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Choosing the Right Bikes for a Family Cycling Trip
 
 
 
Choosing the Right Bikes for a Family Cycling Trip

Family on bicycles

 

Photo by Family on Bikes

By Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Bicycle touring is a great way to travel with kids. Apart from a helmet and bike rack, you don't need fancy equipment or expensive bicycles to enjoy a short bike trip with kids. If you plan on cycling hundreds of miles on an extended family adventure, however, you'll want to invest in quality gear. Choosing the right bikes for your family cycling trip is the most important decision you'll make. Not only will it impact the ride, it will drive your planning and preparation.

Single, tandem, triple or trailer? The configuration you choose will depend as much upon you as the kids. If your child is miserable on the bike, you won't have a whole lot of fun either! Here are the pros and cons of each:

Pros Cons
Single bikes - Gives kids a greater sense of independence and accomplishment.
- Greater capacity for gear.
- Travel is at the pace of the slowest rider.
- Not all children are safe road riders.
- Difficult to interact with the kids while riding.
Tandem - A young child won't slow the group.
- Safety issues are minimized; the parent is in control.
- Gives a child a chance to converse while pedaling.
- Less gear capacity: two people, one bike.
- Kids never have chance to ride their own bike.
Triple (or tandem)
and a single
- Evens the pace; the stronger parent guides the triple.
- The single bike is available for running errands.
- Gives a child a chance to converse while pedaling.
- Safety issues are minimized; the parent is in control.
- Less gear capacity: four (three) people, two bikes.
- A triple is difficult to maneuver through cities.
- Triples don't always fit in hotel rooms.
- Kids never have chance to ride their own bike.
Trailer - Makes it possible to tour with young children. - Kids don't have a chance to contribute to workload.
- Difficult to interact with the kids.
- Children spend most of their time
in the trailer sleeping.

Once you've selected the right configuration it's time to think about size. Kids grow, bikes do not! Get the biggest bike possible - your child should just barely fit on it. If you are planning an extended cycling trip or intend to use the bikes on more than one occasion, the bikes should be slightly too big. Pedal Blocks, kiddie cranks, and handlebar extensions are great ways to make big bikes fit.

No matter which solution you choose be sure your child is involved in the decision-making. And try out your preferred configuration before you purchase. A triple might sound like a great idea until you are pulling two kids up a hill!

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