Turns out that cargo bikes are the new minivans, and for city dwellers especially, it’s easy to see why: Get your two-wheeler outfitted with the right gear and you’ll never have to deal with finding a parking spot or waiting for the bus again. (Special shout out to all the people who made safe, smooth, wide bike lanes a thing.)
But where to start? We checked in with Shelly Salamon, owner of Fairmount and Brewerytown Bicycles, who has a killer selection of ways to haul your brood around town, who walked us through the options. (PS-If you live in Philly, you can rent cargo bikes at her store to try them out for a weekend or month; and if you want to participate in the Kidacle Mass rides and meet some new cycling friends, they’ll lend them for free.)
- Your Classic Back-of-the-Bike Seat.
The benefits/negatives: The most popular option, but possibly just because it’s the most well-known, suggests Shelly. Secure and comfortable for parent and child. Can accommodate kids up to around 50 pounds. Affordable. Easy to install.
Recommended make/model: The Topeak BabySeat.
Why: Foot rests are adjustable to accommodate growing (or shorter) kids; padded with a six-point harness that keeps kids in place even if they fall asleep (which happens often); innovative suspension system for smooth ride (see: naps); no tools required to take on and off the bike if you purchase the rack, too.
Price: $185 at Fairmount Bicycles.
- The Stay-Close Front Seat.
The benefits/negatives: People who swear by the front seat, says Shelly, like that you can see what your child is doing, and that their view isn’t obstructed by your back. Since this is adding extra weight to the front end of your bike, it takes a little getting used to. Weight limit is around 38 pounds. If you’ve got two kids to haul around, you can have one in front and one in back.
Recommended make/model: iBert safe-T-seat.
Why: With a minimalist design and simple construction, this carrier is light and easy. It’s a budget-friend option. Easy instillation, easy to get the kid in and out.
Price: $110 at Fairmount Bicycles.
- The Drag-it-Behind Kid Trailer.
The benefits/negatives: Kids will definitely be happy and comfortable in these pull-along buggies –there’s plenty of room for them to bring toys or snacks. Made from aluminum or steel they are light and easy to haul, and large wheels absorb shock (although being close to the ground, they’ll feel bumps.) The best attributes of the trailer are the fact that you can haul more than one kid, you can haul bigger kids (up to 100 pounds), and it detaches easily, so you can lock it up at school and continue on to work.
Recommended make/model: Burley Bee.
Why: This model has particularly comfortable seats, stores flat, easy to remove from your bike and solid construction. This is versatile too — since it’s so comfy, it’s great for quick commutes or long weekend rides. (And obviously offers the most bad-weather protection of the lot.)
Price: $279 at Fairmount Bicycles.
- The Extra-Seat Cargo Bike.
The benefits/negatives: For when your kid has outgrown the bike seat and can sit on her own, these bikes offer an additional rear bench seat with easy on-and-off. (Think ages 5+.) There are optional bar systems available if you want them to be a bit more secure. (And there are traditional bike seat options for younger tots.)
Recommended make/model: Yuba Boda Boda or Yuba Mondo or Xtracycle.
Why: Light, stylish and easy to maneuver, with lots of add-on features, so you can carry your kid (or kids), his backpack, and more. There are also options to put a bike seat on the back, so you can plan on commuting with your child on this bike for a long, long time.
Price: Starts at $999 at Fairmount Bicycles.
- Those Crazy-Cool Front Bucket Cargo Bikes.
The benefits/negatives: Large and in charge, but still light, you can literally toss a gaggle of kids in the front bucket of this bike. The weight limit is higher than those where cargo is pulled in the rear.
Recommended make/model: Bullitt Bike.
Why: Well-constructed, versatile, easy in-and-out. You can buy a plastic bucket attachment or build your own bucket out of wood, etc. (Some people have gotten really creative with this.) You’ll have this baby forever and use it for so many things (Shelly knows of a guy who used it to move a couch!)
Price: Starts around $3,300 at Fairmount Bicycles.