My son, Marek, is a lucky little dude compared to other kids at his daycare. Why? Unlike most of the children who arrive and depart school in massive SUVs, Marek rides in style on the back of our Dutch bike at least once (and sometimes twice) a day. The Bobike Maxi SC is the product that makes his absolute coolness possible.
Bike-mounted child seats have fallen out of vogue in the United States in favor of bike trailers. The rare bike-mounted child seats created for the American market are ridiculously large (to be commensurate with our level of safety paranoia) and usually require installation of a proprietary rear rack to affix the child seat to. Since my bike already has a rear rack, the Maxi SC was a natural fit as the seat suspends over the bike’s existing rear rack. Installation was fairly straight forward, but I favored on the side of caution versus speed. I did have to grind down a couple of bolts so that they didn’t poke through my skirt guards, but the remaining parts went on out-of-the-box.
If you’ve even skimmed this blog, you probably know that I’m a rabid anti-bike helmet zealot. When we first got the Bobike Maxi SC, my wife insisted on Marek wearing a helmet (more due to the peer pressure of friends). This plan was quickly abandoned after Marek figured out how to take off the helmet and throw it in the street while riding. When we insisted on helmet compliance, he hated riding the bike. After we gave up on this silly requirement, he quickly became an enthusiastic rider. He spends most of his time pointing out dogs, trucks, birds, and singing while riding. Sometimes he even sings “the daddy song” which is a series of non-sensical lyrics featuring variations of the word “dad.” It’s pretty cool having your own singing minstrel mounted to the back of the bike!
The bike’s balance certainly changes with the addition of an extra (and ambulatory) thirty pounds in the rear, but it’s totally doable. The little foot rests that strap down the child’s feet are a must. I tried leaving his feet unbound in a failed experiment and he kicked me the entire ride. I also like the massive reflector on the back of the seat. No car will miss you during the night. When Marek is getting picked up or dropped off by mom, you can also use the seat for hauling groceries and such without too much fuss. Still, I recommend the addition of a sizeable basket to the front of the bike or panniers if you’re going to be moving a child by bike with any frequency.
Other Bobike variants exist, some of which feature a much higher seat back than the Maxi SC. If you plan on having your child wear a helmet, I think the Maxi SC would be preferable as the high headrest on other models may make a helmet incredibly uncomfortable.
Whenever I pick up Marek the playground is lined with kids, jealous with envy, as I load him up and ride off. Amazingly, I’ve only had a couple of people confront me about the fact that my child and I are sans helmet. The vast majority of people are tickled pink at the site of us riding around town. We get many positive compliments and were even approached by a woman originally from the Netherlands who expressed absolute adoration for our ride.
Many Americans long for a more relaxed European life style. The best way to make that happen is to practice such a lifestyle and make it real. I’m happy that my son’s first impressions of biking have been positive and free of fear-mongering.
Long live the Bobike and free range children!