Author Topic: Bike with five small passengers  (Read 8024 times)

Mrs. The Butler

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Bike with five small passengers
« on: October 11, 2014, 08:06:05 PM »
My husband and I have two kids, ages 3 and 1.5.  I use my bike for a lot of errands and currently use a road bike pulling a Burley trailer.

It's looking like in the next couple of weeks we may be taking three foster-to-adopt kids, ages 1.5, 2, and 3.  Yeah, life will be busy for a while.

We're trying to figure out a way for me to continue biking with five kids under age four, and I thought maybe some people on here could come up with ideas.

We've looked at bakfiets, but besides being really expensive, they generally only seat four - so in theory I could use one of those with a child seat on the back, and I guess pull a trailer if I needed groceries - but that's a lot of weight to drive home (a long gradual uphill into the wind).  I'm reluctant to use child seats that mount to the bike itself just because it always looks precarious to me, but if that's what had to be done I'd try to find a way to make it happen.

We've tried to find trailer options online, but can't find anything that would be big enough, so we've toyed with the idea of trying to build our own.  The benefit of using a trailer rather than a bakfiets is that I've trained our dog to help pull the bike, but I don't think I could safely control him with a bakfiets, since he'd be way out in front.  But having him able to help pull the bike towing a heavyish trailer would actually be a way he could start earning his dog food.  :-)

We found a YouTube video where someone had hooked two bike trailers together, but that leaves us short one seat.

Also, would a road bike be adequate for this task anyway?  I'm sure a mountain bike would probably be better suited, but I don't currently have one of those.  If the kids' average weight is 35 lbs, and there are five of them, that's 175 lbs, plus the weight of the trailer, plus whatever cargo (groceries would generally be the heaviest cargo). 

So, any ideas?

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2014, 09:15:58 PM »
My understanding is that it's really difficult to bike with that much weight. I haul two kids in a trailer... I would haul five in a minivan! But maybe someone will have a solution--maybe a cargo bike (holding two kids) with a trailer behind it (holding two more) and a front-mounted seat (holding the smallest)?




oldladystache

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2014, 09:45:49 PM »
Sometimes a car is the right answer.

rdall

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2014, 10:04:17 PM »
This would be a great question for the Facebook group Seattle Family Biking, even if you aren't in the area.  Have you seen the edgerunner extracycles?  You can fit three on the long tail and maybe the Facebook group would have some creative ideas for other two.  But honestly I wouldn't do this without an e-assist.  And if you need inspiration,  here is evidence it can be done! http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731

NWGirl2004

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2014, 10:45:16 PM »
No wisdom, insight or ideas on the bike trailer (sorry), but had to respond when you mentioned adding three foster-to-adopt children to your family.  Three weeks ago, we doubled our kids with our first foster placement.  Two kids are now four, ages 3, 4, 6, 7.  We don't know how long they'll be with us (would love forever) but it's quite an adjustment, even though we "knew" what we were getting into.  We didn't know anyone else fostering when we started this journey almost a year ago, so I just wanted to comment and say how much I appreciate it when I hear others doing it too.  Congrats, hope all goes well for you and your family. 

Rosbif

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2014, 05:18:27 AM »
A long bakfiet with 4 seats, plus one behind the rider would do the job well! I use one like this: http://www.adventuredad.com/images/sto-summerbiking.jpg (not me!) and there's a fair bit of bounce in the support, so it's pretty comfy. You just have to remember not to swing a leg over the back to hop on the bike, it doesn't work and you end up on the floor...  If you have a drop frame there's no issue.

You'd definitely need e-assist (or legs of steel), though. To be honest though, choosing a bike is the least of your worries if you're going to have 5 toddlers to manage ;)

Mrs. The Butler

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2014, 07:37:12 AM »
I know a car "may" be the right answer, but I'd really rather try to fine a solution; I enjoy biking, and the kids do too, so I really want to try to find a way to make this work.

Rosbif, kicking the kid seat swinging my leg over is one of the things I'd be worried about with a seat like that. My bike is pretty tall, and it's not a step-through design. I don't know if I can mount it without swinging my leg over; probably ought to try that sometime.

WGirl2004, congratulations! I hope your new kids are settling in well. We fostered (hoping to adopt) and 8-year-old for 8 months and that was definitely sporty sometimes. She left our family in July and we still miss her. Best of luck to you!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2014, 07:49:19 AM »
Hills or no hills?

Without hills, I can feasibly pull (and stop) about 150% of my body weight in a trailer+panniers. With hills, even relatively gentle grades, even pulling 100% of body weight is a major chore. I've done it but it's not enjoyable in the least.

The least expensive option would be cargo on front and rear racks, oldest child on a tag a long bike, youngest 4 in a modified or custom trailer.

I modified an old Burley to fit 3 but you could make the front jump seat wider to fit 4, especially small kids:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/and-i-shall-call-it-frankentrailer!/

Once the oldest kids are big enough for a 20" bike, make sure to get a multispeed one to increase their range (unless you have no hills). My 7 and 8 year olds routinely do 10 miles. Even my 4 year old can do it, just not terribly fast ;)

Also consider keeping errands within 3 miles. My kids at 4 could do that at a pretty reasonable clip. Ultimately the goal is to get them under their own power!

Carrying that much cargo weight on the frame, you may want to consider a scissor kickstand like the Pleitscher. My bike constantly falls over with just a standard one and it gets annoying real fast, I just have other priorities before buying a $50 kickstand.

Mrs. The Butler

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2014, 08:14:14 AM »
Fortunately most of my errands are within 1-1.5 miles; the downside is, coming home from any of them is almost entirely a gradual uphill. My record so far with weight hauled is about 150 lbs including the weight of the trailer.  The good thing is, the dog actually is good at pulling, and having him along makes a big difference in how heavy the existing trailer feels, so I think he would be at least a bit like an e-assist.

Last night my husband and I spent a lot of time thinking about how to construct a trailer. The company Wike makes a trailer kit that looks like we could use that as a base - except the max capacity of the trailer is listed as 150 lbs. We emailed the company to try to find out what the "weak point" is, since we need to be able to go about 75 lbs higher.

We calculated the minimum interio dimensions as needing to be 27" wide by 48" long, so even though it would be big, it actually shouldn't be too freakishly huge ... just heavy.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2014, 08:27:04 AM »
As I'm reading it, none of the kids are old enough for a trail-a-bike. Don't you have to be 4? My three-year-old is an excellent rider--zips around on his two-wheel pedal bike--but I don't think he's quiiiiite ready for a trail-a-bike.

Mrs. The Butler

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2014, 08:59:47 AM »
Yeah, I don't think a trail-a-bike could work quite yet. Our 3-year-old is just now starting on a pedal bike, and I'm not sure what the biking capabilities of the 3-year-old foster boy will be.

Just talked to the Wike company and couldn't get a helpful answer regarding the weight capacity of their kit. Bikes at Work makes a frame that could work, although it would be longer than we'd need, but that's $705.

Good thing my husband is an engineer ... looks like we might be getting creative.

train_writer

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2014, 01:01:52 PM »
You are looking into smth like this

http://www.kinderopvanghumanitas.nl/image.aspx?id=ca6b0aa1-6fce-4a62-80bb-1702447da6ae

http://www.kinderdagverblijf-deboomgaard.nl/wp-content/blogs.dir/274/files/slider/438.jpg

http://youtu.be/2bHztASj90A

The good ones with electrical support are roughly 2000 euros (up to 6-8 kids) or at least 900 euros if you build it by yourself (you still need sturdy material). For 4 kids, you can build one yourself following instruction videos, or order one for 1200 euros. Good luck!
« Last Edit: October 12, 2014, 01:04:59 PM by train_writer »

Rosbif

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2014, 04:49:03 AM »

Rosbif, kicking the kid seat swinging my leg over is one of the things I'd be worried about with a seat like that. My bike is pretty tall, and it's not a step-through design. I don't know if I can mount it without swinging my leg over; probably ought to try that sometime.

Yeah, if I lean back I can just about step over, but it's a pretty low cross bar on an old mtb frame. I have a little step that I use at home.

Hopping on: stand on left of bike, left pedal at like 11 o'clock position, jam front brake on with bars turned slightly right, stand up on left pedal, swing leg over cross bar rather than behind the saddle, as you're doing this GENTLY release front brake, and ride off looking cool as fk.

To hop off, roll to a stop standing up on pedals, left foot forward, same position. As you stop, lock that brake, and step off over the bike while your left pedal is still real high (it won't go anywhere if you're holding that front brake). It's pretty easy after a couple, but try it with an empty seat first...

darkadams00

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2014, 08:51:58 PM »
Initial considerations w/ 5 bike-dependent toddlers, i.e. no help with the pedaling:

If it's cold outside:
1) 5 noses that can get runny
2) 5 pairs of gloves/mittens to keep on 5 pairs of hands
3) 5 hats to keep on 5 heads

Regardless of the weather:
1) Pairs of rider-neighbors to keep from arguing/fighting
2) 5 pairs of legs to keep away from the bike wheels
3) 5 little bodies that move in unpredictable ways

I don't see this working on some two-wheeled Frankenbikebus simply because of the balancing issue and the potential of injury in a fall--too much risk for me. And for most of the multi-kid haulers I've seen on European websites where multiple kids on bikes are normal affairs, more than two kids usually equals more than two wheels. Once you move to the idea of more than two wheels, then it becomes a fight between the home engineering and finance departments. Multi-wheeled bakfiets, cargo bikes, and bike trailers are reasonable options with weight being a significant limiting factor (as mentioned in earlier posts). Costs for such specialty bikes (in the U.S.) are pretty high compared to other bikes but not high compared to a beater car if that is your alternative.

Unless I planned to use this kid hauler exclusively in place of a car, I would not shell out a few thousand dollars for a bike that would be hard to resell after two or three kids were ready for trail-a-bikes. And you will want them in trail-a-bikes asap to help with the pedaling unless you plan to build up some running back thighs. For me, this would also involve too much money just to use in warm weather. I enjoy cycling, and my entire family bikes weekly in all weather, but this probably looks better on paper than in practice--and I'm not so sure how good it even looks on paper.

Good luck.

SandyBoxx

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2014, 11:47:36 PM »
Have you considered run bikes/balance bikes for the older 2 or 3 kids?  Both of my kids figured them out around 2 1/2 years of age (and there are lots of kids in our town that are younger and ripping around on them.)  How well the kids listen does become an issue - so it would depend on how well the kids respond, and how busy the streets are that you need to travel on!

We have the Early Rider Lite (purchased in a pre-mustachian universe) - but there are way more of them around now, wooden, aluminum, steel framed...some with brakes and footrests too...

http://earlyrider.com/

surfhb

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2014, 02:56:50 AM »
Can I ask why you want to do this?    If it because you'd like to retire early or you feel it saves the earth by not driving?     I guess I don't understand why you would want to go through the expense and time to construct and them implement such an idea?   It won't save you money....that's certain.

Why not wait till dad is home and then you can go to the store?     I guess I'm fishing for your logic behind the plan.  :).   It's a great idea as a funny home project the kids can be a part of.....not practical or needed to bring you closer to FI.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 03:02:06 AM by surfhb »

Mrs. The Butler

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2014, 07:36:28 AM »
Thanks for all the input! We've been going back and forth between getting a second trailer to connect to the existing set-up or getting a bakfiets. (We're hoping  have more bio kids too, so abakfiets would continue getting use.)

We do realize that a bakfiets would never be a "money saver;" if over 15 years we broke even, that would be good. Part of it comes down to just wanting to have a way to bike with all the kids. Our 3-year-old used a balance bike, and last Friday we got him a pedal bike, and after about four days he's getting pretty good on that - but for a couple-mile outing I'm not sure he'd be able to handle it anytime soon.

But yes, we realize it's not a money-saving venture (taking in three foster kids isn't a money-saving venture either), but I use my bike for almost everything, and would like to continue to be able to do that if it's reasonably possible.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2014, 07:45:08 AM »
I get it! It's so much more pleasant to ride a bike. I have a passionate distaste for strapping kids into their carseats--and you're gonna have five! All with five-point harnesses!  Yikes.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2014, 09:47:48 AM »
If ever there was a time to explore pedal assist bikes, this would be it.  Coupling a pedal assist semi-motorized bike with a large custom trailer would be my first approach to this problem.

Rosbif

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2014, 01:10:59 PM »
Thanks for all the input! We've been going back and forth between getting a second trailer to connect to the existing set-up or getting a bakfiets. (We're hoping  have more bio kids too, so abakfiets would continue getting use.)

We do realize that a bakfiets would never be a "money saver;" if over 15 years we broke even, that would be good. Part of it comes down to just wanting to have a way to bike with all the kids. Our 3-year-old used a balance bike, and last Friday we got him a pedal bike, and after about four days he's getting pretty good on that - but for a couple-mile outing I'm not sure he'd be able to handle it anytime soon.

But yes, we realize it's not a money-saving venture (taking in three foster kids isn't a money-saving venture either), but I use my bike for almost everything, and would like to continue to be able to do that if it's reasonably possible.

And with a big ol' long model bakfiets you'll find yourself doing more by bike -- bigger shops, longer trips, etc. All four in the front under the tent is pretty toasty pretty quick.

yoga mama

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Re: Bike with five small passengers
« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2014, 09:45:50 PM »
Keep us updated on what you end up with!  Not sure exactly how this would work out with 5 but we are considering a Yuba Mondo for 2 and hopefully 3 eventually.  I really like the flexibility for different ages.  I also discovered this item:
http://www.bikesatwork.com/store/product/yuba-mundo-bicycle-trailer-hitch
For adding a trailer hitch.  You could easily get 3 of the kids on seats and then hook up a double trailer. 

Just curious - what errands do you do and what will you do with the kids once you are there?  I dread taking my 1 and 2 year old places without having 1 or both contained in a stroller, carrier (like Ergo), etc.  The 2 year old is pretty good but the baby is more of a wild card.  If most errands are within 1-1.5 miles, would it make more sense to get a massive stroller/wagon type thing where you can just strap them in and walk with them?