The Magic School Bus

Have you ever had a bike that keeps evolving to meet your needs? Six years ago I built a cargo bike that I dubbed “The Chubby Pony”. It started life working on a farm, proving invaluable for my daily tasks. It has served as a Bike Over-Packing rig when I just couldn’t decide what not to bring. I’ve used it for commuter duty and as a grocery-getter with stellar results. Most recently it became a tool for family adventure, prompting a re-christening as “The Magic School Bus”.

As my daughter has grown we started itching to take our adventures off the pavement. However, our Thule Cheetah Trailer is limited when it came to trail riding. It is too wide and long to navigate many trails and provides minimal shock absorption. The solution was a child seat and I knew the perfect bike to mount it to. My long wheelbase cargo bike that had served so many other tasks.

One of the drawbacks to childseat carriers on regular bikes, is that the child sits so close to the adult. The longer rack on the cargo bike meant I could space things out more. Also, I think the fat tires really help smooth out the ride for both of us. Plus, the whole design and feel of the bike is based on stability. Whenever I ask Ember if she wants to ride in the woods or down a steep hill she says, “no tip over.” With the Bus I know we can chug along safely.

Ember also loves the view from her new seat. In the trailer she would get bored after 30ish minutes, but in the seat she is content for much longer. We can also communicate much more easily. This allows her to ask questions and tell me when she wants to go see something or stop for a snack.

One improvement I’d like to make is to add a handlebar of some sort for Ember. I think this would give her more comfort and control during the ride. I’d also like to get a frame bag and some panniers for family bikepacking trips; something I hope we can accomplish later this summer.

What will this bike be doing in it’s next evolution? Who knows? Maybe knobby tires and additional cargo capacity for family bikepacking adventures. Maybe a second child seat or a rack for a strider bike. Probably not wings, the flying bike has already been done. Whatever the future holds it’s great to have a flexible platform to build off.

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