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Trying to run bike errands with two small kids

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Trying to run bike errands with two small kids

Old 07-29-08, 07:37 AM
  #1  
Blythe
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Question Trying to run bike errands with two small kids

Hello. My name is Blythe and I am a new member to these forums. I found this group while trying to do some research about what bike configuration will allow me to use my car less and my bike more while being a stay-at-home mom of two little kids. I have a 3 year old and a baby, and I know I can't bike safely with my baby until he is a year old, but my 3 year old already loves to go for recreational rides in her iBert safety seat. She dislikes the car, but loves bike rides. I live in the country in central NC, on those 45 mph roads where people really drive 50mph and there is no bike lane. But biking is very popular around here, and so drivers are used to accomodating us on the roads. I live between 3 and 5.5 miles from a few grocery and hardware stores and a little over 10 miles from my daughter's preschool, which I would ideally like to be able to bike to. With the price of gas, I think it would be worth investing in a set-up to allow me to buy groceries and small hardware and get my daughter to preschool and back safely and comfortably and easily for me and my kids, so that I actually do it instead of hopping into the car. I would probably have to buy a new bike for this, because my current set-up (a bikeE) is not so kid-hauling friendly.

I have never used a trailer. I am a little bit nervous about them, because of having my kids so far away from me and having it be wider than the bike and stick out into the road. But our shoulders around here, though not paved, do not slope steeply away from the road in most plcaes, so I could ride with the trailer half on and half off of the road if that made us safer. So I am curious to learn more about trailers, because aside from my discomfort with them they seem very practical. I am also wondering if anyone has moved from a highly interactive front-montes seat to a trailer, and how their kids adjusted to that move. (My daughter is very social and talks to my partner during their bike rides.)

I also found a really cool-looking bike called a Kidztandem. Here is the website:

http://www.browncycles.com/tandems.htm

This seems like a great option, but is quite expensive. Does anyone have any experience with this bike? How do you think it would compare in safety and fun for the child and parent with a trail-along bike for the child? I like the idea of having my daughter in front of me where I can see her better, but this is a lot more expensive than a bike and a trail-along, so I don't know if it is worth it.

I am also intersted in a more upright posture if possible. I have a little bit of carpel tunnel syndrome, and don't like putting tons of pressure on my hands and wrists for a long time. So if any of you have a more upright bike that you enjoy running errands with, I would love to hear about it.

Basically any tips are welcome. I am just beginning to research this process, so I am wide open to ideas and suggestions. Thank you for your help.

Blythe
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Old 07-29-08, 07:47 AM
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Morning Blythe, I haven't got any kids yet, one on the way and have been thinking of trying to get something like a cargo bike rather than a 2nd car. I my searches I have found some things that you might find interesting, they are all quite expensive tho...

Bakfiets.nl Cargobike
BIKE2WORK2LIVE2BIKE
Velo Vision
Bicycle Fixation
Fietsfabriek 995
Caliban’s experience with FF 995 and notes on other bikes too
Gazelle Cabby
Bakfiets.co.uk
Winther Kangaroo
Musings from a Stonehead

the Musings from Stonehead is a year long review using one of the dutch style kid/cargo carrying bikes, hope these help!
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Old 07-29-08, 10:33 AM
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I've been using my old mountain bike to pull the kids in a trailer. It's a workout! I'm not sure if a road bike would make me faster or not, as a good chunk of time is spent spinning up a hill; and I need that wide tire in hardpack dirt anyhow. Plus, wider tires do ride a bit better, especially with the extra load. But I use a slick on the rear, to help cut down on friction.

Anyhow, it's just an old Fuji MTB, probably a bit too small, old 3x7 gearing, actually not that deep by MTB standards--but pretty much enough to get the job done. Look for sub 1:1 gearing. Like a 22/32/42 front to a 11-30ish rear cassette. Trailer is an older Instep trailer, probably not made anymore--but given to us for free. On Craigslist they seem to be coming up frequently, at least right now. Might be reasonably low cost to go that route. Right now, I'm a bit scared of mine--it was meant for bikes with nutted axles, and I've got a quick release on my MTB. I have not found a quick release that will work properly on it, so I cross my fingers whenever I ride!

I've noticed that people have been giving me good berth while pulling the trailer, at least most of the time. I'm starting to like it. Kids seem to like it too, although the smaller one gets squashed in the corners.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:54 AM
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A few quick throwaway observation which may be unnecessary: to be safe, I'd say get one or two Superflash lights and use them all the time. Drivers subconsciously give you more respect that way. Also, riding almost off the road isn't necessarily safer. Sometimes, asserting yourself in the lane gets you more respect. Oh, and I'd definitely suggest a mirror - I recommend the mirrycle.

Having a 2 year old and another almost here, I'm interested in the Xtracycle (site seems sick right now) option for when they're a little older, and I may be doing a school run. I too would be interested in hearing people's opinions on carrying two small children a few miles on an Xtracycle.

If things are hilly around you, there are add-on electric assist options too.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:09 AM
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kids trailer until the smallest one is age 3, then xtracycle all the way.

There's a couple threads here of people who have built their own kids seats/snapdeck to replace the standard snapdeck. That's the way to go, imo. Right now I just have a tandem stoker with handlebars attached to my seat. Good for the first kid, but the second kid needs something more substantial to hang onto.

I might just attach a crossbar directly to the snapdeck. Another option I've been kicking around is to somehow attach a trail-a-bike to the xtracycle. That way, one could ride on the snapdeck, the other can pedal on the trail-a-bike. Haven't figured it out yet, but I really haven't been trying that hard either.

What I need to do is hit up the plumbing section of the hardware store and see if putting a fixture onto the snapdeck is tough enough to handle a trail-a-bike.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:57 AM
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I highly recommend you ride a fully loaded Xtracycle and decide if you like the way it handles.
Same for a Bikfiets and a few other cargo specific bikes.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:10 PM
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I have an Xtracycle and a Wike trailer and it works out great. We use it instead of the minivan for about 95% of our weekend trips around town.

The trailer has an orange flag and a Planet Bike Superflash going at all times.

I take the lane when necessary (we have a lot of sub-standard width roads with parked cars on either side and only one lane of traffic each direction), and use bike lanes (and routes with them) when practical, though I don't go out of my way. I'm lucky, however, that most of these are decidedly urban/residential streets where average traffic speeds are around 20-30mph. If I was in the 'burbs it might be a different story and I might be looking for bike paths / MUPs / etc. to avoid high speed traffic (45mph+). But I bailed on the 'burb scene a long time ago and I'm not going back, so it's a non-issue for the most part.

I do not fear cars, but I do expect them to do stupid things all the time, and I'm rarely disappointed. However, learning to control the lane is often the safest thing you can do, because the surely well-meaning but often misguided car drivers will often make a poor decision if you give them half an opportunity to do so. You have to think for them as they are busy talking on their mobiles / sipping a latte / surfing the web on their iPhones / switching songs on their iPods / texting their friends / whatever. You know, anything and everything except driving and thinking about being safe.

A cycling safety program (if available in your area) would probably help you get a lot more comfortable. Also, i recommend spending some time riding around solo (if you can get someone to help watch the kids) so you can build up your confidence and bike handling skills prior to taking on the trailer. Riding with a trailer is not hard, but as with most things, "baby steps" is a good way to ease into things.

Hope it helps, we love riding with our kids and the Xtracycle/trailer combo truly is a minivan replacement. You can do it!

Steve
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Old 07-30-08, 06:47 AM
  #8  
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I think a trailer would be best. My daughter loves going in the trailer, with a couple of toys and a drink she is very happy.

I would say that towing a child trailer is very safe. They will stay upright if your bike falls, and motorists are far more aware of you than a lone cyclist. The impact on bike handling is minimal, with the exception of the extra weight. You probably want to make sure you have mountain bike gearing to get up hills.

I don't find the width a problem. You occasionally have to be careful on certain paths with bollards or gates, but on the road with good positioning there shouldn't be much of an issue.
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Old 07-30-08, 11:01 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Blythe View Post
I would probably have to buy a new bike for this, because my current set-up (a bikeE) is not so kid-hauling friendly.
I haul a trailer behind my recumbent. It works. (I also pull them behind my Rans V2.) We go to the park and the YMCA and small shopping trips, and I can use the trailer for large grocery shopping runs without the kids.

So I am curious to learn more about trailers, because aside from my discomfort with them they seem very practical. I am also wondering if anyone has moved from a highly interactive front-montes seat to a trailer, and how their kids adjusted to that move. (My daughter is very social and talks to my partner during their bike rides.)
My two daughters play with each other in them. I can hear them when they talk to me very easily. I have to just about yell or turn my head all the way around for them to hear me. Conversations aren't as easy as face to face.

I like the idea of having my daughter in front of me where I can see her better, but this is a lot more expensive than a bike and a trail-along, so I don't know if it is worth it.
For kids in front of you, there is also the MyZigo. It's brand new and I don't even know if they're out yet or if they're any good. There's a more expensive and established model you can get from Europe but I can't remember the name of it.

ETA: I remember now! The Triobike.

Last edited by benjdm; 07-30-08 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 07-30-08, 12:38 PM
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I started with an xtracycle and a burley trailer for two. As my oldest got too big for the trailer I moved her up onto the Xtracycle with me- I strapped a canoe/camping seat to the deck so she could sit more comfortably.

It works out really well as I have room for all the stuff we need to carry, and the kids are separated by a little space so they don't argue. They get along pretty well, but when they were both stuck in a small trailer and one would fall asleep on the other one it could get stuffy on a hot day.

jon
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Old 07-30-08, 12:40 PM
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Ideal solution....if only.

http://mefeedia.com/entry/video-bicy...hree/10738549/
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My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 07-30-08, 04:23 PM
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freediver/jon, what kind of canoe seat did you end up using for your X? I have two kids (3.5yrs and 6yrs) and intend on using my soon-to-be-built X as a kid carrier once in a while so we've already gotten a stem + stoker bars for the back, but I was trying to think of a way to give the smaller kid a backrest.
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Old 07-30-08, 07:56 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
kids trailer until the smallest one is age 3, then xtracycle all the way.

There's a couple threads here of people who have built their own kids seats/snapdeck to replace the standard snapdeck. That's the way to go, imo.
Right now I just have a tandem stoker with handlebars attached to my seat. Good for the first kid, but the second kid needs something more substantial to hang onto.
...
I chose to get a big cruiser bar and both my daughters (7 and 5) can easily reach the handlebar.

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Old 07-31-08, 10:20 AM
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I am a little concerned about your hands on an upright. Have you had problems on an upright? If so, I think putting the Electoportal motor on the BikeE is the answer. If you have the AT model, it is really easy to put the motor on, I have done several (if you need help). I use a EZ-1 with an Ecospeed motor for hauling construction equipment up very steep hills. You have more options if your hands don't hurt on an upright bike.
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Old 07-31-08, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by santiago View Post
I chose to get a big cruiser bar and both my daughters (7 and 5) can easily reach the handlebar.

I'm sorry but to expose children to injury by letting them ride in the open such as this photo
shows in not a good idea at all. If the bike goes down the kids will get ejected from the seat
in a second.
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My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 07-31-08, 01:36 PM
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You can make it as difficult and expensive, or easy and cheap, as you like. Here's how we usually do it over here:







Many more examples can be found here:

http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/

It's how my mother did it when we were young. My younger brother in a seat on the handlebar, me behind her in a seat on the luggage rack. Quick, simple, cheap, easy. You don't always need fancy, expensive gear to solve a problem. But remember: we don't wear helmets either - we're all nuts here.

Of course, you could buy a trailer, Xtracycle, bakfiets, trailer-bike, etc. too... Many solutions to the problem. Up to you to pick the one best suited for your situation.
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Old 07-31-08, 02:10 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
I'm sorry but to expose children to injury by letting them ride in the open such as this photo
shows in not a good idea at all. If the bike goes down the kids will get ejected from the seat
in a second.
Tightwad.....I'm not sure if you are being serious or cynical....
so I will assume semi serious and note: The poster of this pic.....noted the children using this setup were 5 and 7...ie capbably of riding a bike and falling off without any help....so would this be any different for that age?
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Old 07-31-08, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
Tightwad.....I'm not sure if you are being serious or cynical....
so I will assume semi serious and note: The poster of this pic.....noted the children using this setup were 5 and 7...ie capbably of riding a bike and falling off without any help....so would this be any different for that age?
I'm as serious as I can be. Often folk's just don't "see" danger for what it is.....Danger...and will
fail to allow for the possiblity. I don't know about you but having my kids get hurt on my
bike 'cause "I" failed to "see" the danger would be something I'd have a hard time living with.

IMO letting any kid under 12 yrs. ride a bike like this is like giving them a loaded gun and say "don't
get hurt"
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My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 07-31-08, 02:35 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
I'm as serious as I can be. Often folk's just don't "see" danger for what it is....
Tightwad, I too thought you were kidding at first till I realized you weren't. Hence my reply above. It's how we do it over here (Netherlands). Of course, it could *never* work like that in the US for (insert reason/excuse)... And we don't wear helmets either ! Talk about being suicidal (or homicidal)...

Looks as if those mothers just don't give a toss about the well-being of their children, doesn't it ?

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Old 07-31-08, 02:40 PM
  #20  
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What about this lady:
http://www.cafemama.com/2008/may/03_...bikeorama.html

Or this one:
http://larissmix.typepad.com/stitch_...ation-wag.html

Or this boy's daddy:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/2634332007/

There is enough information to tell where they are. Are you going to call their local CPS and report them for child endangerment, Tightwad?
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Old 07-31-08, 04:55 PM
  #21  
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Dude, that is as good as it gets without going to a Bakfiets. We already have a lot of societal trouble showing up from overprotective helicopter parents, and really the kind of wreck you described isn't particularly high on the profile of the probable. I ride an xtracycle, and they are stable to a fault; that one is a BD, which is built to higher standards.
As an aside, I was using a loaded gun on paper targets when I was 12. I was in no danger and i'm safer for the experience.
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Old 07-31-08, 05:55 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
I'm sorry but to expose children to injury by letting them ride in the open such as this photo
shows in not a good idea at all. If the bike goes down the kids will get ejected from the seat
in a second.
I recommend virtual cycling then. Very safe. Be sure to wear a helmet lest you bump your head from stumbling off the bike.



I really don't understand this line of reasoning. When my daughters ride their own bikes, they are not strapped into a plastic cocoon. If they fall (and they have), they don't necessarily eject from the seat.
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Old 07-31-08, 08:18 PM
  #23  
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I just went to a local kayak shop and bought a kid's folding seat- cost me $12 on sale. It's just like any camping/stadium seat that can be folded in half and uses straps on the side to support the backrest. I have it strapped down to the snap-deck in back and the front straps I run around the bars of my free-radical.

Normally my daughter (5) rides on that and my son(3) rides in the Burley trailer. When they were younger they both slept in the trailer. They always wear helmets when riding on the back of my bike. My son calls this "parade style" because I let him ride there during the fourth of July Parade this year.

Today we had a bunch of errands to run, but my wife had the Burley in the back of her car- don't ask.
In a pinch I attached my daughters tag-along to the back post of the Xtracyle and we biked all over town that way today- my son rode up on the kayak seat. I don't have everything perfected just yet, but it did work and we all got a nice long ride in the fresh air without any incidents.

Jon
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Old 07-31-08, 08:49 PM
  #24  
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Jon, thanks. I have seen the kayak seat idea elsewhere, but I dunno if we have a kayaking shop locally- I'd prolly have to order the seat online and hope it fits. Where in the world did you attach your TAB on the X? I don't think our TAB would clear the X-tail if I attached it to my seatpost.

And as for the safety factor of kids riding on the back of an X....both my kids ride their bikes with just their helmets...no bubble wrap or special shielding involved *GASP* Quick...someone call CPS since the kids might fall off their bikes and hurt themselves.

Honestly, the way the kids ride their bikes- they are way safer on the back of an X! I don't go nearly as fast as they do...and at least I know the traffic rules and obey them.
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Old 08-01-08, 06:50 AM
  #25  
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You could also try out a camping store or order one online. Here's an adult sized one from REI: http://www.rei.com/product/765285

I find that when I am pulling both kids, and all of our picnic/beach supplies, that I am moving so slow I don't worry as much abut their safety as if they were riding their own bikes- the also have helemts on. When they were both small the trailer was used allthe time- mostly so they could take a NAP while I rode.

The Tag-a-long bracket attached in at the uppper curve of the xrtacycle bag holders (freeradical). I am still looking for a better way to attach it- I want it up higher. I have my locking trunk attached to the snapdeck in the back so there's not a ton of room there and my daughter will probably be riding on her own, or riding the tag-along behind my wife's bike, before my son ever outgrows the trailer.

Jon
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