When you’re child has graduated from that ‘wrap in cotton wool‘ stage to those pre toddler ‘want to explore the world‘ stage there’s no better way to show them the world than by bike!
This brings a challenge for many new parents, how to carry your child by bike? Like buying your first pram, options are endless, and a wrong choice will have you dreading your decision. Below is our take on how to go about carrying your babies and kids by bike.
It can feel lonely throwing your young child on the back of a bike and not being able to keep tabs on them, for this reason the front carrier has become very popular over the last few years.
Front carriers generally attach to your handlebar stem and down tube (or with a rod between your stem and seatpost), allowing you to ride with your hands either side of your child.
It’s a great idea in theory, your young child is close to you, you can engage with them and there’s a sense of safety, particularly for small children who are yet to develop good core strength. However, there are limitations and for this reason our foray into front carriers was short lived. Some of the shortcomings are:
- Cramped riding position: For taller riders, the child seat up front limits your ability to properly turn the pedals resulting in you having to turn your knees out to pedal, this quickly becomes very uncomfortable.
- Mounting & dismounting is awkward. We found it hard to put our leg down on the ground when needing to stop for traffic, and getting on and off the bike was extremely awkward, always feeling like your going to drop the bike (and your child).
- Age limits. These front carriers work from about 6 months to 2 years, after which your child will have grown out of the seat.
Before long we graduated to a rear carrier child seat. These seats lose the intimacy of having your child very close to you, but provide much more space for both rider and passenger.
The pros include lots of adjustability and by having your child behind you on cold days your body helps protect them from the wind. You’ll also more longevity out of a rear seat which can work for up to 4-5 years old. However, they’re certainly not perfect. Some of the limitations we came across include:
- Small children out of sight is not ideal. Whether it is cracking it because they can’t see mum or dad or deciding it is a good idea to try to grab onto the tree 5 metres away and try to climb out of the seat.
- Getting kids in and out is difficult. A regular bike stand doesn’t cut it with the weight of a child on the back, therefore there’s a juggling act of trying to find a wall to lean your bike against while getting children in and out. It was an incident outside some shops where our bike fell over with child still strapped in that made us question the rear child carrier and look for an alternative!
- Balancing the bike can be tough. Traffic lights can instill a sense of anxiety when you’ve got to balance this back heavy vehicle that isn’t necessarily designed to be holding 20kg on the back.
Both of the above options work for a single child. Once you add a second child to the mix, either both parents need to go out on rides, or you need to look for an alternative. This is where the bike trailer comes into play.
The bike trailer generally has 2 wheels and hitches to the back of your bike. It can carry two small children or one child + some other stuff. Some also allow the trailer to be used as a running pram, to get some dual usage out of it.
Some of the issues we encountered with a bike trailer include:
- Kids are a looooong way back. Once you add a second kid to the mix the mischief they can get up to amplifies. With a trailer they are a long way back, it can be difficult to keep tabs on them.
- Total length. A bike + a trailer becomes very long, this often means unhitching the trailer when storing it, making for longer setup time when it comes to using the trailer and being mindful of where you use the trailer due to its length.
- Small internal size. The inside space of a trailer is pretty small. 2 kids are pretty squished up in there, and there’s not much room for anything else.
After finding all of the alternatives to not be fit for purpose, we knew we had to go the cargo bike route. This is where Tribe Bikes was borne. Our bikes are ridden almost daily, not just because we own the company but because it is an extremely practical way to get out with kids. Some of the many benefits of carrying kids by cargo bike include:
- Kids are upfront making it really easy to keep an eye on them and engage with them.
- Ease of getting out and about. There’s no setup needed, just throw the kids in the bike, do up the seatbelts and away you go.
- Stability. With 3 wheels on a Tribe Bike, the bike is incredibly stable at low speeds. There’s no trying to find a wall to lean the bike against, just engage the park bike and hop off the bike.
- Space. There’s so much space up front that you can carry a few kids + plenty of other stuff.
Our favourite options ranked
There you have it. The 4 options for carrying children as tested by us. In order of preference I’ve ranked them:
- Cargo Bike
- Rear Carrier
- Bike Trailer
- Front Carrier
Our standout favourite is clearly the cargo bike! After which the rear carrier is ok, followed by a bike trailer and finally the much maligned front carrier.
We hope this little summary helps you choose the right child seat for your bike!