Parents are eager to opt for active pastimes but aren’t sure which choice is best for their family.
You love family activities on the weekend, but you’re starting to get tired of sitting through hour-long trips in the car and being at home all week with the kids. You’ve seen friends and neighbors riding family bikes for children, but you’re not sure which is best for safety, comfort, or long-distance travel.
Which one is the best choice for cargo bikes, child seat attachments, and trailer bikes?
Biking Over Video Games and Car Rides
With countless families opting for a more active pastime, bikes for family are booming with popularity each day. They’re a great way to get your kids (and you) outside and active, especially after feeling super cooped up at home with a screaming toddler or two. Family bikes are a great way to normalize physical activity from a young age and get your kids unglued from those screens.
But how do you decide which is right for you and your little family pod?
Different Bike Options for Families
There are many bikes for families on the market; however, most of them fall into these four categories:
More and more, cargo bikes are becoming the most popular option for parents interested in bikes for family, one of the reasons being that most models come with an electric option as well.
These can be recognized by their relatively long frame with a front-loading cargo attachment. Depending on the model, the cargo attachment provides families with enough space to carry anywhere from 2-4 children or two adults with ample storage space. Many parents argue that this is the most comfortable option for them and their kids, as the cargo attachment is padded with comfy seats and seatbelts.
Electric Cargo Bike
Cargo e-bikes are a great option for families who like long-distance adventures. Look out for models that come with a pedal assist option, which provides the rider with an additional “e-boost” (and makes you feel stronger than you are!).
Lithium batteries can provide up to as much as 60 miles of travel distance per charge—that’s a full day of fun for you and the little ones!
Bikes With Child Seats
This is the most simple and low-cost option, a great family bike for parents with 1-2 toddlers interested in taking them along for the occasional trip or errand. While a single child seat can be mounted on the front or rear of a regular bike, you also have the option to mount two to three if you have a longtail bicycle (similar to the cargo frame, but instead, the back wheel is extended with a cargo mount on top).
Something important to consider before committing to this option is your state’s bike laws. Depending on where you live, there are different laws governing an acceptable method of biking with kids (several of which do not allow this option!).
Bikes With Trailers
Trailer attachments are another great family bike option for parents not looking to make a huge investment. Like the bike seat attachment, you can simply “upgrade” your current bike for family use by attaching a trailer to the back. These are easy to find and sold at a fairly reasonable price, making them a great budget-friendly option.
Trailers typically come armed with two wheels and a child seat that can fit up to two or the kids depending on the size, with a screen for cover from weather, but can also be used to haul gear (groceries, anyone?) for solo trips as well. It does, however, take a while to get used to maneuvering (turns can be especially tricky!).
5 Tips for Parents to Consider When Choosing a Family Bike
Ultimately, your choice of family bike will come down to how much you are willing to spend. There are countless new and innovative models, especially electric cargo bikes, and you just have to get clear on how much you are ready to put down and how this investment will give back to your quality of life.
Ask yourself: How often will we use this? Will I use my family bike even when my kids are at school? Will we be going on trips each weekend?
- Family Size
Family size is another big deciding factor. Do you have just one toddler you want to take around town now and then, or two, with another on the way? Also, do you see yourself using the bike only while they’re young or as they grow? Smaller families could get away with a bike seat attachment, while growing families might want to consider a trailer or cargo bike for family.
This is important to consider for two reasons:
- Legal: As mentioned earlier, state laws around acceptable bike hauling methods for kids vary.
- Terrain: Hilly terrain might not be ideal for bike seat attachments or even trailers, in which a cargo e-bike might be the best option—that is, unless you are an Olympic cyclist!
What is your main reason for wanting a family bike? Is it to get your cardio in while you run the occasional errand throughout the week? In this case, a bike seat might be ideal. Are you looking for something to help haul their toys to the beach or park now and then? For this, a trailer attachment would likely fulfill your needs. Or are you looking for a family adventure bicycle for long-distance travel? In this case, consider an electric cargo bike as a long-term family investment.
Finally, consider how important safety features are to you. Some parents feel confident with their biking skills, assuring their kids are safe with them in a bike seat attachment. However, this option still doesn’t protect from weather.
On the other hand, trailer attachments and cargo bikes provide different levels of weather protection and a bit more safety assurance. Cargo bikes typically come with seatbelts, allowing you to keep your kids in sight, which many parents prefer for peace of mind.
Now that you have all this information on bikes for family, you can make an educated choice for yourself and your little family pod. Happy cycling!