Whether you’re a commuter, a weekend warrior or both, here’s a guide to buying the right bikes and cycling gear for your family. Want to get the best bike for your needs? Make sure you go to a specialty bike shop, rather than a big-box store. You’ll likely be supporting a local small business, and you’ll have the support of professionally trained staff. “Beyond the initial selection and purchase, if you run into any issues and need a repair, your local certified bike shop will be able properly diagnose the issue, get you the right parts and service the product,” says Adam Berg of Richard’s Bicycles in Palos Heights.
Here are some of our favorite bikes and gear, plus the best snacks for keeping that energy up during a long ride.
A bike for fitness and more
Built for speed and comfort, the Trek FX series is a line of urban road bikes great for a workout, commute to work, or if you just want to ride up to a coffee shop. (Starting at $379, Richard’s Bicycles)
An all-in-one bike
The Raleigh Alysa 4 (pictured above) for women and Raleigh 2017 Redux 3 for men are ready for all of your adventures, from getting to and from work to going for weekend rides with your family. Traveling over train tracks, curbs or grates? No problem! These bikes can handle it all. (Starting at $899.99, Raleigh)
A perfect commuter bike
You’re doing your part to keep cars off the road and the air clean. But putting in work before even getting to work can mean you’re arriving sweaty and tired. Enter ebikes, with electric assist to help you power along. If money is no object, it’s tough to beat the XDURO Trekking 4.0 (pictured above) from German Haibike, widely considered the gold-standard ebike manufacturer ($4,399.99, Kozy’s Cyclery). At a lower price point, we love the retro-chic Raleigh Superbe iE (pictured below, $1,699.99, Richard’s Bicycles).
A trailer for the kids
Until the kids can ride on their own, you’ll be their chauffeur. Transport them safely with a trailer. We love the Thule Chariot Lite 2-Child Multisport Trailer (pictured above, $799.95) and the Burley Honey Bee Bike Trailer (pictured at the top of this article, $399), which can both seat one or two children and can convert from a bike trailer to a stroller.
A bike seat
Thule makes child bike seats you can attach to both the front and the back of a bike, which is especially helpful if you’ve got two kids in tow. The Thule Yepp Maxi is a smart and functional bike seat that’s shock-absorbing and comes in fun colors. ($199.95, Thule)
Once you’ve got great bikes and gear, you’ll want to go places. You’ll need a good transport system to get from point A to point B. But how you do just that can vary based on how many bikes you’re transporting and what type of vehicle you have. Thule has an awesome “fit my car” feature on its website to help you determine which bike racks, cargo carriers and roof racks are your best bet.
Rent a bike
No bike? No problem. Chicago’s bike-share program Divvy has 5,800 bikes and can loan you one. Here’s how it works: You can become an annual member ($99 a year) or buy a 24-hour pass ($9.99) from a Divvy station kiosk or Transit App. Altogether, there are 580 bike-dispensing stations across the city. Learn more.
You don’t want any crashes — energy included. Here are three registered-dietitian-approved snacks to pack on your bike from Christy Brissette, owner of 80 Twenty Nutrition.
During your bike ride, you need quick energy from carbohydrates that your muscles can use right away. “Plus, you want to keep your blood sugar levels stable to avoid the dreaded energy crash.” Carbs are great for a long ride, defined as anything over an hour, she says. An ideal energy bar has dried fruit, like raisins, some rolled oats and banana. “You want this bar to be lower in fiber and fat, so it doesn’t sit in your stomach,” Brissette says.
The bread and jelly give you quick carbs to fuel your ride, and the peanut butter or almond butter gives you a bit of protein and fat for more sustained energy, she says.
Raisins, prunes and dried apricots are packed with potassium to replace losses from sweat, Brissette says. Salted nuts and seeds replace sodium. “Plus, you’re getting quick sugars from the fruit and slower-burning energy from protein and fat thanks to the nuts and seeds,” she says. We love Niloofar Persian Trail Mix, created by Winnetka native Niloo Mirani. ($11 for an 8-ounce bag, Niloofar)