Friday, June 22, 2012

biking with kids: the next level

Last week we went to the next level in our biking set-up: we got a "tag-along bike" or "trailer bike." E is 5-and-a-half and he LOVES it! He was getting kind of big for our Burley double trailer, especially next to his 18-month-old brother. Plus, they're really heavy! We had an REI dividend burning a hole in our pockets so we sprung for the trailer bike you see below. E tried it out and was immediately hooked. Now he asks every day if we're going to be able to go anywhere on the bike. (The next thing we need to do is find some child-sized rain pants, I suppose. On Tuesday we got caught in the rain and he was soaked! I tried to convince him it was an adventure, but he didn't buy it.)

I'm not sure that the people who make the trailer bikes would officially suggest this, but we attached our Burley trailer to the trailer bike, so we have quite the train going down the road now! (I've seen other people do this, too.) It's actually made it a little easier to bike because E's weight isn't in the trailer. I suppose the extra wheel helps, and I'm pretty sure his pedaling actually helps a little bit. He can coast if he wants to, but when he pedals on hills I can tell he's pedaling. We don't go places as fast yet, because I'm making sure he's comfortable on the bike and isn't going to knock us over by leaning too far one way or the other. But I think soon we'll be comfortable enough to go at a normal speed. I can now cart around three kids, which I did the other day when we picked up my niece from Kindergarten. I assume I can also get more groceries now without overloading the trailer.

The hardest thing about this set-up is turning. I have to slow way down and make wide turns, and I have to make sure not to curb-check the trailer, since it's far enough back that it's a little bit hard to judge where the wheels are going to be once they get there. I assume this will get better with practice, so for now I just take it really slowly and it's been fine. Hills are also really difficult. I have to make sure to shift down with plenty of time or else all the momentum starts pulling us back too much!

My only criticism about this trailer bike is that it's kind of difficult to switch from one bike to another. It's not impossible but it takes a bit of effort to get it on properly. Once it's on it works very well, however.

If you're interested, check out this page about raising up biker-kids. You can see a trailer bike in action in a video. There's also a helpful video about teaching kids to ride a bike. (We've been using the push-bike method by just taking the pedals and training wheels off E's bike. He's getting the hang of how it feels to balance, and I'm pretty sure he'll be riding his own bike within the next month or two.)


sri said...

You can use them to move heavy things or furniture, carry the kids with their bikes to a trail, or ride them empty as a commuter bike if you don't mind the extra weight. Bike Trailer

Amelia said...

very smooth ride esp. in trailer mode
seems safe for kids.separate seats for kids.Very nice.

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