He's debating whether to get either a trailer, or a tagalong / trail-a-bike so she could ride attached to this bike. The main question is, which is likely to lead to her being willing to take part in longer rides? Tagalongs are easier to get used and are less expensive, but that doesn't mean they're the better solution.
She is very confident on her balance bike (glides long distances), and my guess is that she will be ready to transition to a two-wheeler pedal bike in the next month or two. She's 40" tall.
The two of them borrowed a trailer today and took it for a test ride. She liked it ("especially that it has pockets!"), but of course, it was an exciting, brand-new experience, so we have no idea how long she'd last once the newness wore off. She no longer takes naps.
My son has been going on rides with me since he was a year old and here is my experience: The trailer was our best option for long distance until this spring (he's now 5 1/2) and we have only now transitioned into using the trail-a-bike. He started riding two wheels for up to six miles a day when he was four. The trail-a-bike was pretty different and hard for him to get used to because it wobbles a little and seems unsteady until he really learned to take control. I would fill the trailer full of toys, snacks, drinks, books, etc and he would keep himself completely entertained and even periodically would fall asleep! I would just think that at 3.5, if your DH wants to take her on long distances, they should do a trailer for now! :O) Trail-a-bike is fun when you get there...DS now can do 20+ miles with me on it! :O)
I was uncomfortable with having a trailer, it seemed to place children too far from me and too low for my sense of safety. I don't have experience with the trail-a-bike add-on.
I ended up getting a Yuba cargo bike that has room to sit for up to two children as well as handlebars for a child to hold on to. My 8yo rides with me sometimes, and sometimes rides her own bike. I can carry two kids, and a lot of extra "stuff" as well. Like musical instruments for going to their music lessons... I also use it for getting groceries. It has less length to maneuver than a bike+trailer and I have found that easy to get used to and easy to find parking space for as well. If I had a 3yo I would think it was the ideal age for getting this bike--I'd get a lot more use out of the child-carrying function than I do with my older kids.
There are disadvantages: A recreational biker would probably not enjoy the heaviness of this particular bike. But there are cargo bikes that are built lighter as well.
ME&HE... loving our: dd(18) ~~ds(13) dd(13)~~ dd(10)
From my experience at this age I'd definitely go with a trailer as opposed to trail-a-bike.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
dd transitioned from the seat, to the trailer and finally to the tandem bike attachment. she got the attachment when she reached the right size.
since she is confident with the balance bike, i would probably get the tandem attachment.
the thing with making biking exciting though - i dont think its a matter of trailer or tandem.
its a matter of taking lots of breaks, stopping for a picnic, watching the wildlife.
dd rides with her dad and they started small and then added more. for instance while on teh bike trail at some point they have to stop and spend hours playing in teh river and beach.
he was ok when she didnt want to pedal.
I have to agree with meemee - I'd go with the tag-along given everything you've written. And if you pick up a tag-along and decide she isn't quite ready for it, you can hold on to it for next year and get a trailer for this year - nothing is lost. Also have to agree with meemee's sentiment of making it fun. We always have a fun end goal on our rides. The beach is a popular spot to ride for our kids, too.
We use a trailer regularly for cycling to school and even though it's only about half and hour round trip DS (4 1/2) seems to get board. He does better if he takes his drink and something to play with in there with him. I do find it hard to talk to him when he's in the trailer, but I think thats mostly as my hearing isn't great and our routhe is alongside some fairly busy roads. I do love being able to fit the school bags or a bit of shopping in the back of the trailer.
I'm looking out for a used tag along as we're wondering if he would like that better though I'm finding quite a lot of them say 5 upwards so we may have to wait a while till he grows into it.
Most of our local cycle hire places have trailers and tag alongs, so it may be worth renting one for a day and she how you get on.
If you want to spend some big bucks look into weehoo trailer/bike. It's about $400! But it is both a trailer and a tagalong. It's like a recumbent and they don't have to pedal all the time. My friend/neighbor just got one it looks awesome.
I found the tagalong was a better option after doing both. The bike trailer can hold more toys but it is harder to peddle with a trailer because the weight really drags on the bike. The tagalong had a slight weight and the wobbling was a little odd at first, but once we got used to it that was the better option for us because I actually would do long rides with her on them wheras with the trailer I intended to but rarely did because it was a pita. I got both the trailer and the tagalong from Shopko for very reasonable prices.
They can't consistently do much distance with you until they are riding a bike with bigger wheels, yes I really think it's that simple. 20"-24" as a basic. And you need a good quality lightweight bike for them, not something that weighs half as much (or more) as they do.
Also depends on the child; my 6yo (7 this week) has done 9-16 mile rides with me, but sometimes it takes us all day. First two miles go quick & he really flags after that & needs to stop & mess about. He is the strongest, most energetic of my children, too.
Best thing for long distances together is a child-back tandem :). Pricey, but it's our work-horse (use it to take DC to most of their ExC activities, too). Probably my favourite bike (and we have a lot of bikes).
We never got a good connection with the tag-a-log thingie, always felt a bit too insecure.