

    PK
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    2006 Ventana ECDM full suspension mountain tandem
    Some single bikes and a couple of KTM's
    And most important, someone special that enjoys them with me (except the KTM's)

  23. #23
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    Santana Cabrio triplet, Santana Fusion S&S tandem, Co-Motion OR Co-Pilot, Co-Motion Nor'wester Co-Pilot, C'dale F2000
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    Yes, they offer it in standard and long versions. The long fits 145-160mm spacing. JensonUSA has them at http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...h.aspx?sc=FRGL

    Here are three pics of the various types. First is the QR "alternative" hitch, which replaces your QR skewer entirely (they also make a version for nutted axles). Second is the "universal" hitch that used to come standard. Heavy and bulky, but easy on and off if you use multiple bikes. Third is the standard hitch that comes with their trailers now (as far as I know). Fits over your existing QR axle. Similar in principle to the alternative hitch, but I found that it does not swivel on all planes and rubbed paint off my dropout due to being clamped tightly to the frame by the QR skewer.
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