When I picked our oldest up from summer camp one day last week, I knew we were in trouble. He walked out, tears in his eyes, and told me he was feeling sick. Swim lessons were out, and he wasn’t up for the (gradual, but long) hill back home.
I’ve gotten pretty good at towing kid (and adult) bikes on longtails, and have even pulled it off reasonably well on the Madsen. A front-loading bike like the Bullitt provides some new challenges, though. For small kid bikes (balance bikes and our 12″ pedal bike), I can tuck one wheel in my folding Wald baskets on the back and secure the bike with a couple of bungee cords. 20″ and bigger wheels are not as easy to tuck away, though. I also realized that I didn’t have any bungee cords of my own with me, which left me with the two on the rear rack of the kid bike and one cable lock to secure our bikes together. I ended up with this:
It wasn’t elegant, but it was secure and got us home. I couldn’t have pulled it off with the baby riding with me, though, so when I got home I started looking into alternatives. Here are some of the suggestions I got:
- If you want to be able to tow kid bikes frequently, the FollowMe Tandem might be the best bet. It’s a little too pricy for the occasional towing that I want to do, though, and it only works for wheels up to 20″, which means that we’re going to outgrow it soon.
- The Burley Travoy trailer is supposed to be able to cart an adult bike, which means that loading a kid bike on it should be straight-forward. It’s also supposed to be wonderful with the Brompton, so it’s on my maybe-someday wish list already. The downside to the trailer option is that I’d have to plan ahead to have it with me, so it might not work for surprise-towing options like the one I just dealt with.
- An oft-forgotten option is to just lock up the bike that’s not ridable (whether that’s due to a broken bike or a broken rider) and come back for it later. We could have left the kid bike at camp, then ridden it home the next day. Or I could have come back with a trailer later to get it. My sick kiddo was distraught by the idea of leaving his bike behind, but it probably would have been the most sane of the options we had that day.
- A couple of folks (myself included) would like to see a Bullitt with an Xtracycle Free Radical attached. I don’t actually think I’d want to ride something that long every day, but it would combine the best of long johns with the towing ability of a longtail. If anyone has actually done this, I’d love to see a picture.
- A few people have gotten more creative with DIY solutions. I’m a visual learner, so some of these solutions are harder for me to follow, but they include: a fork mount bolted (via a door hinge) to the back of a rear rack, a quick release hub zip-tied to the back of a rack.
- At some point, I’d like to check out a surfboard bike rack to see if it could also hold the front wheel of a towed bike. Has anyone ever done that?
- Most specific to this task, John Lucas of Cycle Trucks has a custom rear rack for towing other bikes in the works. It’s designed to tow one bike on either side, and looks extremely burly. It sounds like a first batch of them will be available soon — get in touch with him if you’d like to grab one!