Hello there, ad hoc San Francisco family bike

Front top-tube seat with an electric assist: this is a San Francisco family bike.

Front top-tube seat with an electric assist: this is a San Francisco family bike.

Here’s a bike I’ve seen at after-school pickup before, one of the bikes that led me on a merry chase until I eventually discovered that top tube seats are an actual thing. This seat is jury-rigged but holds a first-grader in daily use. Although it’s hard to see, there’s a small electric assist on the front wheel—the battery is in the rear bag. That’s because that first-grader goes to one of the many San Francisco schools on the top of a big hill.

I know that not everyone likes the ad hoc family rigs, which are sometimes not the most safety-oriented bike setups (although this one looks perfectly legit to me). But not everyone comes to riding with kids with a lot of money to spend. I’m impressed by the ingenuity of these riders show; many of them have limited resources. This strikes me as a more formal version of the bike I saw ridden by a dad who had put his son sidesaddle on a pillow on the top tube of his bike. (There is a lot to be said for having a traditional diamond frame when putting together a child seat on the fly.)

It is perceived as charming when families ride this way in old movies. My parents used to ride with us in the front baskets of their bikes. That’s not something I’d do with my kids now, but then again I don’t have to; we have a great cargo bike. These bikes aren’t our bikes, but their riders are our people.


Filed under electric assist, family biking, San Francisco

2 responses to “Hello there, ad hoc San Francisco family bike

  1. I love that you post bikes like this. As long as the kids are safe it’s great to see families riding.

  2. Charlie

    If a family/cargo bike is what you need, check out http://atomiczombie.com/Dutchman%20Full%20Suspension%20Cargo%20Bike.aspx

    This can be build and modified to hold any type of cargo/kids you need.

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