Tell me about Towing a Kid

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  • Tell me about Towing a Kid
  • growinglad
    Member

    So, now our 3 are starting to get a little older and we have the chance to ride on proper paths completely away from traffic I’m getting set up for heading out on family rides altogether. Mate and me did a deal on a trailer for good beers, so I have been out a few times with the twin boys in the trailer (just over 2) but I still have my 3.5 year old daughter to cart about. I’m guessing I’ll tow the boys in the trailer and I’m thinking my wife will tow my daughter (but that’s not set in stone yet, have to do some testing).

    The way I see it, is there are 3 options.

    One of these one wheeled bikes with handle bars that connect to the seat tube and have a set of peddles so the kid can either peddle of just sit there.

    Or there is the rack which connects to the back axle of the tow bike and the kids (own proper bike’s front wheel) sits into this bracket

    Or the bar which just goes directly between the two bikes

    Would be interested to hear anyone’s experience on the above options.

    Cheers,

    GL

    nbt
    Member

    I’ve used the trailgator – the last one. Same idea as the middle one but a hell of a lot cheaper. Better than the first as you can let the kids go off and do their own thing, then re-attach when they’re tired.

    A friend has the second one, and seems to like it. It is expensive though. It looks a bit more stable than a trailgator, but I don’t know anyone who has tried both.

    If you are a masochist, you can also do bike seat on the bike with the trailer attached, so you can take all three.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    Plenty of experience here as I have three kids and have always moved them around by bike.

    I’ve had three behind me before, tag along attached to my bike and trailer to the tag along. Did it for a laugh, not a serious suggestion.

    3.5 is probably too young for a tag along, there is no way I could put my boy (same age) on it as his feet won’t reach and he wouldn’t be reliable enough to hold on. I would suggest bike seat on a rack on back of your wifes bike, and trailer behind yours. This also gives you options to swap kids around as they get grumpy, tired etc.

    growinglad
    Member

    If you are a masochist, you can also do bike seat on the bike with the trailer attached, so you can take all three.

    Yep, already thinking that for times when it’s just me..

    But quite like the idea of my daughter riding on her own a bit more. She’s starting to get the idea with the balance bike, so I think by spring summer, she’ll be ready for a proper bike, but still want to be able to tow her a long a bit so we can explore a bit more.

    growinglad
    Member

    franksinatra – I see you know where I’m coming from πŸ™‚

    I did wonder whether she could be trusted….she can be a bit blond at times!

    Is it better to have the bike seat on a rack? I saw one that can connect to a bracket that fixes to the seat tube of the frame?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    trailgator is rubbish for distance and any serious off road, ime.

    the kid ends up sat at a funny angle and their front wheel hits the ground all the time on uneven terrain if you try and keep it low so they’re not leaning back too far.

    3.5 is ok for trailer bike, ime, but depends on the kid.

    if you’re near Brighton I have an Adams trailer bike you can have for free if you collect it. Been sat in the shed for ages. Reasonable nick but doesn’t fold anymore as the two halves have corroded together – I’ve not had a huge go at freeign it up, though.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    The seat on a rack is very stable. You need to check though that your bike has bosses for a rack, a lot of new mountain bike don’t and, ime, the alternative p clips are not good enough.

    I used to chuck the balance bike in the back of my trailer, we could then ride distance using trailer / seat, and the littleun could then pootle about on the balance bike when we got to where we were going.

    Taking a kid out on longish rides is not the best way to encourage them, much better that they muck around in the street or local playground with you on your feet to help them out.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    I’ve not used a kiddie seat on a seat tube so not qualified to comment. I have wondered though about the stress going through the seat tube?

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    I did bike seat and trailer for a bit – though ours is only a single seater trailer, so a bit less load. Worked fairly well, and I’m still happy we did it that way rather than having a 2 seater trailer which would have only had 1 kid in most of the time (and been a nightmare to get through the width restrictions on a lot of the routes we use).

    Though I moved on to this when oldest was just under 4:

    Sorry it’s probably not a lot of help for you (though I know everybody on here likes to get more bikes), but I’d not have liked to use a tag-along when he was that age.

    Youngest is now just coming up to the age oldest was when we started with that, so contemplating http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/thorn-me-n-u2-2012-yellow-new-prod28191/ as the next step!

    Oh, and given discussion above, that’s a Hamax seat-tube mounted seat (which as you can see means you can still use the rack for luggage).

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    Used a tagalong loads this year with my 4 year old:

    DSC_0970 by ir_bandito, on Flickr

    Although once he figured out how to combine the pedalling practise from the tagalong with his balance skills from the balance bike, he learned to ride his pedal bike, so the tagalong and balance bike are banished to the loft until #2 grows into them.
    Now have a Trailgator. Its nowhere near as sturdy as the tagalong, and the gearing on his Islabike is lower too, so he can’t put as much effort in, but it does mean he can ride most of the time and i tow him uphill.

    top tip: get a handlebar-end mirror so you can keep an eye on what’s going on behind you!

    Before he was 4, we used a top-tube Leco seat. Feet on my fork-crown, hands on my handlebars.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Subscriber

    Spent ages trying to get the Trailgator to work – but gave up as it’s dangerous.
    The Follow-Me is excellent – and take 20″ wheeled-bikes too (useful when in busy traffic with a 5-yr old.
    The only problem was arguments about who got the tandem and who got the top-tube seat.

    Sounds like trailer and bike seat on the other bike is best for now, rotating the bairns between the various seats.
    Put your daughter’s balance bike in the back of the trailer so she can use it for a bit, then get back into a seat when she’s tired or bored with it.

    Took our two out in the trailer yesterday with the wee man’s bike stuffed in the back – he managed to pedal a mile and a half which was a proud dad moment. He’d only previously ever done bursts on it round the park last summer.
    How wide are these trailers though? Defo need some route planning to avoid hassle with the restrictor gates.

    Marge
    Member

    Got a trailer bike (option 1) which has been excellent (my youngest is approaching being too old for it now).
    Been off-road lots without issues including some trails around the Alps. Just wish the little beggar passenger would pedal occasionally πŸ™‚

    Cargobike plus trailer/tag-along?

    Can get 2 childseats on integral rear rack.


    F and Yuba Mundo at Northcliffe park by clivenutton, on Flickr

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    I have a trail-gator, Crank all the bolts up super tight and it’s great. My lad tends to ride most of the flat and down bits so i never really have him hooked up for that long so can’t really comment on the long distance stuff. All I know is my lad loves it.

    It is pretty heavy though for what it is.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    I bought a Trail gator recently but the head tube bracket doesn’t fit on the little one’s bike. He has a Spesh Hot Rock (I think). I need to get a different bracket engineered or else it’s useless and will have to be returned/sold.

    Euro
    Member

    My youngest loves the tag-a-long. Started riding when he was 3, but he’s tall. At first I tied the cranks level, lowered the seat and moved the bars so he fitted. Very easy to forget he’s on the back sometimes, which usually gets me a bollocking from the boss πŸ˜† I’ve done a few longish rides (20k+) and it’s been brilliant.

    Your girl is 3 and a bit now, but think about summertime (when it’ll likely get most use then) and she’ll be closer to 4.

    School run vid
    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4vjoaNakIU&feature=share&list=UUPvti4d0R4E6J7p8wPSPmaQ[/video]

    donks
    Member

    Pashley do a 2 seater tag along…just seen it on ebay. Looks really stable as it has 2 back wheels.

    tonyd
    Member

    Saw someone out yesterday with one on a tag-along type (option 1) and a trailer attached to that. He was working hard!

    Personally I’d avoid child seats that attach to the seat tube (Hamax eg) as they just swing about and make the bike feel totally unstable. I got one from ebay to use while trying to find a LOCT when we moved the youngest into the Weeride. Both my son and I absolutely hated the Hamax – made the bike awful to ride and he was bored stupid.

    Those trailgator things (option 3) always look really uncomfortable for the nipper. I think I’d opt for a mid mounted seat and then carry the nippers bike somehow. Once the weather improves and we start going further than the local park I’m going to carry the balance bike on my back with an old climbing sling. Might not be so comfy when you’ve pedals digging into you though.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Subscriber

    Personally I’d avoid child seats that attach to the seat tube (Hamax eg) as they just swing about and make the bike feel totally unstable.

    Had you bolted it on properly? Because I don’t find that a problem at all, and I’ve doubtless done far more miles with one than you did.

    tonyd
    Member

    Had you bolted it on properly? Because I don’t find that a problem at all, and I’ve doubtless done far more miles with one than you did.

    I think so. When I say swing about I mean I could feel the prongs that go into the bracket flexing. When littl’un started wriggling to see what’s going on the back of the bike was all over the place.

    This was fitted to a ’93 steel kona though, which I can feel bending when cornering fast with panniers so the frame may not have helped.

    Either way I prefer a mid mounted seat as they can interact more.

    qwerty
    Member

    Why would you attempt to put a baby goat on a bicycle???

    growinglad
    Member

    Thanks all, some really useful comments to give me stuff to think about.

    I’m trying to avoid buying any news bikes, got enough already, let alone when the kids start having something a bit more than the balance bike.

    Child seat kind of makes sense, but now my daughters getting a bit older and more active I like the idea of her doing a bit more than just sitting strapped into the seat. I hadn’t thought about trailer on the back of the tag alone…good bit of extra training πŸ™‚ Works though…hmm, that way I can take them out on my own, or if the Missus is with us, we can share the load. At the moment, it’s just a case of being able to get a little further in our area to explore local woods ect…anyone that’s ever walked with 3 kids under 4 will know it’s easier herding cats!! Hate the idea of putting them in the car for somewhere we could get to easily with 10-20 minutes on a bike. Plus over here there are loads of really good cycle paths (i.e. wide enough to drive a car down) and very rarely width restrictions….This is Switzerland…just a sign is all it takes to make sure people stick to where they should πŸ™‚

    Had to laugh at the video..if I had one of my lads on the back when we went past a dumper truck he’d jump off no matter what speed we are doing and chase after if shouting DIGGER!!!!, bonkers for diggers and dumper trucks.

    Thanks again…all very useful, GL.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    I’m trying to avoid buying any new bikes, got enough already

    Impossible. There is always space for one more bike.

    ianv
    Member

    Tailgators are pretty good IME. They allow you to let the kid go on their own when gravity is in their favour (easily), they are cheap in comparison to the other solutions and they were fine for my son off road and over longish distances.

    It would deffo be my preferred solution if I needed something again.

    tonyd
    Member

    If you go child seat option they don’t have to be strapped in. Check out the LOCT I linked to above, they’re hard to come by as discontinued (due to high production costs I believe) but they are superb. Basically they have to balance and keep themselves on the bike. Alternatively just clamp a saddle to your top tube and some footpegs to the downtube.

    My eldest (just turned 3) goes on this when we’re out for longer than he can manage on his balance bike and he loves it. I put some little grips on the inside of my shifters so he holds on there. You can really feel them lean with you and teach them to stand up on the pegs to absorb bumps etc.

    growinglad
    Member

    I was thinking about fitting a saddle to the top tube, but I have a Cube with an angled top tube i.e. it ain’t round, not sure I’d be able to fit a saddle to it…although open to hear how others have fitted something to the top tube.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    On the subject of tag-alongs, ours was secondhand, for Β£25. But it must have been sized for a 7-8 year old. Had to replace the high-rise BMX bars with some straight ones, and also the cranks with some much shorter, and also a smaller saddle.

    Premier Icon postierich
    Member

    Isla bike tagalong will be selling soon great for offroad fun just need to be carefull on drop offs as it would hit the hitch arm lifting the passenger into the air!

    PA273059 by Richard Munro, on Flickr


    10450_10151223959466474_1611561866_n by Richard Munro, on Flickr


    P3110391 by Richard Munro, on Flickr

    tonyd
    Member

    Rich – YGM!

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    Stilltortoise – i’ll see if a can get a photo of the one fitted to my lads bike when i get home and post it up cos the normal fitting didn’t work on his either, Carrera blast, so i had to lose part of it to make it fit the head tube. it still works fine though. but tape some inner tube round the head tube before fitting the bracket cos it knackers the paint otherwise.

    Premier Icon ads678
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    Growing lad – I used a leco (i think) top tube mounted seat for a while. it’s great as you can talk to your kids while pedalling and they feel like they’re in control as well. just be carefull on rougher stuff cos it dented the top tube a bit on my five (old shape so round tube) so could do with some shimming before fitting.

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