BicycleBungee Review: A Tow-Rope for Biking with Kids!
If you’ve ever gone for a bike ride with a young child on their own bike, you’ve experience the HELL known as hills. Specifically, UPhills. Some days my 3 year old will surprise us and power up a big hill with nary a complaint; most days, however, he’ll get a few pedal strokes in, come to a dramatic stop, and cry out, “But I want to ride DOWNhill!!!” This is often followed up tears (often mom and dad’s), and then Little P climbing on the TykeToter while I figure out how I’m going to haul his bike (and where I can get a stiff drink).
If this sounds like a familiar scenario, you might want to check out the BicycleBungee. This innovative bungee cord is designed to allow a stronger rider to essentially pull a weaker rider along behind them. When I first heard of the BicycleBungee, I imagined it might be the answer to our problems; on the other hand, I was somewhat skeptical that it could work well (and safely) with a 3 year old. Turns out, the BicycleBungee works even better than I could have hoped and has opened up new biking opportunities for our family.
Review in a Nutshell
- Allows child to ride their own bike
- Works on-road and off-road
- Affordable compared to other options
- Hook doesn’t fix in place and can slide from side to side
- BicycleBungee bolts to the adult’s seatpost, so it can’t be quickly swapped from bike to bike
Specs and Where to Buy:
- Price: $200
- Weight: 1 lb
- Material: Carbon Fiber
- Warranty: 1 year
- Compatability: Fits seatposts between 27.2mm – 31mm
- Buy: bicyclebungeeusa.com
Full BicycleBungee Review
How it works
The BicycleBungee is simple to install and use. The body bolts to the adult’s seatpost and the cord connects to the child’s bike via a simple hook.
The directions that come in the box instruct to attach the hook to the child’s handlebar. This did not work for us; the hook slid from side to side across the handlebars and pulled the bike dangerously to one side. I assume this is because the BicycleBungee was initially designed to connect two adult bikes and an adult would have the strength to hold the bars steady, while a 3 year old doesn’t.
Instead, we attached the hook to my son’s headset which was snug and seemed to work well. In the future, we may play around with a better way to secure the hook to his handlebars. This was the only real design flaw that I found with the BicycleBungee, although it didn’t stop us from making it work. I did contact Matt at BicycleBungee USA about it as well. He agreed that the problem was probably because my little boy is so young, and that there is no problem with attaching the hook to the headset.
The retractable spring on the BicycleBungee works remarkably well. My fear was that I would start riding and we would max out the length and get too far apart, or that the pull would be jolting (if you’ve ever gone waterskiing you know what I’m talking about). Instead, we were able to maintain a fairly consistent distance from one another and I could feel (in a non-jarring way) if my little guy started getting too far behind. The company explains this on their website: “The BicyleBungee’s remarkable ability to absorb and release energy as you go helps redistribute and equal-out the load.”
To start out, I would count to three and we’d begin in tandem. My husband, who could see what was going on a little better than I, noticed that P would actually use my momentum as a boost to start pedaling. (He usually scoots for a moment to get enough speed to begin).
Similarly, we quickly learned to verbalize when one of us were stopping. We had two incidents—one where I stopped without warning, and one where P stopped without warning. After that, we would call out “stopping” whenever one of us were coming to a stop.
Use it on our off-road
For our first excursion with the BicycleBungee, we took it mountain biking on singletrack. Nothing like jumping right in, right? Our family loves mountain biking, but we struggle with how to make it work with a 3 year old. P loves biking on downhills and flats, but even a slight incline is too much for him.
With the BicycleBungee, I was able to pull P uphill. On this particular ride, we did about a 4 mile climb and he was able to pedal all of it. When we made it to the top, we set him loose and he biked back to the car on his own.
We’ve also used the Bicycle Bungee on the road and bike path, where it shines equally as well. I don’t think there is an application where the BicycleBungee wouldn’t work.
Allows the child to ride their own bike
I’ve been looking for something like the BicycleBungee for a long time. I looked into the TrailGator, but was disappointed by the terrible reviews. We use the Weehoo trailer-cycle but P doesn’t like the fact that he’s not upright steering his own bike. We’ve been looking into a tandem with a stoker kit, but again that doesn’t allow him to be in control.
The BicyleBungee is the perfect solution because it allows the child to ride their own bike, practice steering and bike handling skills, and improve their strength. Even though I am “towing” P uphills, he’s still pedaling and putting in a good amount of effort. I think this will actually help with to gain strength and become a better cyclist faster than if we were always hauling him in a trailer.
While the BicycleBungee isn’t cheap—the body is made of carbon fiber after all—it is cheaper than a trailer-cycle or a tandem bicycle. The price may have given me pause prior to trying it, but now that I’ve seen how well it works, I think it is worth every penny. You can also save money by buying a family pack with 2 or 3 bungees. Find another family that wants one, and split the cost.
Or, if you have a couple of kids, you can use the family pack to haul multiple children.
As I mentioned earlier, the BicycleBungee is easy to install. It fits to a standard mountain bike seatpost. If you want to use it with a narrower seatpost, you may have to use a sleeve. It took me all of 3 minutes to bolt it to my seatpost and it was ready to use.
My one (very) small complaint is that it isn’t easier to move between bikes. If you are like me, you have multiple bicycles you want to use it on—my mountain bike for singletrack rides, and my commuter bike for rides around town. It’s not super difficult to change it from bike to bike—just unbolt and re-bolt—but it does take 5 minutes to switch before you can head out the door. If you are going to use the BicycleBungee A LOT, you may want to consider buying the “Family Pack” so you don’t have to switch it between bikes.
August 2017 Update: We’ve been using the BicycleBungee for a full year now–both for mountain biking and around town. The thing still looks brand new and hasn’t shown any sign of wear. For the $200 pricetag, you would expect quality and I’m happy to report that that the BicycleBungee has met (and exceeded) our expecations.
Most family cycling products—bike seats, trailers, etc—have a pretty limited life because those kiddos grow fast. With the BicycleBungee, I can very well see us continuing to use this for a LONG time. Even for parents of older kids, the BicycleBungee will allow your family to rider longer distances faster. A child can start out on their own, and once they need a boost, hook them up.
I really could not be any happier with the BicycleBungee and will whole-heartedly recommend it to any family. I feel like this product has really revolutionized the types of rides we can do with our son; we can now bike longer distances around town, and he can do an entire mountain bike ride on his own bike. If you have been shopping for a trailer-cycle or tandem, consider the BicycleBungee instead. It is cheaper, AND it has the added bonus of allowing your child to develop strength and bike-handling skills.
Buy Now: BicycleBungee.com