The Dude’s new ride

Patience and persistence finally paid off in both our bike trailer and jogging stroller Craigslist searches.  (I’ll get to the stroller in a future post.)

We actually bought the bike trailer a few weeks ago, after many failed attempts where we either just missed the item, or offered a lower price that wasn’t accepted.  I had narrowed the search to something with suspension, which meant either a high-end Burley model or a Chariot — both retail in the $600-$700 range new.  I hoped to get a new-to-us version for $250 or less.

In the end, we came up a little from that, but we are now the proud owners of a double Chariot Cougar with the stroller conversion kit.  We will be spending a bit more to buy the baby supporter accessory.  Once we have that, I will be sorely tempted to get out on the bike with The Dude.

The product website says the baby supporter is for, “children approximately 6-18 months of age,” but most of the reviews mention using it starting at 2-3 months.  The Dude is 3 months now, and a big 3 months at that, so basically it comes down to a helmet dilemma.  We could most likely ride with him now, but, even if his head were big enough for a helmet, I don’t think it will work with the head support.

So . . . bike helmets.  Riding a safe bicycle, in a safe and confident manner, is a cyclist’s most important safety tool, and a helmet only  protects so much, but why not have it as a back-up?  I don’t get preachy about it, but I do always wear a helmet, and think non-helmeted bikers look rather stupid.

So is it hypocritical to consider my baby NOT wearing one?  Perhaps, but on the other hand, The Dude will be protected by the trailer and the baby supporter, not just sitting on a bicycle seat.  I would argue that this is not much different than riding in a car, and I don’t know of any parents who put a helmet on their baby in the car.

For now, we’ll take things one step at a time.  The next step is actually buying the baby supporter.  Then we can put The Dude into the trailer, with the supporter, and evaluate his security and stability.  If all systems are go, we can sneak in a few rides gorgeous fall rides before winter weather hits.

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7 Responses to The Dude’s new ride

  1. Michael Richters says:

    1. You almost certainly won’t be able to find a helmet that will fit him until he’s much older. Nutcase makes the smallest one that I could find when searching for a helmet for my 6-month-old daughter, and it didn’t fit her until she was well over a year old.

    2. A bike helmet won’t fit inside the head supporter of the Chariot baby supporter (I’ve tried). Even the smallest one out there would cause the baby’s head to be pushed quite far forward, which could cause a suffocation risk for an infant.

    3. The weight of a bike helmet adds significantly to the weight of an infant’s head, which is already a lot for their neck muscles to support. The extra weight could cause injuries when going over bumps or around corners.

    When my wife and I bought a Chariot trailer and their baby supporter, we tried a few different arrangements, ultimately reasoning that the baby would be safest without a helmet (not that we had one that even came close to fitting her head).

    By the way, do you know if it’s legal to transport an infant (i.e. < 1 year old) on a bike or in a trailer in your state? There are quite a few places where it's not, which is probably one reason why nobody makes helmets that small.

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Thanks for the useful info, Michael. How old was your daughter when you stopped using the baby supporter? Very good to know about point #2 — I guess we should decide for sure whether or not we’re comfortable with him not wearing a helmet before bothering to buy the supporter. I was aware of the helmet weight issue, but that’s a good reminder.

      I don’t think there’s a minimum age for bicycle transport law on the books here, but I’m not sure.

      • Michael Richters says:

        She was about 13 months old when we stopped using the baby supporter, but that was because we stopped using the Chariot in favor of the far superior bakfiets (Workcycles Cargobike), which we had purchased in anticipation of selling our car. For that, I simply strapped a carseat base into the box.

        My experiences have resulted in a higher level of comfort with helmetless, head supported infants in a trailer. I was more concerned about the vibrations and shocks during travel (my three-year-old sometimes demanded that I slow down because the ride was too bumpy in the trailer, even with the adjustable suspension), which were certain and frequent, and less so about a crash or collision, which had a very low probability.

        One idea I had, but never tested at all, was that a helmet could be secured to the back of the seat in the trailer, thus providing head support as well as impact protection. If you can find a helmet that fits him and work out a way to attach it to the seatback or frame, you might be able to address both issues.

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