Picking the Kids Up With bikes?

Yesterday afternoon, two of the girls had a ballet rehearsal. Friends stopped by, just before it was time to leave. We ended up with too little travel time to ride, so my friend gave them a lift. Since they didn’t ride their bikes to rehearsal, they didn’t have them there to ride home.  Time to improvise!!!

I have seen pictures on the internet of people towing one bike behind another. There are many pictures of the front tire of the bike in-tow being hung inside the pocket of the large bags on the rack of cargo bikes. It looks easy enough. What if you don’t have a cargo bike? Can it still be done?

It can be done, but it’s really not easy at all.

Several years ago, I was pulling a Burley trailer behind a trailer bike, behind a tandem bicycle.  It was quite a long bike train, but not really hard to manage once we got accustomed to tandem cycling.  Occasionally one of my kids had a co-op class at a different location while a sibling was still in class at the first location.  They would get a ride with another family and we met up at the second location.  This left me transporting a bike without a rider, behind an already extra long bike train.  It took me many attempts at shifting things around and I was only partially successful at tying up a kids bike to the back of the Burley trailer with bungee cords.  Luckily it was a fairly short ride!

Recently, I have tried to tow my sons little bike behind our new Burley Piccolo.  Because his bike is very small, I haven’t been able to attach his bike in a way that makes it so that the rear wheel of the bike in-tow (the small kids bike) doesn’t rub against the towing bike’s rear tire (the Piccolo), particularly while turning.  I’m sure I’ll eventually figure it out, but I haven’t yet.

It’s been about four years since my younger daughter rode on a trailer bike.  The trailer bike we used to have was not as stable as the Burley Piccolo.  It was a seat post hitch assembly rather than the rear rack hitch assembly the Piccolo has.  Riding with an older child on our old trailer bike made keeping the bikes upright impossible.  I have found that it is possible for my 9- and 12-year-olds to ride on the Piccolo. Steering and balancing are affected, though not enough that I can’t still maintain full control.

Since I needed bikes for two riders, I decided to take the Piccolo and try to tow my older daughter’s bike behind.

Towing a bike train

Towing a bike train

It took me a few attempts at tying the bike up with bungee cords to make it stable.  At this length, any tipping or wobbling from the rear is magnified, pulling at the front bike.  It rides and balances differently.  I put a rear rack on the Piccolo a while back.  This made it possible to tie up the front wheel of my daughter’s bike to the rack on the Piccolo, with the wheel leaning against the Piccolo pedal to keep it high enough off the ground.  I also ran a bungee cord around the top of the fork to keep the top of the taller bike in-tow from tipping.

Towing a bike with bungee cords: side-view

Towing a bike with bungee cords: side-view

Towing a bike with bungee cords: front-view

Towing a bike with bungee cords: front-view

The bike in-tow followed fairly well at a slow speed and I arrived safely.  My ride was mostly away from traffic.  This set up would not follow well and would tip the whole train over if it were not securely tied.  I’m sure it helps that I am a heavy rider and I have pulled long heavy bike trains quite a bit already.  I wouldn’t recommend riding this way unless you are sure that everything is secure and that you can fully control the bike.  I’d still try to stay away from traffic.

Seperating Piccolo and towed bike

Seperating Piccolo and towed bike

Packing up the backpack dance bags

Packing up the backpack dance bags

Teen cyclist ready to go

Can we go yet?

Mom and daughter ready to go with the Piccolo

Mom and daughter ready to go with the Piccolo

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