You are probably thinking: "I sure know that kids are not watermelons!" But in this article we will be focusing on different ways to take your kids for a bike ride. More precisely when they are still only a "passenger" catching a ride and you being in full control. It is a much more precious cargo than carrying watermelons from farmers market on a Saturday, so worth to know a few things!
HELMET IS A MUST
First thing first, helmet is a necessary piece of equipment no matter how you transport your kids on your bicycle (even in trailers). For adults, the laws are different all over the world, in Slovenia it is compulsory to wear one until the age of 18. And don't forget, if a helmet wiggles like a salad bowl on your head it will not help you much.
1. CHILD BIKE SEAT - IN THE REAR
Most commonly used these days are definitely child bike seats in the rear of the bicycle. It can either be attached to the rear rack of the bike or to the bike frame (seat tube) with special link. In both cases this is the easiest way for the cyclist, since it doesn't make cycling much more technically difficult. This kind of seats are usually the best option for taller and heavier kids (up to 25 kg). Some will also say it is the safest option.
Downsides: child is out of sight, harder to communicate, less interaction with surroundings, not much space if you carry a backpack.
a) Mounted to the RACK: Most city bikes have rear racks and you attach the seat directly to that. Suspension is not that great, your kid will feel a bumpy ride.
b) Mounted to the FRAME: Suitable for mountain bikes without cables running along the seat tube or a bicycle without rear rack. Easy to attach or remove from the bike, so perfect if you don't feel like keeping it fixed all the time.
2. CHILD BIKE SEAT - IN THE FRONT
The trend of bike seats in the front is returning after a few decades (in much safer versions as before). The main positive is that you see what your child is doing and it is much easier to have a conversation. Not to mention that your kid can interact and observe his surroundings way better. The whole point of riding with your kid is to show him the world and connect with him, right?
Downsides: Limited space for adult rider, more difficult for less skilled and smaller adult riders
3. CHILD BIKE TRAILER
Bicycle trailer for kids attaches easily with a link to the rear wheel axle. It doesn't change cycling characteristics of the bicycle much, which is always a good thing. Not to mention that most of the trailers fit two kids (or more luggage) and usually come with some extra parts that can transform it into a kid stroller for running or similar. In case of bicycle crash trailer usually stays upright.
Downsides: hard to communicate, it takes more space when being stored, transported and on the road.
4. CARGO BIKES
Here in Slovenia cargo bikes are a very uncommon thing to spot, maybe there are a couple of them being used in Ljubljana. Holland and Denmark are for sure leading in numbers of cargo bikes/population. Many of them use it instead of a family car. As the name already says it is used to carry any sort of cargo, like groceries, sport equipment, tools, Christmas trees, beer and of course kids! They come in many shapes and sizes, often also assisted with e-bike. Again you have your kids under control or even train them to pass you cold drinks and snacks while you transport them around :)
Downside: they are bigger and heavier, more expensive.
5. BICYCLE ATTACHMENT
Maybe we shouldn't put bicycle attachments for kids in the same box as previous 4. Why? When your children are using this type of attachment they aren't passengers any more. They are (more or less) actively helping you out. You won't mind a bit of extra pedalling from your kiddo, right? :) It is usually used by slightly older kids, that are already learning to cycle on their own. You might be going on a longer bike ride or cycle in urban environment with plenty of obstacles. Attachment follows you like a trailer, with the kid feeling great because he is helping you out. Like a fun tandem bike of some sort!
As you see there are many possibilities and options how to start your family bike tours early. With numerous brands having millions of models you should choose one that suits your needs, your bike, and your wallet!