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LACBC Family: Choosing a Bike for Riding Together

Many parents wonder about the difficulty with bringing your child for a ride when they’re too young to bike themselves.

With so many choices, it may sound daunting to find the right one, but once your child is on board, you’ll realize with all the fun they’re having that there was no need to worry! Almost any type of bike works if you want to ride together, but there are also customized options that are versatile enough to handle more than just trips around the neighborhood. This guide gives you an overview of the many alternatives to pick from when deciding how to ride with your children.

If you’re looking to start with what you’ve got, then you’re like most parents out there. A good portion of people own a standard hybrid or commuter bike. They’re built for versatility while still delivering a decent amount of performance:

Giant Escape City Bike from Just Ride LA.

One of the great features of hybrid bikes are their flat handlebars. You’ll notice these on many of the other child-carrying bikes because this setup is easier for maneuvering than riding with drop bars, especially since you’ll normally be going slower speeds. Another feature to consider is adding on wide tires. They not only will improve the ride’s comfort and navigation, but they feel more stable as well.

When choosing to attach your child to your bike, there are three common choices: rear seats, handlebar seats, and bike trailers.

Handlebar seats are a great choice because of the experience of interacting with your child in front of you.

They typically can carry children up to age three or four. Assembly takes a few minutes, but first you should check before purchasing if there is enough clearance on the stem that you can mount the seat. While you’ll have to make the adjustment of added weight while you’re steering, handlebar seats are a great way to teach your kid the rules of the road while you’re out riding.

Riccardo and Emma coming into Golden Saddle Cyclery after a ride.

Rear seats are another solid choice with some models offering sizing for children up to age six. They generally require a rear rack, which is sometimes sold together as a set with the rear seat.

This cruiser at DTLA Bikes comes with a rear seat already installed.

For the seats that are not already attached, they may take a little assembly and sometimes require eyelets which look like this:

This Fairdale Weekender at Orange 20 is a versatile bike am number of eyelets on its frame. 

Another simple option that works for bikes is your typical trailer. They are handy because you can easily strap in 1-2 children depending on the model and still have extra space behind them to store extra items like clothes and bags.

This Burley trailer from DTLA Bikes can fit multiple kids inside.

Of course, if you’re looking for more versatility, there are plenty more options. Dutch bikes are great for carrying small children because they are sturdy and tend to be geared towards utilizing racks and bags. This bike is even capable of carrying multiple children and are super versatile:

LA Bike Dad’s Workcycle Fr8.

Other options include Bakfiets or Dutch cargo bikes, which are more common in Europe. They can carry good-sized loads AND at least a couple of kids:

Road Bike Action Magazine‘s Troy Templin built by Lane at Cetma Cargo in Venice.

The drawback is that they are a bit heavy and a little less maneuverable than other bikes, but look how much space you have!

The bike has plenty of room to fit Emily, Juliana, and another bike with room to spare. Long tail cargo bikes are a good blend of speed and adaptability. The rear rack can be outfitted with a number of bags and child seat options still with plenty of storage space for everyone.

Long tails offer options for those who need seats and those not needing them. One of the ways to counter weight issues is looking at electric versions of these bikes. While they will make you faster, they will also make the bike heavier, which is something to consider if you ever need to lift the bike up some stairs.

IZIP E3 Vibe from Just Ride LA

For kids that are just learning how to ride, an excellent choice is buying a “tag-along” to attach to your bike. These bikes easily attach to your seat post and are a great go-between to help your child gain confidence and learn the rules of the road.

This would qualify as a “super” tag-along.

Before making your final decision, always make sure that your child is within the equipment’s weight limits. Lastly, it’s most important check cycling with a child that they’re wearing a helmet at all times. Everyone under the age of 18 must wear one, whether they’re riding or just a passenger.

Cycling Advocate Matlock Grossman tries on a helmet at Golden Saddle Cyclery.

No matter which direction you’re leaning toward on how to ride with your child, your best choice will always be your first. Riding together as a family is an experience you can never replace and will always leave you wanting for more. All you have to do is start.

We’d like to thank our partners DTLA Bikes, Golden Saddle Cyclery, Just Ride L. A., Orange 20 and Performance Bicycle for helping guide us for this feature.

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