Bike and baby? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-17-2002, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
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My husband loves to bike, and we would really like to get out later this summer with dd and cruise around. I have done a bit of research, and have found that pretty much all the safety experts say not to use the trailers or seats until one year, mostly because of the bouncing and jiggling. Dd will be one July 3, so that's no big deal. There are also a lot of warnings about older kids, some recommend not to use them at all. They talk about head impacts, severe brain damage caused by either the child falling out or the bike being tipped over. It seems to me though, that this would apply more to strong impacts, like a car hitting the bike, or hitting a big rock, or whatever. Also, these warnings seemed a few years old, and the new seats I have looked at seem to be a lot more secure, higher around the head and so on. I am too much of a worry wart to take dd on a bike anywhere but a nice smooth bike path in a park, where there would be no cars, so I feel like maybe it would be alright for us, but am not sure. Does anyone know more about this, or used bike trailers/ seats before?
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#2 of 8 Old 04-17-2002, 09:53 PM
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I know everyone has a different opinion, but we followed the advice of many friends and put our son's infant seat into the burley, securely strapped, etc., when he was5 mos. old. He did fine. Of course, we went slowly and stayed on smooth trails. This summer, he's on his own w/a helmet in there.

Good luck figuring it out! It is tough.
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#3 of 8 Old 04-17-2002, 11:47 PM
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There are a couple of long discussions about this in the toddler forum. One thing I will repeat from over there is that many injuries to children occur when the bike is stopped and the adult is mounting or dismounting. Basically there doesn't need to be any impact, just being strapped to the falling bike is enough to cause injuries.
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#4 of 8 Old 04-18-2002, 10:53 AM
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I have worked as a bike mechanic for over ten years now and I must say that the bike seats they have today are much safer than they ever were. However, it takes more than a good bike seat/trailer to ensure safety.
Before you buy:

#1 Choose between trailer and bike seat. Trailers are much more expensive, but do offer some measure of comfort because the baby will be closer to the ground, however, many trailers do not have good seat positioning or view so the baby might have to lean forward to look out. As cute as the rider's butt/rear wheel may seem, it gets boring after awhile. Several trailers now have a safety coupling so if the bike falls over, the trailer won't.

Trailers require a bit more room on the road, so you must think also about where you are going to use it. Bike trails seem safe, but remember, that is where a lot of inexperienced and therefore dangerous riders go. You must consider there needs as well as your own. If you live in an area that has safe wide two lane trails or good wide road shoulders then the trailer might be the thing. Personally, I have a hard time justifying the cost of the trailer because I don't see myself getting much use out of it where we live, certainly won't use it much after dd is grown.

Trailers do have higher weight capacities but I wonder if the child at those higher weights will enjoy being towed around as much. Bike seat weight capacites are approx 45lbs., some trailers up to 75lbs.

Attachable child seats offer a few advantages over the trailers besides price IMHO: Child will have a really good view of what's going on around them.
Child will be closer to you so when a crisis (ie., crying fit or sceaming)
occurs you can speak to them easily.
Many models offer a quick release mount to a rack which stays
mounted on the bike, so when dd or ds has outgrown the seat you still
have something useful left over.

And of course there are disadvantages:
Extra weight on the rear of the bike affects handling, increases rear tire
Seats require a little more work to install, esp. if you do not have a late
model bike with rack fittings on the back. Most hybrids and mountain
bikes have them, some higher end bikes don't.
The fear factor: Child is higher off of the ground. If bike tips over the
seat will as well.

#2 Get it at a bike shop! Install it Correctly!
Even if you are technically saavy, realize that most shops out of safety concerns will freely install bike seats, or charge very little to do so. Also, many times modifications must be made to appropriately set up the seat, shops will have tons of brackets and bolts on hand to do this. If something on the seat is missing, lost or tossed away you can always get an exact replacement from the shop.
I have seen wonderful bike seats with one or more bolts loose or missing completely unbeknownst the owner. They were quite lucky nohing happened. Point is, if it isn't installed properly then it will never be safe.

#3 The shop I've worked at carries only one child seat carrier, by Topeak. It has a super strong mounting system with convient seat quick release, high sides to protect child, adjustable foot straps and removeable washable cover. It is the only baby seat installtion I don't cring in reaction to.

#4 If you do get a seat carrier then do one of two things:
Never leave child in the seat alone with the kickstand holding up the bike!
Get rid of the kickstand on your bike and always ride with someone else so they can hold the bike while you put baby in or take her out of the seat.

The child's weight inevitable wriggling will tip the bike over. The kick stand can only safely hold about 50 pounds total.

I am going to save this reply on my computer because you are not the first intrepid cycling family to have posed these questions, and I am always glad to help out anyone with cycling related questions.
Good luck and have a happy safe time!
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#5 of 8 Old 04-18-2002, 04:26 PM
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That was a wonderful message. Thank you for all your answers. I will copy it for my records too.
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#6 of 8 Old 04-21-2002, 04:47 PM
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I went with the Burley d'lite. it's rated to 100lbs (got to consider clothes and accessories in there) It can hold 2-3 bags of groceries or whatever. Dd tells me about things that she sees out of the window, so I think her view is just fine. The hitch is great, and the trailer stays upright. It has a special recessed helmet area, but she is 2 and fairly tall. our 20 month old friend isn't quite big enough to get his helmet in the ditch. It isn't too much wider than a person on a bike, of course in a different way, being closer to the ground. I never have run into anything with it yet, but dh has a problem remembering that it isn't quite centered and sticks out more on the left. Who says guys have better spacial relation perception?

Dd loves it. and, even with the rain cover on, I can hear her talking to me.
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#7 of 8 Old 04-21-2002, 06:03 PM
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I would recommend a trailer over anything else. They are a hundred times safer and bike shop quality ones (burley and InStep Pro are my favorites) have roll cages in them which help prevent injuries but nthing is 100% sfafe outside of a padded room.

If you still decide to go with a bike seat instead I strongly recommend a top tube mounted seat (Companion Carrier is one brand) these are better because it doesn't change your center of gravity, your baby is saftly held by you (they sit between your arms and legs) and not strapped in, if you have to bail you can take the baby with you. Also thier legs are no where near a wheel. (unless you have a really short bike) They can start using this at about a year and my dd fit untill she was three but we had a very short bike.

My bike has gone over a cliff before. The thought that my child would have been attatched to it makes me want to faint. If there had a been a trailer it would have slowed down and stopped from the weight or hit a tree.

No matter what your child rides in make sure that both of you wear quality ansi and astm certified helmets that have been properly adjusted. They are hard to adjust so you may want to have the fine folks at the bike shop do it for you and show you how to wear it properly (about 90% of helmets I see are worn/adjusted improperly). Also never buy a used helmet and childrens helmets should be replaced ever year or two. Even dropping them on the ground could damage them and reduce thier saftey as well as extreme temperatures.

hey pie_poppa, need a job? Sioux Falls is very nice

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#8 of 8 Old 04-21-2002, 06:10 PM
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We use a bike trailer and Eli loves it now- but it wasn't a hit until he recently (he is now 20 mos.). Our Burley trailer said it was for babies over 1 year of age... but 1 year was not old enough for us- he hated it. Just wanted to let you know that you may have to be patient- but it is worth it. We have had 4 wonderful rides so far this spring, 3 of them requested by Eli.

happy cycling,
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