A new bike in our fleet

It's also been a Muni-rific couple of weeks. Kids love trains.

It’s also been a Muni-rific couple of weeks. Kids love trains.

Summer is winding up, and it’s been fun. We’re having too much fun for me to write regular blog posts, anyway. I missed taking any vacation last summer, so this summer I’ve gobbled up three weeks in a row. We have been to Portland to Fiets of Parenthood, to Oakland for PedalFest, and to a different museum every day that we’ve been in San Francisco. On Saturday we are heading out of range of all electronics, except an archaic pay phone, to spend a week at San Francisco’s Camp Mather.

In honor of this upcoming trip, we finally bought our daughter a pedal bike. Kids at Camp Mather ride their bikes everywhere. She’s been old enough to ride on her own for a while, but I was frustrated by the difficulty of finding a 14” or 16” kid bike without coaster brakes. Coaster brakes delayed our son’s ability to stop on his own for months (Hand or feet? Hand or feet?) And I have heard enough horror stories about kids’ feet being caught in the cranks to last me a lifetime. She was getting big for the balance bike but we held out because we didn’t want her to hate riding. Our son, back in the day, tried to retreat back to the Hotwalk several times in frustration. He only really settled into riding on his own when we finally upgraded him from the Laser.

Check out those handlebars: front and rear brake! She can stop while eating a cupcake.

Check out those handlebars: front and rear brake! She can stop while eating a cupcake.

We finally found the right bike. Her new 16” bike has both a front and rear brake, but no coaster brakes, and it weighs 15 pounds. Our daughter got on it for the first time two weeks ago Friday and mastered riding it, as well as stopping on a dime, in less than 15 minutes. But she still couldn’t start on her own. So the next day we took her to Golden Gate Park for an hour, and she picked up the bike and rode on her own all the way back home. Sometimes she spins the pedals backwards for a bit starting up but it doesn’t stop her, obviously. Both kids have been tearing up the sidewalks around the neighborhood ever since. Last weekend she learned to ride moderate hills, feathering the brakes gently on the way down. Matt and I keep high-fiving each other for holding out for a bike without coaster brakes. I’ve been so busy following the kids around that I’ve barely had the chance to get on my own bike (adults are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk in San Francisco). The balance bike is dead to her.

I’ve focused mostly on cargo bikes but it’s probably time to write about the kids’ bikes as well. After we get back from Camp Mather, that is.



Filed under family biking, kids' bikes, San Francisco

6 responses to “A new bike in our fleet

  1. essbee

    Congratulations to E on her promotion! I’m glad you held out to find her a bike she loves. Have an awesome time at Camp Mather! See you on the other side.

  2. Is that a Spawn Banshee? I ogled one in a local bike shop last year and it’s definitely the nicest 16 inch bike I’ve ever seen. I went with an Opus Scout in the end (which does have a coaster brake) because of price, but the Banshee was my hands down favourite.

    Great blog, by the way – I’ve gotten so much advice about biking with kids here!

    • Yes, it is a Banshee! Our daughter just spent a week at family camp in Yosemite out-climbing older kids on full-sized mountain bikes with her little single-speed Banshee. We love it.

  3. gentjim

    In the UK there is an excellent British brand of kids bikes called Isla bikes – developed by an ex-racer mother who was fed up of over-sized parts being bolted onto smaller bike-shaped-objects, and re-designed a kids bike from the ground up. Currently we have two for my two boys, aged 3 and 4, who’ve been balance-biking since 18 months.

    I have just double-checked, and it does look you can get them in the US – http://www.islabikes.com/us/index.html

    Well worth a look.
    We have the 14″ and 16″ and they are absolutely great.

  4. andrew

    Our two sons (5 and 3) are both on Spawn Cycles, the Gremlin (14″) and the Banshee (16″), great bikes. I found your blog while searching for families that use cargo bikes.

    Our sons can ride to soccer and the farmer’s market, but I prefer to keep the 3 year old out of traffic and I’d like to have something different than the trailer that we currently use.

    I saw a guy with an electric Xtracycle Edgerunner a few weeks ago and that looked like the ticket. Having said that, I wasn’t even aware of bikes like the Bullit. We are in Canada though, so I’m not sure what we can find available. We live in a small city (Nelson, BC) that is quite hilly, so I’ve been reading through your various reviews with interest.

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