Child Seats and Trailers
The arrival of children can make even the most cycle-mad of new parents reach for the car keys. When it comes to transporting junior, four wheels appear to be the most efficient and safest mode of transport.
But once the child has reached an age where they are sufficiently developed to sit up straight for a lengthy period, then there is no reason to choose the greener way to get around that two wheels represent.
The two main options that parents will be presented with are the seat and the trailer. The former are manufactured from toughened plastic for maximum impact absorption and economy of weight, and should incorporate a three-point harness and a front safety bar that doubles as a grab bar. There are a great many models on the market, retailing from around £30 up to £100, designed to fit either to the rear of the bike or the front.
Ease of fitment and well-designed and generously supported footwells are two important areas to consider when purchasing. In the case of a rear-fitting model, ensure that it has a high back and deep sides for maximum protection.
Fitted By An Authorised StockistRear seats are suitable for children up to the age of about five, while those designed for the front usually go up to about two years of age. In common with car seats, make sure you buy a seat designed specifically for the age and weight of the child and have it fitted by an authorised stockist.
In terms of pros and cons, front seats mean the child is never out of your sight; however they are more exposed to the elements and debris thrown up from the road by your front wheel than they would be in a rear position. There is also the danger that they may distract you.
Consider, too, that the weight of seat and child is going to impact on the manoeuvrability of the bike, so it is a good idea to practise using a heavy rucksack or other weighted object strapped in the seat prior to heading out with junior in tow.
Strong Solid FrameThis brings us neatly on to quite literally towing your child. In common with seats, trailers are designed for children nine months and older. They retail from around £150 up to £500. Features to look for are a strong, solid frame that offers maximum protection and good visibility so that the child can see out and remain amused.
The advantage of trailers over seats is that they are more comfortable for the child, are capable in many cases of accommodating more than one child, and they have less impact on the manoeuvrability of the bike.
For older children, a third option is the trailer bike, sometimes referred to as a tag along. In essence this is a bike with a single, rear wheel that attaches to the rear of the adult’s machine via a bracket at the front of frame. They incorporate both handlebars and pedals so that the child can enjoy the cycling experience while mum or dad does all the hard work.
Trailer bikes are also useful for more nervous children who need to be gently nursed through the process of learning to ride independently. In terms of price expect to pay between £100 and £300.