Transporting a family by bike

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Rob Archer
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Joined: 10 Apr 2007, 8:25pm
Location: King's Lynn, Norfolk

Transporting a family by bike

Post by Rob Archer »

We're in the happy position of expecting our second child in June. we don't have a car and do most of our travelling locally by cycle. We currently have a bike fitted with a Hamax child seat and are cosidering getting a trailer so one of us can transport our 3-year old and the baby together. Anybody any experience / recommendations for transporting a toddler and a baby (probably from abour 3 months)?

Rob
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meic
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Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Post by meic »

SNAP
We are expecting the second in June aswell.
I just got a trailer and I am quite scared by the size of it. No more can cars just fly pass, I am now a substantial obstruction and going slower.
I have only test ridden a couple of hundred metres and I am not looking forward to my first real journey.
Also the size of it means you can not pass through all the traps on the NCN off road routes.
The towing hitch on them is suprisingly flexible and doesnt restrict your turning circle much. Also my road positioning didnt seem much further out than normal.
I will probably come back to report how things are going.
I am getting ideas about raising a bit of a fuss with sustrans about these traps. I think they are already not very fond of these traps but the Police like to try and shift the blame for illegal motorcycles onto the landowner.
GeoffL
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Joined: 28 Feb 2007, 7:47pm
Location: SE Cornwall

Post by GeoffL »

meic wrote:SNAP
We are expecting the second in June aswell.
I just got a trailer and I am quite scared by the size of it. No more can cars just fly pass, I am now a substantial obstruction and going slower.
I have only test ridden a couple of hundred metres and I am not looking forward to my first real journey.

Congrats to both of you!

FWIW, I find riding with a trailer less stressful in traffic than riding solo (even if it is harder work physically). David Martin's Theory of BIG goes some way to explaining why this should be, but cars just seem to give more room. Another explanation is the astonishing factor - other road users "know" how to deal with familiar things, so as they're pootling along it's "car, car, cyclist, bus, car, astonishing's that! - better give it a wide berth" :shock:

meic wrote:Also the size of it means you can not pass through all the traps on the NCN off road routes.
The towing hitch on them is suprisingly flexible and doesnt restrict your turning circle much. Also my road positioning didnt seem much further out than normal.
I will probably come back to report how things are going.
I am getting ideas about raising a bit of a fuss with sustrans about these traps. I think they are already not very fond of these traps but the Police like to try and shift the blame for illegal motorcycles onto the landowner.

Even the gates that you'd think wouldn't be a problem are an issue because you often can't get both bike and trailer through the gate before the spring or gravity slams it into your trailer. If you've got an axle or chainstay hitch, articulation is restricted in right-hand turns and some of the traps require very sharp right turns to negotiate. Also, when you turn the trailer takes a tighter line than the bike, which means that even if you take the bike wide around some of these traps, the trailer fouls a post or rock. I've had to unhitch on several of these nightmares and take the bike and trailer through separately.

WRT raising a fuss, Sustrans is probably not the organisation with which to be raising it. IME the people responsible for these traps are almost invariably the local authority and landowners. I wish you luck in your fuss-raising but don't hold out too much hope. AFAICT from raising a fuss about some gates and boulder traps on NCN27, Sustrans are on our side and don't want these obstructions - but they're often a condition of creating or retaining the route and so both they and we have to live with them.

All the best,

Geoff
fatboy
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Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 1:32pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Post by fatboy »

Congratulations!

Worth noting that the manuals of these trailers recommend only using them for children over 18 months.

Another thought is that your three year old is getting too small for a trailer and would be much happier with a tag along/childback tandem/tandem with kiddiecranks.

We started our daughter on a tag along before she was three and it has been great. Don't know how you get a child seat and a tag along on at the same time....... Probably could do this with a tandem and child seat. I was in the process of trying to understand the options when my wife became pregnant and then it was twins........
"Marriage is a wonderful invention; but then again so is the bicycle puncture repair kit." - Billy Connolly
stof

Post by stof »

fatboy wrote:Worth noting that the manuals of these trailers recommend only using them for children over 18 months.

Another thought is that your three year old is getting too small [:?: :?: :!: ]for a trailer and would be much happier with a tag along/childback tandem/tandem with kiddiecranks.


Age varies by make and model. We have a Chariot trailer fitted with a 'baby-sling' (an optional extra) which says it is fine for kids from a couple of weeks. We toured to Northern France from Coventry with our youngest in it when she was 4 months old.

With my eldest, I tried him on the back of a tandem, using kiddy-cranks, when he was three and although he was excited over very short journeys, he wasn't really up to this on long trips and even 4-5 miles would see him nodding off precariously. Even now, at 6, he still lolls disconcertingly on the tagalong on the way back from school (6 miles). When the lorry behind has no chance of stopping should he fall, this is far from ideal...

Not sure of the solution to this, but I will say that my 6 year old can still fit in the trailer. It is getting to be a bit of a squeeze, but he mostly resents it because he thinks it is for babies rather than becuase of the tight squeeze.
pigman
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Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 12:23pm
Location: Sheffield UK

Post by pigman »

we too have a trailer for the kids, altho the oldest is getting a bit big (probably end up with tandem and kid seat).

The first time i got the trailer, i too was nervous about having the young 'uns low to the road, wide and therefore run over. However, experience has shown that its quite safe beacuse (1) its wide - cars don't chance a squeeze past - they wait, and (2) drivers know theres kids (babies) inside and the emotive nature of patience with kids takes over.
You get lots of looks and smiles tho'. I should add that i do purposely avoid the main trunk roads out of town.
The biggest drawback is the effort needed to propell the darn thing up hills
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hubgearfreak
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Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 4:14pm

Post by hubgearfreak »

this looks interesting, but pricey.

you can do further googling (bakfiets) to find out more

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Rob Archer
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Joined: 10 Apr 2007, 8:25pm
Location: King's Lynn, Norfolk

Post by Rob Archer »

Thanks for the experiences! We're quite interested in the chariot trailer, but their website says that you cannot use it for 2 children when the baby sling attachment is fitted. They may just be covering themselves but has anybody got any experience of this?
stof

Post by stof »

Rob Archer wrote:Thanks for the experiences! We're quite interested in the chariot trailer, but their website says that you cannot use it for 2 children when the baby sling attachment is fitted. They may just be covering themselves but has anybody got any experience of this?


I guess it depends which design perhaps, but we have the Corsairre and have used that with a 4 month old in the sling and a 2 year old next to her. Both seemed quite happy about the arrangement. THe sling basically uses the main straps, so you can fit them on either side or in the middle... Perhaps you're only supposed to fit them in the middle so they have more room for side-to-side swinging, but no one told us that! (Ours was ex-display so had no instructions etc, but did have over £100 off the asking price!).
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Tandemist
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Post by Tandemist »

Baby no 1 - bought sidecar for tandem when wife pregnant. (Advance planning !).
Put baby in sidecar once could hold own head up (not before).
Baby no 2 - bought child seat for back of tandem for baby no 1 and baby no 2 got sidecar.
Baby no 3 - bought trailer & attached to rear of tandem/sidecar combination so followed in same wheeltracks. Baby no 1 went in sidecar and babies no 2 & 3 went in trailer. Child seat removed from tandem.

Warning 1 : watch total weight loading on trailers as wheela can splay outwards at bottom and tops rub on sides of trailer if overloaded.
Warning 2 : Good brakes needed on tandem (minimum 3).
Warning 3 : Watch out for brakes overheating - stop for a cool down part way down long/steep descents.
Warning 4 : Don't go too fast downhill even if on nice straight road as wife gets scared and refuses to ride tandem again !
Warning 5 : If babies are fed they get bigger and grow out of sidecars and trailers.
Warning 6 : If you give up cycling you get bigger too.

Solution : Keep cycling and teach babies to ride own bikes / back of tandem as soon as possible / when big enough to reach pedals.

P.S. Position of Stoker on tandem still vacant ! (although baby no 3 had a good first try on Sunday).
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essexman
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Post by essexman »

A baby sling! Hurray we can cycle again! Where can i get a chariot!
I hate snow.
richardirving
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Joined: 10 Jan 2007, 1:28pm

Post by richardirving »

Daughter no 1 started in a Troxel child seat, and then we tried a few more, Rhode Gear, Hamax and another on various machines including a tricycle, but actually the first seat was best. Then we bough a s/h tandem (twin lateral design by Mercian) which suited her until 4 and then we used kiddy cranks to an independent freewheel arrangement which worked well. Daughter no 2 then went on the child seats again while elder stoked, and then we bought tandem 2 (Longstaff custom double marathon) for daughter no 2. In between times I did once ride 20+ miles with daughter no stoking on the tandem with daughter 2 in a child seat on the back. Hard work but fun. Now that I have no. 1 son - my 3 year old - I am looking forward to getting him on the back of the Mercian. During most of this time we were without a car and life was full of essential journeys all of which were achieved on a mixture of trains and bikes as we were shuttling between London and Norfolk on a regular basis; all a bit mad really...
MarySkater
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Joined: 7 Mar 2007, 2:17pm
Location: SW Scotland

Post by MarySkater »

pigman wrote:The biggest drawback is the effort needed to propell the darn thing up hills

One good reason for using an electric bike!
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Cunobelin
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Joined: 6 Feb 2007, 7:22pm

Car Seat

Post by Cunobelin »

I have seen suggested, but have no personal experience, that most child trailers will take a car child seat , simply remove the present seating and use the straps to secure the child seat . This offers an option for younger children than are normally advised for trailers.
stof

Re: Car Seat

Post by stof »

Cunobelin wrote:I have seen suggested, but have no personal experience, that most child trailers will take a car child seat , simply remove the present seating and use the straps to secure the child seat . This offers an option for younger children than are normally advised for trailers.


Yes - we did this with our first child. Worked a treat, but he didn't go in it until about 4 months I reckon.
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