Looking for a bike for the whole family? A new breed of bike companies is reaching out to families and converting their “cargo” bikes into the mini-van of bikes. The concept is quite simple. Instead of buying a baby bike seat, and then a trailer and then a trailer bike, why not by one family bike that can grow with you? As an added bonus, the bike will hold your groceries, kayak and a tree for your garden as well.
In theory (and in the video), the bikes look and sound great, but how do they perform in the real world? Xtracycle loaned us a Radish family bike, with a Hooptie add-on (the cage-like thing shown in the video) for a couple of months to find out for ourselves. After a few short rides with a few heavy kids, we were hooked and were already scheming ways to acquire our own Xtracycle.
First and foremost, what we loved about the Xtracycle was the unique interactions it provided with our kids. Whether in a trailer or on their own bike, typical family bikes rides for us tend to involve a lot of yelling. From a simple, “I’m thirsty!” to a “what’s that over there?”, yelling was the only answer. With the Xtracycle, our voices were finally saved. Instead of feet away, our kids were now mere inches from us and each other, making normal conversations fun and feasible. Family bike rides soon turned into biology lesson as we watched the leaves change and motivational speeches as we traveled to soccer games. In addition to getting outdoors, exercising, running errands, and picking up the kids, rides on the Xtracycle became fond family memories our kids are sure to never forget.
While riding the Xtracycle, we were often asked how difficult it is to ride. While getting started can be a little challenging, our bodies quickly adapted to the extra weight, providing for a fun, carefree ride.
Starting and stopping are certainly the most difficult parts, but the Kickback kickstand (a two-legged wide stance kickstand), made them doable as it helped to steady the bike while getting on and off. While the Kickback does cost $150, we found it to be an essential safety accessory. Additional add-ons are also available to customize your ride. Whether running to the grocery store with one kid or buying a new tree (see video above), Xtracycle has you covered.
While we tested the Radish at home, we had a chance to take their latest 2013 model, the EdgeRunner, for a spin outside their showroom. By lowering the cargo platform six inches, thereby decreasing the center of gravity on the bike, the EdgeRunner’s geometry, increased gearing and disc brakes, make it an even smarter choice for families. Compared to the Radish, it was easier to maneuver and quicker to stop.
As tested, the Xtracycle Radish we tested runs close to $1,500 and the EdgeRunner even more, so the Xtracycles can be quite an investment. In the end however, we found the overall experience worthy of the expense and have begun saving our pennies, for the uninterrupted, interactive family time we experienced on the Xtracycle is priceless.