Just yesterday, the kids came home from school and figured out that C and I had gone biking.
“What! You went biking without us?!!” They demanded.
See for us, biking has become a family activity. We’ve biked in all kinds of weather and on all kinds of terrain.
But most importantly, we’ve biked in all kinds of configurations.
Bike seats, child trail-a-bikes, and trail-gators have enabled us to make biking a family activity since before my kids could walk.
Biking is one of the best family activities. Ever. It allows for exploring new territories, seeing familiar neighborhoods in new ways. And it accommodates a whole range of abilities and sizes.
But getting your entire family on a bike ride may seem like a challenge.
That’s why I put together this post.
So if you’re trying to figure out what you need to get your family out on the road, here’s the scoop on the best equipment to make it work for you:
Bike Seats & Child Trailers: Bike Attachments For Stage One
The first step for taking your child with you on the bike is a bike seat or child trailer.
We’ve always used child bike seats and they’ve worked for us perfectly. We’ve wended our way on city streets and on country roads with our children perched behind us.
Some biking parents argue that you have to work a little harder to control the bike with a seat on it versus using a trailer. And yes, you need to be pretty comfortable on a bike and strong enough to maneuver the extra weight of the extra seat.
For this reason, I recommend the bike seats on the back versus the front-mounted ones. Given that you steer with your front wheel and handlebars, a back-mounted seat interferes less.
In addition, unlike trailers, bike seats allow you a lot more maneuverability and control.
I personally felt much more comfortable with my children right behind me. And I could talk to them and listen to them singing while we biked. And I was able to bike on roads where I wasn’t worried about the width of the trailer behind me.
However, if you’re less comfortable with biking or will be biking more on trails than trafficked roads, a child trailer might be a better choice. Consumer Reports recommends a trailer because it is closer to the ground and gives the child more protection overall.
If you have two children you’re taking along with you, a trailer also makes more sense.
Make sure, however, that you equip your trailer with an orange flag to ensure visibility since it’s so much lower to the ground.
When it comes to the weather protection question raised by trailer-advocates, here’s what we do with bike seats: Our children wore sunhats under their helmets and warm jackets.
They had the wind in their face and they were out in the elements with us. Not a bad first taste of biking.
And when it comes to rain, just don’t bike in it. Rain makes any configuration – bike seats or trailers – dangerous.
Trail-A-Bikes & Tag-Alongs: The Next Stage
Eventually, your child will want to do more than come along for the ride, they’ll want to get in on the action and bike too.
But don’t worry that getting them going with their own little bike and training wheels means you have to sacrifice those glorious long bike trips.
Lucky for all of us biking parents, there are a number of great interim solutions.
I called this my “turbo power” when my kids got on board.
With one of these attachments, your child can pedal along behind you when they’ve got the energy. But also relax a bit when they tire out.
And they get that feeling of being on the road, really biking with you. Not a passenger along for the ride.
Trail-Gators: Almost Independent
Finally, the last stage before biking off on their own is the trail gator. This fantastic attachment attaches your child’s whole bike to yours.
While it’s attached, they can pedal along behind you, fully connected for safety and energy’s sake. Mind you, take the turns carefully since now you’re steering an extra long bike.
But when you hit a good spot to let them loose, with a quick adjustment you can release their bike and let them bike on their own. The trail gator attachment simply folds up and clips onto your bike.
When they get tired or you hit more dangerous territory, you just reattach their bike and once again they’re trailing behind you.
It’s the perfect way to make this transition.
Get Them On The Bike Early
I’m sure that my children’s enjoyment of being on bikes taps into early memories of the rhythm of pedaling and watching the world go by at a more leisurely pace.
Make this part of your family activity as well. When they’re older, like mine, you can explore mountains and go on canyon adventures together. They’ll be urging you forward – the best personal trainers in town.
And when they’re younger, you can count on them to sing, cheer, chant, pedal, moan and ask a ton of questions that distract you from the chore of biking up a hill.
These attachments – bike seats, child trailers, tag-alongs and more – make all these good memories and the foundation for future adventures possible.
Share some of your family biking experiences and questions right here: