This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 126.
With my son approaching the weight limit for his child seat I needed a new way to travel with him by bike. After investigating the available options the solution I went with was the FollowMe Tandem, comprising a sturdy frame which attaches to the rear axle of an adult bike and the front axle of the child bike. An arm to the child bike’s down tube locks off its steering. As the name suggests, it allows the two bikes to operate as a tandem, a hinge between the bikes preventing their combined length becoming unwieldy.
With our bikes attached we have the ability to travel further, and faster, than he can manage on his own bike. Crucially, it means we can use routes that don’t have provision for such a young child to ride on their own. Unlike a traditional single-wheeled trailer bike, we can separate the bikes while we’re out. This gives him a chance to ride solo on safer sections of the route, but also to use his bike at our destinations – this was very important to us: previously his balance bike often travelled with us strapped to the parcel rack.
The initial installation takes a bit of work: replacement of the axle nuts or quick release skewers is needed on both bikes, a bracket placed onto the bike’s down-tube and the frame adjusted to the size of the child’s bike. It should be manageable for anyone used to removing a bike wheel, or you can do as I did and have your local bike store mechanic do the fitting.
Once set up, use of the FollowMe is simple and tool-free. It only takes a few moments to attach the frame to the adult bike: a little force to open it wide, then drop it onto the axle nuts, and it’s easy to turn thumb screws to secure it. Adding the child bike is similarly quick and easy: roll the bike into the frame, slide its arm into the bracket on the down tube and secure with thumb screws. When riding separately, the frame folds up and clips to the parcel rack, or seat post, via a fabric strap.
This is where my biggest criticism of the FollowMe lies: the frame rattles a lot when folded away, and requires periodic tweaking to minimise noise and to avoid clashes with the bike.
In use the FollowMe feels very secure: the child bike is held upright with the adult bike, without the tendency to lean as I’ve often seen with tow-bar alternatives. This means there is little risk of damage to the bikes – I’ve heard of damage to head tubes caused by over tightening the clamps on these alternatives, in an attempt to compensate for this listing. Having this secure connection also gives confidence to ride in less-than-ideal road conditions – mixing with school-run traffic hasn’t been an issue.
At around £180 the FollowMe is an expensive option compared to alternatives. However, it does offer distinct advantages over other options. Tow-bar attachments have issues with the child bike listing. Dedicated trailer bikes can’t be ridden separately. Both of these solutions attach over the adult bike’s rear wheel to the seat post an area which the FollowMe’s method leaves free – ideal if you need the parcel rack for shopping, or want to combine it with a rear child seat for a younger sibling. Also, the FollowMe grows with the child: it can accommodate 12″ to 20″ wheels for bikes covering ages 3 to 9, although you’ll need to replace the down-tube bracket with each bike. These can be obtained, along with additional accessories to equip multiple bikes, direct from the distributor.
Overall I’m really pleased with this product. It is well engineered and robust enough for everyday use. The design makes it very easy to switch between attached and detached riding as required. For more information visit the UK distributor at www.followmetandem.co.uk. The FollowMe Tandem is available from Ben Hayward Cycles at Scotsdales garden centre, Horningsea.