Help and advice

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As the Covid-19 situation prevented us running our sessions outdoors we had a couple of families make a donations for our time on the phone to help them choose the right bike for their toddler and we also provided adult cycling tips and a bit of maintenance advice.  This got us thinking about offering this out as a more formal service and in short you can benefit from the following expertise and make a donation for our impartial advice

Our skill set that you can benefit from includes

– Qualified bike mechanic and cycle instructors (we can fix  bikes, discuss what parts you need, search the web together to help you make the best decisions.  Plus we can expand on the content below and help you be a safer cyclist

– Balance Bikes , Pedal Bikes, Family Cycling in London.  ( give us your postcode and we’ll give you tips on route planning you can share with friends and family, choosing the right balance bike, making the measurements and you can even borrow bikes from us!).  If you’re trying to get your little one to ride a balance bike or pedal bike and feel bit overwhelmed by all the online advice and opinion or you feel that what you’re trying isn’t working just pick up the phone and we’ll listen to your specific situation and help in a completely impartial way!

-Any questions about anything community or cycling related we have over 20 years worth of combined expertise that we’re very happy to apply to help solve problems and get the best answers to your questions!

– Childrens helmets.  Deserve a whole page to themselves and the choice is ridiculous.  If possible try and measure the circumference of your childs head (widest part) and look at the helmet size guides (eg 46-54cm) and try avoid things that just say S, M, L etc so that you get a helmet with the most growth potential.  All brands are genrallally find and some you pay for the looks and others for the functionality (a turn wheel and adjustable chin straps as a minumum)

Book in a time to speak or drop us an email info@wheelytots.com and we look forward to helping you!

Safety:  Here’s our top 3 tips and links below to some more!

  1. Be seen – cycle in an optimal road position, away from the kerb/gutter and out of reach of car doors.  The further out you are the more options you have.  Only use cycle lanes if they help.  We deliver cycle sessions so you can learn about this.
  2. Be seen (again….!) – take lights (even if you’re not expecting to use them), Sleeveless Hi Visibility vests fit over most clothes and can easily be attached over the back of bike seats and trailers.  They also come in children’s sizes.
  3. Be aware –  Check over your right shoulder frequently and when stopping/turning left check over your left shoulder for traffic coming on the inside.

Punctures

Amazingly there is “theory” about different types of puncture and why they occur….to keep it simple then keep your tyres inflated within the minimum and maximum range written on the side of your tyre.

Bikes, Baby Seats, Trailers…………….

Choosing a bike is complicated enough and adding some more complexity when thinking about the requirements of your Tot(s) make it an almost impossible task to get right.  Most of the time your bike type constrains your choices and hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Baby Seats come in all shapes and sizes and fix onto parts of the bike you never even knew existed. They can go on the front (attached to the frame beneath the handlebars), the crossbar or on the back either attached to the seatpost/back of the frame and/or connected to the frame near the back wheel axle.

Here’s some tips to keep your options open….

  1. Be able to grip the frame beneath the handlebars comfortably with your hand (this is where a clamp can go for a front seat.  Same applies to the back of the frame beneath the seatpost.
  2. Check if your bike is suitable for panniers  spare screw holes on rear forks by the drop outs are all potential sites for fixing rear seats and trailers.  The more screw holes the better!
  3. Avoid carbon and aluminium e.g. frames, forks, seatposts.  Steel or steel alloys are stronger and will cope with things being attached and pulling the frame in other directions than straight down!.
  4. Have a horizontal crossbar and frame comprised of a single round tube.  Oval, triangular and double tube frames can sometimes cause problems.
  5. Can a trailer hitch bracket be attached easily to the rear axle?  Things like solid nutted axles, through axles and breezer style dropouts all have amazing abilities to prevent trailers being attached.  That said trailer manufacturers sometimes have alternative adaptors.
  6. Sometimes it is difficult to have pannier bags attached to the rack whilst a baby seat is attached so if this is important make sure you check before buying!

Cargo Bikes & Trikes & Tandems……..

Cargo Bikes & Trikes can carry between 2-4 children and can also useful for doing the shopping and other chores which involve moving bulky items about.

Tandems are another great way to transport children and the rear seat can be replaced with a double pannier rack which a baby bike seat can be fixed to whilst also being able to have pannier bags to carry other items.

Tag Alongs.

For older children then a tag along can attach to the rear seatpost of a regular bike and we suggest researching exactly how the tag along attaches

Combinations…..

We’ve experience of cargo bikes with trailers, regular bikes with a rear bike seat and a trailer to carry a small toddler and a bigger child in the trailer, bike seats on the front and back……all sorts of combinations are possible and the number of permutations too many to list!

Electricity

Amazingly you can now get electric assists on bikes.  Not all are the same and you’ll need to decide whether the assist is something you want to help you pull away fast from lights or something that will kick in when you’re pedalling up that all important hill.  Also the size, weight and dimensions of the battery are important along with how it likes to be charged.  Again, worth doing the research to figure out your requirements!

We kindly received funding from Transport for London via Cycling Grants London to upgrade one of our cargo bikes and also purchase a suitable “family” e bike for use by local families.  We (after lots and lots and lots of research, riding many bikes, asking lots of questions) found a bike that fitted our unique criteria;

  •  Ability to transport a child (that weighs less than 22kg ie 18mo  – 4 yo)
  •  Able to transport with front or rear (rack or clamp) bike seat
  •  A step through frame (for convenience)
  • Ability to easily change the seat type and location as the child grows , so you don’t need to buy a new bike….

Here is our advice for purchasing / hiring / borrowing an e bike

  • Double check that the shop gives you a fully charged battery
  • Ensure you understand exactly how the battery, onboard computer and lights all work and try all this out before you leave with the bike
  • If you are using a cargo bike to carry children or cargo an “e assist” is a must have…..
  • Be prepared to experience more resistance when you pedal with the battery off / without the battery. The addition of the motor introduces a feeling of friction that isn’t present in a “normal” bike
  • The weight of the motor and battery is noticeable
  • Having a location for the charger and battery when not attached to the bike is important when the bike is in a shared space / street location. Some batteries you can leave “locked in” to the bike and some you will need to carry around with you.  They can be heavy and are usually cost c. £600 (as of 2018)
  • Ensuring the battery always fully charged is important
  • Having a spare battery for longer journeys a “very nice to have” but cost is c. £600.

If you have any other suggestions for this page or any questions about what we’ve written please get in touch at info@wheelytots.com