For the last two years, we have been using a Bobike Junior+ child seat on the back of Trudy (a ’72 Phillips 3-speed) to carry my son Dominic on longer rides. It has worked wonderfully for us, allowed us to take longer rides we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do, and Dom (ages 5 to 7) has been thrilled with it, but we don’t have many photos of it in use – when I’m riding with a passenger, I feel less able to take a panda shot, and it never occurred to me to ask my husband to take some photos.
Until yesterday. We took a short family ride – our last one before we remove the seat. Dom is now able and independent enough to take longer rides under his own pedal power on his new-to-him bike, or as stoker on a trailer-bike. In fact, we hardly used the seat last summer. He is also is tall and heavy enough that when he is in the seat, it rests on top of our fender and moves the fender to one side, which it never used to do. (Also, he’s heavy enough that I’m starting to struggle to get him and a heavy old steel bike uphill. Oy vey.)
Looking over all these photos, I can see now that the seat stays have moved a bit over time, and the seat post attachment point has gradually crept up the seat tube by a couple of inches (which may only be possible because old 3-speeds use different diameter seat tubes than modern bikes). So, that is my only point of caution with this seat – to make sure it’s in the correct position and the screws are tightened up frequently, as part of your regular maintenance routine, especially if you’re installing it on a vintage bicycle. Maybe comparing with a photo taken right after installation would help you catch it instantly if the seat shifts position like it did on my bike. [Update: I just uninstalled the seat from the bicycle, and the hex-screws holding the seat stay attachment in place were indeed a bit loose, causing the whole seat and the seat stay attachments to change angle. If I had been more vigilant about checking the hex screws, I think the seat might never have moved.]
If we still needed the seat for Dom, I think we would have it re-installed on a lighter modern bicycle, to make it more secure and make it easier for me to get uphill. There’s a reason those Japanese mamachari come standard with pedal assist!
It would also be preferable to install this on a bike that has skirtguards/coat protectors. Bobike sells these as part of the Maxi’s assembly, but not the Junior’s. This wouldn’t be a problem in the European market, but it’s more of a challenge here in North America. Dom has been conscientious, and I’ve always ridden slowly with him on board, but it’s too easy for a foot to slip off a footrest into the spokes. If we’d been able to find solid skirtguards to install on the 3-speed, we would have – but we couldn’t, and we felt that crocheted ones wouldn’t have provided enough of a barrier.
My only other quibble with the Bobike seat has been that I couldn’t figure out how to carry anything on a rack underneath it, if I had been able to install a rack (which the geometry of my vintage bike plus the child seat forbade). That limited me to what could be carried in the front basket, a crossbody satchel, and a little lunch bag attached to the clamp – which meant, only little errands and no grocery runs for this bike. Hum has that issue all sussed out: Basil panniers on the rack of a newer bicycle are the answer! She discusses the options for both a regular bike and a mid-to-long-tail.
So. I hope this review of my experience with the Junior+ child seat helps those of you who are weighing your options, and I hope it helps Miss Sarah figure out which bike it will go on for rides with her little guy. It’s a great seat that fills an important niche in family biking – the ability to carry an older kid on the back of a bike is a huge thing for expanding how often you can use your bike. But it’s not optimal for installation on a vintage bicycle. A modern bicycle that’s not so heavy, isn’t undergeared, and has an integral rack (for panniers) and skirtguards – like, you know, a standard-issue city bike from Europe – would be the ideal ride to install this on.