Thursday, August 22, 2013

Biking with ba...errr... toddler

Have I talked about our bike seat?  No? Well, I should've, because it's awesome.
We always knew we'd be finding some way to bike with Chip.  We've given up on the long weekend jaunts for the time being, and most of our large stable is sitting unused in the garage, but we still want cycling to play some part in our lives, and we wanted it to play some part in Chip's life from as early as possible.  We ended up waiting until shortly after Chip's first birthday; most advice I've seen recommends waiting until one, on the assumption that toddlers can sit and hold themselves well by that stage, plus we weren't exactly flush after Christmas, especially with the big first birthday also on the horizon.
We did a little bit of research ourselves, but we are fortunate to have a number of Bike Expert friends, including a few with roughly Chip-sized small people in their lives.  Chatting with them and a couple of online searches convinced us that we wanted:
- a seat, not a trailer; and
- mounted on the front, not back, handlebars.
This left us with two frontrunners- the Weeride Kangaroo, and the Ibert.  Most of the people we spoke to couldn't really give us much reason to go for one or the other, other than the Weeride was better if your child was likely to drop off while out riding (HA!).  Since our friends liked their ibert, and it came in a snazzy green, we went with the ibert.
We started off by attaching the seat to Phil's mountain bike.  I was still a tad nervous about riding with the baby, and we were hoping to go down to the forest to christen the seat as soon as we could! .  We found that the various criticisms we'd seen of the seat in online reviews were pretty apt- basically, steering takes a second or two to get used to, and it tends to require you to ride just a weeny bit bowlegged.  But, given our intentions as far as family rides go, these things are no big deal- we're not gnarly enough to take Chip on the kinds of trails that would require steep uphills and technical skillz.
After a few family rides, we moved the seat to Penelope, my town bike. I'm home with the boy two days a week and he was starting to ask for bike rides (by saying "BIKE, BIKE" or by fetching helmets) every afternoon I had him.  I originally wanted to use my mountain bike, as Penelope is rather heavy and clumsy, but Phil persuaded me and I'm glad I listened to him.  There's a lot more room for Chip's legs under the handlebars, and no need for me to adjust my legs much at all.
Chip and I probably go for a ride on 80% of our together days, usually in the mid-afternoon, and I'm guessing for about 40 minutes to an hour at a time.  We both prefer the bike over the stroller (though it's not as good a workout for me); Chip because he likes going that bit faster and sitting that bit higher (I think) and me because it's so very much easier to interact with him.  I can hear him talk and see him sign "more"; I can reach snacks/water in my basket and I can talk to him about what we see, where we're going, and road safety (I do this while jogging too, but we're much closer on the bike).  I feel safe knowing where he is and what he's doing at all times.  The downsides are that we get stuck in traffic/at intersections a little more, which really seems to get up Chip's nose (for this reason, use of the bike for errands has been minimal), and that Chip thinks he should be the one holding the handlebars and I disagree!
All in all, the ibert has been a great purchase and I'd happily recommend it to anyone looking to bike with their little one.


Theresa said...

We can't wait until our Andrew is big enough to bike with us! We're also leaning towards getting a seat for the front handlebars...and eventually a trailer too for longer rides (but trailers are SO expensive).
I think it's absolutely awesome that Chip asks to go biking!

Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

ooooh LOVE that seat! Particularly because it is at the front! I really must look into getting something similar!