New longtail and frozen kids

First day on the new bike!

It’s a Surly Big Dummy with Xtracycle Family Kit. Seattle Powder Coat painted it bubblegum pink, Haulin’ Colin installed the Rolling Jackass center stand, and Ride Bicycles put it all together, including add-on Surly Open Bar Handlebars, “grippy yet fast” Panaracer T-Serv 26 X 1.75 tires, bullhorn handlebars on the seat post, dynamo hub to power front and rear lights, and tricky install of Linus Delano Basket purchased at Dutch Bike Co. I think that’s everything. I’ll update with the make of dynamo stuff when I get around to reading the loooooong receipt. I think I may eventually add the new Xtracycle RunningBoards (narrower than wideloaders) and I’ve convinced myself I need a Brooks saddle, but I’m not allowed to make any rash purchases, plus I haven’t argued my case very well–“because everyone has ’em!” didn’t cut it.

I packed up the U-lock and kids to ride nine miles via the new ship canal trail to the waterfront to meet Santa Clam at Ivar’s Acres of Clams. I gotta say Santa Clam wasn’t really worth the big trip in 39 degree weather, but we’ve been here three years and never seen him.

The “free gift” from Santa Clam was a coupon for a free kid meal at Acres of Clams, but we opted for to-go lunch next door at Ivar’s Pier 54 Fish Bar. Eating it outside in Toyland Village seemed like a great idea at the time, but the kids were pretty cold by the time we packed up to head back north. The snow we saw on top of some box cars on our way down was unmelted when we rode back by.

I had hoped to make it to Wallingford in time for the Spokespeople ride along the soon-to-be Wallingford Neighborhood Greenways, but the kids really needed to thaw out and the riders were long gone by the time we reached the meeting point at 2:20.

The bike handled great. It’s nice having a granny ring and I used it on many of the hills, but not all of them. However, I did still need to shed my sweater and gloves for the eight-block climb up Densmore so while the new bike doesn’t feel heavy to ride, it also doesn’t negate the weight of the kids. I think one can stand and pedal uphill with kids on the back of a longtail, but I didn’t give that a try.

The kids had more of a changed ride than I. The little guy is used to having his fairing block most of the wind so he was extra chilly by the end of the ride. Next time he gets takled into the balaclava and ski goggles. The big guy is used to being ensconced in his Bobike maxi so no seat was a big change for him. He was perfectly comfortable and even kept his hands on his handlebars when we rode alongside a moving train–an event usually too loud for him, requiring ear covering. His feet aren’t long enough to reach Footsies or RunningBoards so we just tucked them in the FreeLoader panniers.

19 thoughts on “New longtail and frozen kids

    • Thanks! The hills aren’t much easier than on the old bike, but if I stick to my roundabout routes, I should be OK without a motor. We’ll see if that changes once I start piling on the cargo.

  1. Kids stay warmer when they pedal too. In a few years, start watching Craigslist for a tandem. I expect in a few years, riding with dad won’t be “cool” for my daughter anymore, but it has been a lot of fun. We even dabbled with an overnight bike camping trip this summer.

    On the saddle… having suffered a pudendal nerve injury that sidelined me from any biking for a long time, I’d encourage you NOT waste a single moment with a saddle that doesn’t fit. My rule of thumb: if you are thinking about your saddle as you ride, it probably doesn’t fit right.

    Brooks saddles are not a universal solution to bicycle seating, and leather saddles are more of a gamble because you don’t really know how well they work until after a couple hundred miles. But they work really well for a lot of folks, myself included.

    • Yes, I think I’ll look into a tandem at some point…though I can’t imagine having even more bikes!

      Thank you for the saddle advice. I think a Brooks is on order so I can decide when i.t arrives. That’ll give me a chance to make sure I really need an upgrade

  2. Love the bike! I am in Boulder and just bought a Kona Ute to transport my six year old in the winter. Here you have to think studded tires so i got those too. We ride a tandem in the warmer months so she can get exercise too but I am looking forward to getting used to the Ute. I think she will enjoy just hanging out on the back and enjoying the ride without me saying, “Ok pedal” ;-)

    • Congrats on your new bike! I hope I don’t have to deal with any snow, but just the length of the longtail should make the ride much stabler. I know I would enjoy riding on the back instead of pedaling :) I’m already grooming these guys to be pedicab drivers when they’re older so I can hitch the ride.

  3. Beautiful bike! We’re biking around Chicago with a longtail and a 2 and 4 year old. It’s fun to read along someone else’s adventures! I am particularly curious about what it’s like to ride in Seattle, so that’s fun.

    We don’t have a tandem, but we tow kids’ bikes in the freeloaders, and the big one does quite a lot of his own riding in the summer. We’ve got a long multi-use-path near our house, though, that runs the north-south length of the city, so there’s plenty of safe space for him to ride off energy.

    • Hi! I can’t to visit Chicago and ride bikes there again…well, when it warms up, that is :) I imagine this summer I’ll start towing kid bikes around more, but I’m having trouble imagining them riding around on their own. It must be such an adjustment!

      • If you’ll be in town, email me! Our kids are approximately the same age, and we could take them out playing and biking. It’s a great city for biking; perfectly flat, and with good bike access to a zoo, aquarium, natural history museum, nature museum, children’s museum, planetarium, science museum, etc. If you have a membership at the pacific science center, you can get free general admission to all of the above through their reciprocity program (

        JC Lind bikes ( will rent their bikes out for the day, apparently, and they’ve got some great cargo bikes and trikes for carrying kids. Or there’s the standard rental places with trailer or kid seat or tag-a-long.

        We’ve got Kidical mass too!

        I remember that I saw you mention somewhere that Clever Cycles has handlebars you can install in the middle of the flightdeck / snapdeck? Is that true? I can’t find a reference to it now, and I’d like to email them and ask about it.

      • Will do! We had a great time last time we visited. And I rented a cargo bike from JC Lind, too! I’d love to coordinate a visit with a Kidical Mass…once the weather gets back to my wimpy standards.

        This page has a photo of the Clever Cycles bar end FlightDeck handles, but I don’t have the name of the device.

  4. Pingback: Três histórias da estrada | Cenas a Pedal

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