Electric bikes are fantastic for parents of little kids. They’re fun for both of you, they save you money on petrol and parking, and they help you take care of yourself and the planet – all things that suddenly seem even more important when you start having a family.
There are other benefits, though, and lots of different options when it comes to what to choose, so because we’re here in Dundee to help you buy the best electric bike and get the most from it, we’re going to lay it all out in an easy to understand way. We’ll focus on bikes and accessories for you, the parent, with which you can transport your children, rather than bikes for them for family outings, and so that means we’re talking about kids roughly up to the early years of primary school. Some options will work from birth, but we recommend your kid can at least sit up and support their head safely.
The electrical power makes it easy!
Whatever option you choose for how to carry your kid along with you when you cycle, you’re still talking about your legs pushing not just you and the bike, but your kid and some extra equipment around as well, and if that all sounds like far too much effort, remember that the major benefit of e-bikes is the additional power. E-bikes’ motors make any journey easy, and honestly, even if you add a heavy trailer, kid, jackets, changing bag and more, you’ll barely notice it on a powerful e-bike; the motor will take the strain, and you’ll arrive at your destination still with plenty of energy for playing!
You get to travel door-to-door
And when we say ‘arrive at your destination’, we mean that literally. If you’re in the car, you have to find the nearest car park, wrestle your kid out of the car seat, and then walk, carry or buggy – or a combination of all three! – slowly to where you actually want to be, with potentially a grumbly kid in tow. With a bike, you go right to the front door, chain it up, and walk in.
You can take all the supplies with you
Choose a bike with panniers or a basket, or opt for a trailer, and you’ve got plenty of luggage capacity too, for changing bags, jackets, stuffed elephants, packets of Pom-Bears, and whatever else you need to actually get you out of the house – and best of all, because of an e-bike’s power, you don’t really feel the additional weight. Be a hero to other parents at the play-park by magically producing wipes, plasters and a restorative chocolate button when a kid inevitably falls off a climbing frame!
The options you can buy
There are lots of ways of being able to take your kid around with you on your e-bike, whether that’s dropping them off at nursery, going swimming (the pool near us lets kids in free if you arrive by bike!), or just heading off on an adventure. Most will work with most bikes, so it’s just a case of deciding which suits your habits and budget best. Pop into our showroom at City Quay to discuss these options in more detail!
You can add a child seat behind you or in front of you (or both!), and this has the advantage of making it easy to chat to them as well as keeping them close to you for safety and reassurance. It does make your bike more top-heavy, though, so take care when loading up and in motion. Front-mounted seats, where the seat is positioned between you and the handlebars, or even over the front wheel, are easier to load the kid into, since you can do so once you’ve got into position on the bike yourself, but they’re a bit more awkward once you’re on your way.
Note that not all bikes have the right struts in the right places to support child seats, though, so chat through this with us when you’re buying.
Trailers usually connect to your bike’s back axle (and are easy to fit yourself, though of course we’re happy to do it too!) with an angled bar that connects to a ball-and-socket joint, to allow for turning and leaning in cornering. Options such as those from Thule that we have in our showroom have suspension for a comfortable ride, and most will have a rain cover to keep your little one dry even if you’re drookit! Try to get one that converts into a push-along buggy for extra flexibility, such as if you drop your child off at nursery on your cycle commute into work for them to be picked up and pushed home by someone else later in the day.
Trailers usually give you plenty of storage too, making it easy to travel with everything you need.
They can be a bit of a thought for a manual bike, because they can add weight and awkwardness, but they’re a joy with an e-bike. Available for one or two children.
Once your child gets bigger and more confident – and once you trust them! – you can opt for a tagalong rather than a trailer. This is something that looks a bit like a child-sized bike with its front wheel missing; you clamp the front of it instead to the rear of your own bike, and they ride along behind you. Only for big kids, and lacks the cargo-carrying capability of a trailer (so make sure the e-bike you chose has some options for bags and everything else), but a cost-effective option that also makes your kid feel like a grown-up! (Watch your speed, though; it’s easy to go too fast for a little one when you’re electrically powered!)
The Rolls-Royce of kid-carrying! If you’ve ever been to that cycling capital, Amsterdam, you’ll probably have seen loads of cargo-carrying bikes going around, some of which can carry children rather than parcels! They’re expensive, and so a real luxury, but they’re a joy to use, can carry lots of luggage as well as one or two kids (depending on model), and the fact that the cargo area is usually in front of you makes it easy to keep an eye on all of them while you’re riding. They’re heavy things, but so long as they’re paired with a powerful motor – which is a big reason why they’re so expensive – they’re actually very easy to ride, and a total blast for you and your kid. Pop in to our showroom at City Quay to see our range, including the Riese & Muller one we’ve showcased outside the nearby V&A at the top of this post!
Of course, you need to keep you and your kid safe. That means helmets for you both, as well as lights and reflectors to make you visible. (A wee bonus of electric bikes is that lighting tends to be integrated, and powered by the main battery, so there’s not much chance of you forgetting to charge or load batteries separately into your lights.) Watch your speed, too; it’s easy to go fast on an e-bike, and some equipment will have recommended maximum speeds.
Try to stay away from dangerous roads and interchanges too, even if it means taking a slightly more circuitous routes, and try to prefer smooth roads to minimise jolts, especially with very little ones.
Happily, smartphones can make it easy to plan cycle-friendly routes. Apple Maps doesn’t support cycling directions yet, but Google Maps does, and if you mount your smartphone on your handlebars, you can use it for turn-by-turn sat-nav just like in a car. This will prefer cycle routes, and alert you to elevation changes – not that those are much of a worry in an e-bike!
Some ebike systems, such as the one from Bosch, allow you even to charge your phone from your bike battery while you’re on the go, so you can plan long and unfamiliar journeys with your phone, without worrying that the sat-nav is going to kill its battery.
Lastly, remember to check with your employer to see if it participates in anything like Cyclescheme, which can make it cheaper and easier to buy not just accessories such as child seats (so long as you’re mostly using your bike for commuting, in Cyclescheme’s case), but also the e-bike itself. Plus, we currently offer 0% financing ourselves, so the only downside to all this – the investment you need to make – is minimised!
We can personally attest to how great e-bikes are for parents of little kids; we do it all the time. They make you as a parent healthier and fitter, and so able to enjoy life with your kid more, and they’re far more convenient for getting about locally than a car. We’ve covered the basics here, but there’s no substitute for a proper conversation, so pop in to see us on City Quay in Dundee to find out the perfect mix of things for you and your family!