[Parentsgroup-list] bike to drop off kid (with kid seat)

Sebastian Velez svelez at oeb.harvard.edu
Wed Sep 24 23:52:02 EDT 2008

Hi all again:

I will say the following in the spirit of fun and of exploring this 
topic with other grad students parents. I reread my original post about 
seats and feel compelled to clarify some things.

Around Harvard I see two kinds of graduate student parents: first there 
are those that ask for nannies on this list, argue the merits of this or 
that other $2,000/mo Harvard daycare center, dress their children in 
fleece 'outdoor outfits', and worry about the organic content of their 
children's cereal. Then there's people like me who barely make enough 
and are quite content with serving white bread and boiled broccoli for 
breakfast, carry their children on their backs while going to class, 
doing experiments in the lab and grading exams, and buy clothing by the 
bag at the Salvation Army.

If you can drop $230 for a well-appointed Kettler child seat with "Three 
piece injection molded resin body" (http://www.kettlerdirect.com/) and 
all the safety features Ralph Nader could come up with, you and I, my 
friend, share the same city but live in different worlds. The advice I 
gave about bike seats would not apply to you.

But still, for those that fall into my category of grad student parent, 
I think my advice remains valid: get your seat at a garage sale or off 
Craigslist for a few bucks, and as long as it's not cracked and it is 
firmly attached to the bike, you should be good to go. It does not 
matter how the seat is designed, if you put a 50-lb child high above the 
ground on an unstable object such as the bicycle, such a high center of 
gravity will make the bike tip like crazy whenever you are not moving. 
All the seats that I've seen put the child on top of the rear tire, so 
it's not that the bike lifts the front wheel, but that it swivels to the 
sides. Come by my place on a Sunday and I'll show you. Again, this is an 
issue of the mass of the child at a high point. No seat that I've seen 
puts the child 12" from the ground in the middle of the bike.

If you are not of the mechanically inclined, drop me a line and come by 
my place and I'll help you bolt it in place with my tools. Bike shops in 
Cambridge are a joke. Any shop that advertises $69 "tune-ups" is the 
same that will suggest a $150 maintenance job on a $50 bike, a job which 
you probably don't need anyway.

Something I really liked when I first saw them was those seats where the 
child sits on the top tube of the bike, right in front of you, like 
Candice mentioned. When I was a child, my relatives would carry me 
sitting on the handlebars, which is quite stable, but when I did that 
with my oldest daughter when she was young, people here on the street 
would yell at me that I was crazy. So I stopped doing that. The safety 
police, you know. You can give a crazy 16-year-old a license to drive a 
car and an 18-year-old a machine gun to go and kill, but can't carry a 
child on the handlebars.

On the Trail-A-Bike things, my daughter has been pointing at them 
lately, so I have my eyes open for a used one. I bet they are fun. 
Again, for a new one at $145, refer to the 3rd paragraph above.

To end with a reply to the original post, as he said that he was looking 
for fun with his daughter: yes, it is more fun and your child will love 
you for it. Do it quick before she grows up (my oldest one is 17 
already!), and spend your time riding with her, not reading reviews and 
list of safety features, and definitely not shopping.

Best to all,


Daddy-o for Cheyla (17) and Mariana (5)

Candice M. Etson wrote:
> Hi all.
> Just wanted to offer another perspective. I have carried both my children on the
> back of my bike, in various ways, and I love it. I have to say that I disagree
> with Sebastian's comment that it doesn't matter about the seat. I think that if
> you are going to ride around this town with your child on back, it's worth it to
> make sure you are set up right.
> If your seat is installed properly, you should not feel a need to keep moving to
> balance out the weight. The empty seat should not make much difference when
> pushing your bike around, and you should not have to put a lot of effort into
> making sure the bike doesn't tip while your child is in the seat. I can easily
> push my bike with my 2.5 year old in the seat and not worry about tipping. You
> should not be feeling like the front of the bike will "pop up" on you, even
> when you are not sitting on your own seat. If it does, the seat is sitting too
> far behind you, and it is not safe. If you have concerns, you can have the seat
> installed or adjusted at a bike shop for a nominal fee.
> Most of the seats you find in a bike shop (or garage sale, for that matter) are
> designed to attach to a rear mounted rack, the same kind you would use to put
> books on or hang panniers from. You do need to make sure that the rack you have
> is strong enough to carry the weight, some are too flimsy. These seats are
> perfectly fine if you are of average size. A new one will cost you about $100,
> but they are all over the place second hand. Try Craig's List, eBay, and garage
> sales.
> However, if you are very tall, and your bike has a large frame, it can be
> difficult to get the seat balanced properly. Also, if you are very small, you
> might find that the seat ends up too close to your rear end. My husband, at
> 6'4", found that he could not use this type of seat on his bike at all.
> Instead, he uses a seat with a cantilever mount, made by Kettler, that cost
> about the same as the rear mounted seats. We love this seat. The mounting
> bracket fits on almost any bike, except those that have a very short seat post
> (like women's comfort frame bikes, folding bikes, and mountain bikes with full
> suspension). You can get a second mounting bracket if you want to be able to
> tranfer the from one bike to another. You can see what it looks like here:
> http://www.kettlerusa.com/page10.html
> You can also get a seat that mounts in front of the adult, example here:
> http://www.weeride.com/
> I've never used one of these, but I've heard good reviews. Many people like the
> stability of having the seat close to the natural center of gravity of the
> bike. The only complaint I've heard about these is that if you are small, it is
> hard to ride the bike because the seat is basically between your legs.
> All of these seats have weight limits for safety, and they vary, so check before
> you buy. Most kids aren't ready to ride on their own by the time they size out
> of the seat. If you are in that situation, I highly recommend the Trail-a-bike:
> http://www.trail-a-bike.com/product/
> My older daughter rode behind me on ours until she was about 7 years old. She
> loved it because she felt like a big girl, and I knew she wasn't going to
> swerve into traffic or get left behind. And she learned the rules of the road
> this way. Now, you might see us riding around town, me with a toddler on back
> of my bike, and her following very safely behind, using hand signals and all.
> Good luck, and good riding!
> Candice
> Biophysics, G6
> mom of Helen (10) and Justine (2.5)
> Quoting Sebastian Velez <svelez at oeb.harvard.edu>:
>> Hi all:
>> I've carried my daughter on a child seat attached to my bike since she
>> was 6 months old. She is now 5-1/2 and still loves it. I take her to
>> school, to buy groceries, to go to the public pools around Cambridge,
>> everything. She likes it more than the car, and won't get into a stroller.
>> I use the kind of seat that goes in the back of the bike. It throws the
>> balance off when you are not moving, and we've fallen from the bike
>> quite a few times when waiting for a red light. When you are moving the
>> momentum keep the bike up and it is quite stable.
>> Any model will do; I think they are all the same. I got mine at a garage
>> sale for something like $5, if that much. My bike is 15 years old. The
>> seats come with clamps and such that you can attach to any bike. Mine
>> even had things to remove the seat quickly, but I threw these away and
>> just bolted it to the bike with bolts from the hardware store, as it
>> feels more secure this way. When my daughter is not with me on the bike,
>> I use the seat to carry stuff; very useful especially with the seatbelt
>> to hold the cargo.
>> As for where to get a bike, Kirkland house (where I'm a resident tutor)
>> will have a bike auction in a couple weeks. The bikes are in really good
>> condition and I'm sure you'll be able to find something cheap among the
>> 100 bikes up for auction.
>> Hope that helps,
>> Sebastian
>> Griffin, April Marie wrote:
>>> I too was thinking just today that a bike would be more fun and provide
>> more options than walking with my 2.5 year old. So I second the request for a
>> response for Taeseok's email!
>>> Happy Trails!
>>> April
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: parentsgroup-list-bounces at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
>> [parentsgroup-list-bounces at lists.hcs.harvard.edu] On Behalf Of Taeseok Kim
>> [kim57 at fas.harvard.edu]
>>> Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:42 PM
>>> To: parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
>>> Subject: [Parentsgroup-list] bike to drop off kid (with kid seat)
>>> Hi all,
>>> My kid (3 1/2 yr old) goes to a preschool in about 30min walk from my apt.
>>> I usually bring a stroller to drop off her but think it would be nice
>>> to have a bike with a child seat behind, which I come across on my way
>>> there.
>>> I have little idea how/where to buy that kind of combination
>>> especially, if any, a weight limit for each model.
>>> Can anyone give advice on that? It would be even greater if someone
>>> can sell any used bike and/or the seat.
>>> Thanks
>>> Taeseok
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Parentsgroup-list mailing list
>>> Parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
>>> http://lists.hcs.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/parentsgroup-list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Parentsgroup-list mailing list
>>> Parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
>>> http://lists.hcs.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/parentsgroup-list
>> --
>> Sebastián Vélez
>> PhD Candidate, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
>> Harvard University
>> Museum of Comparative Zoology
>> 26 Oxford St., Cambridge MA 02138
>> Lab: 1 617 496-5308
>> Cell: 1 781 799-2906
>> Fax: 1 617 496-5854
>> _______________________________________________
>> Parentsgroup-list mailing list
>> Parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
>> http://lists.hcs.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/parentsgroup-list

Sebastián Vélez
PhD Candidate, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
Museum of Comparative Zoology
26 Oxford St., Cambridge MA 02138
Lab: 1 617 496-5308
Cell: 1 781 799-2906
Fax: 1 617 496-5854

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