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

Sebastian Velez svelez at oeb.harvard.edu
Thu Sep 25 00:08:01 EDT 2008

I forgot to end my message with a nice quote like Candice's:

Now, you might see us riding around town... both with a big grin on our 
faces and yelling yeeehaaa!


Sebastian Velez wrote:
> 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,
> Sebastian
> 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
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> -- 
>>> 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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