At the time of writing this article, the sun is shining outside. The winter is almost over and it is already getting warmer outdoors. I am really looking forward to preparing our bikes for the first days of spring and get everything ready for our first family bike tour of 2021. And I appreciate that you made it here to check out my FollowMe Tandem Review! Let’s see if we can get your questions answered, shall we?
What Is the FollowMe Tandem And Why This Review?
As parents of two little boys, it’s not always easy to get everyone on board when planning our next bike tour. Especially for Benni, our 5-year-old son, who really wants to ride his own bike already, it can be a tough challenge: He obviously cannot ride as fast as my wife and I can and doesn’t have the persistence yet to endure a 20-mile long ride all by himself.
That’s where our FollowMe Tandem Adapter comes into play, which is my pick of the day for this article.
Let’s talk about what it is, what it does, how it works, if it’s worth your hard-earned cash and, most, importantly, if it is a safe gadget for YOUR next family bike tour.
FollowMe Tandem Review: A Quick Product Overview
The FollowMe Tandem is a bike adapter invented by Swiss inventor Thomas Weiss. It allows parents to attach their kids’ bikes to the rear of their own bikes and then ride together with them. The major benefits of the system in my opinion are:
- You can plan much longer bike tours and can go faster with your kids attached to your own bike and riding “as a team” rather than riding slowly next to them.
- Having your kids attached to your bike when riding on a road next to cars is a much safer approach than if they were riding all by themselves.
- You can drive to a park or into the woods, for example, with the benefits lined out above and then simply and quickly detach your child’s bike so that he can ride it himself where it is safe. When you return home, simply reattach it and ride home “as one”.
I have purchased our FollowMe back in spring 2019 and we have been riding it a lot. Our son loves it and so do we! In this article, I want to share with you why that is!
Facts and Figures
Before we dive any deeper into the ins and outs of what makes the FollowMe such a great addition for any bike-loving parent, how it works, what you need to set it all up etc. let’s sum this introductory overview up by taking a look at a quick “fact sheet” of the FollowMe and a sneak peek at my final verdict:
- Product Name: FollowMe Tandem
- Product Type: Biking Accessory / Tandem Adapter
- Owners: Thomas Weiss (Inventor from Switzerland)
- Website: FollowMe on Amazon
- Compatibility: 90 / 100
- Safety: 95 / 100
- Weight: 70 / 100
- Installation: 65 / 200
- Maintenance: 80 / 100
- Fun Factor: 100 / 100
- Bang For Your Buck: 90 / 100
- Price: (Get the latest price on Amazon)
- Overall Rank: 85 / 100
Who FollowMe Is For?
If you are anything like me, you love riding your bike! Personally, I enjoy riding my E-mountain bike through the woods. But it doesn’t matter what kind of bike you ride: Be it a mountain bike or a street bike, be it an e-bike or an ordinary “bio bike”, be it sportive or casual.
If you enjoy biking and have kids aged between 3 and (probably 12, I guess), then FollowMe is for you!
FollowMe allows you to enjoy your favorite hobby with the entire family, without any limitations or making compromises: If it wasn’t for our FollowMe, then our bike tours would probably not even exceed a distance of 5 miles and I couldn’t go any faster than 5 mph, simply because our 5-year-old’s stamina doesn’t allow for more. Also, his bike doesn’t have a transmission and thus his speed is limited by how fast he can pedal…
Overall, bike tours wouldn’t have as fun! And they are much safer because I have full control over where my son can go when driving in road traffic. And finally, whenever my son wants to, I can simply detach his bike and he can ride all by himself.
If these benefits sound like something you personally consider to be important, I highly suggest you give this review a thorough read: A FollowMe tandem may be exactly what you are looking for!
FollowMe Compatibility: Does It Work With Our Bikes?
Good question! And one I get all the time from other parents who ask me about our FollowMe on our weekend bike tours (which happens pretty often, more on that later).
The answer is: Yes! Well, at least with a 99.9% certainty.
The Parent’s Bike
If your bike’s rear-wheel has a standard quick-release axle installed, you are definitely good to go with what you get in the FollowMe retail box. You simply replace your stock axle with the one that comes with your new FollowMe and that’s it!
If your bike has a different axle (like a through-axle or solid spindle, for example), then you’ll have to purchase a corresponding adapter.
What About E-Bikes?
It works, just like it works with a normal bike. Again, if your bike has a normal quick-release axle you are fine with what you get when you order your FollowMe “starter set”.
My Cube E-Bike, on the other hand, came with a thru-axle installed, and thus I had to order a special thru-axle adapter.
Other than that, there is nothing “special” about how to install a FollowMe Tandem on an e-bike or an average “bio-bike”.
The Kid’s Bike
The kid’s bike, ideally, has a “regular” axle on the front wheel that is held in place by regular nuts as you will need to install an axle extension and the once included with the base package will fit this kind of setup.
If your kid’s bike has a different kind of axle on the front wheel then you want to purchase either the quick release axle extension or the hollow-axle extension as add-on parts.
Your kid’s bike wheels shouldn’t be smaller than 12″ or larger than 20″.
Other than that, you want to make sure that your kid’s bike is equipped with the average standard down tube.
What’s In The Box?
The FollowMe “starter set” comes with everything you need to fit your “average bikes” as described above. Included are three main components:
Component #1: The FollowMe Frame
The FollowMe frame is the heart and soul of the entire package. It is the actual component that connects the parent’s bike with the kid’s bike and is, to be honest, quite a genius construction.
It may look a bit bulky when you see it for the very first time, and it’s quite heavy. But if you think about it, it is rather a feature than a “bug”: The FollowMe frame is very sturdy and the way it is designed, provides a really secure and stable connection between your own and your kid’s bike.
Riding a tandem like this creates tons of lateral forces and moments on each component involved, and the “bulkiness” of the design allows for a very rigid connection between the two bikes.
Component #2: “Parent’s Bike”-Kit
The parent’s bike has to be fitted with two parts:
First, there is the axle adapter that is needed to connect the frame two the rear axle of your bike. As pointed out above, the included adapter works with any kind of quick-release axle, which most modern bikes are equipped with these days. Special adapters are available and sold separately if your bike does not feature a quick-release axle.
Secondly, there is a little strap and spring hook included that you may want to run through your saddle. It allows you to securely store your folded FollowMe frame when your kid wants to ride her bike by herself.
Component #3: “Kid’s Bike”-Kit
Just like the parent’s bike fitting kit, the kid’s bike kit has two pieces:
First, there is the front-axle extension for “regular” axles. All you need to do here is replace the stock nuts with the two extensions included.
Sidenote: My suggestion would be to use some blue Locktite 243 with the axle extension, just to make sure that it has not the slightest chance to come off by accident. I noticed once how it got loose (luckily early enough before an accident could happen) and it certainly scared the hell out of me.
Secondly, there’s the frame fitting kit, which needs to be installed on the down tube. This process is a bit fiddly, but once it’s done, it holds surprisingly well. We’re using our FollowMe for almost two years now and it never moved even one millimeter!
FollowMe Setup: Can You Do It Yourself?
Installing the FollowMe tandem to your own and your kid’s bike is pretty straightforward and anyone who isn’t totally incapable of holding a wrench without doing harm to himself should be able to do it!
So that’s a 99.9%-YES! At least try it. It is fun, and if you actually happen to encounter any problems, you can still visit your local bike shop and ask for help…
It will probably take you between 1 and 2 hours. Depending on your skills and experience with bike repair and maintenance, though, your mileage may vary.
- How Long Does It Take? Between 1 and 2 hours
- Is It Hard? No
- Can I Do It Myself? No
- What Tools Do I Need? Wrenches and screwdrivers, a knife, ideally sheet shears
I’m not going to give you an in-depth installation guide here, as the installation instructions are written and illustrated quite well and there are tons of video guides available on YouTube, like this one here:
However, I would like to give you a brief idea of what it is like, what skills and tools you will need and what to look out for from my own experience. Let’s dive into it…
Step 1: Prepare Your Own Bike
The first step is to prepare your own bike. The main challenge here isn’t the actual execution, but rather to figure out if you need a specialized adapter other than the quick-release axle adapter that comes with the FollowMe itself, ideally well in advance.
If you have a quick-release axle, then you can simply replace it with the one that is included. If you have a thru-axle or a fixed spindle, on the other hand, you want to make sure that you have the right adapter at hand.
Install it and also attach the included strap for storing the folded FollowMe to your saddle.
Step 2: Prepare Your Kid’s Bike
Next, install the axle extensions to your kid’s bike. Again, if your kid’s bike has the average front axle that is held in place by nuts, you should be good with what comes in the “base package”.
If not, just like mentioned above, make sure to order the appropriate adapter well in advance.
Next, install the fitting kit to the down tube of the frame. Make sure to place the velcro under the perforated sheet to protect the frame and give it a snug fit. Don’t tighten it up all the way, yet, as you will need to do some adjustments in the next steps…
Step 3: Hook ‘Em Up
Now it is time to install the frame on both the parent’s and the kid’s bike.
Set the FollowMe adapter up for your kid’s bike’s wheel size by adjusting the slider until the axle extensions fits right into the appropriate intakes while at the same time pressing the tire against the plate at the front of the FollowMe.
Step 4: Make Adjustments
You’re almost done. Let’s add some finishing touches by sliding the kid’s fitting kit on the down tube up and down until the front wheel of your kid’s bike is about 3 inches above the ground. Tighten up the screws so that the fitting kit can no longer be moved back or forth.
Step 5: Have Fun
Now give everything a final check and tighten up all screws. Add some Locktite where you deem appropriate to give everything an extra layer of safety!
That’s it. Have fun! Give the entire setup a test ride, preferably just by yourself for the very first time, and then invite your kid to join you and enjoy the wild ride!
It’s fun!!! Embrace it!
Riding The FollowMe
Riding the FollowMe is a real joy! It’s super fun and it allows you to share your excitement for biking with the entire family. But what does it feel like?
How Does It Feel? Is It “Harder”?
Riding your bike with the FollowMe and your kid attached in “tandem mode” isn’t harder than riding a bike all by yourself.
In the beginning, you may want to instruct your kid not to pedal but sit there relatively still so that you can get used to what it feels like. Alternatively and for your very first ride, you may also want to consider riding it all by yourself with just your kid’s bike attached, but without your child. Just so you feel comfortable with it. This won’t take more than 5 minutes. You’ll notice how it is pretty much the same as just riding your bike as you did before!
Can My Kid Pedal On His Or Her Bike?
Yes! When your kid gets active and starts moving on his bike or help you by pedaling together with you, you may notice a bit of that movement interfering with your riding, but for me, it never was a problem. Just make sure you communicate well and tell your kid when to move and when to stop.
Having your kid sitting on his bike and actually pedaling is even helpful, especially when riding uphill! It’s a real tandem after all, and your kid can even push you by paddling together with you.
Is It Safe?
The FollowMe certainly is the safest tandem adapter that I could find on the market. And I mean that by looking at safety from two perspectives:
Safety From A Technical Perspective
From a technical viewpoint, the FollowMe is a very stable and sturdy device. It really interconnects your own and your kid’s bike in a very stable manner.
Many other towbars available on the market bear the risk that your own bike and your kid’s bike can tilt in opposite directions and thus cause a crash very easily. The FollowMe eliminates that risk by being installed to both the parent’s bike rear axle and the kid’s bike front axle, not allowing them to tilt or bent in any way.
At the end of the day, the FollowMe’s safety obviously depends on whether you have installed and set up everything the way it is supposed to be: Have you tightened all screws properly? With that in mind, I would like, once more, to put emphasis on my suggestion to use Locktite with every screw you touch in the process of installing the FollowMe, especially with the kid’s bike front axle extensions. I had them come loose once! I luckily noticed it before a crash could happen! After I used some Locktite, that never happened again.
Safety From A Traffic Perspective
Next, I love the fact that I can safely navigate and ride on roads with my son being attached to my bike. That way I have full control of where he goes and I can look after him without being afraid that he might drive his bike into the traffic.
We can ride long distances to any destination that we want to go to. When we reach a forest, for example, where there is no traffic present, I can simply detach him in a matter of seconds and he can then safely ride by himself!
That is pretty awesome!
“King Of The Hill”: Other Parents’ Reactions
Finally, I want to bring something to your attention that may or may not be important to you. I never really thought about how much enjoyment this would bring to me, but it somehow did:
Other parents’ reactions are a pure joy 🙂 If you ever wanted to be seen as the coolest mom or dad on the plant, then here is your chance to get that feeling.
That may sound a bit weird and it feels a little embarrassing to say it, but… It’s honestly pretty amazing and tons of fun. When Benni and I ride the FollowMe, we are “King of the Hill”! We’re Rockstars, baby!!!
We’ll regularly pass by pedestrians or other biking families. And almost every time I see someone smile and say something like: “That’s amazing! I want that too!!!” or “Did you see that? If we were to buy that, we could finally go mountain biking as a family!” or something along those lines…
The FollowMe really makes you stand out. If that is somewhat important to you, here’s your ticket! And if it’s not: You’ll probably enjoy it anyway… 🙂
FAQ And Questions I Had Before I Bought Our FollowMe
To wrap this review up, I would like to jump on answering some questions that I get quite often from other parents or that I had before I purchased our FollowMe and couldn’t find any answers to before figuring it out all by myself. Let’s go…
I Am A Mountain Biker. Can I Ride Trails With The FollowMe And My Kids?
Yes! At least to some degree. But here’s a disclaimer: The FollowMe is designed for roads, not for trails! Everything you do is at your own risk, obviously.
I managed to ride some simple single trails together with my son and our FollowMe. However, your ground clearance is very low due to the nature of the FollowMe and the smaller size of your kid’s bike! Bear that in mind. Trunks that you would usually take by just riding over them can turn into a real obstacle now!
Also, make sure that your kid wears sunglasses at all times, because everything that you throw in the air with your tires may potentially hit your kid in the face (that is true when riding on roads as well).
Be careful and don’t push it too hard.
Okay! Now I’m Scared! How Can I Protect My Kid From Dirt Flying From My Rear Wheel?
Okay… First of all: Don’t be scared! You’ll be fine 🙂
First of all, there is already a dirt shield included at the rear of the FollowMe.
If you want to up your game to the next level and add an extra layer of protection, you can simply install an additional MudGuard. That’s what I did when we went mountain biking to Bavaria last summer. I was expecting a lot of rain and mud, hence I modified, or better yet extended the dirt shield a bit:
MudGuards are cheap and easy to install. Simply purchase a two-pack from Amazon, which will leave you with one for your own front wheel and one for your FollowMe to protect your kid!
Can I Remove The FollowMe Tandem When I Want To Ride Alone?
Yes. You can remove everything in a matter of just seconds and without any tools.
All you need to do is remove the two screws from either end of your rear axle adapter, pull out the splints and take the FollowMe frame off. All that remains is the modified axle itself.
(Video coming soon…)
Sometimes My Wife Rides As Well. Do I Need A Separate FollowMe For Her Bike?
You do not need to purchase another FollowMe, but you want to make sure that you have a second rear axle adapter to install on your wife’s bike. Now you can simply swap the FollowMe between the two bikes in just a few seconds as described above.
What About Tow Bars? They Are Much Cheaper!
That’s true! But they are also really dangerous and cannot compete with the stability and rigidity that a FollowMe tandem provides.
I have seen people riding with tow bars where the parent’s bike would tilt to the left and the kid’s bike tilt to the right at the same time! That is really dangerous.
Also, tow bars will be attached to your saddle stem. That induces quite a lot of stress on your bike’s frame!!! The FollowMe, on the other hand, is mounted right to your rear axle, where the frame is designed to handle all forces coming from your rear tire; and it can easily handle that additional stress that comes from your FollowMe tandem.
Avoid cheap tow bars! They are not worth it and they are really, really dangerous!!!
The Good & The Bad Of The FollowMe Tandem
To sum this up, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a FollowMe so you can decide for yourself if it worth the investment.
- Your kid can ride and bring his own bike…
- … and swap between being towed and riding by himself in just seconds.
- The FollowMe frame and how it is installed are rigid and very safe.
- It enables you to enjoy longer bike tours as a family…
- … at a much higher speed than if your kids would ride all by themselves.
- It allows for safe travel on roads with car traffic.
- Even if that may sound a bit cocky: It’s just cool, and other parent’s reactions just add that “cool dad” flavor 🙂
- It is certainly pricey
- The FollowMe Tandem is a bit bulky and heavy.
My Final Opinion Of The FollowMe Tandem
Wow, that was an extensive review! But then again the FollowMe Tandem is not something that you can explain in just a couple of minutes. It’s a pretty complex invention, and if you want to grasp all the ins and outs and do it justice, it just needs some time to explain everything. But then again: That’s probably what you came for, right?
To wrap this up, I’ll tell you what I tell everyone who asks me about our FollowMe: Give it a shot! If you’re considering it already, you won’t regret it. It’s a delight, and I am incredibly happy that I purchased it back in 2019 and didn’t fall for some crappy tow bar alternative! Go for it!!!
I hope I was able to give you an idea of
- what the FollowMe tandem is,
- how it works,
- if your bikes are ready for it,
- and if you can feel comfortable installing it by yourself.
If you have any further questions or would like to add something, please let me know in the comments below or reach out to me via email. Maybe I missed something that is important to you!?
Also, if you purchased a FollowMe, please let me know how you like it! How do other parents react to you??? How did it improve your family bike tours?
I wish you all the best and tons of fun cycling with your kids! You won’t regret it!
P.S.: If you know anyone who you think would enjoy reading this review, then please kindly share it with them. As always: Sharing is caring! 🙂
Bang For Your Buck9.0/10
- Kids can ride their OWN bikes
- Swap between self-riding and towing in seconds
- Very safe
- Allows for longer tours...
- ... at higher speeds
- Safe even in car traffic
- Has that "Cool Dad" flavor