Finding the Best Bike to Ride With Your Kids

Well, if you’ve followed this blog from the start through my last post, Giant Defy 3 Review, you know that after 20 years of not riding bikes I had more than a few things to figure out.  First, I went through the process of finding the best beginner bike to start back riding again — which lead me to a hybrid/comfort bike .  I enjoyed that bike so much that I got a bit more serious about riding and went through the process of finding the best beginner road bike for me, so that I could pick up my pace and start enjoying some long group rides.

However, when I made the switch to a road bike I made a rookie mistake — I sold my hybrid bike and used that to help pay for my road bike.  Seemed to make financial sense, and I couldn’t at that point see myself owning more than one bike.  However, I soon realized that — while the road bike was great for my exercise and group rides — my road bike was not well suited to riding around with my young kids (ages 5 and 7).  The road bike is built for speed and even while coasting I was going much faster than they could pedal their little bikes.  More importantly, the more hunched over position of my road bike made it harder to keep an eye on the kids.  Also, with the road bike it really is better to have biking gloves (as you usually ride gripping “on the hoods”) and padded bike shorts or liners.  Not convenient for a quick ride with the kids!

So, after a few rides with the kids I came to terms with the fact that I did need another bike to make rides with the kids as much fun as they should be.  I decided I wanted something that was as simple and low maintenance as possible.  My kids both have single speed coaster brake bikes, so I decided I would get something similar so that (1) we’d kind of be on equal footing as far as dealing with hills, etc. with one gear; and (2) I wouldn’t have to fool with lots of maintenance to adjust shifting cables, brake cables, etc.

Also, as I have to pump up my road bike tires every time I ride it (they’re 125 psi 700c tires), I decided I wanted something more like my kids’ bike tires also — where I might go a week or more without having to pump.  Not that pumping is a huge deal — it’s just more inconvenient than I need in a bike to ride at slow speeds with the kids.  I also wanted a more upright riding position and a comfortable seat (since I wouldn’t be wearing padded shorts).

All of this inevitably lead me to the conclusion that, for me, a cruiser bike is the best bike to ride around with kids.  After deciding this I, once again, started looking at the cheap bikes with the big box retail stores.  And, once again, after reading through a lot of reviews I realized again that with bikes you really get what you pay for.  So many of those reviews of “bargain” bikes detailed folks having tires pop during their first rides, chains not staying on, etc., etc.  While I am a cheapskate, I do value my time with my kids and don’t want to spend it dealing with broken-down bikes.  Therefore, I decided to pay a little bit more (around $250) and buy a good quality cruiser bike that I could enjoy.

I’ve had my cruiser bike for a while now and it is great for riding with the kids.  Single speed operation means ease of use where I can focus on the kids and not gearing up and down.  The coaster brake means I’m riding like they are and I can better tell them when to start braking on hill descents.  The more upright riding position allows me to easily look around to see where the kids are — and the platform pedals (instead of being clipped into road bike pedals) are easier for this type of riding also.  The 26 inch cruiser tires are low pressure (40 psi) just like the kids’ tires, so they can go a while in between pumps.

In my next post I’ll give you more details about which bike I chose as the best cruiser bike for me.  Until then, happy riding!

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