Family Biking – Getting Started

This is part of a Guide to Family Biking. You can learn more about: 

A family with kids riding bikes on their own!
Let’s get riding!

Getting started:

If you already have a bike, a good way to get started family biking may be to add a child seat to your bike, but there are lots of options: trailers, bikes built for carrying kids, and more! If you’re looking for a new way to bike with a child, or are just getting started, there are many options. Let’s help you find what works best for you!

The Basics:

Before we get to those options, let’s go over some standard features you may want to consider. A good family bike is safe and comfortable for what you want to use it for, and those aspects may help you think about what you need.

A safe bike in many places, but particularly the northwest, will have brakes capable of stopping when carrying your family in wet conditions. You may want to think about disc brakes or hydraulic disc brakes for braking with heavier loads.

A kickstand will help load and unload your kids and cargo, and family bikes often make use of sturdier double-kickstands to safely handle wiggly kids.

Lights and fenders will keep you visible and dry.

Finally, good gearing or electric assist can help you get up hills easier and ride farther while carrying bigger loads.

Even if you don’t want all these features to start with, it’s a good idea to think about what you may want in the future.

A basic bike can be a simple and effective machine, but with a little planning can be set up to be more useful for most situations you’ll encounter. You may want to think about some of the features you take for granted with cars: lights that turn on automatically, serious brakes, and protection from the elements. Even little things like cup-holders, phone chargers, and a sound system can make a world of difference. Bike makers are even revisiting the “automatic” shifting bike!

Planning for the widest range of situations now will help you keep riding comfortably up a hill, at night, in the rain… you name it!

Family Biking Considerations:

A good place to start for family biking is to think about:

How many kids are you carrying?

How old and how big are they?

What do you want to use it for?

What constraints do you have – such as budget or storage?

Been There, Done That:

The Family Biking community contains a great wealth of knowledge, and people are generally happy to share their stories, both of success and learning the hard way. We’re happy to help connect you with those who can help.

A Note on Safety:

Laws and norms vary by location, and there are many opinions on when to start riding with children. Many agree that by age one, children are able to hold their head up and sit in a bike seat. Options are available for carrying younger babies in trailers or on cargo-bikes set up to secure child seats.

Now that you have so many things to think about, let’s go on to the Kid-Carrying Options.

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