Help wanted choosing a bike to transport a toddler and commute with

Trying to find a suitable (new) bike for a friend with a 3yo he wants to be able to transport, as well as being able to use the bike as a daily work commuter.


  • child seat on rear rack
  • disc brakes (I say hydro)
  • Front rack/basket
  • Sensible gearing

I have been looking at the Jamis Coda Elite. It’s steel with a carbon fork, and I think it would be a suitable bike. However the Giant Cross City (alloy frame, carbon fork) is better equipped for the money IMO. Both have all the suitable braze ons for the front and rear racks and fenders.

Some questions:

  • Is alloy ok or should I really go for steel?
  • Rack mounted seat on the back the “best” option?
  • Any other things to be aware of for lugging kids around?

My gf is damn happy with her Liv Thrive Disc (equivalent-ish to cross city) but the main concern i have is the frame material.

Thanks for any perspectives!

No problems.

  1. IMO aluminium would be fine.
  2. For a 3yo I say yes, short of a long wheel based bike. (See Surly Big Dummy or Kona Ute.) Keep in mind there are some options that attach to your seat tube. (See Yepp.)
  3. They never say thanks. Whatever he gets make sure it comes on and off easily, unless he’s going to commute with it on, in that case it doesn’t really matter.

alloy very good sensations imo.

Uhhhh, thanks… Mostly!

When I asked myself this question I decided an old 26" MTB would be a good option. Longish wheelbase, fat tyres, a few braze-ons and the smaller wheels mean getting everything a bit lower - the kid seat, the centre of gravity, and standover.

What I didn’t factor in though was that carting a kid + commuting can involve a fair bit of baggage, and with them sitting on the back you’re not going to want a backpack. I find panniers too much of a faff, so went for a big front basket. This would be fine on a modern bike designed for a front rack, but the old MTBs typically have a tiny short headtube, long stem, and fairly high-trail geo, i.e. all the things you don’t want for a front load. My 1994 Stumpjumper was borderline unrideable with a load of groceries on the front. (It’s ok with a kid on the back and a light bag in the front though.)

So I’d say watch out for that trap. In my case I’m fixing it with some big high bars and Crust Clydesdale fork, but that could all be avoided if you start with a better modern bike.

Thanks etomato and Pete!

I think the simultaneous kids and cargo would be for relatively short trips, but the bike would be used as a several times/week commuter. Heavy commuting stuff can ride low on panniers with only a small bag up front perhaps, and he can live with the weight on those times he is carting his daughter!

Pete, that Orbea is really interesting. I’ll send it to him but suspect it won’t be up his alley. The idea of getting the weight down low is a good one I had considered, but never really thought about how it would be done.

In the end the Giant Cross City won out. He’s putting a Yepp seat on the back and seems to be happy with everything so far.