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    Child Seat vs. Bike Trailer: Making the Best Choice for You

    Child Seat vs. Bike Trailer: Making the Best Choice for You

    As parents, we become masters of balance. We balance housework with playtime, sleepless nights with frequent naps, and our hobbies and passions with family time. When it comes to that last point, that means bringing the kids along. When it comes to biking, there are many options for getting out for a ride with your kids. Deciding which option is right for you will depend on your comfort level, your child's age and abilities, and the terrain you choose to explore. Best place to start is looking at the pros and cons of a bike trailer and a child bike seat. 


    Bike Trailers

    Bike trailers are little tow-behind systems that hook onto your bike and provide your child with a little home on wheels to nestle into for a ride. 


    Advantages

    The advantage of a bike trailer is that ultimately, it’s lower to the ground making it safer, some would argue. Your child is enclosed in a bit more material and is generally a lot closer to the ground in case of a fall. Another benefit to a bike trailer is that it doesn’t alter the balance on your bike as much. Having the weight being towed behind the bike rather than mounted on the front or the back can help you to remain balanced as if you were riding alone. The added room in the cosy little trailer means kids can bring blankets and toys along for the ride. 

    Disadvantages

    Trailers can make braking more difficult especially in wet or slippery conditions due to the weight coming up from behind. This weight can also make it hard to back up or manoeuvre around corners. The big concern with bike trailers is that if you are on any kind of road or near traffic, the low positioning of the trailer can cause drivers to miss noticing it. Not to mention, the wider shape of the trailer can lead to it being nearer to traffic than a bike. A real downside to a trailer is how your child is too far away to interact with on a ride. This is a big one for us. As mountain bikers, we love to be able to chat with our kids on the trail and we want them to have a great view to experience all that the outdoors has to offer. 

    Child Bike Seat

    There are many kinds of child bike seats. You can have front-mounted and rear-mounted, little chair-like seats or seats like Mac Ride that mimic a usual bike seat. For the sake of this blog, we’re going to talk about the broader category of child's bike seats that are mounted directly onto a parents’ bike. 


    Advantages

    With a front-mounted seat, you can anticipate weight shifts more easily, helping with any decreased balance you may find from having your child on the bike with you. The big advantage we love is that our kids can talk to us and share in the experience of the ride. With your child on the bike with you, they can point out things that interest them and ask questions. Another big benefit is that being on the bike itself is helping them to learn the mechanics of riding a bike and how it feels to lean and turn. 

    Disadvantages

    The biggest disadvantage of using a child bike seat when riding is how it affects the balance of the bike. This extra weight can make mounting and dismounting difficult and we do recommend being a very comfortable biker before choosing to use a children's bike seat over a bike trailer. Some parents find that a front-mounted seat limits their range of motion for pedalling, so this will depend on your bike and your stature. 

    Overall, what your choice will come down to is your preference. We love using the Mac Ride child bike seat as a family because we want our kids close enjoying the adventure with us on the trails. It was this desire to have our children involved in the experience that pushed us to design the Mac Ride seat in the first place. The choice between a child bike seat and a bike trailer will depend on your goals and hopes for your ride with your child. If you want to know more about other families experiences with the Mac Ride seat, we have a few stories on our blog. To shop online for a Mac Ride child’s bike seat, check out our online store

    An Interview with a Mac Ride Family: Justin & Wenonah

    An Interview with a Mac Ride Family: Justin & Wenonah

    macride-kids-wenonah
    We love reviews and feedback on the Mac Ride kid’s bike seat. What we love even more is hearing from families, like Wenonah’s, about all the great memories they have from biking with their kids. We love sharing these interviews with you and hope that they give you some ideas for family biking adventures or how to get the most out of Mac Ride.
     
    When did your family start using a Mac Ride seat?
     
    We saw the initial Kickstarter ad and immediately bought into the concept of the Mac Ride and ended up investing in it.
     
    What was the catalyst that made you decide to purchase the Mac Ride seat instead of other kids bike seat on the market?
     
    We liked that it would not be the type of seat where she sat back and did nothing, but our child would be involved in our ride, holding onto the handlebars and feeling how the bike handled during a ride.
     
    Where has your favourite family adventure been so far together? Why?
     
    The best ride was a 16-mile ride in Patapsco State Park (just south of Baltimore, MD). We brought snacks and spent the majority of the day traversing the trails. This trail isn't tame and included large climbs, downhill sections, stream crossings, and technical sections. Being smart and safe, we walked sections that were too sketchy. It was a great day on the bike.
     
    Do you think the Mac Ride seat helped your daughter to learn biking on her own? If yes, in what ways?
     
    The Mac Ride helped our daughters understand riding in two main ways. The first being that you have to lean a bike into a turn, we think she developed an understanding of the forces in play as a bike enters a turn from feeling what we did. The second key skill was reading the trail and knowing when to stand up. The Mac Ride and the stirrups allow her to stand and absorb the roughness of the trail, and with some verbal prompting, she could be saved from a sore backside as we went over roots and rocks.
     
    Specifically related to girls, what positive effect has biking had on your daughter?
     
    Our daughter has many positive influences with regards to cycling. The Mac Ride allowed her to get out with our bike club's all women's group even earlier and see other women cycling. Between the Mac Ride and using a balance bike, our daughter had the confidence to start on a pedal bike and skip the whole training wheels phase of learning right when she turned 4 years old.
     
    How old was your daughter when she first got on the Mac Ride seat? How did that first ride go?
     
    The first ride with Mac Ride was in May of 2016 when the initial version was shipped to us. Our daughter had just turned 3 years old and was already riding her balance bike. She was already more than big enough to start her out the day we received it. We spent that day riding up and down our 1/3 mile long driveway getting everything adjusted for her and figuring out this new toy. She loved it right away and within days we had it out on the local trails, experimenting with what we could and could not do with it: what was too tough, how to move our weight around to get over logs and through streams. Now that we have a newborn daughter, we will probably get her onto it when she is under 2 years old on smooth trails and have her use it for years to help develop and hone her biking skills.
     
    What advice do you wish you had been given about riding with a toddler that you would like to give someone just starting out?
     
    Make it a positive experience, start on smooth trails for only short rides. To make it worth it for them, take them to a playground or somewhere else they want to go have fun and then back, so it gives them a break in the middle. Keep stepping up the distance and difficulty on the rides. We kept telling our daughter that these were the trails that we normally did. She was so excited as a 3-year-old doing the same biking trails that her parents were doing, instead of pedalling around the playground.
     
    We know that your daughter is a race winner! When did she start showing interest in the competitive side of biking?
     
    Our daughter has been around bike races since she was born as her father participates in Enduro races. She got the concept of a start line, race pace, and a finish line early in life. While stationed/living in Maryland, we took her to her first balance bike race when she was 2. She was really excited to be around a lot of other young kids who were riding, but she was the only one on a balance bike. When we moved back to the Williamsburg, VA area, we signed her up for a kids bike race series. At 4 years old, she raced in the balance bike category. That year, she was able to take first place at nearly every race and then won first place for the overall series. The next year, she moved up to the 6 year old and under pedal bike category. She learned some hard lessons as she often placed 4th or worse. But, when the points came out for the overall series, she was in second place, she learned the importance of showing up for every race of a series. This year, she raced in the same category again but took first place in every race and won the series. As much as she has a strong competitive spirit, she tells the other kids good job and has even stopped during a race to help a friend who crashed. As we look at our next military move, she wants to know if there will be kids bike racing where we are moving.
     
    How has it been as parents watching your child compete?
     
    It has been thrilling and humbling to watch her race. It is of course exciting to watch her get out there and show off her skills, but we have also had to teach her that winning is not the only reason to race, a hard lesson to understand as a young child.
     
    What was the progression from Mac Ride seat to race-winner like? What was involved in that journey?
     
    We used the Mac Ride until she was just too tall to fit on it to go on longer rides with our family and our mountain biking club. Her transition from balance bike to pedal bike was during that last season of Mac Ride usage. We were still participating in longer rides with family and the club, and she started taking her own bike and would go as far as she could. She has been quite inspired by the other riders in our club, especially since many of them are at her races so it feels like an extended family. The Mac Ride was very significant in teaching her how to look ahead and read a trail so that once she could pedal she was ready to hit the trails rather than just flat surface riding.
     
    We loved hearing from Wenonah about her family’s experience with the Mac Ride kids bike seat. Biking with kids isn't always easy, but with some of the newer options out there for the biking family, it can be a lot more fun than we ever dreamed of. We are now offering the TowWhee system for parents whose kids have outgrown the Mac Ride seat.

    An interview with a Mac Ride Family: Tim Sage

    An interview with a Mac Ride Family: Tim Sage

    We caught up with another one of the families using the Mac Ride child’s bike seat. Tim Sage and his family have been sharing their adventures with us on Instagram, and we are loving what we see! This little family of four really knows the joy of biking with kids. They get both of their kids biking on longer adventures thanks to the Mac Ride seat.


    Don’t take our word for it, though. Read what Tim has to say about his family’s experience biking with kids using a child’s bike seat below.


    How long has your family had the Mac Ride child’s bike seat? How old were your children when they first started using the seat?
     
    We received our first Mac Ride for Christmas in 2017. We started practising in the driveway with our son Max when he was about 15 months old. We enjoyed it so much we got another MacRide for Christmas in 2018, for our daughter. She is just starting to take some short paced practice rides on it now at the age of 14 months.
     
    Now that Max is 2.5 years old, we have started hitting more mountain bike trails with him, and we can’t wait to get Kirby, our daughter, out there when she is a little bigger.
     
    Where is your favourite place to go for a family ride?
     
    We have a great paved trail near our house that goes from a decent sized lake all the way to the downtown area. We love the shade and being near the water - it doesn’t hurt that the local skatepark is on the way too. There's a great 10-mile route we take that hits the skatepark, a few playgrounds, and ends up at a bakery that has some awesome cupcakes. With our daughter now able to join us I have a feeling we will be adding some swimming stops to the route this summer.
     
    What is one of your favourite stories from biking with kids using the Mac Ride seat?
     
    It is really hard to pick just one. Now that both kids are riding with us on Mac Ride seats, we have loved getting everyone out together. Recently, we rode to town for an outdoor concert and festival. We knew that parking would be difficult, so we loaded the bikes up and parked a little farther away and rode into town. On the way in, we ended up going down a decent sized hill (by Texas standards) and picked up a little speed. I was worried that it might be a little overwhelming for our daughter, but as my son and I passed her, she was laughing and smiling. At the bottom of the hill, she started ringing her bike bell, and my son rang his in response. It’s hard to say exactly why that moment sticks out, but I know my wife and I will always remember it.
     
    How has the Mac Ride child’s bike seat positively impacted your families adventures?
     
    My wife and I both love riding, and we have for a very long time. The Mac Ride seat has enabled us to show our kids exactly why bike riding is so awesome! We can all talk, laugh, and ring bells together! It’s a no-brainer that a kid is going to fall in love with riding if they can blast through the trees on some single track with a little speed rather than try and struggle with training wheels in a driveway. The Mac Ride shows our kids how awesome bikes can be, and they both seem to have a very advanced interest in moving on to balance bikes. Every now and then our son will show some bike handling skill that is pulled straight from his time on the Mac Ride (you should see him carve a berm on his balance bike!)
     
    What are some of the obstacles that you have encountered with teaching your child/children to bike? How have you overcome them?
     
    Our main concern with riding was getting our kids to want to wear a helmet. Both kids hate hats for some reason, so we were naturally concerned that they wouldn’t want to keep a bike helmet on for very long. Surprisingly they both love riding with us so much they don’t mind helmets. My son even guilt trips me if he sees me riding without one.
     
    How would your child/children describe their experience with the Mac Ride seat?
     
    Well, our kids love them, there is no doubt about that. Max loves going over bumpy singletrack and ringing his bell at any dogs he sees. Kirby loves to ride with her mom and have the wind in her face. Our kids are both so young still that their smiles and laughs do the talking, but trust me, they love it.

    We love hearing from the families using the Mac Ride seats! If you would like to be featured and tell your family’s adventure story, please reach out to us. Ready to get your own Mac Ride child’s bike seat and start biking with your kids today? Shop online and get your Mac Ride seat in the mail. See you on the trails! To find more images of Tim and his families adventures, find them on Instagram.

    Great Ways to Customize Your Kid’s Bike

    Great Ways to Customize Your Kid’s Bike

    Some kids get excited about biking simply by seeing mom and dad on their mountain bikes. Other kids, however, need a bit more coaxing, it seems. What can be really fun is for your toddler or young child to customize their own bike. Do you remember your first bike? Did you stick on stickers, tassels, and playing cards on the spokes? What kinds of fun customizations did you do to your first bike?
     
    When it comes to kids, crafts seem to be a pretty fun activity. Mixing craft time with biking can be an excellent win-win situation. Not to mention, playing around with customizations on bikes is a great activity for us parents, too. How do you think we came up with the Mac Ride seat in the first place?
     
    A New Paint Job
    Picking a favourite colour is an important part of shopping for a bike. Even as an adult, we’re all partial to our favourite colours. If your child is riding a hand-me-down, let them pick accessories and touches in their favourite colour to make the bike feel more like their own. A fresh coat of paint makes a world of difference with most things. Get creative with spray paint! It’ll make the same old bike look completely different.
     
    Accessories & Fun Items
    When we were children, we had access to a few fun accessories. You could add handlebar tassels, baskets or little clips that made noise on the spokes. These fun customizations do not need to stop at the items we all remember from our childhood. Now, you can customize anything on a bike relatively easily. Let your child help by getting them to draw their dream bike. Maybe you could get some multicoloured spokes or pedals. You can even design your own logo with your child and have it printed as a sticker or decal online.
     
    In all honesty, when our daughter wanted a basket on her islay bike we were a little shocked, but it made her happy to take teddy along for the ride. Who can blame that logic, we loved taking her along for rides on the Mac Ride seat too. Plus, it taught her to plan ahead a little more for rides when she was thinking about what she needed to put in her basket.
     
    New Parts, New Look
    You can pick out custom wheels, a handlebar and new seat for balance bikes! We've heard a lot of stories from parents with more than one child about the painful task of getting the younger kid excited about a hand-me-down item. You could keep the same bike and add a few new parts to give it a bit of a facelift.
     
    Tape It Up
    Taping handlebars for added grip is an excellent idea that parents often employ. We see handlebars with tape on them for Mac Ride seat use, too. But tape isn't just for practical use or for grip, it's also aesthetic. Taping handlebars with fun colours and patterns is an inexpensive way to brighten up the part of the bike your child sees most when riding.
     
    If you find your child is hesitant to learn how to bike on their own, try getting them excited about personalizing their bike with colours, accessories, or new parts. If your child doesn’t have their own bicycle yet and you don’t want to buy brand new, get a second-hand bike and turn it into a dream bike for your toddler.
     
    The Mac Ride seat is fantastic for helping young children to learn what a bike feels like and how it handles on different terrain. When it comes to learning to ride on their own, a child needs to be excited about their bike and what they can do on it. Sometimes, spending some time off the bike to paint it and add a few frills can help them feel more engaged with the process. Have you customized your child's bike? How awesome was the process, and what was the final result? Share your toddler's bike creations with us on Instagram and follow along for more family riding photos.