Monday, March 24, 2014

The Yepp Child Bike Seat and My New Ride

If you're here to read about the bike seat, you can skip some of my jabbering on about my bike and scroll down to the seat section. 

Recently I decided that even though we jog we need to be more active. The kids are finally at an age that we can do fun activities as a family and even get away with skipping those mid afternoon naps that really seem to take a chunk out of the day.  Not to mention, the Bean just learned to ride her bike without training wheels. I decided I wanted a bike. I mean I already had one but it didn't fit me quite right

This was the original set up
and honestly, I wanted one that was more me. I did a lot of research and ended up deciding a Trek Pure or Electra Townie. While, the reviews were mostly from women 50 and older who had some kind of knee issue or previous surgery, it just sounded like the bike I wanted. I started looking on craigslist, these bikes are between $4-500 new and I wasn't sure I was going to stick with this new hobby. 
Then I found this beauty, a pretty yellow Trek Pure, very slightly used (it still had those plastic protection stickers on all the "chrome" parts) It also had the cool basket and rack. I was sold! 

I first saw her and thought of popsicles and warm summer afternoons. My mind got a little nostalgic and slipped into that Kid Rock song "All Summer Long..."  
Splashing through the sand bar
talking by the campfire
Its the simple things in life, like when and where...
C'mon, I know it takes you back to your own summery thoughts, and you get warm fuzzies when you hear it too. Not to mention its the most comfortable bike I've ever sat on and it rides like a dream. Needless to say, This is how I see her: 

So I got her home (that's a story for a different day) and I knew I wasn't putting that plastic seat back on (remember the gray one from the first bike picture?) First of all, Eli already weighed 38 lbs and it only holds 40lbs (like most seats.) Second my new bike (she really needs a name, right?) was way too pretty and fun for your average seat. I know what you're thinking, spoiled much?  But really I sold my beloved BOB revolution, and a few other things so this purchase was really not a purchase, just an exchange.  
Anyway, when the kids were small we tried a bike trailer. It too was purchase on craigslist and it was a heavy awkward beast. There was no way I was going back to that.  I went to the bike store and looked at a few others...the cougar and the burley bee, but I still wasn't sold. I couldn't see us "hitting the trails" dragging a bike trailer and 80lbs of kids.  
Again I hit the inter-web to get some advice and read so many reviews on other options that I would no longer be capable of making any decision, this took about two weeks. I finally came across Two Wheeling Tots and contacted Natalie. She responded right away and said she totally "got it." Eli is too small for riding his own bike really and almost too big for the bike seats. Then there are those bike trailers that's like a tandem bike but the only one with an actual seat- WeeHoo (not a regular bike saddle) is like $400, I didn't even spend that on my bike and I couldn't find one used. So I had narrowed it down to the Yepp Maxi, the BoBike Maxi, (both up to 48lbs) or the BoBike Jr (up to 70lbs.) I thought with the Jr. we could see if Emma liked it and get one for her too. She just learned to ride without training wheels but a long ride would be too much for her. After discussing it with Natalie I decided to go with the Yepp Maxi and got a great sale on it from Chain Reaction Cycles with free shipping to the US and it arrived in like 5 days with just standard shipping. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was they only had 3 colors, I would have liked brown but I wasn't paying $100 more for it. 

YEPP Bike Seat
It was shipped completely together (except the mounting bracket, obviously) and came in a box that was not overly large (I feel like getting a big box with another box inside is a waste. Save the planet and all that right?) 

Important note: there are two small screws just lose in the box, which was really strange. You will need them! Everything else was in a baggie. 

The seat is made from material like the croc shoes.  It is really nice weight and we immediately thought "this is quality." The bracket is pretty heavy, which translates to sturdy in my opinion. It does come with a quick release bracket and a lock. I wasn't too sure about that when I was reading reviews. 

So we took it all outside to get started. Really, you just have the bracket, the seat and the baggie (which also contains the tools you will need, if you don't have some of your own that will work.) 

 Speaking of the quality, all the screws are greased when  you get them...

And the parts that connect to your bike have a nice rubberized piece to fit over them to prevent scratching your ride (and probably slipping.)  

Not sure if you are familiar with IKEA but the directions are kind of similar. A series of pictures and symbols. Its not really difficult though. First take off the saddle (you may need your own tools for this, mine was a quick release) 

but we ended up having to take the quick release clamp off too, just to adjust it - it fit fine in the end, you can see it here at the top of the seat post. I also ended up having to remove my fun rack but I can put it back on when the bike seat comes off.

 Then its off in this picture. Next you slide the bracket on and loosely fit the rubberized clamps on. This is not tightened down but we had to do the mock up.

For my bike, I had to slide the bracket as high as it would go so that when Eli's weight was in the seat, the bracket didn't rub the tire (see next picture.) Then we tightened it down

Make sure you have enough space above the tire for any give over bumps.

Next we attached the seat. This is where you will need those free floating screws from the box.  You pull the quick release part from the bracket and turn the seat upside down. Once you decide on the position you want your seat (how far from the rider) then secure it with the black screws. Slide it back on the bracket, you can lock it with the key if you want, and you're ready for a test drive. We adjusted ours as close to the rider as we could get. It offered more stability for the child seat on bumps. Eli is 38lbs and still has plenty of leg room. However, it may depend heavily on your bike and child's leg length. 

Gotta have that retro filter

How She Rides:
We have been using the seat for two weeks now. Eli loves it so far and seems really comfortable in it.I am hoping with the holes in the back he'll stay cool enough he'll still want to ride when it gets hot. We've taken several rides around our neighborhood allowing Emma to practice more on two wheels. I also take him to school on the bike and pick him up on the days that weather permits. He prefers the bike to the car.

Extra notes:
I would highly recommend getting yourself a double kickstand when you purchase your seat. I haven't added one yet but it would make things easier. That being said I can still get him in and out on my own. 

The harness:
The buckle is a little hard to use but its probably better, as its the only thing holding your child in.

Feet Safety:
I have no concern about little feet getting caught in the spokes or chain. The guard and straps are a great system. The straps are quickly and easily put on or taken off for mounting and dismounting. They can be left lose enough the child can still  move his feet around without slipping them out.

Easy mounting bracket and lock:
The quick release with lock is a great feature although we do not need it. Here in the Houston suburbs we mainly just go on rides then come home and park in the garage so I haven't needed to take it off or worry about it being taken. Its a feature I'm glad to have though and I could see it being really great for people who use bikes to get around. A second bracket and be ordered and the seat can be easily switched from one bike to another. For us car people its like having a second base in your husband's car for your infant carrier car seat.

Other Concerns:
When I ordered, I was a little concerned that it didn't have arms/sides or any kind of bar. My kids did not get an early start on bikes and I wasn't sure how well Eli would ride or how comfortable he would be. But that has been no problem at all. Its at a nice angle and the seat curves enough to keep him comfortably snug. he obviously feels safe and relaxed. He got on and never thought twice.

It would be wonderful if there were some kind of canopy you could add. I saw several people making mods to their seats with umbrella stroller canopies. This is not something I would hold against Yepp at all as I haven't seen but maybe one or two seats that come with one. It would just be a nice addition. It gets hot here in Texas summers!

I guess that pretty much sums it up. We decided to get Emma a tag a long style bike to hook to Chris'. Once we get them set up we're ready for some family biking adventures ("Singing Sweet Home Alabama All Summer Long".) I'll let you know how it goes! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It Finally Ices

After two separate days of schools being closed do to, well lets just be realistic and say "possible" ice...we finally had a true ice day.  Believe it or not, we had school too, though the roads were not actually icy. I still thought, "Really? Not even a late start? The last time they closed the whole day because it might ice (and it did not, at least not at my house,) this time I actually see the ice."  Not to mention there are trees down everywhere and three campuses are running on generators. But, I'm not meteorologist and I don't get to make the call.
Anyway, ice days in Houston are a rarity so I thought I'd snap a couple pictures because I wanted to play with my camera for documentation purposes...for the kids of course.
this is our neighbors tree, we don't actually have any in our yard

This next tree is our other neighbors. It was really cool all the little whirlybirds on it were windblown and froze like that. I'm hoping they all just fall of instead of take flight and land in our pool. 

You can't exactly see the icicles, but I like the goal post pics so I had to include them.  

Now for Houston, these are pretty big icicles. Don't laugh northerners!  

This is where I run. The big pipe thing is the top of a bridge. It just looked pretty all white.

We had to run to the post office...

Ice does so much damage. Unfortunately, there was probably at least one house on every street with similar looking yards. It was mostly the pine trees...

but, they were my favorite to see. The ice just looked pretty on them

Seasons are always tricky here in Houston. A few plants got confused and were a little early for spring

More pretty pine (I was sitting at a stop sign, safety first.) 

This is right to The Bean's school. It was awesome just all alone and covered in ice. 

So that's it folks, the great Katy ice storm of 2014. Stay warm!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Gerbils

As some of you may know Emma received gerbils for her birthday this year (hey, they're better than a cat - no offense to you cat people, we're not.) After going through several ridiculous names they settled on

"Chewy" :

aptly named

And Eli's is "Bubbles" (that was Penny's name when we got her and they never forgot it)

Bubble is much sweeter and more calm when you hold him but he hides a lot in the cage. Chewy is a spaz. Both kids say he's bitten them but he hasn't shown any inclination to bite me and I never saw any marks. When you hold him he is a mess, constantly on a mission to get down and explore. If he happens to get away from you he's hard to catch. 

Anyway we have to be super careful when we have "gerbil time" to have the dogs locked away.  We've got two terriers:

one of them being a rat terrier.
 As you can imagine they have a high prey drive around the little guys. We don't typically have the cage on the ground unless the door is shut and we are going to play with the gerbils. However, its pretty funny to watch and the gerbils, well Chewy, is surprisingly brave. 

very sneaky

is that the crazy eye or what

"I promise, I just want to see whats in the bowl...that's it."

All and all they are pretty entertaining. We like watching them and surprisingly I even like holding little Bubbles.