Kids Ride Shotgun Tow Rope NSMB AndrewM.JPG
REVIEW | PRODUCT RELEASE

Kids Ride Shotgun Tow Rope & Hip Pack

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Nov 25, 2020

Tow Rope Life

I was more than a bit trepidacious about trying the new Kids Ride Shotgun (KRS) Tow Rope. You see, I previously made one myself for free, out of two tubes salvaged from going tubeless on a test bike, a carabiner I had in a bin, and some string. My daughter hated it. She hated it so much that mid sh*t-fit, on the way to Bobsled, when given the parental ultimatum between being towed or pedaling herself, she paused, nodded, unhooked the tow rope, and rode off up the gravel climb - completely chill - leaving me to pack the thing away.

We certainly don't get up to Bobsled anywhere near as quickly as kids getting towed, especially compared to kids getting towed behind their parent's e-bikes, and if it was all about me I'd probably lament the workout I'm losing, and our range is reduced such that we end up riding the same trails again and again. But she's happy, I'm happy, and in the long run, I think there's a decent argument it's for the better.

Enter the KRS Tow Rope into our lives. It's WAY nicer than my freebie, which absolutely should not be surprising at 60 USD | 75 CAD. It's faster on and off and functionally having a solid interface at each end with a just-the-right-amount-of-stretch section in the center is much more predictable in use. Handling the TRS Tow Rope at home made me cautiously pessimistic that my six-year-old might really like it. It had the potential to change our riding experience and I'm usually batting .500 when it comes to whether changes are good or not.

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How the KRS Tow Rope actually looks when installed. You'll be getting a serious workout, or buying a motor.

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How the KRS Two Rope looks in your dreams when your progeny is bouncing off the walls and putting in pedaling on their behalf seems bonkers.

Whether the news is good or bad will depend on your perspective, but regardless... my kid's not a fan of this tow rope either. I've been told we won't be testing any more options in the future. Which I suppose is, in some way, vindicating of my earlier effort. I don't have an explanation. She loves commuting on our Burley Kazoo Trailer Bike so it's not just about being towed. Is it the big kids we see riding without getting a tow? Is it the whiny snits we've witnessed refusing to go 1cm further without getting towed? Your guess is as good as mine.

In my case, it's lucky that Kids Ride Shotgun shipped their tow rope with a Shred Til Bed themed kids hip pack. My daughter really enjoys Shred Til Bed, and really wanted the hip pack, so I bribed her to give the towing a solid second chance in exchange for keeping it. We shared a few minutes of can-barely-stand-laughter over the idea the hip pack is to be used for kids to carry their own rope. Transporting a tow rope, like tools and extra layers, is definitely a 'Papa Job.' As it turns out, this hip pack is perfect for packing sour gummy bears and spare gloves.

I was going to say that the waist straps seem way long for little kids who'd want the Shred Til Bed characters on their gear but kids do come in all shapes and sizes and they are easy enough to tuck or shorten. Given we've only used it riding near dark in the rain when there was almost no one else on the trails, I also can't speak to whether there's any adult appeal for this piece of kit. It does have waterproof zippers if you're big kid looking for justification to wear a hip pack with tiny mountain biking animal cartoons.

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The KRS 'Shred Til Bed' hip pack is available on its own or in a package with the tow rope. It's fun and appears to be of excellent quality.

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Apparently the idea is that your kid can carry around their own tow rope when not in use?! Yeah, I laughed until I cried too.

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My mini-mountain biker has decided it's for spare gloves and sour gummy bears. These Albanese Sour 12 Flavour Gummi Bears are the best we've tried.

Now, if you are going to buy a tow rope, I think you'll be hard-pressed to beat the KRS experience. Throw the loop over your saddle, then lasoo your wee one's stem, and now pedal off into the sunset. Yee-ha! The whole process, including removing and re-packing the tow rope in my pack, takes a few seconds, without rushing.

There are other options on the market that come from adventure racing - where mixed fitness or mechanicals may require some transfer of oompf-factor - that clip conveniently behind your seat and are certainly save seconds out on the trail. But they take significantly more time to install and remove completely, and are you really going to show up to a group ride - with your friends - with a retractable leash hard-mounted to your saddle? I know for the folks that I ride with, attaching me to trees or trying to hook themselves up for a tow would never, ever, get dull and repetitive.

If for whatever reason you do want to tow your full-sized friends, the Kids Ride Shotgun Tow Rope will do that for you without an issue. The system is rated for 500 lbs of load and when you're putting in the work it stretches out to about 10ft. I've been passed a couple of times this year by adults riding together with one on an e-bike while towing their friend on a prehistoric person-powered platform and if that's your jam this is a small investment in a very packable e-umibilical cord.

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The most secure way to attach the KRS Tow Rope to a child's bicycle. Photo: KRS.

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The way 99% of riders will attach the KRS Tow Rope to their child's bicycle.

My daughter's derision aside, Kids Ride Shotgun presents two key use cases for their tow rope, and tow ropes in general. First, some kids genuinely hate riding uphill. I've seen this with my own eyes on numerous occasions and know it to be true. If that's your kid and mountain biking vs. not mounting biking comes down to you putting in some extra pedaling, well - you need the workout anyway, right?

The second use case, which mirrors that for adults on e-bikes, is that you can go way further, way faster. I've long believed that we find trails when we're ready for them and that can come down to fitness or skillset. The fact my ripper-runt is discovering riding the same way I did, at a much younger age, is a happy accident. And yes, it can get a bit repetitive slow-pedaling up gravel roads or ratcheting up singletrack - which is why I put together my own tow rope in the first place - but patience is the most important trait for parenting and who doesn't need some practice?

Presented with the argument that the short days make getting in a ride after school very, very, tight for time, my imp intoned that we own lights and we've been night riding at least weekly since, so cancel the riding vs. not riding argument for a tow as well.

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Tow your full-sized friends, too. The Kids Ride Shotgun Tow Rope is rated for up to 500 lbs of load. Are your dropper post and saddle similarly rated? Sure...

The tow rope, hip pack, or a combo of the two is currently available directly from Kids Ride Shotgun, and will also be in your preferred local bike shop soon. On their own the 250-gram tow rope system is 60 USD | 75 CAD, the Shred Til Bed themed hip pack is 40 USD | 55 CAD, and the combination of the two is 90 USD | 120 CAD. If you're thinking combo, just don't fool yourself into believing your kid will be carrying their own tow rope. I tried that concept out on some kids in my daughter's class and won an award for best dad humour for the month of November.

Among my friends with kids the whole concept has sparked some interesting debates about when, and if, to tow, but like everything else when it comes to raising wee ones it's going to come down to what works best for your family. If your kids appreciate a tow, and it's within your budget, the quality of manufacturing is excellent and it's obvious that Kids Ride Shotgun knows their niche.

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Comments

mrbrett
+1 Andrew Major
mrbrett  - Nov. 25, 2020, 8:28 a.m.

"How the KRS Two Rope looks in your dreams when your progeny is bouncing off the walls and putting in pedaling on their behalf seems bonkers."

Ha!

We own a similar product that has since been relegated to gravel road duty - one too many times pulling my son into the apex of a switchback sealed its' fate on singletrack. I do threaten adult riding partners with it though - either that I need a tow, or they do if the complaints continue. So, worth the purchase for fire roads and comedic value?

Would buy the tow rope again but it definitely has its' limitations. I would actually think a kids e-bike holds more value in use.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+7 Zero-cool Mammal Lynx . Velocipedestrian Cr4w lewis collins twk
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 12:46 p.m.

Man, that’s a strong agree to disagree for me. Purposely went rigid fork on her 20” wheel bike for the weight savings because I expect her to push/lift her own bike up stuff she can’t ride.

Maybe I’m just a hard-ass - we ride/hike at night and in the pissing rain too - but I think there’s a lot of learning about life that happens on a mountain bike ride that isn’t happening - or isn’t happening to the same extent - once a motor is involved.

My bias is well documented of course.

Reply

Lynx
+2 Andrew Major danimaniac Neil Carnegie mrbrett
Lynx .  - Nov. 25, 2020, 3:19 p.m.

Whole heartidly agree with you Andrew, don't encourage your kid to be lazy at such a young age. Seems like you're doing a great job and service to your daughter raising her to be self sufficient and do for herself and not be lazy.
If you've got a kid(s) or new rider and you want to ride with them, but can't/don't want to slow down to their speed and want to give them a motor, maybe you shouldn't be riding with them then and should find someone who's willing to ride at the slower pace and encourage them along and build their fitness/strength.

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mrbrett
0
mrbrett  - Nov. 25, 2020, 4 p.m.

I'm not sure what the layout of your local trails are, Barbados, but where I live at least it's hard to link up a route without a fair bit of climbing. I wouldn't say a kid that's incapable of a lap here without some assist is being lazy.

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Lynx
+4 Cr4w Tremeer023 lewis collins twk
Lynx .  - Nov. 26, 2020, 4:11 a.m.

Yeah, sorry, I'm with Andrew on this one, giving them a push or using something to give them a tow where they still need top pedal, I'm OK with OR heaven forbid, just turning around when they say they're that tired and heading back down, I'm not OK with giving them a motor to be lazy. I'm a firm believer in ride what you earn and if you can't earn it, shouldn't be riding it, unless it's Rampage and in that case carry your own bike up.

When I started, all I could do was flat XC type rides because I didn't have the fitness or skill and so that's what I did, a crap load of "fire road" type rides with the occasional gully thrown in and lots of road in between linking stuff up. The more I rode and fitter I got, the further I could ride and then also up the hills for the downs. Now I am not lucky enough to live someplace like BC where there's loads of super sweet DHs and trails in general, so I made do with what I had, but honestly, what's so wrong in riding some good old fashioned XC and building a good fitness/strength base before you go start  "shredding".  

The problem I think is that way too many parents want to live vicariously through their kids and give  them what they didn't have, but teaching them to take short cuts to get what you want, doesn't serve them well down the road in life.

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mrbrett
0
mrbrett  - Nov. 25, 2020, 3:39 p.m.

That's fair. I'm thinking a bit of assist for the climbs might help him out, and whether it's a tow from me or an ebike I dont think I would differentiate. For a kids ebike 50 watts would be plenty. However the $4k entry price (for a Commencal for instance) and the fact that hes visibly growing taller daily are good reasons not to ebike at this point.

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AndrewMajor
+6 Lynx . Cr4w mrbrett Neil Carnegie lewis collins Chad K twk E-wok
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 4:48 p.m.

Again, my bias is pretty well documented. I can get on with the tow rope but I can’t begin to fathom putting a kid on an e~bike, at any income level.

I’ll say this - watching my daughter ride/hike-a-bike a ~6.5km mix of Bridal Path, Highschool Trail, and Stick-And-Stones on her 20” wheeled bike, rain or shine, day or dark, is truly humbling. I am amazed by her independence, resolve, and positive attitude.

And my track standing and start-from-stop-uphill moves have improved!

(Unluckily for her, she inherited my natural lack of athletic ability so she’s always going to have to put in all the work for any sport she wants to play)

When my friends ask, the only great piece of parenting advice I have to give is “go outside.” But I do also think that aside from patience it’s key to give them the opportunity to amaze you (and themselves).

If anyone is at all interested I’ve written a few pieces about it like Watching Them Fail, and If You Can Ride Through This, You Can Ride Through Anything. Just my experiences as one dad with one kid.

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sweaman2
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Sweaman2  - Nov. 26, 2020, 6:22 a.m.

Having not even ridden an adult e-bike I'm probably not best able to comment but I can't help but think that for a 50lb child trying to maneuver a 35lb? e-bike wouldn't be that much fun.  Even adults comment on how much heavier they feel and the increase in weight compared to body mass is a much smaller compared to small children.

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 30, 2020, 5:08 p.m.

It's a really good point. As it is, the bike-to-body ratio for kids vs adults is way out of proportion. You may agree that having them E-biking up is adding too much assist, but regardless, it's adding even more weight to a bike they're having trouble controlling on the way down.

Making kids' bikes lighter is the main goal, IMO. A tow on tough/long/multiple climbs makes sense, but when they're freewheeling and learning to handle a bike, something they can learn to push around a bit rather than simply being along for the ride on a motorized tank will make a big difference.

sweaman2
+1 Andrew Major
Sweaman2  - Nov. 25, 2020, 9:49 a.m.

We have the towee and my son (also 6) currently hates it despite using it happily at 5.  As far as I can discern it's the feeling of being slightly pulled off course and not being able to choose his own line.  I still carry it as a "you never know" option but my solution on fire roads is to get off and push both bikes whilst he walks.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Zero-cool
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 12:37 p.m.

I thought the same way but when it was suggested to me, by my six year old, that the space would better be used gummy bears because it was never getting used again... *shrugs*

Reply

DanL
+3 Andrew Major 4Runner1 Dogl0rd
DanL  - Nov. 25, 2020, 10:17 a.m.

Love the idea of the kids bumbag but no way in hell am I ever going to reveal that I could tow them somewhere haha

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 DanL
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 12:40 p.m.

Hahahaha. We see enough of them around that I never could have hidden their existence from her.

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supercollider
+2 Andrew Major E-wok
supercollider  - Nov. 25, 2020, 12:36 p.m.

I don't know why these are only being marketed for kids.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 12:38 p.m.

Hey! I included a bit about how they’re rated for your full-sized friends as well :-)

Reply

Dogl0rd
+2 Zero-cool Andrew Major
Dogl0rd  - Nov. 25, 2020, 1:25 p.m.

That kid has a sick stem!

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 25, 2020, 2:01 p.m.

It's a sick whip in general! Exactly the bike I envision when parent-friends are wondering if they should pull the trigger the latest plumbing-steel suspension kids bike from CanTire/Walmart.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Lynx .
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 2:53 p.m.

Early Rider makes great machines. This one was the first option on my short list that came up this summer (with the scarcity of everything bike) and I have zero regrets.

It’s bike #3 for the Chromag pedals so those are starting to amortize themselves out nicely.

The only upgrade I’m looking at right now is a bigger front tire. I think this fork will clear the 2.6” Crown Gem - just a matter of rim width.

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mrbrett
+1 Andrew Major
mrbrett  - Nov. 26, 2020, 11:51 a.m.

If it helps for tire fitment I am seeing an outside knob width of 62mm for a 2.6" Crown Gem on a 30mm (ETRTO) rim at a pressure of ~15 psi, which seems to work pretty well. Maybe 12 psi if it's a lot of small bumps (it's a rigid fork).

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 26, 2020, 3:15 p.m.

Yeah, I’m thinking like plus tires that the 30mm ID is key. Might be time to source/lace a rim!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 mrbrett Lynx . Poz
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2020, 2:51 p.m.

I feel like I need to note that my daughter spends a fair amount of time with me in our little storage space / laundry room / work shop working on bikes. The gold Ranger stem and green Wolf Tooth spacers were “found” not being used and who isn’t stoked by really nice bike parts? So... I let her put them on.

Reply

Poz
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .
Poz  - Nov. 25, 2020, 4:17 p.m.

I’ve got the towee for my kids. Most of the time my son isn’t into it but it works a treat when on a longer slog. We camped at Alice Lake this summer and rode up to Miki’s. I don’t think he would have made it without the added help. 

Single track turns suck. 

Interestingly these things are just a rebranded fall-protection lanyard. If you have a line on HSE equipment in construction they can serve the same purpose.

Reply

3pac6pac
+1 Andrew Major
PJ McConkey  - Nov. 25, 2020, 5 p.m.

I use 2 tubes tied together and my 5 yr old daughter has no problem with it, can definitely tell when she stops pedalling!!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 27, 2020, 2:41 p.m.

It’s so obvious when they get off the gas. Same with our trailer bike. Every once in a while things will get hard and just when I go to sneak a look back I’ll hear “I AM PEDALING!!!” and things will pick right up.

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Mikebragg
+3 Andrew Major Lynx . Pete Roggeman
Mike Bragg  - Nov. 26, 2020, 4:55 a.m.

My kids are 8 & 5 and we live in a similar location where you have to earn your descent. The thing that has made the biggest difference by far in both of their enjoyment of the whole ride ( not just the down), have been modifications to the drivetrain. My 5yo has a 20” spawn and we pulled off the stock chainring and replaced it with a NSB 28 tooth. This instantly allowed for about 80% more time actually riding and not having to push the bike up hills. Our 8yo has a 24” Norco with a Shimano drivetrain. I went rooting through my parts bins and came up with enough to convert it to a 1x10 XO and all it cost me was a new chain and shifter cable. He can be seen routinely cleaning sections of climbs that give grownups grief and totally beams with pride every time he cleans something new. Total investment was about $50, but it feels like a 500% improvement in experience for everyone involved!

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Lynx
+1 Andrew Major
Lynx .  - Nov. 26, 2020, 11:23 a.m.

I've got a few kids bikes in my fleet and it's amazing how even ones from good brands have such crap, heavy components on them - mainly cranks and forks. As Andrew did with his daughter, if you can't afford a sus fork $300>, then go rigid with big rubber.

Earlier this year I finally grabbed my sister in laws HT Raleigh and gave it a "spa day", dropped over 10lbs off the thing and it felt completely different when I was done. Mind you, none of my trail bikes weigh under 32lbs, not even my rigid :-D

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AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - Nov. 26, 2020, 3:20 p.m.

I don’t love the Box 8spd drivetrain on her bike. The clutch tension is a bit much to shift through sometimes (especially learning to shift). For kids bike spec I think MicroShift is where it’s at with the lighter action AND the ability to turn the clutch off.

Anyways, I got on that tangent because the 42t on the Box is great especially because for rolling terrain (and being six starting/stoping) her seat is quite low for pedaling. 

We’re still figuring out seat height. Little bumps for me are big step downs for her and the trails are littered with them so bike-body separation is key.

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UFO
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
UFO  - Nov. 26, 2020, 10:42 p.m.

I got our turning 7 in January girl a 20" Early rider this Spring, rigid with the 3 spd IGH and belt drive. It was a nice step up from the 16" Belter. When she first got on the 20, she appreciated the light weight (even compared to the 20" aluminum Liv I had bought previously), and also really liked the easy climbing gear. 

On longer flat rides this Summer though she did have problems finding a good gear to keep pace with her friends but not too high to tire herself out.

What's the point to all this... we have her seat set fairly high on the 20 and recently I tried her on an old hardtail with 24" wheels that I've been piecing together over the last 18 months, 28x42 is low enough for what we ride and she has more taller gear options too now. She rides it comfortably, but getting on and ejections are a bit sketchy. Next Spring will be primetime and graduating yet again to a real bike now  -- I'm so excited!

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AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - Nov. 27, 2020, 2:45 p.m.

Yeah, just watching the 20” wheels roll over stuff it’s hard not to be excited about the eventual jump to 24”.

I was actually looking at a 20” bike with a suspension fork the other day (used with a dead fork) and wondering if I could potentially mullet it with a rigid + 24”, keep ~ good  geo, and score the roll over benefits.

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Lynx
+1 Andrew Major
Lynx .  - Nov. 28, 2020, 4:26 a.m.

Ab-so-frikin-lutely :-) But, you'd want to use an actual rigid 20" fork to get the right A2C using a 24" wheel setup. Even if the HA slackens out a tad, still don't think it would be that bad, probably would help more than hinder.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 30, 2020, 5:13 p.m.

Will this be one of the first kids' mullet bikes?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2020, 9:55 p.m.

#HotForMullet

Just getting in early on all the trends.

Actually, as an aside, I was being questioned on the assertion that 29/27 mullets will dominate the enduro-bike market within the next couple years and did have to note that we've put the work in and NSMB.com was likely one of the first publications playing with the concept (Spring 2016) with the modified Cannondale Jekyll 2.

(What a stick...)

Kids bikes are just the next logical step!

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 30, 2020, 5:13 p.m.

Will this be one of the first kids' mullet bikes?

Reply

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