2015-06-24

FollowMe Tandem review based on three years of experience

The FollowMe Tandem is a bicycle towing accessory to connect a children's bike to an adult’s bike. The following short review is written based on two years of experience.
Image source http://family-cycling.com/voraussetzung-am-fahrrad/

We have used the 2013 model with adult bikes that have quick release axles and with four different Islabikes children's bikes (16” to 20” wheels). We have bought optional accessories to use quick release axles also for children’s bikes.

We have not used FollowMe daily but mostly on longer bicycle tours.

Pros

Makes it possible to do bicycle touring with children even after a child does not have energy for cycling on their own or when the road is not safe for children to bike their own. The tandem is stable even on speeds of 30-40 km/h. Probably ok even with higher speeds. The connect and release procedure is very quick.

Unlike some of the competition, like Trail-Gator, FollowMe allows use of racks, panniers and children’s seats. This was very important for us as our main goal was to do trips spanning multiple days with children.

Cons

Installation takes time and provided instructions don’t help much (in 2012, 2013). But once you got it, this is no longer a problem.

The problems are mostly minor. Most of these would be quite easy to fix -- and might have as my product is from 2013.

  • installation takes time
  • instructions (at least in 2012, 2013)
  • manufacturer site only in German, contains pictures of product versions no longer sold and seems to be the only source for product recall information. No major updates for ages.
  • one towing device can be used with one wheel size at a time. Even with very different kind of tires locking might not be perfect. Adjusting requires tools.
  • quality of finishing. Some metal parts get surface rust very easily but this does not seem to affect functionality.
  • near the documented weight limit a child’s movement can affect also adult’s bike quite a bit
  • only works on flat surfaces, does not work on bumpy forest paths
  • installation requires cutting of a metal band. Two bands were shipped in the box and more can be ordered.
  • weight

Summary

I'm not aware of any other product that solves this problem (week long bicycly touring with kids) in a such an elegant way.

Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts or found this useful, please leave a comment.

Some further reading:


Appendix: model versions

The most important difference seems to be the frame clamp for child’s bike. The manufacturer does not provide clear documentation of product versions, so here's my personal understanding:

-2012? all-metal model

This seems to be featured in most of the photos and videos on the web -- even on manufacturer’s site. Also most reviews refer to this model. We have used two of these


Pros:
  • works very well.
  • straight forward installation (apart from messy documentation)

Cons:
  • If not installed correctly, a loose connector may allow children's bike to disengage in extreme connectors. This has happened to me only once. In that case the bikes had been parked when they fell on their own. I had not adjusted the Follow Me for that particular tyre. Also my guess is that this would not have been possible if there would be have been rider's weight on top of the child's bike.

2013 mostly plastic model

These were originally delivered to us

Pros:
  • works quite ok if you manage to install it with first attempt
  • free swap to all-metal connector offered by the local importer
Cons:
  • after usage, removing this from children’s bike may require breaking the device. We had to use metal saw and pliers to remove. Absolute rubbish.

2014? model

No first-hand experience.
Possible photo of 2014 model, might not be the the version that was caused the product to be recalled. Image source: http://velounion-shop.de/install_4/followme/followme-kupplung-und-zubehoer/12/einricht-komplettset

Pros
  • went back to metal constructions
  • added a locking screw that should make it impossible for children’s bike to disengage

Cons
  • This product version was recalled. I'm not quite sure as the information available only in German on manufacturer’s site

2015? model

No first-hand experience. Possible picture
Image source: http://velounion-shop.de/install_4/followme/followme-kupplung-und-zubehoer/12/einricht-komplettset



Pros
  • 2014 improvements
  • Problems that led to product recall have been fixed?

Cons
  • ?

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