Bit rambling, but here we go!
How are you currently getting outside with your kids? What activities are you participating in?
Mostly short hikes and biking (balance bike/Shotgun seat/Burley trailer, paved and MTB trails), or free exploration/playgrounds. Winter is coming so we'll be giving skiing and sledding another shot this year, she wasn't too keen on them last season. We have done limited car camping so far.
What motivates you to go outside with your kids?
I suppose I could factor in that I'm cognizant that it helps with less screen time and other health and development benefits, etc, but it's mostly just that it's fun. It also is generally a "free" activity rather than something with an admission cost like a museum or a movie, though the cost of gear obfuscates that a bit.
What are some of the challenges to getting outside with your kids?
Time. Took a new job and its schedule does not mesh that great with my wife's such that just getting essential tasks like dinner and laundry feels like it takes up all we've got. Even if something is only 20-30 minutes away by car, that's the better part of an hour round trip just in travel let alone time spent at the destination, and that's enough to usually keep us only doing smaller things like the local playground where we can just walk out our door. Bigger trips like camping now of course require the coordination of taking days off of work for at least one of us.
Age. Kid is only 2 (almost 3) which really limits her stamina and interest span for when we do find longer chunks of time to do something. Much of this past year has also been shadowed by us potty training her: she's pretty good now but not perfect, and nothing derails plans quite like your toddler saying "poop" and then proceeding to not poop 10 times in a row but the stakes are too high to call her bluff. And of course either planning activities around toilet access or hauling around that much more portable gear and spare change of clothes to deal with any problems. We still believe in her capability and try to get out when we can and let her do some "risky play", but there's no question that it changes how you have to approach some things.
Size. She is large/tall for her age. Despite being nearly 3, she's in 4T/5T clothes, but their proportions change so much in these early years that the sleeve and pant lengths don't always match her waist and torso circumferences. It also means she is heavier for her age/development, so while some families could happily carry their kid on their backs until age 5, we're already nearing the weight limit of our Deuter Kid Comfort as well as her Burley. We haven't even used the Deuter this past summer because it feels too onerous for us adults to carry that much weight on our backs. At the same time it is still toddler clothing sizes and a lot of performance gear isn't even made this small, though that is improving as some boutique brands are moving to fill in the market space. In this way her size can also be a boon, since we'll be able to start accessing the post-toddler XS/S sizes pretty soon where that gear becomes more plentiful.
Money. We don't go too crazy on gear for her I feel, but we're not shy about spending for good choice pieces and that adds up. This includes things that aren't specifically for kids but add lots of convenience with kids, like our roof cargo box. So we need to be calculated and maybe plan out what to buy and when rather than just get everything we'd truly want. All of this balanced with decent gear for ourselves, other life expenses like new siding on the house, or now that I'm working, day care which is practically a second mortgage... What we spend on gear may be offset a bit by us spending less on "traditional" toys like LEGO, stuffed animals, etc.
Experience. Especially with skiing we're not exactly seasoned vets ourselves, so trying to manage our own skill while also figuring out how to teach her and let her participate safely can feel like a lot. But we're also not backpackers either, we keep to car camping and the convenience of creature comforts it brings, even before she was born. We've gotten by without much technical gear of our own.
What kinds of gear and clothing are your kids using? Is it more general purpose or specifically designed for an activity?
Summer is more general purpose, with her normal clothing. Most of her clothing is secondhand from the consignment store, though we do try to include a couple moisture managing activewear pieces as part of it if we can find any. Specific gear could include her bike helmet, knee pads, biking gloves. The bikes themselves must count I suppose, of which she has 4... two Stiders, one heavily modified, and two Prevelos, a premium kids brand (bikes is one place I splurge a bit). The previously mentioned Burley and Deuter carrier could be added in. She likes using our REI Trailbreak trekking poles as well, as they're actually a great length for her in the fully collapsed adult "storage" configuration. We do not have an actual sleeping bag for her yet, we just used a sherpa fleece blanket last trip which worked well even with a 40 °F night/morning. I'd be looking into a Camelbak MiniMULE or Osprey Moki hydration pack for her next year maybe. We do have a mini REI camp chair for around the fire ring. Our car camping tent is an REI Base Camp 6.
Winter we do have more gear to make the cold comfortable. We had Terramar base layers last year, we'll need some sort of good base layer again this year. Right now we've got a decent Columbia jacket for her, snowpants still need to find something for this year as last years are outgrown. We bought some high quality direct-to-consumer Shred Dog brand pieces but they are a bit large on her for now and will save those for next year or maybe late season. We have an Anon Define ski helmet/goggle combo to keep the noggin warm that we also use for biking. Small pogies for her bike bars. We do have a pair of skis and boots/bindings for her bought used at a swap, eyeing up the Roces IdeaUP adjustable boots for her next ones, if she takes to skiing. I would probably consider showshoes as well when she starts showing interest and when her feet are a big enough shoe size to fit what's available.
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I also work at a shop, so I had a look through our wholesaler's catalogs and that's where the real problem is, there just isn't many wheels available with your specs. Like, our shop couldn't even place a backorder right now if we wanted to with ETAs listed of December for us to even place an order, until you get into some expensive ones. So I'm guessing your LBS was just offering you the cheapest they can even find right now...
Wish I had better news for you, but looks like you're just gonna have to keep a look out with persistent searching.
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One other important piece of information needed is brake style: I'm assuming disc brake given the thru-axle but is it 6-bolt pattern or centerlock?
Also do you know the rim width? It should be marked on your old wheel with 622×W where W is the width in millimeters.
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Can't say I have personal experience with this exact one: https://www.fidlock-bike.com/en/produkt/tex-base-multi/
But their same system for mounting bottles on bikes is rock solid. It's mostly based around their own bottles with the magnets built in, but they do have a universal bit that uses BOA straps to attach any bottle (or whatever else you wanna hold) https://www.fidlock-bike.com/en/produkt/single-uni-connector/
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Joining the chorus of abandoning normal nap times. We haven't had much of issues overnight, though we do let her stay up later than normal. Our state parks where we usually camp have quiet hours after 10pm, and the rangers do patrol to enforce it, so no noisy neighbors. Currently 2.75 y.o. but we started car camping around 9 months.
I will say, obviously you know your kid's and your own personal abilities best, but I'm a firm believer that in general small children are a LOT more capable than we give them credit for, and it's definitely possible to backpack with them in some capacity depending on personality, gumption, and gear. https://www.instagram.com/chasing.sage/ took their kid on her first backpacking overnight in Rainier at about that age, for example. Another family I know from Alaska uses a Burley trailer with the hip attachment to haul their toddler+gear behind them (they're not just for bikes). Of course, my wife and I aren't really backpackers ourselves so I can't actually speak from personal experience.
It might limit your selection of trails to be less rugged, at a slower pace, or having one person carry the kid in a carrier pack while the other parent hauls the gear, but age certainly doesn't seem like a limiter. Maybe you'd be pleasantly surprised if you tried!
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Some hydration packs come with impact protectors in them, I know for sure some Camelbak models anyways. They're designed for protecting your back (and the hydration bladder somewhat) from if you were to fall off the bike onto rocks. Not exactly your intended use but could be close enough to work. Plus you get some extra water capacity, or the bladder is easily removed if you don't need it.
One thing to note though is that the protector does decrease airflow and can make your back extra sweaty, even more than a regular backpack already would (and hence the latest MTB trend towards hip/fanny packs and using other solutions like frame bags and straps to hold other gear). An option I've heard to combat the sweat is to partially fill the bladder and freeze it overnight so that you've got a cooling block of ice against your back, that doesn't melt too fast, AND keeps your water cold.
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As mentioned, it's going to depend on your exact bike.
But I just want to throw out there, if it's a mountain style bike, I'd also give a look at https://www.rei.com/product/190798/shotgun-child-bike-seat-and-handlebar-combo which puts the child in front of you rather than behind (but not over the bars like many front mounted seats).
more centered weight distribution for better handling
ability to be more interactive with the kid, talk with them while riding
makes the kid feel more engaged with the experience of riding instead of just being a passenger
lightweight, low profile, and quick to load and unload the kid, just lift them up!
gives them some sense of what it actually feels like to ride a bike as it leans in turns and goes over bumps, etc, if they haven't yet learned to ride themselves yet
no storage pockets or anything, its literally a saddle and footpegs
the child is not strapped in with a harness, they must be able to balance on the seat on their own (my own child does very well with this, and it kind of ties into the last two points in the "pros" list, depends on your own comfort level with it and where and how you're riding)
can force your knees out slightly while pedaling to clear the kid's butt
the seat and kid take up the area where you might traditionally stand over the bike if you have to put your foot down, say at a traffic light or something
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It's hard to add to what's already been said! We've done the pack-n-play in the 6-person tent (she's 2.5 yrs now, probably a little too big for that, but we haven't gone camping in a while and haven't had to figure out what we'll do next, kind of waiting for potty training to be better...) We also sort of threw expectations of naps/schedule/routine out the window. If your kids are older than toddlers, then I guess this doesn't help much, hah!
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First off a disclaimer, I work for a different bike store and not REI, but this probably holds true industry wide.
The 100-mi check is mostly a safety check, that nothing has come loose and that the shifting is still good. Generally if everything was tightened properly to torque to begin with, it should stay tight and we don't usually find serious issues during these checks (which at least for our shop is a free service for bikes purchased from us). Small adjustments to shifting is the most common action we take during these, as the act of using the bike normally instead of just in the repair stand can cause cable "stretch": nothing is actually stretching, but the cable housing ends may slightly shift and settle better into the stops on the frame that they sit in, which affects the tension on the cable.
Sometimes we come across little things like the tires are way underinflated and find out that they don't have a pump at home and didn't realize tires can lose a PSI per day. Or they've put their quick release skewer back in the wrong way on their front wheel after car transport. Got to remember that some of these things are catered to all folks, even those that are new to owning bikes. If you're a seasoned cyclist that knows how to tweak your shifting a little, and everything is working well with no unusual noises, you're probably okay.
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Gripshifts don't actually interface with the rest of the grip at all, so there should be no compatibility issues aside from having enough space on your bars. When grips are designed specifically for use with gripshifters, it mostly just means they are made in a shorter length just to keep the whole length of the two together from getting too wide. In fact, Ergon makes short versions of the two models you listed for exactly that purpose, but the regular size versions would work all the same.
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