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Kid First Trandem

A few weeks ago I was doodling on a legal pad, drawing trandem designs for my 5 and 8 year old sons Max and Evan and myself. I wanted to build a trandem so we could all three go bike riding together and not end up with kids lagging behind while Dad tries to get actual exercise. My doodles were following the standard design of most tandems with a captain in the front, but a sudden "out of the box" thought struck me, where if I was in the back with the smallest kid first, then everyone could see forward rather than having their view blocked by the person in front. Was it possible?! Should I dare spend the effort in building such a monster, risking failure due to an unridable design? I've built numerous recumbents with cable operated steering, so I felt that wouldn't be a problem. But the length, would it be ridable? Heck it's just a long bike right?

Well I took some digital photos of my kids' bikes and my road bike and collaged them together in photoshop, and came up with what I felt would be a workable design. I actually had most of the stuff to build it around my shop, so out with the reciprocating saw and welding torches. Below is the result. Note that it's painted. I only paint home built bikes if they work well, and this works great. We live .2 miles down a gravel road, so every ride entails gravel coming and going. It's actually easy. Some concentration beyond normal riding is required, but it's fun. Max the eldest was nervous at first, but now enjoys it. Evan the youngest who rides in the front loved it from the start. We have several names for this bike, "Valdez" after the oil tanker, "the smile bike" because everyone smiles at us when we ride by, but I like calling it the "kid first trandem".

Note: I sold this bike years ago and had the buyer sign a liability release form.

On a bicycle tour on San Juan Island with Max and Evan.