Overview

We are here for the sole purpose of promoting family cycling and finding a way to get these vehicles into your hands as affordably as possible. The best vehicles come from the Netherlands, also known as Holland. Their culture produces more bikes than people. Half their land is under the ocean but held up by dikes. Their engineers are some of the brightest the world has ever known.

Getting the best family cycles to you is not easy. They must be shipped by sea. One ocean container can hold 20 Quattrocycles. It costs the same to ship one as it does to ship twenty. Then they must be built by a trained technician. Ultimately they will be packed properly before being shipped by truck to your door.

We try to stock Quattrocycles for immediate shipment but it is not always possible. If we are out of inventory we will coordinate at least 5 pre-orders before sending a fresh ocean shipment from Holland. By ordering in "bulk" direct from the manufacturer, You save money while getting the latest and greatest the Netherlands has to offer.

About Us

My name is Aaron Rosenzweig. My wife and I are avid bikers in Maryland. Now that we have children, we want to share the excitement of cycling with them safely and efficiently.

Unhappy with cycling choices readily available we took the next step. We brought the Quattrocycle out of Europe. Read on to learn why we did this and what makes the Quattrocycle king of the road!

Common Family Cycling Pitfalls

Cycling can and should be part of our daily lives. I bike to work everyday and my wife bikes to purchase groceries while our children are in school. We'd love to be able to bike our children to school and run errands with them. The common options are not acceptable to us.

A "child trailer" is really just a box on wheels. It is not that fun for the child and when they get to grade school they will have outgrown it. The "box on wheels" is also not that safe in busy urban traffic. A common brand is inSTEP. A better brand is Chariot and their side carrier.

Placing a "child seat" on the back of a standard bicycle is not much better. Yes the child can talk with you and they can see more but they are very high in the air. Should you fall your young child will take a terrible tumble. I can't tell you how many children brake bones or worse this way. A well known brand is Bobike.

A "tow bar" is a one or two wheel cycle that is attached to the back of a standard bicycle by means of a bar. This is perhaps the most dangerous idea of all. In theory the child helps you bicycle and is always "right behind you". The problem is that now the child is free to either simply fall off their bicycle or swerve to pull you both down or, even worse, weave into traffic. A well known brand is Adams Trail-a-Bike.

Once a child is in the first or second grade you could get them their own bicycle. I would not trust them to bike on their own. Nor would I trust them to bike with me on roads. Even a child that listens well can loose balance or their mind could wander. You just can't take that chance on the open road.

What Is A "Family Cycle" or an LEV (Life Enhancing Vehicle)?

A four wheeled human powered vehicle is the most fun you can have cycling. It is also a real conversation piece.

In America you may find family bikes in a vacation setting like a boardwalk. Here is a photo of our family riding a family bike in Chicago. This style is called a "Surrey". We had a great deal of fun that day because we could all chat and be relaxed. We didn't have to be constantly vigilant on our children because we knew where they were at all times. We could even eat while we toured the city at our own pace.

The "Surrey" has some major drawbacks. All the ones you can find in a vacation setting only have one gear. That makes it hard to go up anything other than level ground. This is easily rectified if you were to purchase one for personal use. The bigger problems are seating. The seats are not at a good angle for biking. Even worse, the heights of the seats can't be adjusted so there is no chance for your legs to be in the right position for optimum biking pleasure.

Family Cycling Solution

For a family bike to be fun and useful it needs to be an LEV (Life Enhancing Vehicle). That requires …

minimum specs:

  1. Seating for four (more is better).
  2. Four people can pedal. Those with pedals that are not pedaling can "free wheel" (otherwise they will be injured)
  3. Four pedaling seats with adjustable heights. Every rider has different legs, they must be able to adjust to pedal comfortably. Needs to let a 5 year old pedal.
  4. Electric assist with battery. Necessary when there are large hills or when some people are tired.

bonus specs:

  1. Two or more additional seats for small children - ability to pedal not necessary.
  2. Three gears for each rider (more gears are better)
  3. Four wheel braking
  4. Headlights, tail lights, and other lights on the sides so people can see you and you can see.
  5. Canopy to protect from the sun and the rain
  6. Baskets for cargo
  7. Fenders for water and mud
  8. Suspension (to absorb bumps in the road and keep all wheels on the ground)
  9. Ability for driver to pedal in reverse (so you can back up without having to put your feet on the ground)

Let us keep these specifications in mind while looking for the right family cycle for our family. Only by knowing what features are important to us can we judge what we need.

The Quattrocycle

When the Quattrocycle became available for purchase to Europeans in 2008 I jumped for joy. I patiently waited, and waited, till I could wait no longer and built this web site for the sole purpose of bringing this vehicle to North America in 2011. I was heart broken when the ZEM failed to find an audience and was withdrawn but that is now history. The Quattrocycle, compared to the ZEM, is better in every way.

The styling. The steering. The suspension. The textilene seats. Four wheel brakes. The recumbent cycling posture. It's hard to find fault with the Quattrocycle. As it stands it's the best family cycle ever made. Read on to learn more.

What About The ZEM?

A few times per year you should be able to find someone selling the creative ZEM family cycle on the used market. It's name is an acronym meaning "Zero Emission Machine". It was the first truly useful family cycle that could be used in a real setting outside of the flat terrain of vacation spots like boardwalks.

My family have ridden both the ZEM and traditional Surreys. The ZEM provides a much more pleasurable experience functionally and it is definitively more handsome. It hits many of the key points. Every seat is adjustable. It has 8 speed gearing for all. The driver can pedal backwards when in first gear to back up. It has a simple but adequate suspension (just rubber elastonomers). It has awesome breaking power due to hydraulic brakes.

What's not to like about the ZEM? Aside from no longer being made, it doesn't have an easy electric assist option unless the one you purchase has one already devised and installed. The hydraulic brakes need some care and attention. The ZEM we test drove was only braking on one side because the fluid had lost pressure on the other. The suspension is made with rubber elastics that will deteriorate with age and may be hard to service. No deal breakers in our opinion but the "Quattrocycle" from the Netherlands is a an even smarter machine that is still being produced.

What about the Rhoades Car?

The Rhoades Car has more name brand recognition in the USA than any other family cycle. This is in part due to the funny "pickup truck" modification Bicycle Forest made to their Rhoades Car and its associated viral video. That's great but is this a good family cycle?

The optional locking differential is its stand out feature. With this you can be sure that both rear wheels will have traction on icy conditions. You can get it with 42 speed gearing. This sounds good but realize with gearing that low you will be "biking" slower than you would be able to "walk" up a hill. Also this is a derailleur system which means that you have to be moving to shift gears — inconvenient. With that much force on the chain and derailleur you will eat through parts quickly. It isn't fun when either of those components breaks while you are on the road.

The style of the Rhoades Car is ok. From a practical stand point the four person models are not ideal. Only the front two people can pedal. The back two people cannot participate. One Canadian family built a wonderful web site detailing their adventures with their Rhoades Car. One Wyoming man recounts a positive experience with his Rhoades Car. The Rhoades Car is nice for what it is but we should demand better.

What about the Tum Tum Car?

Tum Tum has a model called the "Fenix" that sits four people. Its styling is similar to the Rhoades Car but it is a better product. The Tum Tum has a real suspension up front. Four people can pedal. It can be equiped with a solar panel canopy. It's special feature is an optional gas / electric hybrid motor. This allows you to travel on electric power and utilize gasoline in a pinch.

While it's harder for me to find fault with the Tum Tum it just didn't tip the scales enough for me. I didn't like the seating posture. I didn't like how low to the ground I would be for both visiblility and also pedal clearance of road debris. I wanted each person with pedals to have their own gear shift.

What about the Guangxin GX01?

To the casual observer it would be hard to differentiate between a ZEM and a GX01. The Chinese replicated the style and spirit of the ZEM.

Better than a ZEM? Many would rightly argue that the ZEM had hydraulic brakes, four gear shifts (one for each rider), rudimentary elastonimer suspension, and a reverse gear. These are items the GX01 lacks. The GX01 may look the same from a distance but it does not ride the same.

The GX01 can be fitted with an electric assist motor and canopy. Only the front two riders have gear shifts but all four riders can pedal. The rack and pinion steering is very car like on the GX01. They captured the style of the ZEM, then bundled it at an attractive price point. Contact Judd at SouthCoastTradingCo.com if you want one in North America.

Shouldn't Every Child Have a Bike?

Learning to ride a standard bicycle should be considered one of life's lessons. When your child is a teenager they can learn to ride your nice bicycle. It truly isn't necessary to purchase many different sized bikes from grade school through adolescence.