Sunday, June 28, 2015

Christmas comes early : A Kidz Tandem and Weehoo story

We are ramping up for our bike tour.  I have maps out, am getting our bikes set up, and am on the phone tying up any loose ends. This weekend, we decided to go to Austin for the Frankenbike bike swap, and to visit friends, of course. About 30 minutes before we left, we got a few presents from FedEx.

We got our Kidz Tandem that we bought on Craigslist for $1200 from a John in Utah. It's super cool.  It is set up with mountain components (including disc brakes, knobby tires, etc.), and allows the child to sit up front, while you navigate in the back with a long steer tube.

Thanks to John for sending me detailed dimensions, and Chris Brown from Brown Cycles who makes these bikes in Grand Junction, CO, I decided that we were going to try out the Kidz Tandem setup for our next bike tour.  A few things sold me on this set up :

1. I talked to 4 people who had owned a Kidz Tandem, and they had all used it on single track terrain in areas like Moab, Colorado, and the hilly east coast, with their child, and all raved about how it handled. Three of these people were bike shop owners, and could have directed me to the 3x as expensive CoMotion tandem which I inquired about too, but they all suggested the KT.

2. I really liked the idea of Neva being able to be up front and be engaged in the action, instead of passively pedaling from behind.

3. This bike new is about $2400, and it's ready to go.  No need to add something for Neva to fit, it's already her size.  No need to get new parts because it's mountain ready, unlike many used tandems which are mostly for road biking, and many new tandems set up as mountain bikes start at $6000.

4. The bike actually fits me.  Most tandem smalls are even too tall for me since I am only 5'2".  It is assumed that the captain (front rider) is over 5'6" tall, and probably male. It makes sense that many couples will ride this way, male in front, woman in back, but it sure makes it difficult to find a good fit for us!

Here's what the KT looks like put together :
image 1

The only downsides to the KT is that Neva will eventually outgrow it, but we can then sell it, and get another set up at that point.  The other downside is it does not fold up, making it more difficult to transport, but we did attach it to our bike rack, and it does fit pretty well with both wheels off. Lastly, it is 55 pounds, which is 20 pounds lighter than our Chariot set up, but 20 pounds heavier than other tandem set ups (potentially). Considering this is a solid off-road machine, I think many of the weight estimates for tandems are maybe road set ups, or do not consider the total weight when fully put together, so it seems like a reasonable weight for what we are doing.

We were also sponsored by Weehoo, which was the other package that showed up...

This is the bike trailer that attaches to the seatpost of the bike, and allows the child to recline. We got the 2015 IGO Venture model which includes a rear rack and light panniers in the back.

Originally, I went to see a Weehoo trailer at REI in Flagstaff, AZ. It appeared that the hitch was cumbersome and stiff, and that the trailer was heavy and overbuilt, with 4 large metal pieces at the bottom, so I was unsure of it's capabilities off-road.

The trailer we received was a completely different animal. Beautiful in every way.  It was very easy to put together.  Note this came 30 minutes before we were going to leave, and it's already completely put together. The metal bits were replaced with one thick plastic piece that is strong and adjustable, and the hitch came with different inserts, and is a much improved design.

There were also many details of the trailer that I like, for instance the chain is covered to help prevent clothes from getting stuck, and possibly to protect the chain from excess dirt exposure, the pedals have cages with little rubber ties around back to hold the child's feet in place so they don't fall off the pedals, and adjusting the seat as the child's legs get longer is very quick and easy to do.

Neva and I look forward to trying out both of our new toys, and will keep you updated on the progress. I will also be posting soon a "how to" put together the Weehoo, as it is so quick, it won't take me long to take it apart and put it back together so you guys can see how it's done.  Happy trails and write to you soon!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Will be anxious to see this setup in motion via video.