Let's say I told you that you were going to take a child between the ages of 2 and 6ish on a trip with you, and you wanted to bike around once you got there. Nothing long distance, just tooling around the city, seeing the sights, going to museums, etc. How would you do it? What options spring to mind? Would you try to check a full-sized bike and a rear kid seat for it? Or, like most people, would you start googling bike rental options in the new city?
We have stumbled upon another great option, and I don't think many people know it exists. First, you have to already own a Brompton folding bike, or be looking for a good excuse to buy one (not that you need much of an excuse, because let's face it, they're pretty awesome and you sorta already want one anyway). In our case, we bought two of them used from Craigslist, at different times, and from different people. One of them just happened to come with the IT Chair, an accessory specifically for Bromptons that lets a child sit in front of you:
We did some basic research on folding bikes before we had any, and I don't recall ever seeing anything like this attachment. So when the used bike turned up on Craigslist with this accessory, we thought "Well, cool. Maybe it will be useful." That turned out to be a massive understatement.
The Big Deal
You start with a bike that's got (in our cases) generator-driven lights, 6 speeds, great saddles, and very good performance. And it folds up small enough to be carried onto an airplane. Now, you add a removable bar of carefully bent steel with a saddle and foot pegs on it, and suddenly this tiny package can transport you AND your kid. The IT Chair fits inside the bike bag when the Brompton is folded up, though it should be noted that if you really ARE going to try to bring it on a plane, you should stash the IT Chair and your saddle in a backpack, because it makes the whole package slightly too porky to squeeze overhead on a plane. See below...
there must be drawbacks
It Ain't Cheap
Right now it's going for £210.00, which is about $316 before you pay taxes and ship it. For two steel tubes welded together, one bend, and two foot pegs, that's a lot of dough. And it doesn't even come with the saddle or saddle clamp. If we hadn't lucked into one used, my wife would've had to put me in a headlock to get me to say yes to buying this new. But that was before I knew what a joy it is to use... I now have a hard time imagining life without it. I really, really wish the price would come down, or a reasonable facsimile at a reasonable price would materialize from some other maker. Meanwhile, this is what we've got, and it pulls off one hell of a magic trick.
The longer your arms / shorter your kid, the less this will be an issue. However if you, like me, have the wingspan of a garden gnome and a kid who is growing like a weed, then you'll want to make sure you've got the U-shaped handlebars on your Brompton, so you can adjust them back and get some space between the two of you. No big deal.
but what it does, it does so well
When you see the entire tiny package, and you realize that it can carry you and a kid (and a bag or two, while you're at it) for miles and miles, and then be folded up into something so small and light, it's hard not to be incredulous. Our daughter loves riding on it, because she's right up front. That means she's got the best view, she's engaged, she's leaning around turns with you, and you can so easily talk to each other without shouting or turning your head, like the Good Old Days when she fit into a Bobike Mini up front on your regular bike.
This isn't for everyone. But if you ARE the kind of person / people who are:
- Going to go on vacations with your kid/s of this age range
- Going to want to bike around all those places together
...then you should seriously consider trying to source one of these things. Only you can decide if it's worth the money, but I will say that we've taken ours to at least 12 different cities in 9 different states (and Canada) by my count, so I think we've gotten more than $300 worth of utility out of it. Going back to my original point, I'm not sure how else I would pull this off, if not with this setup. It's one of those magical equipment solutions that suddenly unlocks a whole new level of freedom, possibility, and downright fun. Something to think about.