Kids and Cargo
Right now I have two bikes: my vintage Raleigh and my old Marin. I consider the Raleigh my go-to bike: I ride it for fun, I ride it to knitting class, I ride it to work. And with my Nantucket Bike Basket Co. pannier, it works fine. The only “problem” is that I’m not some footloose and fancy free bicyclist. I’m married with one 4-year old. So, when I ride my Raleigh into work, I have to ride home, put up the bike, and then drive to pick up my son from school. Clearly, this is not ideal; I would prefer to just pick him up along the way. But my husband doesn’t ride, so we can’t share a Burley. (He has drop-off, I have pick-up.) And, honestly, I wouldn’t want to put a Burley hitch on my Raleigh anyway. Because of its age (it’s from 1962), I also wouldn’t want to put on a rear child carrier. I could put a rear carrier on the Marin, but don’t really like riding it to work: no chain guard, no fenders, no rear rack, not even a kickstand. It’s a diamond frame mountain bike that’s not made for my style of commuting. And yes, I know I could add all these things, but it wouldn’t change the frame. I also think it would become a Frankenstein-y hodgepodge, and would simply prefer a cohesive bicycle with integrated parts.
Which brings me to my current search for an upright, step-through bike that is great for commuting, but that can also carry a child for shorter, local trips. The options I’ve identified are: (1) a WorkCycles Omafiets, (2) Yuba’s Boda Boda, or (3) an Xtracycle Edgerunner Family. Each of these bikes is expensive, and yet I’m not sure any one ticks all the boxes either.
image via WorkCycles
WorkCycle’s Omafiets (or granny bike) is a bicycle I would consider even if I didn’t have to worry about picking up my son. I love the upright style, the practicality and low “maintenance-ness”, and the durability. With dynamo lights, skirt guards, fenders, and mud flaps standard, it’s clear this bike is made for commuters. My primary concern is its weight. My commute is a more-than-decent 8 miles each way, with some slight hills in between. And even with 8 gears, Oma’s hefty weight, combined with the distance and topography of my commute, gives me pause. My other concern is finding the right child carrier to go with the WorkCycle. The GMG911 attaches directly to the rear rack, but I’m having a hard time finding a retailer that carries it. AndDutch has something similar, I believe, and there is also the Bobike Junior (though this attaches directly to the frame). Despite these concerns, however, the internal gear hub, fully enclosed chain case, cargo capacity, and timelessness of the Oma make this a contender.
image via Yuba Bicycles
Option two is Yuba’s Boda Boda. Unlike the other two options which have steel frames, this bike has an aluminum frame, so is very light, but with significant cargo capacity. I like the step-through design, but wish it was available in red. (Currently only the step-over [shown above] comes in red; the step-through comes in green and white.) I also like the upright position, 8-speeds, and running boards and skirt guard options. I do wish the chain guard was fully enclosed, and that there was an internal gear hub. This would make maintenance so much easier and keep you cleaner on the way to work. I also wish that a lighting system and the double kickstand came standard. (It seems that, though the Boda Boda starts out at a much lower price than either a WorkCycle or Xtracycle, once you include the add-ons that mostly come standard with the other two, the prices become much closer.) I think what makes the Boda Boda a contender to me is its clear “fun factor”, the lightness, and the integrated child carrier (note the “u” bar hand grip and cushioned seat). Though an aluminum frame generally means a less cushy ride, I think the Boda Boda’s features require me to consider it.
image via Xtracycle
Option three is the Xtracycle Edgerunner 27D Lux Family model. I love the “hooptie” that comes standard, as well as the integrated hub system that can simultaneously power your lights and your smartphone, 27 speeds, and (somewhat) step-through frame. In that sense, the Xtracycle is extremely practical. Even with lots of cargo, I wouldn’t worry about hills, or about my son riding in the back. (Of course, his face lit up when we watched the Xtracycle video on YouTube. ) However, the Xtracycle is on the sporty side for me looks-wise, and also doesn’t have a chain guard or internal hub gearing.
The next step is to check these out in person. BicycleSPACE lists Yuba and Xtracycle among its bicycles carried. Unfortunately, the closest WorkCycle dealer is AdelineAdeline in NY. I’d like to find something before the weather gets nasty, because that’s the other issue: I can’t ride my Raleigh in wet or bad conditions, as its steel wheels mean the braking power is not the greatest (also another reason not to put a child carrier on it). The braking, coupled with the general maintenance of a vintage bike, means that I’m reluctant to ride even when it may rain, which could potentially cut out a lot of days.
My goal is to only have two bikes at the end of all this: the vintage Raleigh for fun and something new for everyday commuting and child pick-up. (I’ll sell the Marin at some point.) Please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions!