Did I mention I’m taking tennis lessons? This was my attempt at saying, “suck it junior high tennis coach, I’ll show you I can play tennis!” because yeah, I tried out for the team and clearly couldn’t play. (20+ years later and getting my revenge!) Tennis is big on my mom’s side of the family […]
Slightly less irritating than in person.
When you want to carry some stuff beyond a 6-pack of beer on your bike, trailers are the way to go. Minneapolis, being the bike-friendly city it is, is home to the “Little Red Trailer” – a neat little trailer that’s made from recycled wood.
Making All Trailers Interchangable
In some of the photos in this article, you’ll see the trailer hitch mount in its original form. But shortly after purchasing a used Chariot trailer, I realized how convenient it would be if both my and Jessi’s bikes could interchangeably tow either the Chariot or the Red Trailer.
I really liked the Chariot mounting system, so I contacted David at Dayworks and he supplied me with a “virgin” hitch-arm. I purchased a Chariot Axle-Mount ezHitch Upgrade to add to the hitch-arm. It includes almost everything needed to adapt the trailer, except an extra-long bolt to secure the lollipop, which can be easily purchased from the hardware store.
The only issue was the “lollipop” that Chariot uses is smaller in diameter than the tube steel of the Red Trailer hitch-arm. So I went to the hardware store and browsed for some suitable PVC pipe to act as an adapter. The one that worked for me was this:
With some sanding I was able to get it into the hitch-arm tube. Then I drilled a hole through both the hitch arm and the adapter for the lollipop fastener bolt, which also holds the lock pin, safety strap, and D-ring. Here you can see it installed with all the accouterments:
Putting it to use
I initially got this trailer to get propane refills from the local convenience store – the trailer can accommodate 2 propane tanks. But I shortly realized it can do so much more. It really opens a world of what you can carry via bicycle.
I’ve gone to the hardware store and returned with multiple 5-gallon buckets full of gardening or syruping supplies.
More often that not, I use it to shuttle goods between my parents house and my own. It’s carried several bike parts including a complete kid’s bike:
On one one trip to my parents, I spotted a rad retro-style ottoman at a garage sale. It was only $5 and I already had the trailer, so I just added it to my cargo.
It’s great for a large grocery trip – it can carry up to 4 bags.
While the trailer explicitly recommends against carrying animals, I’ve done it. Once you start moving past 10MPH, the excitement of fresh air and the fear of jumping out keep the dog in place.
We’ve even used it for a short camping trip:
This is my 501 blog post. Blogs have evolved pretty dramatically since I started my own back on Blogspot. Some people stay with what they know and that’s cool. I’ve the coffee cup from my first job out of college – back when I first started my blog. But along the way I changed gears […]
Oh boy you had some major developments this month! Within a week you went from hating to stand up at any time to pulling up and cruising along the couch and crib. We lowered your crib (finally) and pretty much every morning, you’re standing up and ready to go. You are walking with your grocery […]
I don’t normally go into gushy personal stuff here, but since publish day lands on my wedding anniversary with Jessi, I thought it was appropriate. Also, our gift giving seems to be at a stalemate this year as neither of us really wants anything, besides “your extra time and your… KISS!
We try to keep record of what we did in an anniversary journal, at least when it comes to what we did on our anniversary date and what gifts we exchanged. Those minor details often trigger memories of what was going on in our lives at that point.
Often times we forget to actually write stuff down, so when we go fill stuff in years later, it may resemble fiction more than fact. Sometime we rack our brains on what gifts we previously exchanged – and how sadly they must not have been great if we can’t remember. But the gifts themselves (or their longevity) aren’t what I’m concerned with, it’s the memory we associate with them.
One recent memory that really resonates with me is that Jessi is a strong woman.
In 2012 (one of the years missing from our journal) I convinced her to march Minnesota Brass with me. She proved that she is still the strong woman she always has been by working hard and doing her job. She wound up being voted the colorguard “rookie of the year” which she rightfully earned.
In 2013 she gave birth to our second child, a beautiful girl. Jessi proved again during delivery she is still as strong as ever. I thought we were going to be “those people” having the baby in the car. Jessi labored so much at home, by the time we got to the hospital, labor was 90% over. No time to waste, let’s have a baby!
In 2014 we rode the St. Paul Bike Classic. I always talk Jessi into doing one of the local bike tours around our anniversary. This year she rode all the way up Ramsey Hill. I know it seems like a silly feat of strength but she actually did it. I never have, and I’m the guy that’s always talking about bikes. So I did the walk of shame once again and Jessi got to stand on top of the world as the powerful woman she is.
After quitting my job, I thought our summer would be a bit lazy with plenty of down time in the sun. It was actually the opposite and that’s ok! We started off with a trip to Disney (blogged about here). From there we did swim lessons, gymnastics, playdates with friends, birthdays, drum corps shows, days […]
Lots of new things this month. Let’s start with talking. You clearly call out Da-Da when he walks in, but you also say it when I walk in. But it’s slightly different. So Da-Da is your first word. You also say uh-oh and you meow like a cat. You are learning new signs and now […]
There are several ways to carry kids on a bicycle, and many can be combined if you’re portaging 17 children and Vito your helper monkey. I’d like to focus on one of the less expensive options which should work on many bikes: the Topeak BabySeat.
Install the Rack
Installing the rack should be somewhat straightforward, permitting you have a somewhat “normal” bicycle. If you are trying to mount this to your carbon fiber road bike, sorry I can’t help. If you have a steel framed bicycle but are lacking the mounts to add a rack, adding the mounts can be done by your local bike builder, Peacock Groove in my case.
Add the Seat
Once the rack is mounted to your bike, adding the BabySeat is somewhat simple. The trickiest part is making sure the metal clip in the crotch part of the seat is properly clipped to the front bar of the rack. You’ll probably pinch your fingers a couple times before getting it right (Lord knows I did).
The major difference between the BabySeat rack and all other Topeak racks is the big hole where the slide lock goes. You probably can’t buy an extra rack for your extra bike at your favorite local bike shop, but you can easily order an extra online.
Adding a bag
Since the BabySeat occupies would-be trunk space, I was missing out on my cargo carrying ability. What fun is a trip to the library with your child if you can’t bring anything home?
I used some zip ties to attach a lightweight backpack to the back of the BabySeat. Any cinch-bag will do the trick, but the bag you see below is a Banjo Brothers Nice Ride branded bag with a waterproof pocket on the inside. Check out the reflective straps!
Other kid-carrying options
- iBert Safe-T-seat – every kid riding one of these has a huge smile
- Any number of trailers (I now have a Chariot trailer)
- Surly Big Dummy (or any bike with an Xtracycle attachment)
- Bakfiets (Box Bikes)
Options for little ones who can pedal
- Trail-a-bike (several manufacturers)
- Weehoo iGo
- Tandem with a raised bottom bracket so your kid can reach the pedals
An Option for Infants
Many (nanny) states have laws stating that you can’t legally ride a bike with a child under one year of age. I believe this recommendation is for an age where a child may not be able to hold his/her head up. If you have a trailer (and an infant), you can simply fit your car seat inside. I was able to fashion a strap out of 1″ webbing, the same size used on my Chariot trailer. To that I added a “parachute” buckle purchased from JoAnn’s, which happened to be interchangeable with the buckles on the trailer. Then I could put the car seat in and attach our new “belt extension” to both of the outside straps/buckles to secure the car seat in place. (See photo below for example).
Many of these options can be combined for maximum carrying capacity.
Jim Thill of Hiawatha Cyclery wrote a great post about the evolution of his kid-carrying rig. He has experimented with several combinations on a tandem with a raised bottom bracket for a kid co-pilot, with iterations including a BabySeat and an Xtracycle. It’s one wild machine that surely will give inspiration.