How to Cycle with Kids: Cargo Bike, Child Seat, or Trailer?

Biking is one of the best ways to stay active as a family and starting your kids out young is the best way to get them involved. Every parent is concerned about their child’s safety, especially when it comes to being on the road.

There are many factors to consider when cycling with toddlers: comfort, safety, storage, etc. With so many options for parents to choose from, we compiled the pros and cons of the three main methods for family bike travel.

Bikes for family

Child Bike Seats

Child bike seats are one of the original methods for bringing your kids along on your daily cycling adventures. These can either be attached in the back or the front, depending on your bike frame and comfort.

Child Bike Seat Pros

  • Affordable and easy to find. This is by far the most accessible and budget-friendly option for families who are just looking to bring their toddlers along for daily errands.
  • Close enough for comfort. Bike seats allow you to be as close as possible to your kids, which is a plus if you want to make sure they feel calm during the ride. This is a great option for more sensitive children who benefit from ongoing comfort and reassurance.
  • Allows kids to see the world. Depending on your child, this may either be a good or bad thing, seeing as they will be able to see everything that you do. For some, this will quickly become their favorite adventure.

Child Bike Seat Cons

  • Safety. While some argue that being so close to your child may give you an advantage in cushioning them from any potential impact, others argue that this exposes your kids to a higher level of risk. For this reason, many states and municipalities have specific laws regarding child bike seat safety and regulations. Make sure to advise these before getting on the road with your little one.
  • Limited Storage. Even though you can still use the front or rear of your bike to attach a basket or rack, this option doesn’t provide nearly as much storage as a trailer or cargo bike You would be limited to small grocery trips and essentials.
  • Exposure to the elements. Getting caught in the rain could leave you and your toddler getting home without any protection.
  • Single-child families only. This is not a great option for large families, as only one bike seat can be attached to each bike.

Trailers

Trailers have been another popular method for family bike tours, simply attaching to the rear of your bike to provide your toddlers with ample space and protection. These are widely available in a wide range of styles and price points, depending on your family size and budget.

Family bicycles

Pros of Bike Trailers

  • Ample space for all! Trailers come in many shapes and sizes. However, you can guarantee that most can easily fit both your toddlers and any other baggage. When you are not family touring, they are a great way for transporting small to medium size equipment without the use of a car!
  • Weather protection. Almost all trailers come with an enclosed storage compartment, providing your kids and belongings with protection against weather conditions.
  • Adaptable for babies. Many trailers provide you with the option to include a car seat for even the littlest members of the family.
  • Additional protection. Unlike car seats and certain cargo bikes, trailers have a screen or other barriers, such as a “roll bar” that provides additional protection for kids.
  • Flexible bike use. You can use your bike as you wish and attach or detach the trailer when needed, without any complicated installation or set-up.

Cons of Bike Trailers

  • No clear vantage point. Since trailers are always attached to the rear of your bike, you might not know exactly what your kids are up to, finding an unpleasant surprise once you arrive at your destination.
  • Require stamina and leg strength. This could be seen as a positive as driving a trailer will get you into shape. However, they can also be tricky to maneuver and require strength and some patience to master.
  • Require care and maintenance. Depending on how much you use your trailer, you will need to perform regular maintenance to ensure that the wheels and all other parts are functioning well.

Cargo Bike (Ferla as an Example)

Family cargo bikes are one of the most popular cycling options for bike riding with kids. In recent years, this has become one of the most popular methods for parents to safely introduce their children to the cycling world.

Pros of Cargo Bikes

  • You keep your kids close to you throughout the entire ride. This allows you to constantly be in communication and contact with them—a huge plus for first-time riders who need that assurance! With Ferla models, the cargo is in the front, as opposed to the back, meaning that your family can bike tour with the peace of mind that your toddlers are always in view.
  • Come as an all-in-one, stable bike unit, allowing for safe loading and unloading. No stressing about a trailer or seat attachment.
  • Electric for when your legs can’t pedal anymore. These days, most cargo models come with an electric option included, providing you with a much-needed break from pushing your little passengers around all day.
  • Storage Galore! Cargo bikes usually have enough space to pack a family picnic and other essentials—even while your toddler is riding with you. Ferla models even come with a rear cargo rack for additional storage!
  • Safety. In comparison with bike seats and bike trailers, family cargo bikes offer enhanced safety features. For instance, Ferla cargo bikes come with an easy step feature and 3-point harness seatbelts to provide your children with additional security while you cruise through the weekend.

Cons of Cargo Bikes

  • A bigger investment. Cargo family bikes are typically offered at a higher price point than bike seats or trailer However, this can easily be justified with the added safety and storage features. It all depends on how often you see yourself getting on the road!
  • Getting caught in the rain. Unfortunately, without the cover of a trailer, it is easy for your kids to get drenched during a bike tour where a thunderstorm passes through. Luckily, models such as the Ferla come with an attachable and transparent rain cover, so that you can still see your kids the whole ride home.
Cargo tricycle

Overall, cargo bikes are a wonderful option for families that plan to go on tours every weekend, or even consider switching to a cargo bike as their main form of travel. If you are considering a cargo bike, the Ferla provides the best value for your buck. With a weather-proof detachable cover, sturdy aluminum frame, and additional safety features, this is the best family bike that money can buy.

When reviewing options for your family’s bike touring needs, make sure to consider how often you will be riding, how many kids you are going to cycle with, and how much storage you will need on your travels.