Bikes I have not ridden – Circe Helios tandem

I spotted one of these around the corner from where I work in London. That’s a long folding bike I thought, but it doesn’t fold. Then I did a double take. It’s got two seats;  a small wheeled tandem. But how small must the rider at the rear (the “stoker”) be? Then I realised, it’s set up for a child to ride. What a great idea.

Circe Helios family tandem

I should confess an aversion to small wheeled bikes. They’re great for children, but the look out of proportion for adults. [1] [2] [3] I’m not that taken with tandems either. Great for the driver, less fun for the stoker.

Tandems are difficult to store at almost twice the length of a normal bike. They also really need two of you to be on the bike. [4] Bike riding with young children can be tricky too: they don’t have the road sense or stamina for long rides. Bike seats are fine for infants, but older children get bored and don’t fit them. Tag-alongs are good, but kids grow out of them. But this bike makes a lot of sense. Not only does it solve the short comings of tandems but addresses the issues of cycling with children. In addition, there’s something very democratic about the design. It creates a level playing field for the adult rider and the child “stoker” at the back. But the best bit is you’ve got it for life.

 [1] My long-term suspicion of small wheeled bikes has been fuelled by Bromptons

  • I can’t respect a bike that looks better folded than assembled. There’s just something aesthetically wrong with that curved top tube.
  • There’s an air of smugness among their Inspector Gadget owners. I swear they’re more excited assembling and collapsing their machines than riding them.

 [2] I have to confess I weakened some time ago and made an impulse purchase of a tatty second-hand Moulton Mini. This is the classic “F” frame Moulton but with 12” wheels. I had dreams of restoring her (bease on an article I’d seen on Sheldon Brown’s website), but a shed clear out found her on eBay quicker than you can say “innovative suspension”

[3] I’m a big fan of the footnote ever since I read Nicholson Baker’s “The Mezzanine”

[4] An uncle of mine told me how he used to ride a tandem years ago giving lifts to mates coming back from the pub

  1. Kim said:

    There are a number of these being ridden around Edinburgh (sold by Laid Back Bikes, they are are very flexible offering a range of different options which make them good for family use. It can also be converted to a long tail cargo bike for the weekly shop.

    • I saw that they have a number of configurations – even with two child seats on the rear.

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