There is really only positives for going more places, more often on a bike. When kids come along this can be a bit more challenging. Riding with a toddler or 2 is a fantastic way to get around your neighbourhood or to make the most of the bikepaths that are popping up in fantastic places all over the country.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that you need to consider and solutions that can help get you riding more often. Being prepared can only lead to a more enjoyable experience for everyone meaning you’ll want to go more places!
Explore your local attractions
Longer day riding or touring is possible with children
Match your bike to the environments you want to explore
Riding with a Toddler or 2
More than one child…
Firstly, lets deal with your options for riding with more than one child as all the information to follow applies to any number of children
If you have more than one child how will riding with them work? Perhaps for most of the time you will be with only one child (your youngest) but every now and then you would like the option of adding a sibling to your bike e.g. the ride home from kindergarten, the school drop off, getting to soccer practice, weekend bike path riding. If this is the case get a front child seat so that you have the option of adding a second child – usually older – to the back of your bike by rear mounted seat, tailgater or trailer bike. The idea is to even out your weight…see more tips below in the Confidence Handling your Bike section.
Certain types of child bike seat carrying is designed for multiple children:
Cargo bikes – As the name implies these bikes are designed for taking weight so are perfect for more than one child. The set ups are either front or back, seats or trailers. Trailers can be enclosed or open. So you should be able to find something that suits your family dynamics. Financially this is a bigger investment but with everyday use you will get your money back in saved car bills. See www.cargobike.co.nz or www.goodrotations.co.nz for good explanations of your options and to get an idea of pricing and what’s available in NZ.
Trailer Bikes – A double trailer bike is designed for 2 children, it is enclosed and provides great weather protection meaning you can ride in more challenging weather conditions. The storage is usually pretty good with this option as well. You will have less to worry about in terms of balance on your bike but be aware that the rear of your bike will be wider so cornering and passing objects needs to be practised.
Cargo bikes are designed to move loads
Front & rear child bike seats
Protection from the Weather
When your toddler/child is sitting on a bike seat or in a bike trailer they aren’t moving like you are so will definitely feel the negative effects of weather more than you. Here are some ways you can deal with this problem
- protect them from cold air flow by using a windscreen with a front/handlebar seat. Choose a rear carrier or seatpost seat knowing that your body will protect them.
- Place them inside a bike trailer with the option of closing windows when the weather is not ideal.
- Dress them well, at least one more layer than you, finishing with a windproof outer layer. Think about their helmet – does it offer good head coverage and insulation?
Confidence handling your bike
The more you add to your bike the heavier it will be. This will effect your ability to stop quickly. The more you add to your bike, whether that is little people or “stuff” the more you have to think about your centre of gravity and how this effects balance and your ability to steer. Deal with added weight by
- having a good gear range on your bike. Shift down into easier gears as you come to a stop, making it easier to start again (Understanding Bike Gears). Electric assistance would give you the ultimate experience, especially if there are any hills involved and more than one child.
- brakes need to be in good working order and checked regularly. Be aware that you will have to begin to brake earlier than you do when riding by yourself
- where is the extra weight going? Can you balance it out e.g front child seat & rear panniers, or keep it close to the centre of the bike e.g mid mount child seat. Towing this weight solves balance or tipping problems.
How is your ability to carry “stuff”? The more toddlers/children you are dealing with the greater your load will be. Think drink bottles, food, extra clothing. Then the destinations you would like to travel to – markets, library, playgroups, picnic spots, veggie stalls etc. The better your load capacity the more places you can take the bike & kids.
- panniers attached to a carrier are ideal
- bike trailers can be loaded up
- front baskets are very handy
- a simple backpack…
- cargo bikes are the ultimate for carrying loads
If you feel safe when you are out riding you will want to do it more. If you feel vulnerable adding your child into the mix is only going to increase your anxiety. So lets look at ways to ease any worries you might have
- do checks. Look at your bike and look over the child seat/trailer before every ride that you go on. To do this effectively you need to understand how your child bike seat attaches to your bike. Choose to know this!!
- be visible in traffic. Use lights even during the day on flashing mode to attract attention, wear bright clothing, add a flag and wear a bright helmet.
- take a simple bike tool kit that will solve any issues and know how to ‘fix’ your bike to be able to get home e.g. a flat tyre.
- ride predictably in nice straight lines. Don’t weave in & out of traffic. Choose good routes where cars are aware of bikes as part of the environment. When you can choose to use bike paths.
Taking your family on bike adventures that allow them to take in the world around them is so rewarding. Visiting destinations around your local area or slightly further afield opens up exciting possibilities e.g. beaches, rivers, parks, reserves, neighbouring towns. Here’s a few things to do before you go to get the most out of your day
- how easy is it to get to where you are going? Will it involve using a car/bus/train? Is your bike and child seat easy to move around, lift or dismantle?
- understand distances and how long this may take you. Get a map and do some reading about your destination. Talk to people that have been there before – what did they find difficult? What is your childs limit, how long will they be happy in their seat for?
- take some support – a friend & their child, grandma, your neighbour…
- lots of stopping to keep them engaged and lots of food & water. Knowing whats coming next to talk about along the way
Carry bike tools & know how to use them!
Is transporting your bike an option?
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
goRide helps you find your riding SMILE. Now it’s your turn….Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback will make us SMILE.