Author Topic: Bike to transport 2 small children  (Read 4499 times)

greaper007

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Bike to transport 2 small children
« on: January 13, 2014, 09:50:27 PM »
Hi everyone, I'm a stay at home dad with a 5 year old and a 2 year old.   Currently, we bike commute everywhere we can with my diy hybrid (10 year old kona hardtail with north road bars, skinny tires and panniers) and a cheap kid trailer.    So far this has worked great.    But within the last 6 months or so I've noticed that my kids growing size, along with heavy grocery loads is stressing the trailer to the point that the rear axle is being pulled out of alignment regularly.    I put some panniers on the back to take the load off the trailer, but that doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore.

I'm looking for a solution where I can still bike with my kids, and not spend an outrageous amount of money on a dual tag along, kids tandem or a long bike (though those are all super cool).   Eventually my son will be able to ride with me on his own bike, but that's still a couple years away on the busy roads we sometimes have to frequent.   Does anyone have any cheap solutions?   I have a torch and I'm not opposed to brazing.

girly mustache

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 10:10:15 PM »
I'm thinking a bolt on xtracycle to add to your existing bike - see if you can find a used one off Craigslist.... With two kids and groceries - you need something made to stand that much weight. You could also look for kid seats for you bike and keep the trailer for groceries.. When my daughter became too large for the trailer - but still too young to ride along - I bought a larger size Wike bike trailer - it was $$$ - but it well accomodated a larger size child - max weight was 125lbs (vs most trailers at 100 lbs) - and my daughter had plenty of room for her legs and head (which didn't fit in her older trailer) - but it was a bit spendy...

scottydog

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 10:12:20 AM »
In the summer, I've seen a few people around here with a trail-a-bike pulling a trailer.  We lucked out and found a trail-a-bike for $5 at a garage sale last summer, but I see them on kijiji/craigslist fairly often too, especially recently - I've been trolling for a winter beater bike.

I have a similar problem in that my oldest son (also 5) is getting too big for the rain cover on our box bike.  One option is to get a big rear seat (e.g. the bobike junior, which is aimed at 6-10 year olds) but since I already have a trail-a-bike I'm planning to try that first.  Based on my limited experience with a trailer and with a trail-a-bike (without the trailer), I personally don't think the extra length would be a major problem.

sol

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 10:22:01 AM »
Bike trailers come in a variety of sizes and weight ratings, and are usually easy to find on the secondhand market.  Maybe it's just time to upgrade from your existing trailer to something a little beefier?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 10:38:25 AM »
A used Burley trailer (relatively common on craigslist in my area) has two seats. At 5 and 2, you'd have space for one paper bag's worth of groceries between their feet and then the rest could go in panniers.

I've hauled well over 150 pounds worth of kids and goods in mine. The hard plastic shell and axle/hubs are very durable. If your area isn't too hilly, 200lbs is feasible at low gears.

beanlady

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 12:08:17 PM »
Cargo bikes are a lot more fun to ride than towing a trailer. I have a Yuba which is presumably more than you want to spend, but do consider an Xtracycle.

lackofstache

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 12:49:41 PM »
I have a Yuba which I bought as a frame. I had most of the parts on hand for building it up so it was fairly cheap. An Xtracycle is nice, the Yuba is a bit more solid w/ lotsa weight, but they'll both work fine. I highly advise it. My wife & I share our kid toting duties on the Yuba and occasionally still pull a trailer if we're each taking a kid.

You can ride w/ both kids easily, or put a whole lotta stuff on there & a kid or two. They ride like normal bikes and work much better than trailers day in/day out for our riding...

TrMama

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 03:13:32 PM »
I looked into this quite a bit about a year ago. My kids were 4 and 6 at the time. In your case I think the cheapest option is to upgrade your trailer to a sturdier model. You could also add front panniers to the tow bike. At 7 my daughter still weaves from side to side too much to ride in the bike lane. Plus, she's not strong enough to manage all the hills here. It'll be at least another year before we can do regular errands with her on her own bike. I think you're still a couple years off from having your oldest ride his own bike.

In my case, I'm a 5'4" female. Although I'm a strong biker for my size, my kids are now 66% of my weight. I can't haul them, let alone with cargo, unless they can help me pedal. Plus, it's hilly here.

We ended up with a tandem trail-a-bike which I would never recommend. There's too much lateral play in the hitch so the whole thing throws you all from side to side as you ride. Add the fact that the trailer + kids weighed more than me and the tow bike and it was scary and exhausting.

If I were more handy, and a little more badass, I'd get a tandem bike and get the gizmo that moves the stoker's cranks up to kid height. Put the larger child there. Then put the smaller child on a trail-a-bike. Add panniers. Make everyone wear a backpack.

Or, do what another local family has done and get a 4 person tandem. I see the dad and two kids riding it to school all the time.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 04:17:08 PM »
Specialty bikes like tandems and cargos are way out of my price range, personally. And by the time they filter into the used market more, my kids will be too big anyways ;)

I'm okay with just limiting trips out of the house for non-emergencies to once or twice a week. In summer the park is within easy biking distance and we're a year or two away of getting multi-speed kids bikes, which will give them a lot more confidence with hills.

greaper007

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 10:13:36 PM »
Thanks for all the ideas.   Right now I'm using a $40, end of season, Target Schwinn trailer.   It's been great for the past 4 years, but maybe it is time to upgrade.    I haven't really looked at the high-end kid trailer hitches, are they a significantly better setup?   

My current setup uses a metal piece that connects to the rear axle through the quick release skewer.    The problem is that under loads like heavy groceries or powering up hills, the asymmetrical force will pull one side of the axle out of line causing the brakes to rub (old bike = v-brakes).   The solution would be a trailer that has a mount on both axles like a single wheel burley, or a mount on the seat stay or chain stay like bikes at work.    Neither one of those can haul kids though.   Looks like I need to do some research.   

I've read mixed reviews about the extra-cycle, some people love it and some people complain about the body flex, will it accommodate two kids on the rear deck like other long bikes?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 11:45:25 AM »
I ended up fabbing my own replacement for the plastic bracket that the Burley trailers use. The plastic one just didn't fit my frame very well, so I made one out of metal. Wasn't too hard (just cutting and bolting, for next bike I will likely weld something together).

Just realized you're talking about the *bike* axle coming out of alignment. For my trailer I'd have to weld a hitch together and take the quick-release bolt for the wheel off. Not sure if there's pre-fabbed hitches that bolt onto both sides of the axle -- every bike has a different width, so I doubt it.

TrMama

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Re: Bike to transport 2 small children
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 02:17:19 PM »
This article, http://bikeportland.org/2008/04/15/carfree-with-kids-which-bikes-work-best-7148, is a pretty good summary. In fact, the entire Carfree Families section of BikePortland seems to have some really great info.