|Kids and Tandems|
|Tuesday, 18 October 2005|
Many of the members of the Tandem Club are cyclists who did not want to stop cycling when the kids came. Many adaptations can be made to make cycling with children easy and fun for everyone.
The national events such as the National Tandem rally or the International rally are very popular with families. There are many like minded people and many opportunities for the kids to make new friends. There are usually shorter family rides organised during the day, with special events in the evening to keep them occupied.
Trailers are suitable for kids from a few months up to 4 or 5 years. Initially the child is strapped into a car seat which is strapped into the trailer, but once the child can support its own head then it can be strapped into the seat normally provided with the trailer. Some trailers can accommodate two children next to each other.
All these trailers have a nylon cover allowing the child, teddy and favourite toys to be kept dry and safe inside. Most have storage space for the other essentials. Safety is high on the priorities when designing a trailer, so most have strong chassis and frames to provide protection in the event of an accident.
Trailers are also useful for carrying luggage such as the weekly shopping! When not in use the wheels are easily removed and the roll over frame folds flat.
Trailers are surprisingly easy to tow and are very stable. Make sure you choose one where the towing attachment is low down near the wheel axle.
Secondhand trailers are often found in the classified section of the Tandem Club Journal.
These cannot be used until the child is old enough to hold its head up by itself.
They are normally positioned behind the rear seat and are widely available. The child is not as well protected from the elements as in a trailer, however it is much easier to communicate with your child.
Rack mounted models are generally best as the moving weight of the child does not affect the handling so much, but are more expensive and usually require specific rack to fit securely.
Having personally experienced an accident with the Rhode Gear Limo I can recommend this seat to anyone.
An additional set of cranks that is attached to the rear seat tube. The chain from the kiddie crank connects to the rear chainset on the tandem. The device is simply moved up and down the seat tube as the child grows, however some tandem frame designs limit the possible adjustment range.
The high position of the child is great when they are small as they can see over the hedges, but as they get bigger the weight can affect the handling, usually more with boys as they wiggle around and misbehave more than girls!
The handlebars also have to be considered. For young children a simple frame is fabricated using upturned handlebars and some spare tubing to surround the child and which can be used as hand holds, later on adjustable stoker stems are used to bring the bars close enough.
Special seats have been manufactured to order where the child can be strapped in - they often fall asleep with the legs still going round but held securely in position!
These are essentially the rear half of a child size bikes with the front specially designed to attach to a pivot point on either the rear seatpin or the carrier rack.
The Burley design is the best, and of course the most expensive. If you are going to do any serious mileage it is worth it, and the resale value is much greater when the child grows out of it. The Burley trailer bike attaches to a special strong pannier rack and has a cunning quick release mechanism. The pivot arrangement ensures that the trailer bike cannot jacknife when reversing.
Trailer bikes that attach to the seatpin are much cheaper. Do not get one where the attachment point pivots around the seatpin itself - ensure the hinge is vertical and seperate. Many of these trailer have poor attachments, often resulting in the poor child having to travel at extreme angles and seroiously affecting the handling of the towing bicycle or tandem.
These are tandems built with very small rear seat tube lengths. These are the best option if you can afford it. If you can find a secondhand one in the Tandem Club or CTC classified section.New machines are readily available at reasonable prices from Thorn (St John Street Cycles). These are basic but reliable, and have good resale value.
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