question to my readers: a stylish & practical city bike for riding with kids?

{The PUBLIC C7 – 9th Avenue Special Edition Bike}

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’d really like to upgrade my “mom mobile” to a nicer ride. As I noted before, the iBert bike seat which I use to carry my daughter doesn’t fit my vintage bikes because the head tube is too short on those bikes. There isn’t enough room for the mounting mechanism, something which could likely be fixed by replacing the head tube. When we first mounted the iBert back in May, we decided against altering one of my vintage bikes because we didn’t want to spend the extra time, money, and energy on that when we had a bike that did work with the seat: my old Mongoose mountain bike (aka, the “mom mobile”). I also liked the idea of using the mountain bike with its fatter tires because it felt easier and safer when I was just getting used to transporting my daughter on my bike and every little wobble or move scared the bejeezus out of me. (If you’re new to transporting kids by bike – rest assured, that fear goes away pretty quickly).

Earlier this fall, after months of mainly using my mountain bike for riding with my daughter and my Peugeot mixte for any other bike rides, I decided to sell my Raleigh Sports and my Raleigh Grand Prix. The Grand Prix in particular hadn’t seen any action since my pregnancy days, when my belly became too large to comfortably ride a bike with a top tube. The Raleigh Sports was also being sadly underused. I considered keeping it and swapping the head tube on it but after using a lighter bike with more gears for carrying my daughter, I decided that my ideal bike would have more than three gears and would be a little more agile. It was a hard decision to part with two bikes I truly loved but since they were languishing in our garage, I decided to find them a better home. (Which I did, I’m especially happy to report that the Raleigh Sports went to a lovely woman who’s sure to appreciate her as much as I did).

I’ve been pretty happy with my two-bike set-up of the “mom mobile” and the sportier, nimbler ride that is my Peugeot mixte. But I can’t help but daydream about my ideal bike if I were able to swap the mountain bike for something a little nicer.

My ideal bike for carrying my daughter would have the following criteria:

  • comfortable upright seating (since I use this bike for daily commutes and my back suffers after spending too long in a folded forward position)
  • multiple gears to make hills while carrying the weight of an extra passanger more managable
  • something akin to a hybrid bike –> a comfortable city bike with a bit more oomph and speed than my lovely but not very fast former ride, the Raleigh Sports
  • something aesthetically pleasing (I still drool over the looks of those Dutch bikes)
  • something compatible with the iBert front mounted child seat and with a rear rack to which to fasten my panniers for extra carrying capability
  • something that I can continue to enjoy well after my daughter outgrows her child seat and I’m biking solo  (so no bucket bike or cargo bike for that reason)

After some online research, I came across the PUBLIC C7 bike, which seems to meet all of my requirements and then some (read all the specs here). I contacted the good people at PUBLIC and they confirmed that the C7 is compatible with the iBert, so it’s sounding pretty good. But seeing as how this is one of the most expensive bike purchases I’ll ever make, I want to make sure I explore what else is out there before selling my heart to any one given bike.

So this is where you all come in! I would love to hear from other out there what you’d recommend to fulfill the above listed criteria, keeping cost in mind as well. What’s your dream bike whether it’s to transport children or not? What bikes do you drool over? What bike would you get if you could have your choice today?

Just for fun, I thought I’d  create a Simply Bike {Dream Bikes} Pinterest board to collect everyone’s suggestions. What would you have me pin?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
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23 Responses to question to my readers: a stylish & practical city bike for riding with kids?

  1. Margy Waller says:

    My Public C7 is the bike I ride every day. It’s light, beautiful, smooth — and people yell compliments at the bike all the time. HIGHLY recommended!

  2. Liz H. says:

    I don’t know that I can answer the questions you posed, but I do own a Public bike. I have the M8, and I adore it.

    I really suggest getting the hub over the derailleur. I think Public has a step-through model with a hub. Ah, yes http://publicbikes.com/p/PUBLIC-C8-2012. It is quite a bit more expensive, though…

    I feel that my Public is solid, well built, comfortable (I did switch out the saddle for a leather Velo Orange). I have both the front and rear racks.

    Whenever I’m out and about I look at other bikes, and mine is my favorite by far!

  3. Jessica says:

    I love the looks of the public m8 and rivendell’s betty foy. but like you I ride a vintage pugeot mixte… and these bikes actually look similar to her…for kid hauling purposes my hubby and I are just about to buy a yuba mundo, but we have 2 littles to carry.

  4. Sarah says:

    I have a Public C7 too, and I love it! (it’s orange, and I receive compliments nearly every time I’m out on it–of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a great bike to ride, but it’s definitely aesthetically pleasing) I rode it until the day before I went into labor, so is it a comfortable bike? YES! It sits very upright, almost “aggressively so,” the Public salesperson told me, and I found that position very comfortable, esp. when pregnant. The bike is lightweight, yet feels solid. And I find 7 gears is the perfect amount for biking around town and on paved trails outside of town with gentle hills.

  5. anna says:

    perfect timing! my mountain bike has just been stolen, so i need to replace it & this time will be getting a bike for city riding. i tow a trailer with my two kids in most of the time so want something good for that…

  6. Cosmo says:

    I have used my Pashley Sonnet for riding with Miss A and it was fine. The front mounted bobike mini was lovely on it though she kicked the basket. It has 5 gears and and was no problem on the hills of L.A. However riding with Miss S on the back in the Bobike Jr. was not fun at all. The uprightness of the bike and the higher center of gravity was not fun with that extra 4 year old’s weight hanging over my back wheel. I felt wobbly. Perhaps I could have gotten used to it, but I preferred the lower Townie when I was carrying both girls. Though I do love my giant Gazelle Bloom for carrying them both. I am so sad Miss A is wanting to ride on her own now. I am going to have to let my bloom go since I will no longer need that much SUV like carrying power. Plus we still have the bakfiets for when we need a “van”. I have developed a bit of a bias because I love a gazelle but with only one kiddo to transport you could do the chamonix which is sporty and fast though not as cute as the Public, but it will last forever. There is also the Batavus Breukelen if you are able to find one maybe used. I liked it a lot, but it was a little light for my preference. I don’t like to feel like I am going fast with my kids.

  7. Tiffany says:

    I have a Civia Twin City Step Through and love it – I also have a heavier, traditional Dutch bike, and I love how the Twin City is lighter and easier to maneuver, but keeps much of the same styling (although not quite as upright a position – although I’m 5 months pregnant and am still comfortable on it). And now they make it in a lovely all white! Not sure if it fits an iBert seat (I hope it does!) – but it does have a rear rack. Dottie did a full review on Let’s Go Ride a Bike this spring. Some notes – the seat is total crap, but a Brooks looks lovely on it, and I had the bike shop change the ratio to make the gears harder – now I use almost all 8. I think Dottie mentioned both of these things in her review as well. . .Good luck!

    • sarah says:

      Tiffany, if you see this by any chance, I’d love an update! I am pregnant, looking at a Civia, and would like to know more about child seat options. Thanks!

  8. Stephanie says:

    I lust after the Giant Via line. They’re city bikes with upright seats and vintage styling. They have a single speed model, an 8-speed derailleur model, and one with a 3-speed internal hub. They’re not at my grad student price range by any means, but they’re less spendy than the Public bikes.

  9. Jules says:

    While I’ve never owned one, I rode a bright orange Public C7 allllll around San Francisco for a day back in June and was really pleased with it. I found it much more upright than my ’68 Raleigh Sports and was floored by how smoothly a modern bike functions! I was also pleased to discover that it handled all but one of the hills that I tackled that day (climbing from the Castro up to Golden Gate Park– made it about a third of the way and just decided it was more effort than it was worth).

    The only thing that turned me off about it is that the jump from 2nd down to 1st gear is REALLY big. I only shifted to 1st once and the sudden loss of any resistance–it was like the chain had dropped-caught me by surprise. I was pedaling hard up a hill and my foot flew off the pedal, sending my shoe careening into the road and leaving me seeing stars when the pedal circled around to nail me on the back of my heel (for a minute I was afraid that I’d literally broken my ankle) and with what would become a nasty bruise. I certainly wouldn’t not get the C7 because of it, but something to be cognizant of.

    I was glad for the test ride because Public is on my list of maybe theoretical bikes if I ever replace the Raleigh but there’re no local shops here in Massachusetts that carry it on the floor and I wouldn’t be comfortable making that sort of investment without at least sitting on the thing.

    The orange was also quite a show-stopper; numerous people were curious about the bike or complemented me on it. I felt sheepish admitting that it was just a rental!

  10. Heather says:

    I have an orange C7, and live in your neck of the woods, for what it’s worth. I did change out the saddle for a Brooke B68s and swapped the handlebars for Velo Orange Tourist bars, as I prefer a swept-back, “North Road” style handlebar. I also added a double kickstand from Velo Orange to help with wheel-flop as I have a basket and rack in the front, and eventually replaced the stock Kenda Kwest tires with Schwalbe Marathon Duremes as I kept getting flats on the back, though I could never figure out why. I really preferred the cushier ride of the Kendas, and the Duremes are probably overkill for my needs, but after the 3rd or 4th flat with the Kendas I was ready for something nearly bulletproof. No flats on them so far, so…knock wood!

    Anyway…I do love my bike! It’s well made, easier for me to get on/off than a mixte, and the customer service I’ve gotten from PUBLIC has always been great. If the C8 (internal gear hub) model had been available last year I would have bought that instead, and I sometimes think about getting one and selling my C7, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their bikes. Since we live in the same area, if you’re interested in seeing and test-riding a somewhat modified C7 in person, just send me a message and let me know! (I’d even be willing to swap the original handlebars back if that would help – I love working on bikes!)

  11. Bettina says:

    I don’t know if you can get them in the US, but here in Germany a lot of people swear by their Diamant city bikes. Lots of people I know have a variety of their Topas model, but I actually want to buy this beauty next spring: http://www.diamantrad.com/modelle-2013/city/247/.
    The original model of the 247 doesn’t have a back rack, but I’ll get one fitted – which I imagine should be possible (if not, that would be a deal breaker for me).
    As for kiddo transport, I’ve seen lots of people with kid seats mounted to the Topas, but I don’t know if it’s iBert compatible.

  12. Amber says:

    I bought a Brooklyn Cruiser 3 Speed earlier this year and it’s been amazing. I remember it being pretty affordable too. Going to add a child seat soon as well.

  13. Alison says:

    It’s funny this is the first time I have visited your site and lo-and-behold I have a white C7 that I have been riding for nearly a year. In the past two weeks I have mostly been riding a old 70′s Bianchi, but decided to take my C7 for a spin this weekend. I LOVE my C7, and am constantly stopped by people who want to know more about it. Since I live in a beach town most people ride either beach cruisers, mnt. bikes or road bikes and my C7 is pretty much an anomaly. The C7 is a very easy ride, comfortable, upright, great for grocery shopping and carry weight. The bike itself is heavy by my standards but that also makes more sturdy. I do climb hills with it. Mine is probably around 35 lbs with my front basket, rear rack, coffee cup holder, and giant purse. The only thing that is hard is lifting the bike onto a bike rack or in my case a bike shuttle sometimes. I love the components, it shifts easy, the seat although a little ugly is very comfortable and the step through is great.

  14. Heather says:

    PS – More bikes and accessories I’ve drooled over and pinned: http://pinterest.com/happysimplemod/beautiful-bicycles/. :)

  15. simplybike says:

    Thanks so much for the tips and suggestions! My mind is buzzing with new bike ideas and wants :) I’ve also been rereading the bike reviews on Let’s Go Ride a Bike, for those similarly interested, they’re a great resource: http://letsgorideabike.com/blog/beautiful-bicycles/

    S.

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  17. deirdre lane says:

    The C7 from Public was my first bicycle purchase. It has inspired a blog, a brand, and a business.

    I love her.

    You *must* get one!

  18. Brooke says:

    I loved my Azor Workcycles Secret Service step through frame. Internal 8 speed…I carried my daughter on the front and eventually the rear. Smooth, steady, great ride. Loved it!

  19. Christina says:

    The bike I use the most when incorporating my kiddo is my inexpensive hybrid – a Bianchi Torino. It’s been a super simple bike to use, comfortable, and with thicker tires, it handles most of my regular commuting needs well. I don’t use a child seat but a trailer so I don’t know how the dimensions would work with the iBert, but I just have to say, it’s the bike I turn to the most. It is virtually maintenance free and I didn’t spend too much money on it :) I did put a Brooks saddle on it mainly for my own behind happiness!

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