« Neat! Cool ! Clever ! Great !… » We don’t remember how many times we’ve been stopped by people, amazed by this unique hooking system and wanting to know more about it. It well deserved a dedicated post.
During the planning of our trip, we were looking for the hooking system that would be the best for Emma. We wanted to find something that could allow her to pedal, ideally on her own, and whenever she would be tired or bored, that could have her hooked up to one of our bikes. We wanted an progressive concept that could be adapted when Emma would grow and become more autonomous.
Some bikes attachment systems already exist on the market, the most well-known being the Trail-Gator hooking system, but it did not convince us for many reasons. This system is attached to the adult bike’s seat tube, which limits the possibility to have stuff on the rear rack’s top, which is always useful when cycle touring. Moreover, the stability of this system is not impressive : the kid’s bike is always leaning on a side or another and has its front wheel way too high. The kid’s potition is not comfortable, increasing the risk to develop physical injuries if the kid rides this way all day long for an extended period of time. We didn’t want to take this risk so we didn’t chose this system.
When we were in Montreal we had a MEC lift trailer bicycle for Emma for the last two years and were really satisfied of it. Although attached to the adult bike’s seat tube too, it was much more stable than the Trail Gator, but still Emma could’t ride on her own, nor even change gears to adapt her pedaling pace to the adult one. We forgot this option too.
The tandem option was really interesting and actually has often been chosen by families traveling on bikes : Emma would ride on the same bike as one of us, either at rear (eventually with a pedal adaptor for her shorter legs), either seated at front (like on the Pino tandem bikes from Haze). Still we didnt’t chose these option either as Emma couldn’t ride on her own and we would obviously have to always ride together. Furthermore, she would have to pedal all the time and couldn’t take any rests as her chain would be linked with the adult one. Last but not least, tandems are far less convenient to carry in public transports (trains, buses, planes), for their length is often longer than what’s usually allowed by many companies, and we didn’t want to run that risk during our trip.
Then we heard of the FollowMe, an attachment system supposed to be very sturdy, allowing a kid bike to be hooked up to an adult one, with a great stability. This system is connected to the adult bike’s rear wheel hub, just like a trailer. Then it gets hooked on the kid bike’s front wheel hub and backed on its down tube through a dedicated hook system. This way, the kid’s bike is always in the same axle as the adult one and its front wheel is only lifted by a few cm from the ground.
The kid can have his own bike hooked up to the adult one and can also ride on his own, as the FollowMe allows the kid’s bike to be attached and detached in a few seconds. And when the child rides on his own, the FollowMe can stay attached to the adult’s bike. Best of both worlds.
Need images to be convinced ? Have a look at this video. It’s in german but the images speak for themselves so you will understand easily. And you’ll practice your german. J
With a rough « homemade-like » design that could probably be improved, the FollowMe is still very well though and super efficient, and it can be adapted on all kinds of bikes : from 26’’ to 28’’ wheels (adult bike) and from 14’’ to 20’’ (kid’s bike).
We actually just found three (minor) downsides to the FollowMe : its weight (made of steel, it weights almost 5 kg), its price (close to 300 €) and its availability (designed in Switzerland, it is sold only in Europe but, who knows, maybe MEC will sell it in Canada one day ?).
Before buying it we wanted to be sure of our decision, especially as we never saw it in real, and we wanted to check the fact that it would be sturdy enough to last during all our trip. When surfing on the Internet and checking on European forums we have been pleased to read that many cyclists were extremely satisfied of it and used it daily (mostly commuting). Still we found nobody who used it daily over a long period of time in rough conditions, until we found that blog of a family who went mountain biking in Patagonia for months and brought two FollowMe for their 7 and 8 years old kids. By chatting with them by email they confirmed us the sturdiness of this device. This was the final argument to convince us.
We’ve been riding daily with the FollowMe over two months and 3,000 km now. In all kinds of weathers, on all types of roads and trails, and we are totally satisfied. It is stable, really neat and very secure. Emma can pedal with me (and truly help me climbing the hills), take some breaks and enjoy the views or pedal on her own, detached from my bike. And at the end of the day, in campgrounds, she can take her bike and go riding, looking for new friends.
For now the only signs of weakness we can see are a few spots of rust (on screws), that’s it. Will it support our abusive daily usage ? The future will tell us but we do think so. Anyway we hope we should be able to dispose of it in one year from now, as by then Emma will probably have covered enough mileage to be strong enough and ride on her own everyday. At least, she’s training hard !