Longtails: What should you pay attention to when choosing a longtail?

Stability:

The lower the center of gravity of the bike, the more stable the departure will be when loaded. Especially when the bicycle is used in urban traffic, this is an important point. After all, cycling in the city very often means stopping or slowing down and then accelerating again. Longtails with a smaller rear wheel size drive noticeably more stable when loaded.

Some longtails come with 2×20″ wheels (eg: Riese & Müller – MultiTinker, Bicicapace – Justlong, Tern – GSD), other manufacturers opt for a larger front wheel combined with a 20″ rear wheel (e.g. Bike43, Yuba – Spicy Curry). A larger front wheel has a greater inertia and is therefore less likely to deviate from its course when you cross an obstacle, e.g. a speed bump or a cobblestone road.

A second important element for the stability of the bike is the stiffness of the frame. Longtails are therefore heavy and sometimes have an atypical frame geometry. You don’t want the bike to feel ‘wobbly’ in a loaded state.

Brakes:

Of all the parts on a longtail, this is probably the most solicitated. The brakes must be paired to the typical load of the bicycle. A choice for a hydraulic braking system is certainly preferable. Given the importance of smaller wheels for the stability of the bike, we can also say that hydraulic rim brakes are less suitable. After all, the rims of the 20″ wheels would be heavily impacted by the rim brake given the small circumference. The hydraulic disc brake therefore is the best alternative.

Kickstand:

The kickstand is a typical part that you only realize how important it is when it is defective. A good kickstand offers stability and ease of use. Experience has taught us that the best kickstands have been developed by the manufacturer of the longtail itself. The stand is then perfectly integrated on the frame of the bike with the right length and a low tipping point. As a result, the leverage required to expand or collapse the standard is noticeably smaller than with standard solutions in the market.

Gear system:

Most longtail bikes are used in an urban environment where frequent stopping is the rule. In such an environment, there is much to be said for a hub gear. After all, the hub gear allows you to shift gears while standing still. In this way you can make the departure in a loaded state clearly lighter.

Since most longtail bikes today are equipped with a powerful mid-engine, it is important that the hub gear on the bike can handle the torque of the motor. Good examples are: Shimano Nexus 5, Enviolo Heavy Duty and Rohloff.

Midtail or rather longtail?:

To date, there is no official definition of a longtail bike. For consumers who are looking for a good alternative to transport their children by bicycle, it is useful to clarify the differences between the common variants. Many so-called longtail bicycles sold today do not deserve this designation. In many cases it’s more a midtail bike rather than a longtail.

At Velonaut we speak of a longtail when 2 child seats can easily be mounted on the back without creating a ‘conflict’ with the cyclist. In the so-called midtail bikes, the cyclist collides with his / her heels against the footrests of the first seat. This is clearly not pleasant cycling. In these scenarios we often see that parents opt too soon for a bench configuration on the back without child seats. However, child seats offer more support for small children.

On this matter I would like to refer to the recommendations of the VIAS Institute, Belgian knowledge centre on road safety and mobility (research report 2018-T-05):

Op een fiets mogen zoveel personen vervoerd worden als er zitplaatsen zijn. …
Voor het vervoer van kinderen gelden geen afwijkende voorschriften, maar het is aan te raden voor hen een aangepast zitje te voorzien.

As a parent, it is therefore useful to carefully evaluate the correct configuration of the bicycle to transport your offspring safely in the coming years. If you have 2 children who have outgrown the classic child seat, a midtail bike with bench configuration is certainly a valid alternative. If a child seat is still designated for one of the children (or both), a real longtail bike offers more possibilities.

Real longtail bikes cfr the definition of Velonaut: Bike43Bicicapace Justlong – Yuba Spicy CurryTern GSD

So-called midtail bikes cfr the definition of Velonaut: Riese & Müller MultiTinker – VeloE – Yuba Kombi E5 – Biciccapace Classicona  – Tern HSD

Thusday 09/05 Velonaut will be closed.