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.
The BabySeat (technically the BabySeat II) is $150 and mounts to a Topeak rear rack that can be used for several other things. That’s what I like most about this setup, you’re buying a system. Take the BabySeat off and you can can mount any of Topeak’s bags or baskets (plus any panniers).
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.