The Quest

In our ongoing quest to find a suitable family vehicle, we went out to J.C. Lind Bike Co. this past weekend and spent an hour or so test-riding two more options. Unlike the previous two rides, where neither was quite right, and after having test-ridden these two options they aren’t even close to right, both of these would fit the bill.

First up was the Kangaroo. This is the closest thing you can get to a high-end SUV while still being a bicycle. Super comfortable seats for the kiddos. TONS of space. Versatile design. Smooth, comfortable ride. Exceptionally responsive brakes.

And, for the most part it would suit our needs quite well. They even have an optional baby seat which would allow us to tote around our infant easily, comfortably and in style.

The downsides, well, price is at the top of that list. The bike is so well-designed and so comfortable, but the price tag matches. This doesn’t make it a deal-breaker, it just would make me breathe a bit heavier is all (but I do that with just about any purchase exceeding $100, it’s my nature).

Also, while it does the kid carrying thing super well, we’re not sure about how it would work for other outings, grocery shopping and such. The seats can be removed, but it still seems less versatile.

The second bike we tried was the Triple Lindy. A more traditional cargo bike, ala the Bakfiets, but more stable and comfortable with its three wheels.

This was another nice ride. Comfortable. Easy. The box is big and spacious with more than enough space for two (or more) little people and cargo to boot. Despite its weight, it was easy to start and smooth to stop.

Extra bonus, I like how it looks and feels sort of retro. There isn’t anything to flashy or fancy about this cycle, despite the fact that it is a really nice bike. It looks approachable and accommodating, not the least bit pretentious.

Super extra bonus, the whole family can fit on one bike!

Downsides, well, it isn’t quite as easy for little ones to get in and out. While it did have a step over the wheel, it will be quite some time before Ewan can do so on his own safely. Also, the seats weren’t nearly as comfortable as in the Kangaroo and I can’t see Ewan being able to drift off on a nap were we to take a longer trip with the bike or were errands or outings to coincide with naptime.

Comparing the two. I feel like the Kangaroo seems more safe for the little ones. They are tucked into this shell, there is suspension to protect from the bumps, it felt very very safe, almost over-built. I feel like the Triple Lindy would be fine, but it just didn’t have quite the same feel to it.

That being said, I liked the fact that Ewan was closer to us in the Triple Lindy. We were able to talk and chat about what we were seeing; he was able to engage with us more easily than he could in the pod of the Kangaroo.

Either bike would serve us well, they just each have different pros and cons that we’d have to consider. Also weighing heavily in favor of one of these bikes was our awesome experience working with Jon, the owner of J.C. Lind Bike Co. He spent over an hour with us talking bikes. He taught us how to ride them properly. He was willing to answer all of our questions, even silly ones like, “are coaster brakes really good enough?” And he was understanding when we left, telling him we had one more test-ride and some thinking to do. Thanks, Jon, you have some awesome bikes!

We have one more bike, the boxcycle, left to try before we make a choice and a purchase. They were just recently released from customs in Boston and one should be making its way to Copenhagen Cyclery here in Chicago very soon.

With any luck we’ll be able to introduce you to the newest member of our fleet soon.

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  • http://bambinosteps.com bambinosteps

    Living in the bicycle capital of the U.S. (Portland, Oregon – at least I think it’s the bike capital!), I’ve seen such a huge variety of cargo bikes. We just use a Burly and it works fine for us, but we can only use it for light cargo obviously. The Kangaroo looks incredibly cushy!

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  • Martinez

    We have an older version of the triple-lindy in the north suburbs of Chicago. I have to say – we love it dearly. Our basic errands are an adventure. We can easily fit an 18-month old squirmy girl, a parent and several bags of groceries in the front.
    As to the comfort thing – the bench seats are made more for children, so the parent sits on a buckwheat-hull-filled cushion.
    We highly recommend it.

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  • NEJ Carlson

    But…why would you want to push your baby away from you???

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  • http://mothereseblog.com/ Kristen @ Motherese

    So cool. I envy you your city-dwelling lifestyle and wish I didn’t have to be car-dependent.

    I like the retro look of the Triple Lindy. It looks like an old-time delivery bike – if you get it, maybe you could peddle (pun intended) some of your Etsy goods from the front box. 🙂

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  • Ash L

    Have you thought about at Madsen? It’s very fairly priced, now made in the USA (as of the 2011 models) and we love it for our family. It fits a larger range of heights (as the dutch/danish models are just too big for my frame) and is easy peasy to pedal around despite it’s 75lb weight. I’d actually love to upgrade to a larger gear set down the line since we don’t have any hills to deal with.

    I live in Logan Square so shoot me an email if you’d like to come by to tool around in mine.

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