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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 04-15-14, 01:58 PM   #1
cee_dee_oh
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Two kids on a bike

I actually have 4 kids, but 2 of them ride their own bikes. So here is my current setup for biking around town and getting the kids to their activities, library, post office, swimming pool, etc:

I have 2 child seats installed on my bike: one is a stem-mounted Bobike Mini for the 1-year-old and the other is a rear-mounted Bell for the 4-year-old. The bike is a cheap Walmart single-speed cruiser I've had for several years. I like this setup (for various reasons, I'm not interested in trailers; an Xtracycle would be great, but that's down the road a bit due to $$$) but need to upgrade the bike to something better (gears, please!!!) from Craigslist. Any advice?

My priorities are safety, reliability, and easy maintenance. My list of must-have features includes the following:

- step-through frame
- long-ish wheel-base
- upright-ish geometry
- chain guard

There is a '68 Raleigh Sports on CL right now. Also some vintage Schwinn 3-speeds. Any other ideas? I appreciate your input!!!!
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Old 04-15-14, 03:42 PM   #2
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Strangely enough, I think the chain guard is going to be the most difficult requirement to satisfy on your list.

How much are you looking to spend? If it's in the budget, I recommend a new Windsor Kensington 8:
Save Up to 60% Off Town Bikes | Classic, Stylish Eight Speed City Bikes | Urban Bikes | Commuter Road Bikes | Windsor Kensington 8 from bikesdirect.com


When I was looking for a used bike on craigslist, I was initially drawn to vintage mixtes, but most of them had drop handlebars, which are incompatible with front-mounted seats (we have a Bobike Mini also). You might be able to find one that's been converted to a flat bar.

Are there any Breezer bikes for sale on your local craigslist? Those would meet your requirements.

Also check for Bianchi women's bikes. I know someone who happily carried her two kids on a Bianchi Milano for years.

I tried out several of the Trek step-through bikes (Navigator, etc) and, at least for me, the cockpit area was far too small to comfortably fit the front seat.
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Old 04-15-14, 05:22 PM   #3
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Strangely enough, I think the chain guard is going to be the most difficult requirement to satisfy on your list.

How much are you looking to spend? If it's in the budget, I recommend a new Windsor Kensington 8:
Save Up to 60% Off Town Bikes | Classic, Stylish Eight Speed City Bikes | Urban Bikes | Commuter Road Bikes | Windsor Kensington 8 from bikesdirect.com


When I was looking for a used bike on craigslist, I was initially drawn to vintage mixtes, but most of them had drop handlebars, which are incompatible with front-mounted seats (we have a Bobike Mini also). You might be able to find one that's been converted to a flat bar.

Are there any Breezer bikes for sale on your local craigslist? Those would meet your requirements.

Also check for Bianchi women's bikes. I know someone who happily carried her two kids on a Bianchi Milano for years.

I tried out several of the Trek step-through bikes (Navigator, etc) and, at least for me, the cockpit area was far too small to comfortably fit the front seat.
Thanks so much for weighing in. I've actually considered the WK8 and haven't completely ruled it out, but I wasn't sure whether the top bar would be low enough for me. With two kids on the bike, I'm concerned about having to tip the bike at all to mount it. Also, I strongly prefer to try before I buy, which is one of reasons I'm leaning towards a used CL find over a new bike I have to buy online.

No Breezers or step-thru Bianchis on my local CL, unfortunately. Both are great suggestions.

Yes, on the too-small cockpits! That is one of the issues with my current bike. I love, love, love the experience of riding with a toddler in a stem-mounted seat, but the extra space it requires does make choosing the right bike a bit trickier.
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Old 04-16-14, 01:28 PM   #4
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Have you looked at any used Electras (maybe a 7D Townie or an Amsterdam)? I've seen child seats mounted on them (usually just one at a time). The angled seatpost geometry may make it somewhat awkward to mount the rear seat

Are you planning to add an Xtracycle Free Radical to whatever you buy or get a separate cargo bike at some point in the future? I know that one of the family bike shops in Portland used to "Xtracyle" Electra Townies, so that might be a good option for a future conversion (although I've also heard that aluminum frame bikes with Xtracycle attachments have a lot of "flex").

Re: the Windsor, do you have a shop nearby that might have the Linus Mixte? Having ridden both, I would say the geometry and ride are, if not identical, extremely similar. The Linus has higher quality "finishes", but the core frame and components are very similar. I don't tend to tip mine to mount; however, I'm 5'8" with long legs (on the 49 cm size).
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Old 04-17-14, 03:01 PM   #5
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Sigh. There isn't a whole lot of selection on my local Craigslist. I'm going to check out the non-profit bike shop this weekend and will keep my eye out for any used Electras.

If I were to go the Xtracycle route eventually, it would be because the 4-year-old outgrows her current rear child seat, at which point I would probably opt to add a Free Radical to whatever bike I end up with now.

Re: the Windsor...I'm 5'9", but with short legs, long torso. I'll keep it in mind.

FWIW, my dream bike is a Workcycles Fr8. But, $$$$...yeah, way outta my league. I'm basically looking for the poor (wo-)man's version of that: slack geometry, long-ish wheelbase. Might have better luck finding a unicorn, methinks.
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Old 04-17-14, 03:26 PM   #6
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Trek Cocoa bike , in 19" perhaps ?, 013 comes up in google , IDK if they ordered another batch for 014 ..

2013 Cocoa - Bike Archive - Trek Bicycle
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Old 04-17-14, 03:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cee_dee_oh View Post
I actually have 4 kids, but 2 of them ride their own bikes. So here is my current setup for biking around town and getting the kids to their activities, library, post office, swimming pool, etc:

I have 2 child seats installed on my bike: one is a stem-mounted Bobike Mini for the 1-year-old and the other is a rear-mounted Bell for the 4-year-old. The bike is a cheap Walmart single-speed cruiser I've had for several years. I like this setup (for various reasons, I'm not interested in trailers; an Xtracycle would be great, but that's down the road a bit due to $$$) but need to upgrade the bike to something better (gears, please!!!) from Craigslist. Any advice?

My priorities are safety, reliability, and easy maintenance. My list of must-have features includes the following:

- step-through frame
- long-ish wheel-base
- upright-ish geometry
- chain guard

There is a '68 Raleigh Sports on CL right now. Also some vintage Schwinn 3-speeds. Any other ideas? I appreciate your input!!!!
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Old 04-17-14, 04:39 PM   #8
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I actually got my Fr8 used on Craigslist for $800 (without the child seat, that was a $150 addition), so it may be slightly more likely than finding a unicorn , but still pretty unlikely. And in all honesty, while I love, love, love the front child seat and the incredible stability of the bike, in many ways it is not a practical bike because it is so heavy and lumbering--it's a bike that is designed for meandering, not for speed. Unless I need to carry a lot of cargo, I much prefer to ride the Kensington 8 with my 3-year old in the Bobike Mini on the front and my 5-year old on the Burley Kazoo. I can still fit panniers on with the Kazoo, so I get quite a bike of cargo room. Unfortunately, my 3-year old will soon outgrow the Bobike Mini, so I'm on the hunt for a used FollowMe tandem so that I can move him to a rear seat and still fit the second kid (with the bonus that my daughter will get to ride independently most of the time). Unfortunately, I think a used FollowMe may be about as rare as a unicorn.

One inexpensive solution to the cramped cockpit issue is to get a stem extender to raise the handlebars higher and mount the Bobike higher. It would make the bike less stable but give you more knee room (I also recommend the Velo Orange wheel stabilizer if you don't already have one). On the bright side, you're lucky on the short legs front--it should make it easier to find a bike that fits. Every 19" step-through frame bike felt way too small for me and that's the biggest size for the standard brands. Good luck on your hunt!
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Old 04-30-14, 02:26 PM   #9
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Go to Google Alerts - Monitor the Web for interesting new content and set up an alert for "bike trailer site:xxx.craigslist.org" where xxx is your local site. It will mail you new listings. This is how I find trailers and other things. I've paid as little as $60 for a $400 trailer.

The Raleigh Sports is a very good choice for a utility bike. You can change the rear sprocket to lower all the gears at once. I changed my 18T sprocket to a 24T one. It made a huge difference.
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Old 04-30-14, 05:22 PM   #10
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10 wheels,

that's awesome. what is it?
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Old 04-30-14, 07:38 PM   #11
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I actually got my Fr8 used on Craigslist for $800 (without the child seat, that was a $150 addition), so it may be slightly more likely than finding a unicorn , but still pretty unlikely. And in all honesty, while I love, love, love the front child seat and the incredible stability of the bike, in many ways it is not a practical bike because it is so heavy and lumbering--it's a bike that is designed for meandering, not for speed. Unless I need to carry a lot of cargo, I much prefer to ride the Kensington 8 with my 3-year old in the Bobike Mini on the front and my 5-year old on the Burley Kazoo. I can still fit panniers on with the Kazoo, so I get quite a bike of cargo room. Unfortunately, my 3-year old will soon outgrow the Bobike Mini, so I'm on the hunt for a used FollowMe tandem so that I can move him to a rear seat and still fit the second kid (with the bonus that my daughter will get to ride independently most of the time). Unfortunately, I think a used FollowMe may be about as rare as a unicorn.

One inexpensive solution to the cramped cockpit issue is to get a stem extender to raise the handlebars higher and mount the Bobike higher. It would make the bike less stable but give you more knee room (I also recommend the Velo Orange wheel stabilizer if you don't already have one). On the bright side, you're lucky on the short legs front--it should make it easier to find a bike that fits. Every 19" step-through frame bike felt way too small for me and that's the biggest size for the standard brands. Good luck on your hunt!
That's interesting feedback on the Fr8. Still really wish I could find a used one. I'm used to "lumbering" (ha, great word!) on my heavy Walmart cruiser. I wouldn't know any different.

Stem extender...I've thought about that. Do you have a link?
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Old 04-30-14, 07:42 PM   #12
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Go to Google Alerts - Monitor the Web for interesting new content and set up an alert for "bike trailer site:xxx.craigslist.org" where xxx is your local site. It will mail you new listings. This is how I find trailers and other things. I've paid as little as $60 for a $400 trailer.

The Raleigh Sports is a very good choice for a utility bike. You can change the rear sprocket to lower all the gears at once. I changed my 18T sprocket to a 24T one. It made a huge difference.
Good advice, Tom. If I found a step-through Sports or Superbe in a 23-inch frame size for a decent price, I would probably go for it and make the mod you suggest.
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Old 05-01-14, 10:13 AM   #13
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CDO, where are you? Some areas have tons of Sportses lying around, particularly in the northeast US.

This stem extender will raise your handlebars quite a bit.
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