If you are wanting to get out on your bike with your children, you have quite a few options available to help you do that. Choose what works for your family!
Small children will need to be attached to your bike in some manner. Your options are: trailer, trailer bike, tandem, or a couple to attach your child’s bike on to the back of yours.
A trailer is wonderful in that the child can sleep when he wants, can play with toys while you are riding, and can be easily protected from the elements. In addition, the trailer may provide additional space for gear.
Trailers aren’t perfect though; there are some disadvantages. Many parents find their children sleep all day in the trailer and then want to play all night when the parents need to sleep. Also, some children can get frustrated that they are not part of the team helping to propel the bike.
A trailer bike is another option to consider. A one-wheeled contraption that hooks to the back of your bike, a trailer bike allows a child to pedal and help out with the workload, yet he can rest when he wants. Higher end trailer bikes come with gears, which is recommended if you plan to cycle up any hills. Your child will be very proud of what he’s done when you get to the top of the hill!
A disadvantage of a trailer bike is that there is no easy way too protect your child from the elements. Even with proper rain gear, hands and feet are vulnerable if weather turns bad. Also, kids tend to be lulled to sleep with the gentle rocking of the bike, which can lead to a dangerous situation.
Tandems are wonderful options for cycling together as a family. Not only is your child part of the team and helping with the workload, but he is also pedaling in sync with you and learning proper biking technique. As he is very close, you can carry on conversations easily.
Tandems, however, are expensive. They are dedicated tandems and you will not be able to simply jump on to run errands alone. They are also very oversized so are difficult to fly with. If you plan to travel a lot with your tandem, it will be worth the extra money for S & S couplers so you can break the bike down into small pieces.
The last option for touring with small children is using a coupler that will connect a small child’s bike on to the back of your bike. With this option, your child can ride on his own when safe, but can be connected to you when in traffic. The two connectors currently available are the Trail Gator Tow Bar and the Follow Me coupler.
When your child is a bit older, a single bike becomes an option. Not all children mature at the same rate, so it is difficult to give an age – one child might be ready to ride his own bike at age 8 while another child would need to wait until a teenager. Pay attention to your child and make the decision based on his skills and personality. Consider his physical strength, coordination, ability to be aware of surroundings, and maturity.
If you have children of varying ages, you may find a combination of approaches to work. A tandem with a trailer works well. Many trailer bike companies are now making them with the ability to hook a trailer behind. You may find yourself traveling through town on a long train, but at least you’ll be out and about on your bike – which is great for the whole family!