Since my eldest was able to ride his first pedal bike (Islabikes Cnoc 14), we’ve been using a Trail-Gator to attach his bikes to ours. For the most part, the Trail-Gator served its purpose and was reasonably cheap to buy. Though there’s a couple of issues I’ve had with it that I think are fundamental flaws and have made me look for alternatives.
- The receiver part that attaches to the child’s bike was damaging the head tube. This was mainly cosmetic, but there’s definite indentations on the head tube. This was after I’d wrapped inner tubes around the head tube to try to protect it.
- My eldest’s bike had a tendency to lean to one side. No matter how often I tweaked the position of the receiver on the bike, I wasn’t able to correct it for more than a few hours.
Around the time I started looking at alternatives and while we were away in The Netherlands, I noticed some people with what looked like an additional rack attached to their bikes, hanging behind the back wheel. Doing some research led me to the FollowMe Tandem.
Knowing we had an upcoming trip to The Netherlands booked, I decided to bite the bullet and buy one, hoping that it’d provide a more secure way of attaching my eldest’s bike. The FollowMe Tandem is available to buy from their website, though at the time it was cheaper on Amazon, so I bought it from there.
Initial impressions of the FollowMe Tandem is that it’s well built, solid, but heavy. Fitting the FollowMe Tandem is reasonably straightforward, though the instructions could be clearer and better translated.
Attaching to the adult bike is reasonably easy. As my rear wheel is quick release, it’s a case of removing the original skewer and replacing it with one with additional attachments. Once this is fitted, you can attach the FollowMe Tandem and thumb screws that secure it in place. You then attach the hook-up strap to secure the FollowMe Tandem in place when not in use.
You should be aware though there are limitations to what bikes the FollowMe Tandem can be fitted to. I had hoped to attach it to my Kona MinUte, but because of the location and size of the inbuilt pannier rack, it wasn’t possible. This was a bit of a disappointment and was probably something I should have checked beforehand. What it meant was my other half would need tow my eldest if I was riding my Kona MinUte.
Attaching to the child’s bike takes a little more effort as the down tube bracket is a bit fiddly to fit. While fitting, you need to cut the perforated metal strip to size. I only had a hacksaw at hand, so it took some time.
It’s worth mentioning that the standard FollowMe Tandem comes with a hub adaptor for the child’s bike with a bolt on axle. As my eldest’s bike has a quick release front wheel, it was necessary to order the adaptor for quick release hubs. I was almost caught out by this, but messaged the Amazon seller to change the order and they were happy to help. If your child’s bike has a quick release front wheel, make sure you order the Islabike version.
My other half and eldest took to the FollowMe Tandem instantly. Because it attaches to the adult bike on two points and to the child’s bike on three points, it’s much more stable than the Trail-Gator and there’s none of the leaning to one side. It also feels less cumbersome moving about than the Trail-Gator, as the attachment points of the two bikes are close together and there’s no bar getting in the way.
Attaching and detaching the child’s bike is quick and easy to do, much quicker than with the Trail-Gator. When not in use, you attach the hook-up strap to the FollowMe Tandem to secure it in place. This mostly works fine, though the FollowMe Tandem can get in the way in this position if you need to move your bike around on its back wheel.
Using the FollowMe Tandem on holiday
Having the FollowMe Tandem with us on our recent trip to The Netherlands meant we could cover much greater distances. This gave us much more opportunity to use the bikes instead of public transport or the car to get about, something I was very pleased about. The other big benefit is when riding on busy roads that don’t have decent segregated cycle paths (this happens even in The Netherlands), you can use the FollowMe Tandem knowing that your child is safely behind you.
The FollowMe Tandem is a quality, substantial product, if a little heavy. It’s relatively straightforward to fit, though it may not fit all bikes. In use, it’s easy to attach and detach to both the adult and child’s bike. Once attached, it feels sturdy and secure.
- Sturdy and well built
- Relatively easy to fit
- Easy to attach/detach
- Feels very stable and secure in use
- Quite heavy
- Relatively expensive, especially compared to the Trail-Gator
- Won’t fit all bikes, clearance issues
- Potential issues with the down tube bracket
After using the FollowMe Tandem for about six weeks, we had a little issue with it. While on the Trans Pennine Trail, my other half and eldest stopped, complaining that the FollowMe Tandem had started touching the floor. On closer inspection, I noticed that the down tube bracket had come loose and slipped off the velcro strap that it goes round.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t brought any spanners with us. So our eldest had to finish the ride under his own steam, with a helping hand on his shoulder from me. Not a disaster, but certainly inconvenient.
The next day when I went to refit the down tube bracket, I noticed there was some damage to the down tube, where the bracket must have been rubbing before we spotted it had worked loose. As you can imagine, I was rather disappointed to see this.
I’m not entirely sure how the down tube bracket worked loose, it was definitely tightened when I fitted it. Going forwards, I’ll be checking it regularly and ensure I don’t leave the house without a spanner.
We’ve not used the FollowMe Tandem recently, mainly as our eldest has reached the stage where he can cover quite a few miles without it. Though our youngest has just learned to ride a pedal bike, so I decided to set his bike up for the FollowMe Tandem.
Given the issue we had with the down tube bracket working loose. I decided to use an inner tube instead of the Velcro strap. Using an inner tube feels much more secure, so I’m hoping we won’t see a recurrence of the previous issue.
As our eldest’s bike had a quick release front wheel, I needed to order new adaptors for our youngest’s bike as it’s got a solid axle. This should have been easier than it was, as I didn’t know the diameter of the axle. I contacted the UK distributor for the FollowMe Tandem who didn’t know and I contacted Islabikes, who were helpful, but gave me the wrong information. In the end, I resorted to trying out different nuts to determine what size we needed.
As well as attaching a new child’s bike to the FollowMe Tandem, I’ve also attached it to my Gazelle Heavy Duty NL, so I’m able to tow our youngest instead of my other half. Fortunately, the rack on the Gazelle doesn’t interfere with the FollowMe Tandem, but with a 700c wheel, there isn’t quite enough clearance for the mudguard.
I don’t know yet whether this will be a problem or not, I’ll see how it is once we’ve been out a few times. It would be good if the FollowMe Tandem extended a bit further away from the wheel to accommodate mudguards.
Argh!! While fitting the FollowMe Tandem back onto the Frog 52, as our youngest has grown out of his Cnoc 14, I noticed the top of one of the bolts has sheared off. This is the bolt that connections the main part of the FollowMe Tandem with the extendable bar that attaches to the down tube of the child’s bike.
I’m not sure when exactly this happened. Fortunately, there appears to be enough of the bolt left for it to not to become completely detached and have caused an accident. But it is a worry though, given what could have happened.
I’m hoping I can source a replacement bolt from the UK distributor of FollowMe Tandem, so I can get it working again and back on the road. Now winter is finally leaving us, we’re about to start using the FollowMe Tandem a lot more.
Well, I’m pleased to say the UK distributor of the FollowMe Tandem were really quick at responding to my post in the Family Cycling UK Facebook group and to my email about the issue. Two days later, a new bolt arrived in the post, free of charge, and my FollowMe Tandem was back in action. Credit where it’s due, fantastic service.
The UK distributor has advised that all bolts on the FollowMe Tandem should be checked on a regular basis, as advised in the manual. I don’t remember seeing this myself, though it is quite a big manual and I was probably more concerned with getting the FollowMe Tandem fitted at the time.
So if you own a FollowMe Tandem, do make sure you regularly check the bolts.