Cycling with your kids is fun, it will keep you healthy and will teach your kids good habits. It will also make you save a lot of money and time if you use it as a car replacement for all your short journeys!
You have three biking options for both you and your child: cargo bikes, child seats, or trailers. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and see which one is best suited for you and your travel plans.
FRONT LOADING CARGO BIKES
Front-loading cargo bikes feature a large basket or box in front. The majority of front loaders are now electric, and have enough space for 2 to 3 small kids and some extra space for groceries or schoolbags.
Unfortunately, if you want to transport bigger children (4 years +), the space can be a bit limited if you carry more than one child. You would also need a bit of space in your home to store the bike, as they are quite bulky.
- You can see your children at the front of the bike
- Large capacity for bigger items
- Only meant for toddlers or just one older kid
- Need a garden or a bit of space to store it
- Takes a bit of time to get used to it
LONGTAIL CARGO BIKES
Longtail cargo bikes have a large and long rear carrier, where childseats or cushions and a metallic structure can be installed. Longtails can be electric or not, and can carry up to 3 small children or 2 big ones.
They handle like a regular bike and because of their size, they can be stored like any other bike.
- Wider age range - you can carry from very small kids (9 months old +) to older kids (6 / 7 years +) without changing the bike
- No problem to store the bike in tight spaces
- You cannot see your children as they will be behind you
A trailer is a carriage with a wheel on each side that you attach to the back of your bicycle and pull along. They are compatible with any standard bike model and, depending on their size, are meant for children between 9 months and 6 years old.
Just like cargo bikes, trailers are also very versatile in terms of storage and age limits, and many can also carry two small children at once. They’re less expensive, and offer enough room for games and snacks and provide a ride so comfortable your kid might just fall asleep.
However, a bike trailer can be hard to store away if you don’t have enough room at home or didn’t purchase a foldable model. And its rear-positioning makes it difficult for you to keep tabs on your passengers or better engage them while riding. And with all the extra weight and length, you’ll have to be even more careful every time to slow down or come to a complete stop.
- Compatible with any bike
- Easier to manoeuver and cheaper
- Wider age range
- Can’t keep track of passengers
- Can be hard to store
- Difficult to brake
- Very close to the road, meaning children are at exhausts' height
- Fit most bikes
- Cheaper than the alternatives
- Easy to fit
- Limited usage (up to 3 to 4 years, or 22kg)
- Can only fit one childseat on regular bikes
SOME FUNCTIONS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
Now that you know all the basic details about each option, let’s take a moment to discuss functionality. There are plenty of things that you need to consider when choosing between a cargo bike, bike seat, or bike trailer.
Storage Capacity: When you think about it, this applies to two very important factors: how many kids you’re traveling with, and how much storage space you have at home. Think carefully about what you’ll need to bring on each trip and where you’ll keep the bike in between rides.
Rideability: What is your experience and skill level when it comes to riding certain bikes? If you’re used to standard models, then either a trailer, a bike seat or a longtail cargo bike is your safest and easiest option. On the other hand, if you don't mind trying another type of bike, try a front loading cargo bike.
Longevity: How many years can you get out of this one product? A bike seat is inexpensive and works for a couple of years, but what will you do when your child outgrows it? A trailer can last you a few years longer, but even that has its age limits. Given the versatility of a cargo bike, you need to consider if the expense is worth it.
Price Tag: How much is each option going to cost you? Will you use a cargo bike often enough to justify the four-figure price? Look at your daily life, do plenty of research ahead of time, and set aside a budget for your ideal travel family bicycles.