The Chainlink

Greetings Chainlink!  Longtime rider, first time poster.  My wife and I are lucky enough to have welcomed our first child into the world about 12 weeks ago and she's just started daycare.  Until this point I've been a year-round cycle commuter, from the near west side to the Union Station area.  Now that Jr's off to daycare my commute is a drive to daycare and then parking near the El stop- functional but sorely lacking in fun.  When the weather improves I'd like to start hauling her to daycare in a trailer (or cargo bike), stashing said trailer at a storage space I have nearby then riding to work.  I have a lot of questions about all sorts of things, from age considerations to gear.  So in some order:


- how old is old enough to ride?  What I've seen online is that most seat and trailer manufacturers recommend waiting until the kid is old enough to wear a helmet and hold their head up.  How old is that, in your experience?

- Is it feasible to start at an earlier age by working a car seat into the mix?

- what do people like as far as trailers and cargo bikes go?  I've read the posts in the cargo bikes section and I understand that the view there is that trailers are bad news.  They are, however, much cheaper options and given that almost our entire ride in the trailer will be either on side streets or streets with bike lanes it's somewhat less of a concern for me.  Also I've got this sweet Surly which I got last summer and I need to ride it.

- Any experience/insight relating to mounting car seats in trailers/cargo bikes?

- Anything else I'm overlooking as I consider my options?




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Hey Rob- I don't have kids/expertise in this area but recently came across this blog you might find helpful:

A lot in there about customizing trailers, etc. Hope it's useful! 

Thanks Anne!

Anne B. said:

Hey Rob- I don't have kids/expertise in this area but recently came across this blog you might find helpful:

A lot in there about customizing trailers, etc. Hope it's useful! 

Rob--congrats! I just have a few secs but wanted to tell you that there is a lot of support in this community for you. We are looking at doing a car free/car lite living with families workshop at the 2/26 bicycle swap. I am also about 10% away from being done with the biking with kids section of the Bike Winter website.


Standard line is 12 months. The neck muscles need to be strong enough to handle bumps. We started Miguel in a trailer at 10 months--he had a very strong neck. I know others have done car seat/cargo type arrangements. I think that would make me nervous but I will let others chime in on that.


For now, you might find this blog post I did on bike seats vs trailers interesting. No cargo bike for us as we switch off transport duties and know he will be on a trailabike and on his own bike soon enough)


Also--here are all of my car-free with kids posts (basically covering our son's first 2 1/2 years--he is 4 now and we still use a trailer.)


Best wishes,



Another good blog for biking with kids is I only recently started following it, so the kids are a little older than yours, but it's still a great blog.



We started hauling our daughter in the trailer around 10 months, when she was strong enough to hold her head up with a helmet on. I also threw in a couple of small pillows, because that thing is like a baby sleep machine and I wanted her to be comfy when she inevitably dozed off. I've heard of people putting a younger baby in the trailer in a car seat, but we never tried it.


We bought a Burley Encore trailer. It's big enough for two kids (good thing, cause the next one is due in a couple of months). I looked on craigslist for a bit but ended up buying ours new. Glad I did cause it was worth every penny.


Congrats and good luck!


Chris C said:


- Anything else I'm overlooking as I consider my options?


Kick his freeloading ass out of the house and tell him to get a job.


The infant carrier racks are a popular attachment for bikes in The Netherlands and Denmark. The connector attaches to your rack and the infant carrier can be lifted on and off similarly to a snap and go stroller. I've never seen one used stateside though over the summer I saw a guy on California that welded a second handlebar to run parallel to his original ones and was able to get the measurement perfectly enough to attach the infant carrier up front. It looked to cool that I had to do a double take. He only had a single kick stand though which would make loading precarious. 


A couple of years ago Julian at Totcycle modded his madsen to make it infant friendly. If you already had the bike it seems like it would be a 3 hour project. And if you're in the market to spend a on of money on a bike that would only be of assistance for a short period (< 3 years per child), the Taga bike would be ready to roll for your little one pretty early on. A mom from Milwaukee had this thing at the Dutch Bike workshop a few months ago in its stroller form. It looked promising. (ETA: Taga has added a ton more features since the last time I looked into them and now it looks like that's  much better contender. Check out the reviews though, they're mixed.)


Jennifer uses an Onderwater family tandem and a bakfiet box bike that could also wok for your needs but neither have the advantage of being able to detach the trailer and store it somewhere for your portion of the commute. 


**disclosure; though thousands of people ride in Europe with there newborns right from day one or close to it, there is a culture and more importantly, an infrastructure there to support it. With the condition of our roads, lack of protected bike lanes and completely obtuse drivers in Chicago I would be hesitant to ride with a child until about 9 months of age when, if god forbid something were to happen, they'd have enough head and neck support to not just tossed like a rag doll. The age at which this happens is different for every child. Some are ready at 7 months (though this is cutting it too close for comfort) and others aren't ready until 15 months. My own kid refused to wear a helmet until just before her second birthday. She screamed bloody murder every time I'd put it on her and proceed to scream for the entirety of the ride. She's 3.5 now and loves every minute on a bike.

Some pictures on a great website to give you some inspiration about kids on bikes.  I check every day or two.  It's led to a lot of information for me.

I am new to biking with kids and biking in winter so take what I have to say with a grain of salt. My daughter loved riding in her bike seat on the back of my bike (except when it was raining). I agonized over what to do for winter and for her imminent growth. I looked at a lot of stuff online and talked to a lot of people. In the end, like Clare, I decided to buy a new Burley, but I bought a Bee. It is really easy to use, lightweight, in the cheaper range, and it also fits two kids. My daughter loves it. I do not have a place to store it while she is in daycare but I did buy these motorcycle handcuff locks that are (I hope) more secure than the cable locks.


If you can, I would get a seat for your bike and also a trailer. Its great to have those options for yourself but also for your child. I think they like to be up high and part of the action but also sheltered when its cold or rainy.


Many people told me, and I now understand what they meant, that you need to just try things and see what works best for you and your child. Definitely talk to a lot of people about their experiences and read the blogs but also see if you can experiment. If you know someone who has a trailer see if you can try it out, for example. Sometimes stores will let you try out the equipment too. I was really worried about using a trailer until I finally gave it a try!


Good luck!

Hi. I'm a pediatrician and bicyclist so I'm drawn in two directions here. From the pediatrician point of view, a kid who is too young to hold their head up well, generally at 6 months of age, is too small to take on a bike. That is pretty standard advice and it has good evidence to support it. Officially, that is the only answer. When you do take them, use a helmet approved for kids that size. Bell and Giro make some, and at last check Nutcase helmets fit babies but were not approved down to such a young age, though I think they were working on that.

On the other hand, we take babies in cars all the time and there are wheeled and pedaled things that can be made as safe as that, I think. Once you're up to 6 months of age there are a lot of options which include baby seats, trailers, cargo bikes and more. There are a lot of people here with lots of experience and good advice that's already been written.

Before 6 months if you are willing to ignore the official pediatric advice and try anyway, you'll need something that will hold a standard baby car seat securely (the almost lying down kind) and not fall down ever, like a trike or trailer. I don't like trailers but many people do. You can fit a baby seat into many two wheeled cargo bikes, too, if you are willing to take the risk of the bike falling over. We were, and we used a Bakfiets Long with good results. The local dealer is Dutch Bike on Armitage. I think JC Lind on Wells has at least one thing that you can mount a seat in, a trike with a box, and there's a Winther trike he carries too that might adapt to hold a baby seat. I'm not sure what Copenhagen has now but they theoretically are a Christiania dealer. Another site with good kid carrying and links is run by the major dutch bike wholesaler but good anyway,, and Dr Mekon at has a few posts too. Look at Clever Cycles in Portland, OR's site too for info - most of their stuff is carried here in Chicago by local dealers too.

Don't be tempted to cut corners and try putting a little baby on a bike that's not safe enough - there's plenty of time to ride your kid on the bike in the months and years to come. 

Hi Rob- 

Congratulations. We've ridden with a couple of different kinds of seats on the front and back with the guys when they were really small. WE started around 9 ms. Our youngest is a two year old now. We had good luck with a bobike mini seat, iberts look good too. Gin has a cool seat she got at Boulevard Bikes with a hood- we used a trailer but I think she has good advice on those especially in winter. We ride out from the Nr. West Side most of the itme and their are lots of quiet ways to gt in and out to up by Union Station.


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