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Sep012009

« Xtracycle PeaPod LT Child Seat Preview »

Well, the fine folks at Xtracycle have been teasing their new child seat for several months now, with lovely images such as this:

Behold the road stencil of the future!Wait no more. The PeaPod LT details are here. But for pricing and availability ... you must wait 1-2 more weeks. Let's hope it's sub-$200, and soon.

Update: The "PPLT" with all the necessary trimmings will cost $249, with seat alone (for a second seat) at $179. I also notice that this seat mold does not seem to be exclusive to Xtracycle - witness the Yuba "Peanut Shell", but Xtracycle has modified it with new foot guards, a sternum strap, and has tested for lead and pthalates.

What's the big deal? Well, in the past, xtracycle families have either used the previous "PeaPod" (actually a rebranded Bobike Maxi seat), or built their own child seat solutions. The DIY double-decker xtracycle seat phenomenon is pretty inspiring, and may actually be helped in some ways by the simultaneous release of the "FlightDeck", a recycled plastic deck with lots of bolt holes for DIY accessorizing, and "SuperHooks" to hold the deck more securely to the xtracycle rack.

PeaPod LT, from the manufacturer's websiteSince the introduction of the Radish ready-to-roll longtail, which is not compatible with the previous PeaPod seat (without a rare bracket, see comments), we've heard murmurs of a new designed-by-xtracycle-for-xtracycle child passenger solution. And here it is:

  • Designed for kids over 1yo and less than 7yo/50 lbs (usually 1-4yo)
  • It bolts directly to the new FlightDeck, which itself is more securely attached to the xtracycle rack.
  • Mount it in up to 10 fore-aft positions.
  • While not ASTM tested for 2 seats on one bike, they do fit, so double your kid-hauling pleasure if you wish.
  • The headrest is removable, and looks as if it has a recess for the back of a helmet.
  • There's a safety bar, in addition to 5-point harness, which gives kids something else to hold onto, and looks like a nice mounting point for a creative napping solution.
  • The adjustable footrests provide some lateral protection, but do end up in the cargo space to some degree (the Bobike's don't).
  • The FlightDeck has front and rear carry handles built in.

Some thoughts on how the new seat compares to previous options:

  • It's an xtracycle-specific design, meaning that it will only work on bikes based on the open-source LongTail Standard. The Bobike Maxi/PeaPod 1.0 will work on most bikes, so might be a more flexible investment.
  • The Bobike Maxi interferes less with cargo capacity.
  • The PeaPod LT is reported to affix more rigidly than the Bobike Maxi, which has it's pluses and minuses. For example - some built-in flex is a good thing, for suspension, as is mounting a seat in between the axles.  A PeaPod LT mounted at the back of the deck seems likely to have a bouncy ride (get some fat tires and run them low). Then again, you can't mount a Bobike seat in the rear position! But then again again, Bobikes are more easily removable.
  • Looks-wise and protection-wise, the PeaPod LT is somewhere in between the relatively sleek, open European seat designs and the garish plastic enclosed, and perhaps safer, US-market rear seat designs (the new seat's closer to US style, but nicer colors). I think it looks pretty nice. What do you think?
  • The napping lolling bobblehead issue doesn't seem solved with the seat as is (would love to hear from users), but looks adaptable for such, using the grab bar as a mounting point for a sleep cushion. Nota bene: this is prohibited in the user instructions, but ...
  • So far, no rain canopy, but they say "it's in development".

Will the availability of a 2 kid solution bring about the end of all those spiffy wooden kid seat solutions? I hope not ... if anything, the new accessories will make DIY projects easier to attach securely. Which should serve as a reminder to those who've rolled their own xtracycle seats - make sure your rack and deck are well secured with whatchamacollars and whatnot! Xtracycle has some thoughts on passengering safety here.

Whadayathink, longtail people? If (when!) I had an xtracycle, this would be high on my list. I have 2 young kids, I'm not so handy with wood, and this does appear to overall have some advantages over the previous seat, if you don't mind big plastic and don't need to switch it to other bikes. We'll see what it costs - the first PeaPod was $230. Let's hope this costs less ... especially with 2 young kids, that adds up.

I must say, the branding, graphic design and web-fu that Xtracycle has been displaying lately is TASTY! I know that there have been grumbles about prices creeping up, but it does make me so happy to see family and transportational cycling portrayed in such an inviting way. Money well spent, if it helps keep them alive through this focacta economy and promotes family cycling as practical, magical, and normal.

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Reader Comments (19)

This is EXACTLY what I was waiting for! Too bad I'm not in the market for a new bike at the moment. Glad they've come out with it though, I'm sure I wasn't the only one asking!

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Hmmm. An additional steed in the stable is looking increasingly enticing.... Must convince mom.... Great review. Can't wait to see one in the wild.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterghd

Nice preview. Glad to see my 3 year old could fit in the seat- he's got 18 pounds to go until he's at the max weight limit. Wish it looked a little sleeker, but I guess safety and looks are a balance.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Thanks for the sum up - I have been trying to get more dirt on the seat. It looks a lot like the Kettler seats. If adults in the family could share the same Xtracycle, it would be a great option, especially if you have two wiggly kids under age 5. We have a Bobike that we switch from Ute to Xtra, and I like how easy it is to swap between the bikes and still wedge in groceries/ski chair loveseats/cans of paint/6 gallons of perennials and assorted groundcovers. I'd probably miss some of the load space, but I doubt we could get the new one on the Ute, anyway.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

I talked to the Xtracycle folks in April and learned they had a new child seat in the works, so I've been waiting since then for them to release it. I'm happy it's finally here! The ability to carry two children is the real breakthrough, IMHO.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterscotts

Indeed, the "double-decker" option is the big win here ...

I wonder how much additional safety a chunkier seat with more side protection affords. I'm not sure a seat like this adds much to head protection, but torso and legs to seem to have more plastic in between passenger and the ground, and may provide some modicum of "side-impact" protection.

It may also be that this is a "style" decision to appeal to the segment of the US market that finds the Euro seats a little exposed looking? Or an ASTM approval thing?

September 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

I love the modularity of this. You could easily buy/sell these seats as your family grows, without paying a weight/space penalty. That's the primary reason that I haven't hacked my own two-seater snapdeck...the Peapod comes off in a jiff and I'm back to full cargo carrying capacity...

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt in Tacoma

Hello!

Looks like a good option for 2 kids...I currently have a bobike maxi and when new baby is big enough, I can put the bobike mini on the front, but it would be nice to have a way to put both behind...I'm not sure about the cost though, as my bobike can go on any bike, and I only paid about 150 for it...(besides, I can still fit 4 kids in my Madsen if need be...)

Question for one of the other commenters...How did you get the bobike on the Ute?? We didn't buy it, because we could not get the seat to work...

Happy riding!

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOlena

the bobike maxi, aka peapod original, DOES fit the radish and the ute with the right mount hardware:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/3291630810/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/2866419221/

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertodd

As a Surly Big Dummy/Xtracycle owner, dad, and daily commuter; I wondered when Xtra would be coming out with this. It would have been nice if this option was around when my kids were younger. Instead, I relied first upon a Topeak Baby Seat (love the shock absorbing mount), then a pull-behind trailer after I had the second kid. That worked OK, but I really hated going in traffic with the trailer. For me, my Xtracycle became the way I'd carry both kids with me on the bike.

I purchased my BD this spring and had a crafty woodworking Uncle whip up a wooden double-kid Snapdeck replacement option (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtracycle/sets/72157615773040637/). I wish I had the newer, firmer SuperHooks (the Snap Piece upgrade) at the time since my first seat involuntarily ejected and broke. BTW, the kids were not on it at the time! Soon another seat was on the back and we've been rolling ever since.

I HIGHLY recommend Xtracycle to any family interested in carrying one or two children by bike. In addition, these kid-specific seats are only needed until the kids are comfortable hanging on. My four-year-old confidently rides with me using only the standard flat Snapdeck.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlocus

Hah! That's why I love CleverCycles, folks. The rare bracket you need if you have a Radish, one small kid, and preference for svelte child seats in fashion prints was "spirited out of Schiphol [Amsterdam airport] in a tourist's suitcase".

September 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

Hooray for CleverCycles! They took back our Bobike Maxi when the clasp failed after a year and sent me a new one, telling me that they would deal with Bobike for me. They are GREAT. Back to trucking her around on my Ute 36 hrs after I sent the first seat to them.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

The bobike maxi was a giant pain when trying to get our xtracycle set-up running, and the compatibility issues were impossible to anticipate before ordering because they stemmed from the particular combination of our fairly small framed bike with the xtracycle, even though the bike itself was extremely vanilla. This looks like it would solve all of those compatibility issues. The darn bobike is still sitting in our basement collecting dust, and it's an awfully expensive dust bunny. If this snap deck seat had been available when we were doing our shopping, it would have likely been strongly in the running, though if the madsen had been out then, it would have also been strongly in the running as well. Though, I have to say, I do love our spiffy DIY seat (from Rob Hanson, paint job by yours truly), and we would never have gotten it if the first peapod had worked.

Here's a rundown on our seat:
http://carfreewithkids.blogspot.com/2008/10/introducing-our-new-xtracycle-kid-seat.html

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDorea

Oh man! I spent all of last summer talking tot he Xtra ppl and I remember them telling me they would have an option to seat two kids this year. Like Dorea I had issues with the peapod b/c I have a townie and am very short. I talked with another townie Xtra owner who was 5'1" who took pictures of how they set it up. I brought the pictures into my bike shop and they did it. but having it this way makes sense. As does the larger weight limit.

I also agree that the Xtra website has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. I think there images are very exciting to promote family biking in a normalizing way. I currently use a cargo trike, but it was the Xtra that got me here and got me to try the whole world of family biking and I am grateful to them for it.

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMamavee

hi,
I'm in the UK, and have spoken to Xtracycle about the 2-kid on PPLT options. Officially, two-kids is not ASTM tested, and therefore Xtracycle are not marketing as a two-kid option.

My wife got a bit concerned about this - do any of you readers know what the ASTM testing is? To what extent do you think that Xtracycle are being super-cautious about how they market their carriers?

Does the lack of ASTM testing concern you, or would you be happy to put two PPLTs on your Xtracycle anyways?

Thanks

Andy

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Cotgreave

Here's the ASTM standard:
http://www.astm.org/Standards/F1625.htm

I'm not willing to purchase it, but I bet the standard doesn't specifically cover two kids on adult bike, hence lack of testing approval. Xtracycle did "tweet" that 2 seats fit ...

In the US, one must always be careful about how products are marketed, sadly.

September 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

I know this is an old post, but perhaps someone can give me some input. I have an original PeaPod/Bobike on my Big Dummy. I'm curious about the possibility of keeping it in place while adding the PeaPod LT for a two-kid option.

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Seems to me like the new flightdeck would let you bolt the new peapod behind the original bobike ...

July 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

genius! now a family really stays together even during outdoor activities like biking. It's a wonderful experience, deserves a photo shoot worth keeping. The family, the view and the story behind the shoot, the actual ride and movements of each subjects, the faces and reactions are important memories to capture. Thanks to modified or customized cycle parts. You did a great job. Riding a bicycle brings health to our bones, and it promotes healthy relationship among families and friends. If you happen to be in Belgium, you will see bicycle riders in groups. If not bicycles, you will see group of friends or partners riding a vespa scooter. Some nice hotels in Belgium is offering vespa rental "vespa verhuur" both for hotel and non-hotel guests.

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