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Saturday 10 March 2012

Bicycle built for two... or three...

I REALLY want to get myself a bike.

The Bay Area is great for bike riding - apart from the hills - and it's quite a popular mode of transportation here.

As we don't have a car I walk everywhere with our Bugaboo Bee stroller - Lola in the stroller and Ava standing on a skateboard attached to the back. I like walking everywhere however it's not the fastest way to get around. A few extra wheels would really come in handy.

Because I have to take the kids into consideration choosing a bike isn't so easy. I want to make sure that I choose the safest option for them.

There are quite a few options out there that I'm currently looking into. Each has its pros and cons.

Winther Kangaroo

Winther Kangaroo

The Winther Kangaroo bike is my favourite option, however its $4,000.00 price tag makes it a little (ok, a lot) out of reach. I really like the idea of the girls being in front of me cocooned in a safe and comfortable shell. The front cabin features two adjustable seats with five point harnesses. The cabin seating is incredibly flexible. Your children can face each other, both face forwards or backwards, lay flat for sleeping or recline in a few different positions. You can remove one or both seats as required. The cover provides protection from wind, cold and showers but can also be partially removed on sunny days. There is plenty of room for grocery shopping and there is even the option of adding a baby seat for younger babies. Don't get excited about that last bit Mum!
Other than the hefty price tag the other drawback to this particular bike is that it has a limited lifetime of use. Once the girls are too big to ride in the cabin it would be relegated to a grocery shopping bike. I would imagine, however that they hold their resale value relatively well.

Yuba Mundo Longtail

Yuba Mundo Longtail with baby seat and extra seating 

The Yuba Mundo Longtail bike is second on my wish list. This type of bike is popular around here due to it's flexibility and I see quite a few of them cruising around Berkeley. In fact, I had a conversation today with the owner of one of these over my morning coffee and bialy. He couldn't say enough great things about this bike.
As you can see from the picture above, this bike is longer than your regular treadly and has an extended "tail" over the back wheel - hence the name Longtail :) The tail of the bike can be used as extra seating (as above) or for cargo. The configuration that I would go for includes a baby seat for Lola at the back plus a padded seat, foot rests and extra set of handle bars for Ava. Aren't the little handle bars coming off the seat post cute? Ava absolutely loves the idea of sitting behind me with her own handle bars. Ava could actually get away with sitting in a baby seat as well and the tail of the bike does fit two of them, however I think she'd prefer to feel like a big girl.
The great thing about this bike is that when the girls are too big to ride on the back the seats can be removed and I can add a cargo basket or saddle bags. This would be quite some time away however as the back tail is strong enough to carry an adult or two. In fact I believe the maximum load (excluding the rider) is 200kg! I can ride the girls around forever!
I am a little concerned about the stability of having the kids on the back which is why I like the trike style of the Kangaroo bike. Because this bike is designed to carry people or a load on the back it is more stable than a regular bike with a baby seat tacked on the back. I'm a little worried about how this sort of bike stands up in a collision with a car. The kids seem quite vulnerable on the back. That said, Berkeley is quite a safe place to ride and most drivers seem aware of bikes. I see a lot of people ride their bikes with baby seats on the footpath rather than the road. I think I would do this too - although this is technically against the law! Unlike the Kangaroo bike or a bike trailer this bike would easily fit on the footpath - even on bin day when the footpath is covered with wheelie bins!
The configuration that I would go for with this bike would set me back about $1,600.00. Still a little pricey but nothing compared to the Kangaroo bike and much more flexible in terms of future use.
Oh, and it looks great - especially in the orange colour that I'd go for!

Zigo Leader

Zigo Leader bike/stroller/trailer

The Zigo Leader is a stroller and bike in one. Actually it's a four in one. It's a cargo bike with two seats up front, a two seater stroller, a standard bike and, with the addition of an adapter kit, a bike trailer.
This seems like an incredibly flexible option. The cabin up front seats two children (a one seater is also available) and features five point harnesses. The cabin looks like a tight squeeze for two children however our girls aren't overly big so I'm sure they would be fine. It does only have a weight capacity in the cabin of about 36 kgs which is fine for now but 8kgs down the track the girls together will be too heavy for it.
I really like that this bike converts into a regular two wheel bike for when you're out and about sans children. The fact that it also converts into a bike trailer means that if we go on family bike rides Kim can lug the kids behind his bike instead. Bonus! The double stroller option is great however I'm not sure how much I would actually use it. Our Bugaboo Bee is so light and easy to manoeuvre that I can't really see myself switching to another option when we're on foot.
This ones not quite as stylish looking as the other options on my list but it is incredibly flexible which counts for a lot.
A nearby bike store actually has the Zigo Leader available to hire so I think we'll have to go give it a try. Maybe I'll hire one for a week and see how I go using it for the preschool run everyday.
At $1,625.00 this bike is pretty comparable price wise to the Yuba Mundo Longtail.

Then there's always the option of just buying a regular bike and attaching either a baby seat for Lola or hooking up a trailer that both girls can sit in.

Public C7

Public C7

If I was to go down this path I would definitely buy myself a Public C7 bike. 
Public bikes are beautiful. I love the retro styling and the fact that they don't look like a racing bike or mountain bike.  The C7 has a step through frame, perfect for the vertically challenged such as myself. This bike retails for just under $600.00 so an awful lot of child carrying accessories can be added before it comes close to the price of the other bikes.

Public sell a few different baby seat options with their bikes: seats that go on the handle bars and seats that go on the back. I'm not really keen on having Lola on the handle bars. I think that I would struggle to see over Lola and her grabby little hands would be reaching for the hand brake or bell constantly. And then there's the scary thought of what would happen in a head on collision. Best not to think about that and just avoid the handle bar mounted baby seat.
A rear mounted baby seat seems far more practical. Of course, I can only fit one on the back of a standard bike and I have two kids. Ava is keen to ride her bike everywhere but considering the fact that she gets tired riding her bike up a slight incline on the way home from a nearby park, this is not really practical at the moment. A Shadow Rider could be added to the back of a standard bike but this might not work with the baby seat attached.  

Public V3 with Yepp Maxi Rider seat

Probably the best option for riding a regular bike with the kids is to tow them in a trailer.
I'm a little nervous about towing the kids behind me. I'd definitely prefer to be able to see them or know that they are attached directly to the bike behind my seat. My main concern is that in a bike trailer my kids' heads are at car bumper height. I've done a little research and it appears however, that bike trailers are in fact one of the safer options. In a collision with a vehicle they tend to be pushed along where as a bike is usually knocked over. It's horrible to think about such things but I feel it's the most important thing to take into account when making a decision. That said, bike trailers tend to be quite wide and can be a little tricky to manoeuvre. I can just see myself not leaving enough space and side swiping the trailer along a tree or fence!
Many bike trailers on the market also convert into a stroller. This is a nifty feature however as I mentioned earlier about the Zigo Leader, I'm not sure I'd actually use the trailer in its stroller form. Many trailers, such as the Burley Bee pictured below fold pretty flat for storage. Seeing as we live in an apartment building and have limited space this would come in extremely handy. If I was to purchase a bike trailer that didn't fold flat (or if I found $4,000.00 for the Kangaroo bike) I would have to rent a motorbike parking space in our building's garage to store it. Plenty of free bike storage space is provided in our building however anything wider than a regular bike just won't fit.

Burley Bee bike trailer

There are many bike trailers available on the market and prices vary from about $250.00 to $600.00 depending on the size and features.

There is yet one more option that I could go for if I choose to buy a regular bike.

Xtracycle Bicycle Extender

The Xtracycle Bicycle Extender kit turns a regular bike into a long tail cargo bike similar to the Yuba Mundo. The kit is attached where the back wheel would normally go and the back wheel is moved further back to create a long wheel base for stability. There are many configurations available featuring seating, baby seats, handle bars, cargo bags etc. A configuration similar to the Yuba Mundo Longtail bike above would set me back about $800.00. I haven't looked into this option much so I'm not sure if it's compatible with the Public C7 bike. Regarding the baby seat, while I like the modern styling of the Peapod baby seats available with the Xtracycle kit I feel that the Peanut Shell baby seat available with the Yuba Mundo Longtail is a safer choice. The Peapod baby seat (as well as the Yepp Maxi Rider available from Public) is slimline and stylish looking however the Peanut Shell baby seat offers more protection in the form of a wider frame across the shoulders and a bar across the front. It also looks more comfortable with extra padding and that wider frame provides extra space for sleepy little heads as they nod off to sleep.

Ahh, decisions, decisions, decisions...

The Zigo Leader is the most flexible option while the kids are still small however the Yuba Mundo offers greater flexibility for beyond.  The Winther Kangaroo wins when it comes to safety and comfort for the kids but the price tag is a major drawback. The Public C7 is my favourite "bike only" bike but I'm not sure I'm so comfortable with towing the kids in a trailer. The Xtracycle Bicycle Extender kit could help with this but I'm not sure it will work with the Public C7. I also prefer the baby seat available with the Yuba Mundo as it seems safer.

I think the best thing to do is get out there and test ride all of the options. There's only so much the internet can tell me.

I'd love to hear any suggestions anyone might have regarding my options.


  1. So...how did this turn out for you? What did you end up choosing? Was hoping you might have some recommendations for me. This fall, I wanted to ride bikes to school with my new kindergartener and 18 month old. We have to go on some busy streets to get there and its a longer distance than I think my oldest is ready for just yet. So I've been thinking of a good configuration that will keep us safe and not embarrass my child when she arrives at school. Suggestions?

    1. We ended up going with the Yuba Mundo and it has worked really well for our family. I figured it was one of the most flexible options for use further down the track.
      We originally purchased it with the baby seat for our then youngest and seat pad, handle bars and foot pegs for our oldest. Both kids have enjoyed riding to preschool/school on this set up. Our oldest is now seven and she's not embarrassed to ride with Mummy or Daddy - yet! I'm sure that day will come. There are plenty of other kids at her school that arrive on similar set ups each day.
      We are actually just about to change the seating configuration on it as our daughter who was using the baby seat is now three and a half and prefers to sit directly on the back. You can purchase "Monkey bars" that go around the back seating area for bigger kids to hold onto. They're a little hard to describe so here's a link: http://yubabikes.com/accessories/monkey-bars/ This way both of our big girls can sit on the back.
      Our oldest prefers to ride her own bike but sometimes the ride is just too far for her so we're also going to purchase a "Towing Tray". The front wheel of her bike can be put into the towing tray when she gets tired of riding and it will be towed along with the Yuba while she sits on the back. Here's a link: http://yubabikes.com/accessories/towing-tray/
      If you've already got a bike that you'd like to keep riding then an Xtracycle Extender Kit would do the same thing and you can purchase pretty much all the same add on accessories.
      Hope this helps :)

  2. did you test drive the Zigo? I am in the process of buying a family bike myself and was wondering if Zigo was easy to cycle? also where in SF/Berkeley could you rent it cause I have my heart set on trying it for a week myself but can't seem to find where I could find then. would love your feed back. thanks

    1. I didn't end up test riding the Zigo due to storage constraints in my apartment. It looked like a great option but I wasn't going to have anywhere to keep it!
      When I wrote this post you could rent the Zigo from Bay Area Bikes in Oakland (http://bayareabikerentals.net/). It's no longer listed on their webpage but maybe they still have them. Good luck!

  3. Thanks for the information about the bicycle wheels. You provided food for thought. Thanks for sharing the information. All the best to you.

    road bike wheels

  4. Well. Your thinking is really good. You write a good article on bike wheels to rent in Australia. I think your all thinking is helpful for beginners. As same as this Triathlon for beginners magazine. More people like to learn Triathlon and want to join Aged care jobs Melbourne . If you help them, I think they are profitable. Thanks

  5. When you put your infant in the front seat, you'll see that you can without much of a stretch mount a few wicker container in the back. This will offer you some assistance with integrating your bicycle into day by day tasks, for example, running down to the basic supply, or getting a few essentials from the drugstore. Consider every one of the spots that you can ride to and the amount of fun it will be to get to them without depending on a bicycle!

  6. If you wish to bring your kid with you whereas riding the bike, then you wish to shop for children bike trailers for your children to relish your little journeys to the park. These trailers ar completely different from baby bike trailers. For one, they're made up of terribly sturdy materials to accommodate the load of your kids. they're additionally larger compared to different trailers.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story and tips . They can be helpful to those who are looking for good bike deals.

  8. Wow very nice share. I really appreciate your thinking.Keep going in new many ideas.

  9. I really like your Winther Kangaroo that's really a great Motorcycle Trailers. It saves a lot of afford of every parents. Thanks for sharing!


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