DIY Passenger Seat on Your Bicycle: A solution for bigger kids

I want a Yuba Cargo bike, or an Xtracycle, or a Madsen.  I want a cargo bike.  You can find my lustful collection of cargo bike options with kids on my Cargo Bikes with Kids Pinterest Board here.  I desire more and more and more from my bicycling with family as transportation.   These higher end bikes are quite a bit above my *ahem* used bike budget.  Maybe in the future, but for now, I need a solution.  Could I make my own DIY fake cargo bike?  My two daughters were squished in the bike trailer, and I prefer to go places by bicycle instead of car when possible.  They love traveling by bike, but not when they are on top of each other in the trailer.   What is the solution to riding with little kids too big for a baby bike seat or double bike trailer? Make your own DIY fake cargo bike for less than $100. 

First I got a sturdier rear rack for my bike, compliments of my distractable Dad.  He bought it for $25 and left it lying around my garage for just long enough for me to snag it and get it installed on my bike.  The rack weight limit is posted at 55lbs but some bikers say it will easily take over 100lbs. There are racks for around $100 that hold 100 lbs, this is a better option.   Or find the Xtracycle "Free Radical" kit to add on your existing bike.  That could be the solution for when your child is too big for a bike seat. OR you could m
ake your own DIY fake cargo bike!

Portia and I rode around a bit with her on just the back rack,  her holding my waist.  We did lots of talking about keeping her feet away from the tire.  We were planning to add wheel skirts and a handle for her 'later'.  Later was too late.  We had a horrible accident.  Her precious foot.  Bike Spokes.  Thank God there were no broken bones or anything worse than an ugly scrape and bruise and her terrified tears. 

Some wonderful unknown landscaper stopped his truck and took my bike and trailer home while another friend drove us to Urgent Care.  I felt like a terrible mother and vowed to do things more carefully, but still was determined to find  a solution for riding with both kids too big for a baby bike seat.  I was grateful she wanted to get back on and ride with me but she still didn't want to share the double trailer.  I thought again about how to DIY a fake cargo bike for our family.  Safely.

I found the Bobike Junior Child Seat for $200.  It is a child's bike seat for bigger kids 5 years to 10 years and holds 77 pounds.  My awesome Dad designed and attached skirt guards on my rear wheel to protect little passenger's feet.  They were really slick & even the bike shop guys were impressed!  Next, I needed a better seat.  As I waited to have the money to buy the Bobike Junior seat, I chatted up my local bike shop.  Again.  They sell Yuba Cargo Bikes and I come often to pet them and drool and talk about bikes.  I bike a lot so I am at the bike shop a lot.  As we talked about my latest efforts, some gear shift trouble I'd been having and my desire for Portia to ride behind me on my bike, things began to happen!  After chatting with a bunch of us in the shop, Jeff my Buck's Bike Shop buddy made "a modification" to my bike.  Heaven opened right up and sang, friends. 
I had my own DIY fake cargo bike!

THEN I talked to Eric, a fellow biker at Home Depot, about my new
 DIY fake cargo bike. I described the passenger seat and handlebars aka stoker bars,  and my desire for foot pegs.  (If you give a mouse a cookie...) he suggested hose clamps and L shaped shelf brackets. ($10) BOOM.  My awesome hubby put those puppies on for us.  (See how excited the girlies are?)

My 5 year old has her own "Jump Seat" on my bicycle for the next year, and my 3year old has lots of space solo in the trailer.  This is our cheaper answer to the cargo bike. Just make your own DIY fake cargo bike  Maybe this is a solution for when your child is too big for a bike seat, or you have two kids and they do not want to share the trailer?  I can do my shopping or errands without a car and everyone wins!

Tell me about your thoughts on bicycles or cargo bikes, I'd love to talk more!  

P.s. I still want  a REAL cargo bike....accepting free offers for cargo bikes now! 


Anonymous said...

This post was helpful as I was trying to figure out how to create a 'fake' cargo bike for myself. Thanks for sharing!

Arjun Prasad said...

I love what you'e done. I want to do that for my five-year-old. I've ordered the parts to put together a stoker bar and the hose clamps + L-brackets are genius. What did you do about seat padding? From the pictures it looks pretty professional.

Heather Novak said...

Thanks Arjun! The seat is actually a Yuba passenger seat. It is padded with velcro straps that go around the seat aka rack and fit securely t was $15. You could make something similar though, with some padding with foam, a gardener's kneeling pad, duct tape etc.
Also the better rack with more weight bearing will last longer, this was just a 50lber. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND WHEEL SKIRTS! My dad made ours, but you can buy a set to protect little feet from tire daughter was 'well counseled' about then but still caught her foot in the and we were blessed it wasn't broken.

I'd LOVE to see your finished effort!

Jason said...

What did your dad use to make the foot guard for the rear tire? and where did he get it? it looks like some sort of plastic sheeting. I'm trying to set up something like this for my bike.