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Cycling Mums: advice please!

(41 Posts)
BlueChampagne Wed 14-Nov-07 09:19:22

My round trip to work is 17 miles, which I used to cycle before the arrival of DS. Only stopped at 38 weeks (but was down to 3 days a week then). Childminder will be 1 mile from work, and DS due to start when he's 6 months. When can I start loading him on bike? Do you think I can cycle 4 days/week? Any advice on child seats? Route is mostly minor roads and cycle path (on and off road). Thanks!

Zazette Wed 14-Nov-07 09:35:06

It's a while ago now, but I think we started using a bike seat when my dd was about 6 months - once she had good head control, anyway.

We used a Rhode Gear Co-Pilot seat, and recommend it as sturdy (more head/upper body protection than Hamax seats, which is probably the brand you see most often), durable, and as far as we could tell comfortable for the small person. But we only rode a couple of miles to nursery. Your ds might get chilly sitting still in an exposed bike seat for a long-ish time on cold days (or wet, in the rain!). So it might be worth considering a trailer, if that would fit on the cycle path, as that would give him more weather protection.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 14-Nov-07 09:39:03

Yeah, Rhode Gear Co-Pilot very good, their Limo seat is even better, as it reclines, which is better for a six-month-old.

If you're in the countryside, a trailer is an option, for weather reasons, as Zazette says.

Otherwise, there are covers you can buy for the Rhode Gear or similar, that cover the child pretty much head to toe (fit around the seat), or you can put them in layers of suit (fleece first, then water/windproof).

One problem with the Rhode Gear (or any other rear seat) is you can't use rear panniers, and a backpack is also a bit of a problem - front panniers may be your only option if you have much to carry.

In a rear seat, at least they're out of the wind, though - front seats are a nightmare for the wind. (I have a much shorter journey and a much larger child on the front, but still, it's a big problem.)

belgo Wed 14-Nov-07 09:42:33

What about a bicycle trailer? i'm sure you can get them to use from birth.

finknottle Wed 14-Nov-07 10:00:07

bike seats v popular here in Germany. Started with my 3 when they were about 6 months.
Agree about rear seats for wind.
Rain I just wrapped them up well in rain gear and found they didn't get as wet as me anyway. You need to keep the seat dry though if there's a padded bit and the bike's out in the open. Biggish plastic bag easiest as slips over the seat.
Roemer Jockey most common here. Recliners waste of money imo.
Am getting a bit wistful as dd is now 5 and at the top limit weight-wise (limit's 22kg) so only occasionally sits in the seat if she's tired and doesn't have her own bike. Seat'll have to come off soon.
<pathetic wistful emoticon>

NotQuiteCockney Wed 14-Nov-07 10:14:24

I carry my 6-year-old and my 3-year-old through central London every day on my bike (big roads, 6-year-old on his own bike is a non-starter, probably for at least another 4 years).

The 3-year-old is on a front seat (centric safe haven aka weeride), and the 6-year-old is on a tandem half-bikey thing.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 14-Nov-07 10:15:29

Oh, and I think reclining is a waste of money generally, but with a 6-month-old and a 16-mile journey (which is what, an hour?), reclining might make sense, so he doesn't fall asleep on your butt.

Actually, the length of the journey is an argument against a trailer - they're heavy, and slow you down (axle weighs a lot), which is a big deal with such a long journey.

HairyIrene Wed 14-Nov-07 10:25:03

can i ask what age you put your child on tandem bike thing (tag-along?)
we are thinking of one, just want some security reassurance really..
has he got off it when stopped?

NotQuiteCockney Wed 14-Nov-07 10:26:58

We started using it regularly when he was about 4, for short journeys. Longer journeys once he was about 5.

You have to trust the child not to fall asleep. If they fall asleep, they are more or less dead.

He's fallen off the seat onto the crossbar bit, that's been ok. He does get off sometimes when we're stopped, but he knows he has to talk to me if he does that.

I quite like it, although it is frustrating sometimes - we can't chat very easily, and i spend a lot of time shouting 'tell me when we're home!' while zooming through central London.

HairyIrene Wed 14-Nov-07 11:27:15

you are brave btw nqc!
its for dh bike, he is the cyclist really
but i do have bike too

its not really for town, we are so lucky to be very near open space and so little ride through one busy road ...

he is four soon, very tall and acomplished tricylist so hoping that might help
and would love to do this in spring and maybe when camping...

BlueChampagne Wed 14-Nov-07 17:04:43

Thanks for the ideas. Will certainly look out for Rhode Gear. Sadly cycle lanes don't always take into account the width of a trailer, especially on corners. Journey is about 8.5 miles each way, which before used to take 40 min (slow section through town, and small hill). Anyone tried cycling with rucksack on front?? I'm prepared to become more of a fair weather cyclist, but certainly don't want to use the car all the time.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 14-Nov-07 17:09:30

I'd worry about the rucksack banging on my knees.

8.5 miles each way more manageable than 17 miles! (I used to do 13 miles each way, but I was completely insane.)

Front panniers are better, or a different style of back seat that is compatible with rear panniers - there is at least one kind that puts the child's weight on your seat post, that friends of mine use.

littlefrog Wed 14-Nov-07 21:32:27

This is really interesting!
We have a 7 month DS, DH has been LONGING to get him on a bike since the moment he popped out and I've been resisting (cycled until 39 weeks pregnant though)

Bluechampagne, I wouldn't cycle with a rucksack on my front, personally - it unbalances you really weirdly, ime, and that'd be the last thing you'd want with a child on the bike as well.

Am really interested in other mums' cycling experiences (especially in London) - does anyone have the Bobike Mini (on front, can come with windscreen)? What are the pluses/ minuses of front vs rear seats? What do people think about putting a 7 month old on a bike - he's been sitting really well for over a month, but not pulling up/crawling yet.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 14-Nov-07 23:11:09

A friend has the Bobike Mini I think - sits on the handlebars mostly? She got it from Amsterdam or something. Works fine.

I think a 7-month-old needs a seat with some head support, because they can't support their head well with a helmet on, but with a good seat, why not?

Zazette Wed 14-Nov-07 23:21:51

It probably depends a bit on your sitting position on your bike, but I found carrying a small rucksack (up to about 25 litre capacity) perfectly OK with dd on the back seat. Dp combined the child seat with a front pannier - a kind that's designed to lift off and be a carryable laptop type bag.

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 14-Nov-07 23:25:43

I have used a trailer, with DD from when she was born (I just put her car seat in it and tied it in)

They are hard work for the person pedalling (especially if there is a head wind), but good for the person riding

BlueChampagne Thu 15-Nov-07 16:04:28

NotQuiteCockney - great point about rucksack on the front, I'll scratch that idea! If I can find a seat compatible with rear panniers, that would be ideal. Good to hear that someone has managed longer rides than tootling around town. Wind is a problem (in more ways than one ...) as the journey is basically East-West. Probably won't start till March '08 so have some time to sort it all out.

pamirka Fri 16-Nov-07 21:51:39

I've been cycling 9 miles a day with DD since she was 10 months old, though I think she would have been fine at 7 months. I think the key is for your babe to have good head control because you can strap them in quite tightly for the rest of their body. I find that the leg straps on our seat (unbranded, bought for £45 from our local bike shop) are quite loose and now she's 1.6 she kicks them off and then kicks my botty! It took a few days for her to get used to it but now she loves it, and enjoys the ritual of getting ready in the morning.

Bell do good cycle helmets for kids; get a shop assistant to make sure it's fitted properly for your little one, especially if they start with the smallest size.

And of course you need lots of warm clothes - we layer DD up with tights under trousers etc, knowing that we can strip her down again at nursery.

Hope you get something sorted!

needmorecoffee Sun 18-Nov-07 12:43:42

I used a trailer with a first stage (baby) car seat fixed inside. Worked a treat.Now have a rear rack seat but dd (3) never did get head control. Sigh. Its a Limo but doesn't recline enough.
Going to get a Duet which is a wheelchair bike so dd will sit at the front. Although they are heavy and this city is hilly. Still, good weight loss grin

BadZelda Thu 22-Nov-07 08:58:35

We've used Hamax rear seats (heavy, they need head control), Front seats that go on the cross bar (not practical unless cyclist is quite tall and now we're onto a Christiania bike - which is quite brilliant! They're not fast, but very practical.

needmorecoffee Thu 22-Nov-07 10:55:37

I love the Chrisiana bikes but we now to take dd's wheelchair with us for when we get where we are going. But for non-disabled kids they are fab. I remember seeing loads in Copenhagen with normally dressed mothers pedalling. No weird lycra there, just everyday clothes as cycling is transport.

spokette Thu 22-Nov-07 11:06:18

A review here of the practicalities of Christinia bikes.

Would love to get one for my twin boys.

spokette Thu 22-Nov-07 11:16:25

This article in The Independent reviews a number of different options.

aberdeenhiker Tue 27-Nov-07 12:20:07

Hi, I have been biking my son to nursery since he was one in a trailer. Before that we found that he just wasn't big enough, he'd slump over uncomfortably and I wasn't happy with the way he sat. It didn't seem safe and I was not happy with his neck support. However, we never tried strapping the car seat in - that might have worked from 6 months.

Finding a small enough helmet can be a problem, many manufacturers don't make them too small because they don't want kids under 1 year wearing them. My son has a big head, so by 10 months we found one that fit him.

trockodile Wed 28-Nov-07 07:10:48

We have a croozer trailer. Very comfy and you can get a baby hammock from birth(i think). You can get it as a single, so much narrower and it is a superb pushchair too. We paid about 350 euros i think (in Germany).(not including baby seat).Also good space for bags/shopping etc.

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