Electric bikes are the newest development and easily the biggest growing market in the world of biking. E-Bikes are popping up all over the country and all sorts of people are choosing to ride one. We want to look at a couple of questions and help you answer them… Why would you mix electric bikes and riding with kids/grandkids? What should you look for when buying an E-Bike to transport kids or grandkids?
An electric bike will take away any barrier or negative thoughts you may have about taking a bike from one point to another. It deals with hills, distance, weight, fitness levels. Basically all the things that may make biking difficult in general, but especially so when you add children or grand children to your bike. Once these types of barriers are removed you will choose to ride more places, more often.
WHAT IS AN E-BIKE?
A battery powered bike that allows you to put in as much or as little effort as you want while riding it. As you get bike fit you will use less motor power and be able to go further with less battery assistance.
WHAT IS THE COST? UPFRONT & ON GOING?
Along with the huge variety in types of E-Bikes comes the huge price range. Most people will be able to find something within their budget that will get the job done. But as with most things that require an initial investment… the more you are prepared to pay the better quality bike you will get. In terms of bikes that are suitable for riding with kids your starting point will be around $3000. See the list below of recommendations as there are a few things like power and brakes that make entry level E-Bikes unsuitable for riding with the added weight of kids.
After the upfront bill the cost to run an E-Bike is so minimal!! Charging is super cheap 20-30cents for every 100 kilometres you ride. Batteries do have a life span and will need replaced every 2-3 years.
To follow are some images of E-Bikes supplied by Electrify NZ to give you an idea of what to begin to look at.
Magnum Navigator $2,999
A city or commute type of bike with good options for attaching or towing kids.
Black ATB $3,599
A leisure or trail bike good for both on & off road. Good options for attaching or towing kids.
Gepida Berig $4,999
Great leisure trail bike. Awesome over distance & for hills.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN E-BIKE to transport kids or grandkids:
When buying an E-Bike to transport kids or grandkids it is a good idea to have some knowledge around the features on the bike that will help you to enjoy your riding.
To follow are some recommendations around what to look for in an E-Bike that is capable of attaching kids to or towing them. You need to know about BRAKES, POWER & GEARS…
- step-through frames make handling the bike so much easier – getting on/off around kids seats, easier to straddle while stopping/starting. Just easier to manage. This is especially true if you want to ride with 2 kids on one bike
- hydraulic brakes are a must. As you add the weight of kids to your bike you will need more stopping power (stopping safely is more important than going!) This requirement will largely eliminate entry-level E-Bikes, but you can always ask your bike shop if they can do a hydraulic brake upgrade on your chosen bike if it has mechanical brakes as standard. But add up the cost and work out whether spending just a few hundred more would get you a better solution on multiple levels
- this point about brakes is really key if you live on or need to bike over hills with your kids attached or being towed
- if a battery upgrade is available, get it. More weight on the bike means less range (time before the battery power runs out), so spending on an upgrade is worthwhile
- go for power, i.e. bikes with more torque will be better for you for carrying/towing, especially when climbing hills. What you want is a bike with a high torque rating
- most E-Bikes will have capable gearing for this sort of use; remember, you have a motor to assist you. But if you live in a very hilly place then you may want to ensure you have something more capable, with a big rear sprocket (bigger is better, for hill climbing)
MAKE SURE YOU TEST RIDE
Test ride the bike over a decent distance with variations in road surface and hills, etc. At least a 30min test ride, and longer if your bike shop will provide it. You have to be very comfortable and confident on the bike in order for you to carry/tow your most precious cargo. And compare different models, by riding them. You should not have to pay or commit to buying the bike before test riding it.
What to look for during the test ride. Mainly your comfort and safety on the bike. You must feel confident in the way it handles and steers. This is especially important for any downhill decent with the added weight of a child. When you have found a bike or two that you feel good about riding…(exciting!) now consider the kids or grandkids…where could they go…what will work??
Quick Comparison of Child Position Options for E-Bikes:
Front seats (Minis) are an awesome introduction for young toddlers and give great interaction between the child & the rider.
Mid Mount seats are unharnessed – we don’t recommend the combination of E-Bike speed and an unharnessed young child, especially in traffic! So only a consideration for off road riding.
Rear seats are a great investment over time 1-6years in a Maxi or a Junior seat will take them from 4-10years. These seats are a popular commuting option.
Towing kids is a great way to distribute the weight and to take kids places they struggle to ride by themselves. The biggest decision to make is whether you want your child/grandchild towed on their own bike (they can then detach and ride independently) or riding a trailing 1/2 bike. This decision will be influenced by age and the child’s capability.
Attachment points and limitations;
When buying an E-Bike it is also useful to have some idea of where you want to carry or tow your kids/grandkids. Particularly attachment points for seats or towing. Keep in mind that weight will be your biggest issue so spread weight out and choose lightweight seats like those made by Thule, Yepp or BoBike. The combination of this knowledge along with the type of terrain and places you want to ride to/from, will get you a good E-Bike match.
Another type of bike to consider is a cargo bike. These bikes are designed for transporting weight so are perfect for adding kids. Depending on how far you want to travel or whether you have hills to negotiate you could consider an Electric Cargo Bike. This type of electric bike is a considerable investment expect to pay over $5,000 for a simple model and closer to $10,000 for great quality. Cargo bikes best match with flat, urban riding. They are a good match to car replacement, 2-3 kids, older kids. Photo is of a Yuba Supermarche.
For more information read Using a Cargo Bike to Transport Your Family
get Ready and goRide – Buying an E-Bike to Transport Kids
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