Last month the, Taga Bike began selling in the US after six years in Europe, and I’ve been fascinated by this innovation in biking for parents, and the whole bakfiet trend that’s slowly making its way to our shores. I totally see the appeal of a bike-stroller hybrid like the Taga; there is a cute outdoor shopping center about a mile from my house, and I’ve frequently thought how nice it would be to ride my bike down there, shop a bit, grab some groceries, and head back home with my four-year-old, who isn’t big enough to ride his own bike that far himself. And for me, adding a trailer is too much of a hassle.
As for the Taga, I was lucky enough to actually spend some time with a sample we got a hold of and wow, am I impressed. What makes it truly special is that you can switch it from bike to stroller in four relatively easy steps. Once you’ve ridden to the store or farmer’s market or wherever you’re going , you can switch to stroller mode in about 20 seconds. I found after a quick lesson I could do it by myself easily. But you have to see the Taga Bike conversion video to really understand how cool this is.
My favorite feature is the fact that with a Taga Bike, the child is up front between my arms. There is no more craning my neck to make sure he’s safe behind me, and I can actually talk to him and enjoy my ride with him. At one point I had to pull over because I couldn’t pedal any more from laughing so hard at something he said. I assure you this has never happened when he’s been zipped in about ten feet behind me in a traditional bike trailer.
The Taga really makes riding bikes an experience we can share together with our younger kids.
I love the very cool, very European design aesthetic they have going on–no wonder it’s won a ton of design awards. The ride is incredibly smooth and the fit of the Taga Bike is nice, with an adjustable saddle that’s comfortably cushioned. My tailbone appreciated that for sure. My knees did hit the canopy every time I pedaled though, so you might want to take it off. As for my six-foot-tall husband, he complained that the seat wasn’t quite high enough for him at the full extension, so it might not be the most perfect fit for taller people.But for the shorter people of the family? I was able to lower the seat and let my 8-year-old drive his little brother up and down the street, and they both had the best time, as you can imagine.
Accessories can help you customize the Taga bike for your own family’s needs. The second child seat and that wooden sidecar seat for two both look amazing, but know you have to have some serious hamstrings to pull that off. While the bike has three gears and rides really smoothly, just know that when you’ve got an extra fifty or more pounds of weight up front, the hills are difficult. Really difficult. As much as I love it, I cannot imagine living in San Francisco and relying on one of these, that’s for sure.
There are a couple of watch-outs before you invest in a Taga Bike: I love the stroller conversion, but I wouldn’t recommend you buy this if you’re planning to use it mostly in stroller mode. The front wheel doesn’t move from side to side, so you have to do that “lean back and pivot” thing that moms of the 90′s perfected with their early model jogging strollers. And while it’s possible to fit the whole thing in your trunk or on a bike rack, a stroller-bike like this is, no substitute for an agile, lightweight city stroller you just toss in the back of your car.
But then, that’s not really the point of the Taga. Keep in mind the fact that it converts to a stroller is just a bonus; it’s really the bike and all its configurations that make this so appealing for parents on the go and it probably won’t be your preferred stroller for shopping all on its own.
As for price, the Taga Bike will run you a cool $1500 for the basic model, which includes a child seat. Not cheap, but then, neither is gasoline–let alone that gym membership you probably won’t need anymore.
My final word: The Taga Bike is a surprisingly smooth and steady ride, a solid workout, a fun way to be environmentally friendly, and above all, a fantastic way to spend time with your kids. And the approving looks you get from bystanders isn’t such a bad benefit either.