Monday, November 19, 2012

Tyke Toter Review

On our quest to find just the right family biking getup, I have been test riding like crazy and found the Tyke Toter. This is a seat and foot rest, and it clamps onto your seat and cross-bar and the kid rides between your legs, but the weight is in the middle of the bike, as designed.  Here is a photo from their website.  It is the orange pieces.

At first, we liked it, but thought it wasn't amazing.  It mounted quite easily, and I got us all loaded up on my own.  The directions say to load yourself then the kid, but I couldn't manage that without a grown-up helper.  So I put my older son on it, and had him squish forward while I shimmied behind him.  It wasn't ideal, but it worked.  On our test ride, we only made it to the end of our street and back-- not on the main road... I was too nervous and my husband was at work. 

I was nervous because I felt like I couldn't ride the bike safely.  The Tyke Toter is only rated to 45 lb (my older son is 4 years old and 42 pounds), so he was squished in to me and blocked my view of my handlebars (I guess I shouldn't be looking there anyway, but I have a habit of looking at my odometer, I guess). He said he liked it and was comfortable but I kicked him almost every stride. He liked having his own handle bars but the little guy wouldn't let us ride without him (on the rear seat) and the bike felt heavy/ immobile (though nice to try in actual conditions).  I wasn't used to being so close to him while riding, and, though sweet, I couldn't imagine being so cuddly on our 25-minute ride to school-- especially up hill and across traffic.

I had thought of keeping it and using it once I was confident that the little guy (now 17 months) could sit on it and have the big guy in the rear seat. The occupant needs to be able to sit on the seat and hold the handlebars and not fall off. I do like that if it fails the kid will be between my arms and on the crossbar. But I do like a bit more personal space (than I had on our test ride). 

It's a nice solution, though, and maybe quick release and exchange between bikes like they claim (we actually use this feature of the trailer and baby seat- I ride the kids somewhere and my husband rides one home sometimes)... the only reason it wouldn't be easy for an on-the-go child swap is if the bottom bar for the foot pegs was different in width by bike (they have you attach rubber shims using stickers on the foot peg portion based on your frame width).  I think it's probably not ideal but may be a nice solution for ages 2 and 3, although they advertise it up to age 4, which may be the case for smaller children.

In the end, I decided to return it.  That is because the day after the test ride, it was on my bike and time for school pick-up.  Instead of taking it off, I rode with it empty (and the trailer and baby seat on my bike for the kids to use).  This was fine for all of three strokes before I realized that I had been hitting my older child each stride because the seat was where my legs go when I pedal.  This meant my inner thighs were hitting the orange flat seat part each time I pedaled.  This couldn't be made better with a smaller child, so off it went, back to Tyke Toter.  

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