This article is from the Outdoor Activities for Young Children FAQ, by Gloria Logan firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
>My older child finally can keep up with my husband and I while
>biking....BUT....my 5 year old is too big for a carrier, and not big
>enough to keep up with us on her bike with training wheels. We've
>tried to take off the training wheels, but she's not ready yet.
one possible solution (albeit an expensive one) is to purchase/rent a
tandem bicycle. We got one for my husband and me (and a trailer for
our now 10 month old). That way, we can both pull the trailer! When
Dale (my son) gets too big for the trailer, we're buying a "stoker kit"
for him, which would allow him to "reach the pedals" on the rear seat
of the tandem. We got a tandem that would allow either of us to ride
on the front (the captain), so Dale could ride as the stoker and the
other parent can ride his/her single bike. The stoker kit essentially
extends the pedals up to a point a child can reach them. I've seen
them in action and it looks like fun.
I want to second the tandem recommendation. We use a stoker kit
for our 8 year old and have since she was about 4,4 1/2 and yes we
still pull our 4 year old in a bike buggy, but are considering getting
second tandem so we can mount her too in a year or so. Tandems are
great for any sort of situation where the party has varied abilities,
with young children being the most extreme. We've also purchased the
8 year old a 3 speed type bike and have taken her out on it. (You need
to be persistent in calling bike stores and eventually will find one
that knows about the existence of 3 speed adapter kits; derailleur
gearing is in our experience too delicate and hard to deal with for
elementary age children.) The tandem not only keeps us together but
enables all to exercise simultaneously and eliminates problems of
having young child riding in traffic,descending too fast on hills, etc.
In fact, usually my husband and older daughter ride the tandem and pull
the buggy, although this requires loading my single bike down somewhat
to equate effort.
I've read some of the postings about getting tandem bikes, and that
sounds like a good approach to me. I just wanted to warn against
having a 5 year old navigating on his or her own on a bike trail.
While in college, I had the experience of zooming along on my 10 speed
on a bike trail, and encountering a dad and his son. The dad was
riding a bike, and the son (about 5 years old) was riding his
tricycle. Just as I was about to go by them, the 5 year old made a 90
degree turn in front of me, and crossed into my lane. I hit him and he
went flying about 6 feet. Scared the living daylights out of me.
Unbelievably he wasn't hurt -- just scared.
Five year olds do erratic, strange things for no particular reason, and
they continue doing those things when navigating in traffic. And no I
don't think you can explain things to them. I'm sure they understand
at the time, but who knows what they are thinking about while they are
actually out there.
>I take my Will (will be 4 in March) to school in the trailer. We do
>all our errands that way too. Recently I've been wondering about a
>tandem and kiddy cranks. Do any misc.kidders have experience with
>tandems and little kids? How old should the kid be? Should they be
>able to ride a single bike first? How long rides do you go on? How
>old is an average kid when they can ride a single bike, anyway?
The logical place for this discussion is probably
email@example.com. You can join that discussion (highly
recommended if you are contemplating a tandem purchase) or just post
to it and ask folks to respond to you directly.
Most kids start at 4 on the kiddie cranks. They do *not* need to be
able to ride a single first. In fact, the tandem stoker is much easier
as there is no balance requirements for the kid.
In terms of ride distance/time, I think it is like the trailer -- you
just start and see what happens. If you tow the trailer, your son can
ride back in it if he gets tired, though the tandem plus the trailer
unassisted will not be easy for you (but it is possible). When we
started in the trailer, Alex was 6 months, and we had to stay within
the MLR (mean lactation radius) from his mom. Now we can go all day
if necessary, and we are planning an overnight this spring.
The summary is that the kiddie cranks work pretty well. You can still
pull the trailer (important for me with a 2 yr old as well). The kids
really love it.
The crank has some implications for the bike's lifetime, so it appears
to be smart to spend less for this tandem (e.g., Burley Duet, $1500)
than for a mid or high-end machine (e.g., Santana Arriva or Sovereign,