Updated 9/29/07 This bike has really changed our lives. We love riding bikes and until we got this bike, our daughter (now nearly 5) was in some kind of kid-seat-trailer thing. Although we had good success with a number of kid-hauling solutions, as Maddie grew older (and heavier -- now she weighs 40 lbs), hauling her around on a bike had long-since lost its novelty.
In the spring of 2007, Liza and I had decided to get a tandem that Maddie could ride and grow into. We already owned a tandem that I had found for a good deal. The idea was to put a child stoker kit on the Burley tandem. As I investigated the child stoker solution, I ran into a couple problems. The first couple issues were that child stoker kits start at about $200 and there's a fair bit of fuss to get them installed. Neither of those issues are showstoppers. The killer was the length of the toptube on the Burley. Even with a hugely long extended seat-mounted stoker stem, Maddie was leaning forward to hang onto the swept back bars.
There are two tandems that I know of that can take a 3.5-foot-tall stoker. The Bike Friday Family Tandem, and the Co-Motion Periscope. The Co-Motion is a great looking bike and there is a local dealer here in town (2 Wheel Transit). The retail cost on the Periscope starts at around $2500. With lights, fenders, rack, touring package, drop bar swap -- we'd be in the neighborhood of $3000. I'm OK with spending that kind of money on this bike, assuming we rode it for 10 years. And if I had found one of these used for around $1500, I'd have bought one. But the Bike Friday Family Tandem starts at about 1/2 the retail cost and there is a comparatively huge used market of the Bike Fridays.
You can find used BF's on the BF Yak list, or like I did, just search Craigslist in Seattle and Portland. They pop up frequently. I spent $750 on ours. I dumped in another $400 or so on a generator lighting system, Tubus cargo rack, fenders and saddles. So all up, we're into the BF about $1200.
Looking back over the summer, we've gotten a great return already on that money. We ride it daily. Every week day we drop/pick up Maddie from pre-school. We travel downtown on the weekends; we've done bike camping; we've done trail riding. It's been a great bike. We'll continue to use the BF until Maddie can fit on the Burley.
Update Nov 2007