Cycling with kids thanks to the Follow Me

Cycling with kids thanks to the follow me

The Follow Me is the perfect solution for kids of a certain age. Follow our advice on using this towing device

Too big to just sit passively inside a trailer? But not yet strong and independent enough to keep up with the family peloton on their own bike? The Follow Me is the perfect solution for kids of a certain age. We take a closer look at this top towing accessory. 

In short:
Age: 3 to 9 years
Uses: from day-long rides to bike-touring holidays
Advantages: encourages autonomy
Disadvantages: less comfortable, no protection if it rains

How can you tow a child's bike when touring? introducing the follow me!

The Follow Me lets you couple a child's bike to an adult bike to create your own little tandem.

If they get tired, the young cyclist can be hitched up to one of their parents' bikes in an instant and without tools. Then it's up to them whether or not they keep pedalling. They're free to take a well-earned break whenever they want. No need to pedal, or even steer or brake, as the towing system neutralises the front wheel. On the other hand, if they decide they want to ride independently, their bike can be unhooked and they can take the reins once again. It's a great halfway house for kids of a certain age: too big for a trailer, but not yet big enough to "stand on their own two feet" for an entire ride . 

How old do kids need to be to use the follow me? 

Does your child have their own bike? Then, in theory, they can use the Follow Me on your family bike rides. More specifically, the connector is compatible with 12- to 20-inch kids' bikes. It's for young cyclists anywhere from the age of 3 up to around the age of 12.

Which types of ride can you use it for?

The Follow Me is quick and easy to set up, and is just as useful for weekend family rides as it is for everyday journeys. Plus, it opens up the option of family bike tours. The way it attaches to the axle on the adult bike's back wheel means you can still use your pannier rack. So you can use the pannier rack for your bags if you're heading off on holiday, for example.

Or you could fit a child seat to it so you can carry a second passenger or give your child a comfier alternative to the Follow Me on long rides.

Why use the follow me?

Somewhere between a trailer and an individual bike, the Follow Me supports your child along the road to autonomy. It's a great safety net that teaches them how to ride safely on public roads, with you still in control. And it's all the more reassuring if you find yourselves in heavy traffic!

The Follow Me also offers the answer to your little one running out of steam. It's a great fall-back if they get tired. With your child's bike hitched to yours, there's no excuse for chickening out of climbs or wanting to turn around and go home early! They can glide along with ease behind mum or dad! The towing system makes the most of the child's efforts and builds their confidence in their abilities. It's a reassuring, educational tool!

Cycling with kids thanks to the Follow Me

Is the follow me easy to set up and use?

To be honest, the first time you assemble it could be a bit of a headache, particularly if your set-up means that you need an adapter. But once that's done and dusted, it's easy. It takes just a few seconds to hook your child's bike onto it using its special system. Simply wedge the front wheel into the Follow Me and lock it in place.

And when your young cyclist wants to ride independently again, just do the same thing in reverse. When it's not in use, the towing system can be folded out of the way and tied to your pannier rack or the underneath of your saddle. So you can continue your ride in almost-normal conditions. When you're done, you can of course leave the towing system on your bike. Especially if you're planning to go on regular family rides. It's recommended that you only remove it if you won't be using it for a long time, so as to make your bike lighter on normal rides. The Follow Me weighs 4 kg.

And how does it feel to ride with it on your bike?

The additional weight of the device, your child and their bike is sure to affect how it feels to ride your bike. But you'll be pleasantly surprised by how stable the Follow Me is. This is all down to the attachment system that sits on the rear axle of the adult bike. With its low position, it reduces impacts over the centre of gravity and is quick to use.

Another benefit of this system is that, when the child bike is correctly balanced on the mount, it won't move at all. It'll stay wedged securely in place behind the towing bike and won't wobble around, no matter how far you ride. And if your little one decides to spin the pedals, you'll feel the benefit of their helping hand. Which can be very welcome on hills and when pushing off! 

What are the limits of the follow me? 

The Follow Me is an excellent towing device, but that's all it offers. Unlike a trailer, it doesn't have a cover to shelter your offspring from the rain, or a comfortable chair. Your child will be completely exposed to the elements and will have nothing else to sit on besides their own saddle.It's worth taking this into account if you're planning a long bike tour or when deciding how long each leg of your ride should be. 

Is the follow me compatible with all types of bike, including e-bikes and ones with a thru axle? 

The Follow Me is compatible with most bikes with 26- to 29-inch wheels. For certain models with a thru axle or bolt-on axle, you'll need an adapter. The same goes for bikes with an internally geared hub like the Nexus.

And what about e-bikes?
Most are compatible. On bikes with a hub motor, it'll be harder to adapt them, and might not actually be possible at all.

Watch out too, because certain kids' bike frames (with a down tube only, and no top tube) can make it impossible to install this system. 

Follow me, tag-alongs, tow bars: what are the differences? which is best?

There are several alternatives to the Follow Me out there, such as the Trail Gator tow bar. The bar is less expensive, but also has a reputation for being less reliable and less effective than the Follow Me. It's harder to install and adjust, and isn't quite as stable. Lots of users complain that, once the bike is attached, it ends up leaning to one side. So it's probably best to only use it occasionally. As for tag-alongs, they give kids a smaller field of view than the Follow Me. With just a single wheel at the back, these bikes can't be ridden independently of the towing bike. So, with these systems, your child can't ride their own bike at all. If you're going to be cycling regularly or going off-road, the Follow Me is the gold standard when it comes to towing systems. 

Cycling with kids thanks to the Follow Me

Case study: Delphine and martial go bike touring with 3 kids

"The follow me means that you know you can ride safely!"

Kids' names and ages: Marius (6), Armand (4), Ernest (18 months)
Routes: Lot Valley and 350 km loop in Gironde
Average daily distance: 50 km

Delphine and Martial have been going on holiday with their kids since 2017. Taking anywhere between several days and a month, they've cycled all sorts of classic routes across France: the Tour de Bourgogne, the Atlantic Coast Route, the Canal du Midi, and more. With the arrival of their third child, the couple needed to find a new way to carry on with their summer adventures with all of their little ones on board. So, as well as their usual two-seater trailer, the family got themselves a Follow Me.

-What led to you buying the follow me tandem? 

When Ernest arrived, we were looking for a way to carry on bike touring with three kids. Our two-seater trailer was no longer enough. The first year, we brought along a 16" bike and the two eldest would take turns to ride it and to sit in the trailer. But we'd slightly overestimated their abilities. They were still too young to ride even 20 km a day, as we'd thought. Trying to get to the campsites that we'd booked each night turned into a real slog for the whole family. Each time we had to go on a slightly busier road, we get really stressed out at the thought that one of them might veer too far the wrong way and get into real trouble. Basically, it wasn't very enjoyable. The year after that, we bought ourselves the Follow Me and everyone rediscovered their taste for touring.

-What problems have you solved with the follow me? 

With the Follow Me, we no longer have to worry about the kids being too exhausted for us to reach the campsite by nightfall. Fatigue and tiredness were no longer holding us back. Our planned schedule didn't slip, and our kids were perfectly able to keep up. It was a much less stressful experience for everyone. And the Follow Me also means that you know you can ride safely. You no longer have to worry about the kids accidentally veering off into the traffic. We're able to steer them in the right direction at all times. 

-How have the kids got on with this new towing system?

They loved it straight away. They really liked that they were still a proper part of the cycling group, but could stop pedalling whenever they fancied. To be honest, they rarely asked to be unhitched. In fact, it was only Marius, our eldest, who occasionally rode without being towed for about 4 or 5 km. Every couple of hours, the two eldest would swap places in the trailer so that one of them could rest completely. We managed to cover about 50 or so kilometres every day like this.

-How does it feel to ride your bike with the follow me on it?

It takes a little bit of getting used to. The weight of the device, paired with the weight of the child and their bike, obviously affected how it felt to ride your own bike. You really noticed even the slightest bit of uphill. And how the child behaves affect things as well. If they sit upright and pedal along with you at the right moment, it makes a world of difference. 

-How easy would you say the follow me is to use and mount?

It's not necessarily obvious how to first install it if, like us, you need an adapter. If you can, avoid constantly taking it off and putting it back on. Once it's in place, nothing moves. It's really quick to hook the child's bike up to it. And the Follow Me folds up really easily. You'll soon forget about how tricky it was to install once you see all of the opportunities it opens up to you. For us, it meant we could carry on touring with three kids and keep everybody happy!

Cycling with kids thanks to the Follow Me

Olivier Godin

A fan of cycling in all its forms. Particularly enjoys taking the scenic route. Has equally fond memories of the Great Divide, Paris-Cape Town and Scandinavia as he does of crossing the Pyrenees, cycling the Millevaches plateau and riding around Picardy! Loves a good climb, because it's a natural high - both figuratively and literally. Rides alone, as a couple and as a family. Endeavours to convey the call of the road in his books. Author of "A vélo, 50 itinéraires pour pédaler le nez au vent" published by Gallimard.

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