Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Towing a Dead Bike (that's cycling speak for a bike without a rider)

I can only presume its a dead bike as it has no pulse to propel it. I do love a good 'term' for something.

Please feel free to educate me on any other cycling terminology that's amusing or the real reason why a dead bike is a dead bike.

There are many times I want to cycle to school with Ol but cant.

Wednesdays are a good example. In my effort to get people off their arses, we started a Walking Bus one day a week. One day a week meant it was manageable for even the most hardcore of bone idle parent. Even those at the mercy of their work schedule were cajoled and coerced into submission.

But it also meant that I had to, if I were to be such a vociferous advocate of the merits of walking and more importantly, not driving, be there week in week out to help coordinate the bus. It is sometimes thankless (although not very often), the kids love it and thanks to the school being bold enough to prevent parents parking along half of the road (dont ask) we have managed to create social convention.

It is now very much a social faux pas to drive on that particular day. It has made the road a wonderful environment for everyone and its means that the staunch car users get a better deal, as they no longer have to negotiate the hideous traffic outside school. They simply drop off their children with us and leggit. No waiting for ten minutes to turn around or the ever familiar gridlock of a small residental street plagued with the school run traffic.

So back to the cycling issue.

There is also the problem that the school has no cycle parking. Not a sausage. Ol has a nice bike. I'm not about to leave it chained to a fence that is easily cut.

This left me with a dilemma. If he cycles to school, what to do with his bike??? Or if he doesn't cycle there, how to get his bike in so he can at least cycle home?

Today I attempted my first basic tow. The plan was to strap the front wheel with bungees to the Blackburn rack on my bike.


 


I had only got 20 metres along the road by the time it had gone sideways and was trying to sneak past me! A few minor adjustments meant that as long as we went in a straight line it was ok. (we? Why am I saying we??)

Roundabouts were a disaster. Never to be repeated and in the end I got off and pushed. But nevertheless I got his bike and mine to where it needed to be.

It did make me long for the simplicity of the tagalong. If you are at this stage with your kids enjoy it. It all becomes some much more complex when they are independent cyclists. I have thought about a trailgator, but I am resisting as I am sure we can find a solution from what we have.

Any thoughts or suggestions very gratefully received!

I probably need a good engineer.....

23 comments:

  1. Got lots of sympathy for you, but I don't understand why the school doesn't have bike racks?

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    1. Bit of a sticky wicket this one. The school is off one of the most heavily used roads in Greater Manchester. The Head did not want to be seen to encourage cycling until a viable safe route to school could be found.

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  2. Could you not remove the front wheel, and then secure the front forks to the rack struts? Possibly securing the fork crown to the rack as well.

    Using toestraps or similar rather than bungees as the elastic will have too much give. you would need to bungee the wheel to the rear bike somehow as well.

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    1. Thanks Gaz,

      I am looking at fork blocks at the moment, but I also need to be able to use the rack for the copilot seat. So It cant be anything welded etc to the rack. I am not sure his front forks will fit over my tyres. You are right about the give in bungees,

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  3. okay - more helpfully - do you know anyone who lives near the school? or works near the school? would they be willing to let you lock onto their (solid) fence or similar?

    Is there no where in the schoolyard suitable for a bike? no solid railings or poles? surely they should be able to offer you somewhere to put it, even if they won't cough up for racks?


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    1. There is nowhere I would be happy leaving his bike at the present time. And often its not a return trip. Sometimes we have to walk one way and get the opportunity to cycle the other. The ability to tow makes my life much easier

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  4. It's pricey, but there is the followme tandem. This makes the dead bike into a trailer by attaching to its forks (wheel still attached). It attaches to the motherbike by a replacement qr skewer so the rack is not affected. Havent got it myself but i'm considering it for when my son starts cycling.

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    1. Hi Simon. I had seen the follow me before, but I had forgotten all about it. Thanks for the reminder. It is very expensive. I think had I know about it 5 or so years ago, I would have bought it rather than the tag along we already have.

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  5. I know you said you want to avoid extra paraphernalia but I'm looking at the Trail Angel which seems to be somewhere between the followme and a trailgator. I get the impression that the followme would be problematic with my disc brakes, and it is expensive. But saw the Trail Angel for sale in the Edinburgh Bike Shop, and it seems to lock the front forks/steering of the childs bike (unlike a trailgator). Not many good reviews around though.

    The bike I'm trying to cart around is a lot smaller than yours (for a four year old). I have bungied it on top of the rack a couple of times - front wheel one side and back wheel the other. But even with a small bike it gets a bit awkward - as mentioned before, the bungies let it bounce a bit and the width is a problem - we get stuck going through some of the motorbike barriers on the floop. This is with the four-year-old on the top tube mounted seat as well!

    Interesting that you raise the question though as I'd been wondering about this. How to perhaps pick up a friend by cycling to meet them with an extra bike?

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    1. oh dont get me started about the blimming Floop. I often ride with a trailer and those barriers are a menace. Have you thought about a tag along? I loved ours.

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    2. But tagalong isn't a way to transport a bike? And it doesn't allow the child to whizz off and have a go on their own at any point, either while I try and keep up, or stop for a cup of tea/pint...

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  6. Done some googling.

    Some inspiration on this thread:
    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/electric-bicycles/9367-one-electric-bike-towing-another-2.html

    The flickr albums of the OPs chosen solution are interesting. Sounds like it was all a bit high up (and therefore precarious) though.

    I've also seen people mention steering a second bike alongside your own with one hand on its stem/handlebars. I've done this myself for short distances and I found it less than relaxing. Obviously it involves cycling one handed while concentrating elsewhere - you don't want to let the paths of the two bikes diverge (or converge) too much!

    A couple more food-for-thought pictures here:
    http://www.cyclechat.net/threads/towing-another-riderless-bike.111668/page-2

    I'm liking the Glasgow bike catamaran thing, and there's one that looks a bit like your solution, but with a tandem towing bike - the person responsible mentions some of the steering issues here:
    http://www.cyclechat.net/threads/towing-another-riderless-bike.111668/page-2

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    1. Oops. That last link was meant to point here:
      http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/8214/is-there-a-do-it-yourself-way-to-tow-a-kids-bike

      I'm going to stop thinking about this now!

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    2. Did you need distracting from work? One of the pics reminds me of the set up on a Yuba Mundo. Maybe this is the best solution? http://yubabikes.com/bikes/mundo/what-do-you-want-to-do/

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    3. I have been wondering whether I need to start considering a bike designed for the purpose. I do love the idea of a longtail but I'm not quite ready to splash the cash.

      I also know someone with this setup [ http://www.bikeradar.com/gallery/article/new-multi-function-tandem-rolled-out-across-uk-25246/1/ ] which is pretty cool, but it's all a question of money and storage space. And again, it's harder to split a tandem to let the small person have some independence.

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    4. The plus of the Helios is that it can become a cargo bike (a longtail) too - the rack fits instead of the stoker's seat. I think I remember reading that the small (20") wheels mean it takes up a similar amount of room to a "normal" bike too.

      If you were thinking about a cargo bike in any case, the Helios might make sense as the bike to fulfil that role, with the benefit of being a tandem as well...

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    5. Thanks John. It's a good point.

      tbh one of my main motivations for a longtail would be to reliably carry a small(ish) person on it. I was wondering about the Kona MinUte, which seems to be a lot cheaper than something like a Yaba Mundo, and a slightly more manageable size, but still easily sturdy enough to take a bigger seat for an older child (like the bobike junior for instance). I know a lot of kids just sit on the deck but I think I'd be happier with them strapped in, unless they're taking a more active role (ie cycling themselves).

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  7. Try parkthatbike.com for bike racks and a local college for a tech student to build the tagalong?

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    1. Mike, thanks for that. The school wont allow us to install cycle parking as the Head doesn't want to encourage it due to the schools location off a busy main road.

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  8. Can you not cycle along and hold it at your side? This involves cycling one-handed, and is easier if the bike you're cycling is smaller than the one you're holding, and the handlebar stem has a decent-size angled bit to hold onto, but that is my standard method for travelling with a spare bike.

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  9. If it was something you were doing a lot you could have some bolts welded to the uprights of you rack (lowish down) and wing nuts. You could then take his front wheel out, and connect his forks to your rack to make a trailer. You would still then need to bungee his front wheel to his frame but it should work. The other option would be something like tag along bar, I could ride my bike with daughters attached whether she was on it or not when we used one but it was a bit of a faff to get on and off quickly and left a great big metal bar attached to my seat post. Find a fabricator or a good garage welder, they will be bored stiff with day to day work and relish something new (I speak here from experience) if they were really good they could do a clamp system near where the three uprights of your rack are or back from your own spindle so it would come off if need be.

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    1. Hmm… I read writes on a comparative subject, however i never went by your online journal. I added it to top choices and i'll be your steady followers.
      www.firebirdtowing.com

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