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Family Cycling / Bikes - complete novice after advice from cyclists

(16 Posts)
MatBackFack Tue 19-Aug-08 11:02:32

I have a dream. Me and DP and 2 DS's cycling around on bikes, long country rides at the weekend, cycling holidays etc etc. Therefore I need 2 adult bikes and 2 child seats - 3y old and 1y old. I can ride a bike and have hired bikes on holidays but apart from that I know nothing about them! I have looked in a few shops but am confused about all the options eg do I need a road bike or mountain bike, what is a hybrid bike etc etc.

Our usage will be mainly riding in the park, to the local high st etc. But we do have some proper outdoor trails near us and I like to think we would get a bit more adventurous. Also, I would like to go out on my own into the woods etc for exercise/fitness purposes, as well as riding to the high street etc. Budget is fairly flexible and I would like to get 2 bikes that would suit our purposes without being over the top but would allow us to take them on holiday and possibly get into regular cycling, off-road and on.

Can anyone recomend 2 adult bikes? What type do we need? Where should we start?

And what are the options for carrying a 1y old and nearly 4y old?

WendyWeber Tue 19-Aug-08 11:09:14

If you're going to do mostly road with a little bit of off-road then you want a hybrid (I had this conversation with our bike shop recently) - mountain bike tyres are hard work on tarmac apparently.

Something like this Ridgeback would be good for you - it has the gears enclosed in the hub so you don't have those dangling derailleur things to go wrong (we have had so much trouble with those on kids' bikes!).

WendyWeber Tue 19-Aug-08 11:13:50

Oh, I read about the park but missed about the outdoor trails - if they are dirty & bumpy you would need a mountain bike for those.

You'll just have to buy 2 bikes each then wink

MatBackFack Tue 19-Aug-08 11:17:24

Thanks Wendy that is really helpful - is there really no bike that would suit both? I guess maybe could start with a hybrid and see how it goes - presumably a hybrid would be ok as well for a little bit of light off-roading? Not planning on going crazy with hills etc.

mrsgboring Tue 19-Aug-08 11:19:17

Consider a trailer for the kids instead of two bike seats. That way you could take them both out on your own.

I love my trailer and I'm the world's crappest cyclist. It feels much more stable than a seat, keeps weather off the kids and they can have toys/food etc in there to occupy them while you ride and don't have to worry about it getting dropped on the road or in your spokes. Loads of room in the back for stuff too.

I have a Burley Bug which looks utterly cute too.

Can't advise about bikes except with a trailer you want something fairly lightweight as the best way to steer when reversing is to pick up the back wheel and push backwards.

WendyWeber Tue 19-Aug-08 11:40:28

Oh, thinking on it might be possible to get sort of hybrid tyres as well, MBF - so they're not the huge chunky off-road tyres, but still have a bit more tread pattern than the really smooth road ones.

I think you need to talk to a proper bike shop - you might pay a bit more there, but you get the bike properly assembled & checked over & they generally know their stuff smile

bethoo Tue 19-Aug-08 11:45:00

hybrid as best of both worlds. mountain bikes are heavy and can be slow to ride on roads whereas road bikes only are unsuitable for trail.
hybrids have thicker tyres but on a lighter frame.
dont get double suspension as they slow the bike down.
trailers are good for the kiddies as i think that sticking them on the back can be dangerous, if you go over so does the bairn.
good luck
i love cycling and used to do it all the time but pregnancy with a lo is hard! but considering getting a double trailer to get fit after this birth!

MatBackFack Tue 19-Aug-08 11:47:16

put your feet up while you can bethoo there will be time for that later! The trailers look great, I am sorely tempted.

Thanks for the advice - I think hybrid is definitely the way to go for us now - will go to local bike shop this weekedn I think.

jicky Tue 19-Aug-08 11:52:53

For your older child I would get a trailgator since they will almost be riding alone anyway. Then when you get to the park you can disconnect them and they can cycle alone.

The younger one can just use a seat on the back of the bike. We got very basic ones and they were fine. I think the type you get depends on the adult bike - to make sure it fits.

I have just a basic mountain bike that is about 15 years old and ride it on roads and tracks. dh has both a mountain bike and a road bike - but tbh unless you are really training for a special road race I can't see the point. OK you may go a bit faster, but my speed is more a function of how fit I am rather than how light and jazzy my bike is!

littlefrog Tue 19-Aug-08 13:18:17

What a nice dream!
You know, though, I don't think (v happy to be corrected though) that you can really take children on any kind of rough trail in baby seats/trailer - they will get SO bumped about, and just be miserable. I had DS in a bobike mini (front seat) from about 10.5 months, and I was horrified by how much he bounced about even on ordinary roads (speed bumps, uneven surfaces, little potholes, cobbles). That's not to say you can't do ANYthing off-road, but that I wouldn't have thought that you'd want children on bikes on occasions when a hybrid bike wouldn't do you (if you see what I mean - don't get a mountain bike, because the occasions when you would need it are the ones when you couldn't take a child on it).
Will you ever want to carry two children on one bike? In which case a trailer might be better (unless you're v confident and strong, and can manage one on the front, one behind).
Another thing to think about is how you manage when you get where you're going - you won't have a buggy.
I love cycling with DS!

MatBackFack Tue 19-Aug-08 13:54:30

yes I see what you mean - further confirmation we should get hybrid bikes, thanks, that is just what I needed to know.

mascarpone Tue 19-Aug-08 13:59:13

I agree with WendyWeber - a proper local bike shop is the way to go. We had a lovely one nearby before we moved. They give you advice based on what you want to do (not what they want to sell!) and let you try before you buy.

I have a Dawes hybrid - it is lovely! Great for roads and tracks, but wouldn't really do off road if you are serious about it.

Have fun!

GooseyLoosey Tue 19-Aug-08 14:04:52

Would echo the trailgator (or a tag along) for the nearly 4 year old. This is what my nearly 4 year old rides when we are on roads and it gives her a feeling of independence while infact having little control. Practice with it off raod first though as they can take some getting used to.

Go to a proper bike shop and see what they have - NOT somewhere like Halfords. As with most things, generally the more you pay the better you get. I would really advise against getting the cheapest bikes you can, unless they are intended only to be used occassionally.

If you are getting a bike to put a child seat on, you need to make sure that it has suitable pannier rack mountings so there is a way of attaching the child seat. Likewise, if you are getting a trailgator and a child's bike, you need to have a look at the child's bike to make sure that you can actually attach a trailgator.

One last thing, if you are anywhere near the Southwest of England or London, I happen to have a couple of child seats for sale!

snickersnack Tue 19-Aug-08 14:07:30

The back of the bike seats (we use the CoPilot ones that are widely available) are great - we have the same ages and they both love them. I'm very nervous about the trailer option, but then we live in London so a lot of our cycling is on-road. I'd be terrified of the trailer being squashed.

Jicky As far as the trailgator goes - could you use that with a child seat as well? Am trying to think of good ways to get dd to preschool in September. She's too small to cycle independently, and obviously the trailer option is out. I did see people in Italy with children on front seats and back seats simultaneously but that looked a bit wobbly? How old do they need to be to use the trailgator confidently? (Sorry for hijack but am very curious)

paddingtonbear1 Tue 19-Aug-08 14:11:51

We do a fair bit of cycling. This year we were in the Lakes for a week, and did a mixture of road and off road. dd was still in a bike seat (she was 4) on the back of dh's bike, which is a mountain bike with a 'road' tyre at the front. My dad and I actually had proper racers and did the trails on them, although I wouldn't recommend this! (we used to do rough stuff years ago before mountain bikes were popular).
dd never had a problem being bumped about, her seat is from Halfords and it bounces when you go over bumps.
Next year dd will be too big for a bike seat - we are planning to get a trailerbike or tagalong. Some hire places have these and you can try them out.
I'd agree the hybrid bikes sound the best type for you, go along to your local bike shop and try some out

jicky Tue 19-Aug-08 14:52:14

Don't know if you can attach a trailgator and a bike seat as we only got the trailgator with ds3 and have never tried both at the same time. But it would be hard work! ds3 doesn't contribute a lot to the forward movement, so it is basically pulling him and his bike. With a smaller child in a seat as well it would finish me off! Our bike seats aren't pannier mounted types - they fix to the bit saddle upright bit, so that wouldn't work, but might with a pannier mounted one - and would with a front seat.

If your dd rides a bike with stabilizers then she should be fine on the trailgator, she would just need a bit of practise. It was the going faster that was the main change and he likes that! ds fell off the back of ours once when dh started pedalling after a stop and he wasn't holding on - so now we just remind him to hold on. He has been using his since about 3.5.

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