Commuter Suggestion - Around Town with Kiddo- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Commuter Suggestion - Around Town with Kiddo

    Howdy,
    Ready to expand my reach of town with my one year old past what I can get to with the jogging stroller. I grabbed the Thule RideAlong rear child seat, mounted it on my old Trek everyday road bike/commuter and wow does the handling suck!

    I'm a pretty solid mountain bike rider and know this setup is more than just "getting used to it." I feel all stretched out reaching for the brakes and think that really throws my balance off with his weight in the back. Add to that your normal thin rims and tyres and my riding confidence drops to the point where I question taking him out on my current setup. I want to stay away from pull behind trailers to limit the length of my profile so opted for the rear carrier which I can return if another option works better for a different bike.

    So, the missus says, "Why don't you get a new bike" and while this may not be a valid reason, I'm likely looking to get another ride.

    I think something that is a bit more upright, thicker wheels and can get around town (busy Atlanta roads) might be in order. Ideally I could throw a rack on the back with some bags for errands/light groceries.

    I initially checked out and took the Surly Big Dummy for a spin. Loved it but the length limits me from storing it in the basement and while I like the idea of it I think it's a bit too big for what I could practically use.

    So, my options:
    • The wise people on this site tell me to suck it up and get better at balancing with him on my current roadbike
    • Buy an awesome bike with input from the wise people here


    If I go with another bike here is what I'd be looking for:
    • Stable
    • Steel (preferred)
    • Flat bar (help with stability)
    • Wider (than standard road) tyres
    • Disc brakes
    • Bike rack and pannier setup (likely)
    • Nimble enough to still get around town



    I don't necessarily need something new but can spend a couple thousand if this bike can become my get around bike. I'm doing more and more to limit my already little auto use.

    Thanks for any feedback.

  2. #2
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    I have a pretty beefy Surly Ogre, and have used a seat like that with no real issues. The weight is noticeable obviously, and you have to really think before you do anything crazy like stand up to climb a hill. But it's not scary by any means. Mine is a Topeak (I think?) that mounts to a rear rack that you mount on the bike. So it's like carrying really top-heavy panniers or something...
    That Thule design looks potentially bouncy/wobbly with the way it's mounted. No experience there though, might be fine... could just be skinny tire thing, my Ogre always has at least 2.0" tires on it and is a very solid bike.

    If I was buying a carrier, I'd look at the front mount ones... where the kid is basically in your lap/on the bars. Those seem way cooler for the kid and should balance the weight better.
    If I was buying a bike, I'd look at the Ogre... seems to check all your boxes...
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback. I checked out front carriers and thought that would feel even more out of balance - some friends said they had a tough time reaching their arms around front carriers. I agree that it might be more stable if I got a rear seat that mounted to a rear rack. Something like the Yepp or Topeak.

    The Ogre could be a great option. Also wonder about the Troll with 27.5 wheels since I have 27.5 on my mountain bike and a standard tyre might be of benefit.

    From some quick digging I wonder if the Salsa Marrakesh might be an option.

    Wheels spinning....

    Thanks for any other thoughts from those who have a good setup where you can haul a kiddo, do a quick grocery run or both.

  4. #4
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    One word: Tandem.

    He's too small to pedal now, but soon he'll help.

  5. #5
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    I would invest in something like a burly trailer for the kido to ride in.

    I've had the same problem as you except replace the small child and seat with a case of beer. From experience the lower you can get the weight the better off you will be with balance. I installed collapsible basket on the side of my rack to get a lower center of gravity to tote the beer on our "party rides", but this is not an option for your child..... Just my 2 cents.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bimmer74 View Post
    One word: Tandem.

    He's too small to pedal now, but soon he'll help.
    I found a used 'trail-a-bike' bolt on, one wheel contraption for the kiddos to give me a push when they got a little bigger. They LOVE it, but holy cow when they get confident and start standing up and stuff... you thought your balance was thrown off with the rear seat Imagine the kid hurling himself in random directions and you get the idea.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  7. #7
    since 4/10/2009
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    I also 2nd the trailer recommendation.

    My mother hauled me all over the place in one of those rear rack kid seats in the early 80's. Maybe that's why I love bikes so much? Who knows. As an adult now, and with all the options available, I'd choose a trailer over the seat any day for city riding.

    I know a guy who uses one of the front top tube seats, and rides some smooth mtb trails with it with some success. But IIRC, he also has a trailer for city rides simply for comfort.

    A Marrakesh might be a bit overkill for your purposes. That's a heavy touring bike made to take more of a load than a kid would provide. I dearly love my Salsa Vaya. There's a guy who just posted one in the Salsa forum (Vaya builds thread) with Jones Loop bars, but I have mine built with On-One Midge dirt drop bars and it's fantastic. Super stable bike.

    I think it would be awful cool to get a cargo bike or bakfiets to use for city trips with a kiddo. It's true that they're big and extremely impractical to haul down into a basement (I also keep my bikes in the basement). But I especially like a bakfiets for putting the kid and the load up front and down low for stability.

    I don't think there's a perfect solution for you here. I think that for stability, nothing beats a trailer. It also offers better versatility since you can use them with most any bike. But yeah, they do add length and width. The rear seat doesn't add length or width, but it's going to be the worst for stability. There's also less of a safety factor because if you go down, so does the kid. That doesn't necessarily happen with a trailer. For pure hauling, a cargo bike wins, but it has bulk problems all its own. A longtail cargo bike like a Big Dummy will be more stable than using a seat on a lightweight bike, but still will have a higher COG than it could. A bakfiets gives better stability with the load capacity of a cargo bike, but is still awful big. The cargo bikes will also be a bit on the ponderous side when riding.

  8. #8
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    Just a little more input here. I just got a Thule child seat that sits right behind the handlebars and it is awesome while riding. It's a little nerve wracking at stop signs and such because I don't fit between it and the nose of my saddle. I've started dropping my saddle down a little when the seat is mounted so I can just reach the ground with one foot. We also have a burley trailer, so for longer rides, I still take that because my knees are pretty sensitive to saddle height. They're both really great, but in different ways.

  9. #9
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    Check out the cargo bike forum for Big Dummies and Bakfiets if a dedicated bike is on the list of possibilities, like the tandem suggestion.

  10. #10
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    If you've got the budget for a bakfiets it's seriously worth considering. I think mine actually handles a bit better when carrying stuff around, which has included kids, adults and large dogs.

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=bigeyedfish;12667391]Just a little more input here.QUOTE]

    Sincere thanks. I ended up returning my Thule rear seat. It worked well on my mountain bike where I have flat bars and more control but my road bike geometry through me off too much to feel balanced riding through Atlanta traffic. My mountain bike is meant for the mountain so it was not going to be a long term solution.

    Also, just before a ride with him on a major bike path another rider flipped over a dog leash when a huge dog darted out in front of him crossing the path to "greet" another dog. Dog was not hurt but rider flipped and broke his collar bone. I called 911 and waited around with two others. I know you can't control everything but if my one year old were anywhere but a pull behind that would have been bad news. Not even the best or cautious rider would have avoided it.

    Ended up getting a pull behind trailer and love it. I can balance on my bike and the little man loves flying down hills. Also works well for cargo since it has a trunk and room around him for grocery shopping (last trip my wife bought a bunch of wine so that made for a cautious ride through potholed streets).

    This makes me have more of a profile which I didn't want but seems to be the best option for our situation. Once he is big enough to sit up and hold on I'll come up with a new plan so he can be higher up and see the action.

    Thanks again

  12. #12
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    I have said before that our Burley trailer is the best bike purchase I have ever made. I think you'll really enjoy it.

  13. #13
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    Take a look towards the Dutch for inspiration: WorkCycles Fr8 or a bakfiets.

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