Tips for Carrying Kids
Perhaps the most life-changing thing you’ll do with your Xtracycle is ride with your kids. Family biking is a great way to spend time together and have fun with your loved ones, and there’s no better way to help your kids get comfortable with the idea of biking as transportation. There’s a number of ways to set your bike up, depending on how many little ones you’re carrying and how old everybody is. Read on for tips on starting, stopping, loading and unloading, and carrying kids with cargo.
- Accessory Setups
- From Age One to Four
- Age Four and Up
- Riding Tips
- Starting and Stopping
- Loading and Unloading
- Kids and Cargo
From One to Four
Everywhere you look, you’ll see a different recommendation for how old kids should be before you put them on your bike with you. The most basic consideration is muscle development: can your kiddo hold his or her head up without support? Xtracycle and Yepp (the manufacturer of the child seats that our bikes are built around) both recommend a minimum age of 1 year for reliable comfort and safety, but it also depends on you as a parent feeling comfortable riding with your kiddo. In most states, the minimum age is 9 months of age so be sure to check with your local laws and consult your pediatrician for children riding in seats that are under 1 year old.
Once your little one has reached the proper age, they can ride with you in a Thule Yepp Maxi child seat. This seat can be mounted to most Xtracycle decks - see our article on decks to make sure your deck is compatible. If you don’t have a compatible Xtracycle deck, you can usually swap your existing deck out for one that will work. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help figuring out what to get!
The Yepp Maxi Easyfit seat will carry your child from 9 months to 6 years old, up to 48.5 lbs/22 kg (be sure to consult a pediatrician for children under 1 year old). Once your kiddo outgrows the Yepp Maxi, you can usually ditch the seat and switch to a Hooptie hand rail (we recommend kids are at least 4 before they ride in a Hooptie without a Yepp seat).
If you’d rather keep your little one in your sights at all times, you can also install a Thule Yepp Mini to start out. This seat is quite a bit smaller, and mounts in front of you rather than behind. It will carry your kiddo from 9 months to 3 years old, up to 33 lbs/15 kg (be sure to consult a pediatrician for children under 1 year old). Once your kiddo outgrows the Mini, you can transition to the Thule Yepp Maxi seat, and then on to the Hooptie.
Age Four and Up
Once your little one reaches the age of four, they can ride footloose and fancy free in an Xtracycle Hooptie hand rail. The Hooptie keeps everyone in line while you do the pedaling, and provides a place for small hands to hold onto. It has a narrow setting and a wide setting, meaning you can adjust the space between the bars as necessary.
Carrying Two or Three or Four Passengers
Got more than one? We’ve got you covered! Every setup will look different depending on the ages of the passengers, and it will change as everybody gets older.
If you’ve got multiple little ones under the age of four, you’re going to want to put everybody in a Yepp seat. An Xtracycle deck can accept a maximum of 2 Yepp Maxi Easyfit seats, and you can add a Yepp Mini in the front.
The weight limit on the Yepp Mini is lower than that of the Maxi, so hopefully by the time your littlest is over 33 pounds, the other two are big enough to hang out in the Hooptie. If this isn’t the case, the little ones might be taking turns for a while. If it’s worth the investment, you could look into a temporary trailer setup on your Xtracycle until everyone’s ages line up. Once each child turns four, they can ditch the Yepp seat and just ride in the Hooptie.
You can use a Hooptie and a Yepp seat together by adjusting the Hooptie to its wider setting. This will allow the Yepp seat to fit in between the bars. Put a single Yepp seat in the rear position on the deck, so the other passengers aren’t cut off from the rider, and put one or two more kids up front in the Hooptie. With 3 kids this is a pretty cozy setup, so you might look into running a full-sized magic carpet over the deck and up the front of the Hooptie for extra cushioning.
Bonus: If you happen to have a fourth kid by now, you can re-install that Yepp Mini on the front of the bike, and carry all four at once!
Starting and Stopping with Passengers
While it doesn’t take any special abilities to carry passengers on your Xtracycle, it does take a bit of practice to get the hang of managing the extra weight.
We highly recommend riding your bike first without any kiddos on board so you can get a feel for the handling of the bike. Once you've got that down pat, add one kiddo and ride around a little to get the hang of it. Starting from a complete stop might feel a little squirrelly the first few times you try it, but you’ll soon adjust to the extra weight. Once you get going it won’t be hard to balance, and with a little time you’ll be able to maneuver the bike easily even at slow speeds.
Get in the habit of shifting down to a low gear as you come to a stop, as this will make it significantly easier to get going again. Brake gently, and start applying the brakes well ahead of when you’ll need to stop to avoid jolting your passengers. The disc brakes spec’d on Xtracycles are powerful so you can stop on a dime if the need ever arises - keep this in mind during your first few rides!
Loading and Unloading the Bike
The Xtracycle KickBack - our sturdy double kickstand provides a way to keep your bike upright during all the loading and unloading you’ll be doing. Make sure the bike is on stable, flat ground, and the KickBack is fully engaged before loading and unloading passengers. Check that Yepp seats are firmly attached and locked on before lifting children in. Kids over 4 can be lifted into the Hooptie, or they can climb in under the bars if the Hooptie is on its wide setting.
If you have an EdgeRunner with a KickBack 3 or LT1 KickBack, you can disengage the KickBack once all passengers are loaded, before mounting the bike or after mounting. To disengage the KickBack before mounting, place one foot on the ground, directly in front of it, and gently rolling the bike forward. Since the KickBack works by lifting one wheel slightly off the ground, your passengers may feel a slight bump when you disengage the kickstand. To disengage the KickBack once mounted, hop on your bike and gently rolling the bike forward until the KickBack full kicks back.
If you have an EdgeRunner with an LT2 KickBack, you must disengage the KickBack before mounting.
When unloading the bike, you’ll want to dismount and engage the KickBack before unloading your passengers or allowing them to climb off. Keep in mind that a double kickstand will lift one wheel off the ground slightly, and you may feel the bike rock forward or backward on the KickBack as you shift weight around. Always be cautious when loading and unloading passengers.
Kids and Cargo
You can absolutely ride with kids and cargo at the same time - It’s just a matter of how you load everything. If you’ve got Yepp seats on the back of the bike, you can remove the rain lids from the bags and let the Yepp’s footrests hang inside the cargo bay on either side (otherwise it can be difficult to load stuff into the panniers). Kids legs can hang over or around loads of stuff, or they can ride side-saddle in the Hooptie.
Have additional questions about riding with kiddos on an Xtracycle cargo bike? Drop us an email at email@example.com and we'll answer your questions best we can!