Bike Riding With My Little Buddy

Now that my son is 8 months old, he and I have started taking regular rides in his Burley D’Lite trailer. We did our first test rides about a month ago, but yesterday we did a nice 20 miler that included a stop at a Starbucks to get him some Oatmeal.

Starucks stop

We’ve made a number of bike and trailer modifications to make the ride as practical and comfortable as possible. Instead of hooking the bike up to a hybrid, I pulled my S+S coupled Litespeed out of its travel case, swapped out the SRAM road derailleur with their MTB derailleur and connected that to the Force shifters that were already on the bike. Since SRAM’s mountain bike and road derailleurs use the same pulley ratios it was a piece of cake to get it working. There’s an 11-27 cassette on there now, but I’m going to probably bump that up to an 11-32 so that we can tackle some of the longer hill climbs around here.

Since the trailer is really designed to be ridded by slightly larger kids we’ve made some adaptations for passenger comfort. The first is to remove the padding from the shoulder straps that come with the D’Lite—they’re really awesome but they’re so long that it’s not easy to cinch up the straps without twisting them under the padding. (The straps are about five-inches long and the strap lengths should be about three inches long to accommodate my dude’s shorter torso.) We’ll be replacing those with the covers from his old car seat’s straps. Internally we’ve loosened the back of the seat a bit to let my son recline until we get a new helmet for him.

Most kid’s helmets these days are just like small versions of adult helmets and his Louis Garneau lid has retention straps and a dial on the back. Unfortunately that makes the helmet jut out a bit to the rear and that pushes his head forward. Loosening the back alleviates some of that, but we’ve also got a Lazer B.O.B helmet on order. This style is designed for trailers and the back is flat, so it won’t push forward on the skull or push my dude’s head forward. That’s good because yesterday I noticed he had pushed his lid forward over his eyes. He was not thrilled.

I can’t say how great it is to ride with my son. With a few books and some toys (and a helmet not falling over his nose) he could easily ride for hours, providing we stop every now and then for a snack. And that’s fine with me. Workout-wise this is great, the trailer is at least 35 lbs and the boy is 20, so I’m getting a nice extra bit of resistance and workout. I’ve thought about jokingly putting a time trial bike in front of the trailer, just to mess with the heads of the people passing me on their weekend rides.

I do wish that it had more places to put on rear flashing lights. I have been using the jogging-bar but I’d like a few more clip-on places for brighter lights than the Knog that wrap around the jog helmet. Additionally, there are internal pockets for stuff for the dude, but not a lot of pockets in the back of the trailer for me to stash things. that means that anything I want to take along (that I don’t want him grabbing) has to go on me. If I put something on the floor of the trailer it can slide forward under his feet.

One of the nice things about the trailer is that it’s a great sleep inducer. This shot is from before we got the straps cinched enough, but it’s also a mark of the flexibility of an infant.


Now I’m thinking we might tackle RAGBRAI in 2012.

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