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I've been reviewing some of the options for commuting your kid around (bike seat, trailers, mid tails, long tails, etc) and am having a hard time determining the best option. My daughter is 45lbs and is at or approaching the limit of most bike seats. Is the easy option of a bike seat the way to go? Or will commuting a kid at the max weight of a seat be too cumbersome (and short term)? Are the other options a better choice here?

Note I don't currently own a bike so all choices will involve a purchase of some kind...

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Even if you decide to buy the seat now, presumably there'd be an issue as she grows? And by the sounds of things, it won't be long before she passes the upper limit.

So I'd look at other options, which as I see it, are:

a trailer

trailer

one of those things where they're sitting on their own saddle, over their own wheel, but are actually being towed by you

enter image description here

or last, get her her own bike. From experience, this one has pros and cons. The obvious pro is to get them cycling as soon as possible, the con is that until they become pretty proficient, they ride mightily slowly!

While I was googling, I also came across this article which might help (and this is where the pics came from).

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  • Here in Australia the lower image is has various names, one of which is "trailer bike". I used one with my kids after they graduated from the bike seat. The kids can pedal, and with my daughter especially I had to call to her to stop pedaling as we came to traffic lights. It was lots of fun! The downside is that the front bike handles very differently when the trailer is attached.
    – andy256
    Sep 5, 2014 at 12:08
  • @andy256 yeah, I wasn't sure what they were called. That article I cite talke about bike seats, bike trailers and cargo bikes. I assumed that the top pic was a bike trailer, and also therefore that the lower pic was a "cargo bike". But I could easily be wrong.
    – PeteH
    Sep 5, 2014 at 15:39
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    An additional option is a bar that connects her normal bike to yours, lifting the front wheel off the ground, similar to the lower picture. It means she can ride solo for part the trip - great for independence - but when she gets tired you hook her up and she need not pedal.
    – mattnz
    Sep 6, 2014 at 5:54
  • @mattnz: Yes. Actually, the "Follow Me Tandem" mentioned in Claus' answer is such a product.
    – sleske
    Feb 12, 2019 at 7:54
  • the trailer's occupants in the first picture are ready to be invested by whatever chip/stone is raised by the rear wheel. There is a reason for the cover or at least for the net to cover the front part of the trailer ...
    – EarlGrey
    Aug 14, 2023 at 13:25
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There do exist child seats that support higher weights, for example this one: http://www.yepp.nl/uk/Collection/Yepp-Junior. I rembember this style of seats to be very common in The Netherlands for kids up to ages of 8 or so (although they often also cycle on their own).

This does require a bike with a rear rack that actually supports that weight too, and I don't know about availability outside NL.

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That linked article has a section on 'Box Bikes" and "Long Tails"

Consider the advantages of a bike designed to carry weight such as a child or cargo. A child seat on the rear of a typical bike puts a lot of weight over (and behind) the rear wheel and can reduce weight on the front wheel. The affects handling in a bad way. In a lot of cases, this is what will be limiting the weight rating of a child seat. A longtail put weight between the wheels, making a bike than handles better with higher weights. If you plan to use the bike a lot, a long tail, or even a full cargo bike (Box bike) would be beneficial.

A longtail also provides more space for the child seat and will be more comfortable for them to ride in, they are built stronger, and have lower gears than a traditional bike, making them suitable for the heavier weights.

There are bike seats capable of carrying 100kg (probably more) for longtails.

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To expand the options that PeteH listed

  • Follow Me Tandem is a pretty cool solution - it lets you attach the child's bike to an adult's bike to form an improvised tandem. The website is available in German and English. Check out the English flyer. enter image description here
  • Regular tandem with child stoker kit. This store has several photos of small kids on with a seat back very young children Fairly soon children can sit without a seat back on the saddle. Of course it all depends on the child and length of your rides. Going with a tandem will give you probably the longest usability as your child grows up and allows you to go longer distances easily. But good tandems do cost a bit. enter image description here

There is no single solution that fits all. It really depends on your riding habits (length of ride, type of ride, how often you ride, etc), how much money you are willing to spend, and personal preference.

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    I just wanna say that dude on the tandem bike is the most 'dad' person I've ever seen. Toe clips with dad sandals, straight cut jeans with ripped knees, baggy plain white t-shirt... it's like he's paid to look like a dad and he wants his money. Feb 12, 2019 at 14:31
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The solution may be to transition to junior seat (cf. https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/90081/46131 ): there are seat that supports more than 22kg, but they are generally called "junior seats".

The Polisport Move Guppy Junior Rear Child Bike Seat, for instance, supports 22 to 35 kg / 48,5 to 77,16 lb, for 6 to 10 years kids:

enter image description here

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