Whether your child is on a special seat on your bike, is sitting in an attached trailer, or is 'helping to pedal' on a half bike, there are lots of options to keep everyone comfortable and safe while cycling as a family.
With all options, do your research: read blogs on family cycling, check out the specs, and talk with your local bike dealer to ensure your choice will fit your bike safely.
Above all, stay visible, stay safe, and enjoy!
Front infant seat
Centre-mounted front infant seats keep your child between your arms, where they have a good view of where you’re going; it makes chatting with your toddler easy, too. Most have a handlebar or resting spot for the child to hold onto while on the move.
The weight is evenly distributed on the bike, and you’re still able to use rear panniers to cart bags and snacks. You can also purchase additional mounting brackets, so the seat can interchange onto another bike easily.
Centre-mounted seats have a lower max weight limit than others, so these have a shorter usage span than some other options. The placement also means your legs are a little splayed while riding.
Rear child seat
The rear-mounted seat is a popular choice. These usually have a higher max weight limit, so you can use it for longer as your child grows.
Some attach to rear racks you may already have installed on your bike, while others require you to buy a mounting bracket. Yet other rear seats use a bracket affixed to the seat stem.
These can make the bike feel a bit tippy, especially when riding up a hill, and some models restrict pannier attachment to rear rack.
In Europe, the cargo bike is a very popular choice for transporting kids, and is now gaining popularity here and in the US. These bikes are bigger and heavier than regular bikes, but are built to move several people and a load. There are a few variations available to suit different needs, and most have an electric option. Here are several types sold in Australia.
Long or midtail bikes
The rear rack of this elongated bike lets you carry more than the average bike, and with various seat configuration set-ups, it can suit a range of passenger ages and abilities. Some of the newer longtail bikes have a smaller rear wheel, which helps lower the centre of gravity to improve stability. A longtail rides much like a regular bike – it's just a bit heavier. (Read our review of the eZee Expedir for more on this style of bike; see the picture at top of an example.)
Each brand has a collection of accessories best suited to their bikes.
Box bike/trike front loaders
Front loaders are the SUVs of cargo bikes, with a box out the front, usually with a little bench seat with a child harness, and room for all the gear and shopping. Steering is very different on a front loader bike or trike, and can take a little bit of getting used to.
A trailer carriage hitches to the adult’s bike, and can carry two kids and some gear.
The trailer or carriage offers some protection from the weather for your kids, but doesn’t allow any communication between you and them. The width of the trailer makes navigating some paths and obstacles tricky.
Some bike trailers can even convert to a jogging stroller, with the simple addition of a front wheel.
Tag-a-long bike, half-bike, half stoker bike
This is half a bike that hitches onto the adult’s bike, with its own handlebars, and is suitable for kids of around five or older. Your child can pedal along with you, making them feel like they’re contributing to the effort.
There are geared and ungeared models available; the geared version can help introduce kids to using gears, so they can use them on their own bikes down the track.
An alternative trailer option is the trail-gator. This folding hitch attaches to your bike and your child’s bike, lifting their front wheel to turn it into a tag-a-long when they get too tired to ride independently.
For more information on bike safety and things to consider when riding, read our article 'Riding with toddlers'.
You can also read the Essential Kids article 'Families that cycle together'.