Not too long ago, standing outside a convenience shop, a father and daughter rolled up on their bikes. My three-year-old daughter looked at me and said, “Daddy, that’s what I want. I want a big girl bike.”
What she was pointing at was a ride along bike. Odd looking by themselves, these childrens bikes have only a rear wheel and where the front wheel would be, a bar that extends to the seat post of mom or dad’s bike. In most other ways they are normal bikes with pedals, handle bars and a seat, but no brakes.
Ride along bikes, also known as trail-a-bikes or tag-alongs, are a great way to keep the family rolling along together. They are perfect for the youngster who has reached the size or independence where riding in a kids bike trailer is no longer an option. They are also a great way to get your kid understanding and feeling balance and build up a sense of confidence in a very safe way- attached to mom or dad’s bike. I bought our ride-along bike when my son, now nine, was about three and found that when it was time to teach him to ride on his own, he already had a very good sense of balance and understood the need to lean into turns.
The ride along bike also allows for much longer trips than a young child would ever be able to manage on his or her small bike. Last summer we did a number of family rides of 15 miles or more, my daughter on the ride-along bike. Attached to the adult ahead, your child can coast when tired and crossing busy streets or rough terrain is a good deal less nerve racking knowing they are right behind you.
When my daughter asked for a big girl bike, I just had to make my way through to the deepest darkest recesses of my garage and wrestle it out. It was dusty and the tire flat, but other than that, ready to go. The universal collar simply attaches to the seat post, and away you. The ride along bike we own is Trek’s Mountain Train 201, which now runs around $170. Considering I’ll probably get a total of 8 years and nearly 10000 miles out of it, money well spent. But there are even cheaper options, with large retailers like Target and Toys ‘R ‘Us selling trail-alongs for as little as $80. And cheaper still, I have seen listings on Craigslist for as low as $20. Considering that most people will have only ridden them for a couple of years, this would be a great deal.
Get your child, and family, healthier and greener. Put away the car keys and get on a bike.