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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Test Driving

Aside from moving into a new place that can accommodate our growing family, we’ve done very little (actually, next to nothing) to prepare for upcoming arrival.

I know we still have time, I’m only 20 weeks after all, but it still seems like it is coming so quickly.

So, in an effort to prepare for to be a family of four, we thought it was time for us to go and test drive some new vehicles. Something with space for two (or more) little ones and a little additional cargo.

That’s right, while most people in our situation might be out trying a minivan or SUV on for size, we went out to shop for a new bike. A bike a little more suited to working as a family vehicle.

First up was the Zigo. Ewan loved sitting up front and we loved being able to see where he was at and what he was doing. It was an easy ride and being a trike it felt super stable.

With the Zigo it seemed like it was a bike that was trying too hard. Part bike, part stroller, part jogger, part carrier bike. It could do so much, yet it didn’t do anything super well. The price point is pretty easy to swallow, so it isn’t out of the running yet, but it seems that we’ll probably choose something else.

Next up was my dream bike. The good old Bakfiets. I discovered this bike about a year ago and have been lusting after it since. On Sunday I finally got a chance to load Ewan into the box and take one for a spin.

I hated it. Well, maybe hate is a bit strong. I felt out of control, which is something I don’t want when I have little ones in tow.

Eight feet long from tip to tip and only two wheels meant that stopping and starting was a bit tricky. Given that most of our rides are done on the very stop-and-start roads of Chicago, it just doesn’t seem like a good match. Loved the cargo space though. Loved the fact that I could handle the littles and a few groceries as well.

So, the search will go on. A strong contender is a Boxcycle, though we haven’t gotten a chance to test drive it yet. If we were in New York, we’d probably be strongly considering one of the custom bikes by the folks at Hudson Urban Bicycles.

And, can I just say, what fun we are having, looking at new bikes and continuing to commit to being car-free even as a family of four. Sure there are bound to be some challenges along the way, but we are all looking forward to it.

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