Monday, June 30, 2014

Got kids? Will travel! Part 1.

Got kids? Will travel! Part 1.

We have come a L O N G way from the days when the only child carrying option for riding a bicycle with mom or dad was a hard molded plastic car seat type seat that attached behind the adult's seat. The ability to ride as a family is easier than ever, allowing multiple ages of children to discover the joys of biking and doing so in comfort and style!

In this first post in a series of child portage options, I'm going to focus on the types of child carriers commonly referred to as "trailers" or "tag-a-longs". These commonly attach to an adult bicycle in many ways, usually either at the seatpost or at the chain stay/rear axle. They can carry from 1-2 children comfortably behind mom or dad in a trailing or "trailer" type fashion(hence the name).

The child bicycle trailer, boxcar type:
These trailers sit low to the ground and are made out of aluminum bars with nylon & plastic enclosures. They are made to suit children ages 6 months to 5 years and typically seat 1-2 children. They have adjustable 5 point harness straps and often have other safety features specific to their design, helmets should be worn by the children when in use. Places to put snacks and drinks, along with a small diaper bag or purse, and perhaps a small bag of groceries, can usually be placed behind the children's seating. Since these sit low, they also come with a safety flag that makes the trailer visible through car window height.....USE IT! It is very easy for vehicles to run over what they can't see.

The recumbent bicycle trailer, tag along:
Weehoo iGo is new to the scene with their more "combination" trailer tag along that rides in a recumbent position(low, like a box car type trailer) but can be pedaled by older kids like a tag-along. This trailer is NOT enclosed like a box car type trailer but doesn't have the typical bicycle seat & handlebars of the tag along. More like an in-between option. It typically will have a small "cargo area" behind the child seat that doubles as a rear wheel cover that can carry bags and small items. Since these sit low, they come with a trailer flag(again...USE IT!) and helmets are required with the open concept seating system. 5 point harness straps keep the child firmly seated. One child per seat but these can be configured to use more than one seat in the system, seated stadium style.
The tag along, drivetrain style:
These trailers sit higher, usually more like a typical child bike height, and have bike seats, handlebars, pedals, chains, and a drivetrain for the child to assist in powering the bike ride. These are meant for older children(not infants/small toddlers) and do not have seat restraint harness systems or enclosures. Typically, a child would ride this type of trailer during that period when they almost don't need training wheels on their own bike OR can ride their own bike with 2 wheels but just can't make it very far mileage wise on their own. Like a tandem but the second bike is more their size, gearing, and geometry. These typically seat one child per tag along but can be purchased in dualies(2 child). Helmets are required with this open and self holding on system(non harness), flags are often supplied with this system as well(USE IT!)

Tail-gaitor/Follow Me tandem bar attaches child bike to adult bike:
This system is basically a bar that attaches to your child's existing bike's head tube and then attaches to your bike's seat post or rear axle. Like a tag along but the ability to use your child's bike during the ride unattached or attached. You supply the bikes on both ends!

As you can see, just with trailers, you have many options! Parents no longer have to leave their children at home with a sitter or give up biking during the child rearing years. In Part 2 of the series, I will be addressing child seats that attach to the adult's bike, effectively making a single bike a "2 seater". No third or forth wheels, what options do you have when you want to share a 2 wheeler? Stay tuned!

~Happy Trails!
Jamie g.


  1. Great overview. In a few years I will have to decide between the last couple of options as Abigail grows more.

  2. I have a yuba boda boda and my daughter, who is 9, sits on the back on the way to school/day care and then I ride on to work after. It has been monumental in me riding more often to commute. It feels safer than having her way in the back in a trailer or on a trail-a-bike option. Bakfiets are also a safer option than trailing and can accommodate more kids. Riding is great!

    1. Yup, Kathy, more parts of the series are to follow! We use a similar system to you(we have a Big Dummy!) and we love it! Each part of the series will focus on the numerous options out there for child portage. I am trying to list similar systems together so it makes more sense depending on what the family is looking for and so I can delve more in depth for each type. One huge long post with little information just didn't seem like the right thing to do:)

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  4. Scooters and Tricycles are another option if your child just doesn’t get into the balance bike. My daughter Kylie believes the balance bike to be some sort of toddler torture device, and refuses to go near it. At two years old she was much happier on the tricycle or my son’s old 3-wheel scooter. Scooters come in many different variations: electric or kick powered, two or three wheel, and there’s also one for older kids (5+) that’s called a twin tail or frog twist scooter that’s powered by wiggling back and forth. My kids have a kick scooter and a twin tail, and they both get plenty of use even after my son moved onto a pedal bike.