Helmets on, the kids buckled tight, it was time for a bike trip. My wife clicked into gear. I pushed off toward the path, four tires rolling and two small passengers in tow.
Like legions of area cyclists, my wife and I have pedaled untold miles with our kids in a trailer. Charlie and Gwen -- ages 2 and 4 -- get a fun ride. Mom and Dad get exercise. Indeed, cycling with kids is among the easiest ways to stay active as a parent. From center-mounted seats to new products like side-attached pods, the options have never been greater for grown cyclists wanting to get on the road with kids and go. Here are a few new products for cyclists looking to take a kid along for the ride.Zigo Leader
New this year, the Leader is a modular three-wheel bike that puts kids front and center in a "ChildPod." It is marketed to parents who might not feel comfortable towing kids out of sight in a trailer. With the Leader, Mom or Dad only has to peer down to assess the little one's state of happiness or distress during a bike ride. Beyond the bike, the Leader comes apart and can be transformed into a stroller, a jog-stroller, and a multi-speed city bike that parents can pilot solo when junior is ostensibly taking a nap. $1,349 for bike and pod; accessories extra. www.myzigo.comTopeak BabySeat
Upping the ante in safety for the category of bike seats, the Topeak BabySeat is touted to be a "virtual cocoon of protection" for a kid in tow. There's a six-point harness and a padded handle that locks closed. Molded footrests keep kids' feet away from spinning wheels and spokes. The seat is topped with a "roll bar" extension to protect a helmeted head in a crash. A built-in suspension cushions jolts when Mom or Dad hits a pothole or pedals off a curb. Bigger kids can ride in the BabySeat, too: Weight limit is 48.5 pounds, according to the company. $139.95, www.topeak.comTrailers
Pull-behind bike attachments like the ubiquitous Burley and Chariot trailers have become de rigueur for active parents with young kids. A few companies now make trailers, and prices range from around $200 from the likes of BeBeLove USA (www.bebeloveusa.com) to nearly $500 for a top-end ride. The Schwinn Trailblazer Bicycle Trailer, $218, has an aluminum frame and 20-inch wheels for a fast roll. At the higher end, the $399 Burley Honey Bee touts composite-rim wheels and a clear window with a UV-ray inhibitor coating.iBert Safe-T-Seat
Riders with this unique center-mounted bike seat can pedal with a kid essentially cradled between their arms. It mounts on a prong of metal attached to your bike's stem under the handlebars, making for a seat that hovers a couple inches above the frame. Unlike a rear-mounted seat, with the safe-T-seat a child's weight puts the center of gravity close to the middle of the bike, which may help with stability and control. But there is a compromise: Some riders will have to pedal slightly bow-legged, as it's possible to hit the iBert with your knees. The company recommends the seat for kids 12 months and older and up to 38 pounds. $94.95, www.ibertinc.comChariot SideCarrier
Like a motorcycle sidecar, the Chariot SideCarrier puts your kid within an easy sideways glance of your attention while on the go. It has a pivoting hitch connection to keep the carrier level while you bank and turn. The unique riding position -- which accommodates one kid only -- is marketed to make the bike-and-sidecar setup no wider than what you get with a two-child trailer. For dirt roads, trails, or on muddy days, the side-by-side position puts your kid and the trailer out of the way of tire spray. $500, www.chariotcarriers.com.
Stephen Regenold writes a blog on outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.Trailer bikes
Older kids, like this one biking around Lake Calhoun, learning to balance and pedal can hop on a one-wheel tag-along bike from companies like Adams Trail-A-Bikes, which makes models that hook on and roll behind an adult's rear wheel. A kid can pedal, practice steering, or sit still when tired for a free ride. Adams Trail-A-Bikes' Original Folder has a single speed (no shifting) and a steel hitch that connects to the seat post of the bigger bike ahead. It comes with a safety flag and a chain-guard to keep grease off your kid's jeans. Rider weight limit is 85 pounds. $230, www.trail-a-bike.comMore child ride-along options on E8