Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kangaroo WeeRide Toddler Bicycle Seat

Today I did some errands by bicycle. It was the first time I took off Smiley's bicycle seat, which reminded me to blog about it.

Back in Spring we got him a WeeRide LTD seat. This fits between the handlebars and my seat.

(There is also a non-LTD version with less padding. Both versions are sold with the mounting bar included; the separately sold bar is only for a family that wants a second one, to be able to quickly move the seat from one bicycle to another.)

It works great. But there are a large number of caveats.

First, it does not fit every bicycle. The Amazon reviews make clear that some people had to return it for this reason.

Second, I am 5'4" and it just barely fits comfortably. Anyone smaller than me would probably have problems. I did not have to change how I pedaled, or where my knees where.

Third, the 5mm hex key it comes with is so poorly machined it does not work. Anyone ordering the seat should also buy a hex key set if they do not already own one.

Fourth, my leg length allows me to normally stop the bicycle without hopping off the seat, simply pointing one foot tiptoe to rest while stopped. Anyone used to hopping off the seat when stopped would obviously have to change habits.

Fifth, my fitness level and bicycles number of gears allow me to bicycle up even the steeper hills I would ride on without standing. I never had the habit of standing while pedaling up a hill. I have not tried standing while Smiley is in his seat, but from the Amazon reviews apparently this does not work.

Sixth, the harness system is odd. Smiley can twist out of a shoulder strap, as he did in the above picture when smelling roses at the Owen Rose Garden. I assume this is intentional. If, heaven forbid, I was to crash then having the toddler firmly stuck in the seat is probably not the best option. But a wiggly child who does not follow instruction would need a different bicycle seat.

Seventh, the child can grab the handlebars. Smiley does not try this while I hold them, but if I let go of one to adjust my MP3 player or blow my nose he sometimes does. Be alert for this potential source of swerving!

Eighth, the routes I might bicycle are all on streets and paths kept clean of gravel and debris. By using a bicycle seat instead of a trailer, I am betting that my likelihood of crashing my bicycle is less than a motorist's likelihood of hitting my trailer. If I lived near gravel roads or where autumn leaves sat damp and made slipping a danger, a trailer would be the better choice.

Ninth, there is no hole in the seat large enough to pass a cable lock through. Where I live I am not worried about the seat disappearing while the bicycle is locked in front of the library or a store. In other locations this might be an issue; the seat comes off quickly and easily but is very bulky to carry around while doing errands.

Tenth, pediatricians currently recommend that babies under a year of age not use any bicycle seat or trailer. Their brains still slosh around too much for that kind of vibration to be safe.

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