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Newish Parents, Seeking Advice

Old 09-02-19, 07:08 PM
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rEVOLVED
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Newish Parents, Seeking Advice

Hello, and thanks for reading! I'll try to be brief. My wife and I (28 and 30 years old, respectively) would like to get back into cycling with our two young daughters, 3 and almost 2. I have a basic hardtail mountain bike that I don't mind riding, but I really prefer fixed gear whenever possible. Just the two bikes in our household. Need to purchase one for the wife, and figure out what to do with our daughters. I also have a brand new Bellelli Pepe child carrier that I have only used once, but my daughter was too young for it at the time and was pretty nervous for most of the ride.

As for my wife, we are strongly considering the Windsor Oxford Deluxe (3 speed IGH) from Bikes Direct, especially at under $300. Any other strong suggestions for a Mixte or Dutchie style bike for her? Love the Linus lineup, but they are much more expensive.

As for me, any reason I can't haul a trailer for the kids with my fixed gear? I have a front brake and have put plenty of miles on the bike to feel safe with it.

We would like to ride for a few miles on the weekends, and try to cycle for more coffee and grocery runs. At age 3, did your kids want to be out of carriers and on their own bikes? If so, do I go training wheels or balance bike?

Essentially, I'm looking for product recommendations for one adult female mixte or dutchie, and some way to get my two young girls on the road with us. I'm in AZ and most riding will be on a dedicated multi use path along the canal. Some will be in bike lane (seems terrifying with kids, might stick to the sidewalk).
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Old 09-02-19, 07:31 PM
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We've discussed track dropouts and axle mount trailer hitches here before. Consensus seemed to be that adequate torque on the axle nuts its enough the keep the rear axle from shifting under load.

Hauling a trailer with a fixie doesn't sound fun unless it's around the block. You're adding 50-60 lbs of weight to your mass. I can feel my trailer pushing me down hills, and i don't think that would be fun with a fixie. Put the hitch on your hardtail instead.
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Old 09-02-19, 07:44 PM
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Consider a tow bar like the trail-gator later, when you're looking to have longer, faster rides.
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Old 09-03-19, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
We've discussed track dropouts and axle mount trailer hitches here before. Consensus seemed to be that adequate torque on the axle nuts its enough the keep the rear axle from shifting under load.

Hauling a trailer with a fixie doesn't sound fun unless it's around the block. You're adding 50-60 lbs of weight to your mass. I can feel my trailer pushing me down hills, and i don't think that would be fun with a fixie. Put the hitch on your hardtail instead.
I'm always looking for a challenge. Of course, if the fixie was too much of a load on my knees and I was miserable, I would move the trailer to my mountain bike, or I'd purchase a city bike. As for the hills, there aren't any where I plan to be riding. Thanks for your help.
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Old 09-03-19, 08:32 AM
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My daughter is 5 now. She's been hauled by bike since her pediatrician gave us permission. We've owned most of the child hauling accessories at this point. Here's a brief summary of each.

Thule (Chariot) 2-wheel trailer. Used from 7 months (first as a ski trailer behind fatbike) to 5 years (as a stroller). Bike trailer mode was good for ages 1-5. Reduces cruising speed by 25%. Easy to keep kid comfortable from weather. Too little suspension for dirt roads.

Bellelli Pepe clamp rear seat. Used from 2yr to ~3.5yr. Out of the box, it was tilted too far forward for my daughter to be comfortable. I 3d printed some shims to tilt it back about 8 degrees; then it was much better for her. Suspension adequate for dirt roads and easy trails. Dress her like she's riding a motorcycle. Reduces bike speed by 10%.

Hamax Caress rear seat. Used from 3yr to ~4yr. Could have used from ~18mo. This seat was awesome. Lots of suspension. Easy to adjust the recline angle. Dress her like she's riding a motorcycle. Reduces bike speed by 10%.

Weehoo Turbo single wheel recumbent trailer. Used from 4yr to present. I swapped the rear tire for a 20 x 3.0" tire for some suspension. It's better on dirt roads than the 2-wheel trailers, but not as forgiving as the Pepe or Caress. With sun and rain cover, it offers decent protection from weather. She can pedal when she feels like it. Reduces bike speed by 20%. The Weehoo is surprisingly heavy (~35lb) and awkward to transport by car compared to the other seats and trailers. The 2-seat Weehoo might be a good choice for you.

Strider balance bike. I think I gave this to her around 18mo. She enjoyed it most at 3yr. Added XL seatpost at 4yr. She's completely outgrown it at age 5, but occasionally rides it in our basement. It definitely helped her to learn how to ride a pedal bike without training wheels.

Islabikes Cnoc 16. Used from 4.5yr to present. She got the hang of riding really quickly (maybe 2 hours?). She loves riding her bike (mission accomplished).
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Old 09-03-19, 08:40 AM
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Balance bikes are great for building confidence, and you can take the pedals off of a 16" bike until they're balancing the too. 16" bikes aren't known for being fast though.

We had a bike picnic yesterday and even with the oldest on a 20" 1x6 we topped out at 10kph sustained . That's why I suggested a tow bar. You might get one and never use it, like us. Every time I offered to hook the bike up, my daughter declined! She was happy at her pace and got through it on her own! I just scored top my granny gear and big cogs and crawled along at the front.

You can look at this recent thread on items to have on hand to make rides more enjoyable for everyone.
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Old 09-03-19, 08:41 AM
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I'd also recommend making the hardtail your dedicated baby hauler if you use a trailer. The fixie might be fun with the Pepe or a Hamax Caress, but it would be a real chore with a trailer. My wife and I mostly used 'cross or gravel bikes as our baby haulers because they had the lowest gears. We also use our tandem the various seats and trailers, which generally makes the rides more enjoyable.
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Old 09-03-19, 08:45 AM
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Bike for the wife

I can't offer much in the way of suggestions here. All my bikes are second hand. I don't doubt there are plenty of women's frames available on your local CL, but three speed bikes are generally vintage schwinns. You could probably get a lighter bike with less maintenance needs new for twice the price of a CL bike.
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Old 09-03-19, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by rEVOLVED View Post
do I go training wheels or balance bike?
Balance bikes.
Training wheels don't provide any important training.
Kids don't have the concentration/separation ability needed to use the training wheels only to keep them from toppling over. They'll ride them like big, fast trikes and not get any balance training done.
At best, they might pick up some braking skills. Any kid that's ridden a trike already knows how to pedal.
If you start them on balance bikes, once they're steady on them I've seen kids transition to pedal bikes in less than one hour, entirely without drama or abrasions.

Originally Posted by rEVOLVED View Post
.. I'm looking for product recommendations for one adult female mixte or dutchie,.
The bike industry is very ****genous. Similar money buys you comparable products, regardless of brand.
I'm not too keen on 3-speeds. Ratios are too few and too far apart to let you keep your legs humming along nicely.
Also, I often find the ratios awkwardly placed, with the top gear not particularly useful. They can often be made nicer by fitting a bigger sprocket and keeping the lowest gear as a bailout gear. IMO 5-speeds and above makes for more harmonic riding.
I'd look for a mixte prior to Dutch/Townie. Dutch/Townies can be amazingly heavy, heavy enough to detract from the ride experience.

Originally Posted by rEVOLVED View Post
(seems terrifying with kids, might stick to the sidewalk).
Chek out the local rules first. Sidewalk riding - for adults - is often prohibited.
And unless AZ is above average in friendliness, I can pretty much guarantee that even a parent riding sedately while shepherding the kids along will make some people angry.
If you think sidewalk riding is the option for your kids, follow them on inline skates or jogging instead.
Originally Posted by rEVOLVED View Post
Essentially, I'm looking for product recommendations ..to get my two young girls on the road with us.
There are tandems, trailers, tow bikes and brackets that lets you tow a regular kids' bike behind another bike.
There's the Surly Big Dummy, the Xtracycle conversion kit, a considerable number of cargo bikes.
A friend of mine went with the "road train" concept. A towbike hooked to his bike, then a trailer hooked to the towbike.
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Old 09-03-19, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
A friend of mine went with the "road train" concept. A towbike hooked to his bike, then a trailer hooked to the towbike.
I'll bet you posted a picture of this setup! I wouldn't want to manage a road train twice and a half as long as my bike though. Those turns would be wiiiiiiide.
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Old 09-06-19, 09:38 AM
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my recollection of being a parent to young children is, that whatever you get used to, changes. good luck & have fun cuz when they're 20+ they move out & rarely ride with you anymore!
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Old 09-10-19, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Chek out the local rules first. Sidewalk riding - for adults - is often prohibited.
Generally allowed in Arizona, although Tempe, AZ just outlawed adult sidewalk riding except on 45 MPH arterials with no bike lanes.
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Old 09-15-19, 02:52 PM
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I don't know what a balance bike is. But I've got nothing against training wheels. I learned that way and so did my kids. That being said, there may be better ways to get kids started now. I just don't get how the things that worked for millions of us a long time ago are all of a sudden useless just because there might be newer, better ways.

I'm not a super dialed in bike rider. But like most kids growing up in the 70's and 80's I rode a bike a LOT as a kid. Rode it to my first few jobs and all that. Before getting a drivers license. And my kids were on bikes with training wheels as soon as they were big enough to get on one.

When I was a kid one of the greatest days of my life was getting the training wheels off and riding on my own. I still remember that day. A huge milestone.

I guess my point is no matter what you do with them as far as hauling them around when they're little, they will love riding on their own. I would think. And hey, my sister and I even learned on a gravel driveway. LOL. Although I think there were winter basement rides with training wheels when we were really little. And "big wheels" too.
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