The Companion Bike Seat: It's Better Than Riding on Handle Bars
Finally, a place to stash your drunk friend after a night at the bar.
The Companion Bike Seat is a brand new, and pretty handy, extra gadget that hooks up to your bike, allowing you to cart around, at the very least, a 200-pound passenger -- or for parents a cache of kids. This week, the San Francisco-based company began its Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise just enough money to produce 1,000 companion seats.
The Companion Bike Seat costs $125 in Kickstarter guise and includes a lockable stash box, pegs, a comfy padded vinyl seat, and the tubular steel frame. While the Companion isn't going to give you as much carrying capacity as an Xtracycle or a purpose built cargo bike, it gives you a lot more than you have now.
"It's a cheaper alternative to an Xtracycle or cargo bike and it will give you most of the functionality, and you don't have to do a massive overhaul to your bike or buy a complete new bike," said Paul O'Leary, CEO and Founder of Companion Bike Seats.
O'Leary worked with Rick Hunter, a local master frame builder, to develop some prototypes. The idea of mounting the Companion Bike Seat on pegs instead of directly onto the dropouts of a bike frame, came from Hunter. This provides a more stable, safer, and sturdier platform. Unfortunately, for those of you with a quick release axle in the back (most new non-BMX bikes), you will have to swap out the rear axle. This is a relatively inexpensive fix at a bike shop -- though it's probably not something that most people will want to tackle at home.
In any event, the 200-pound weight limit is conservative, and is mostly dictated by the strength of your wheel and frame -- the Companion can actually hold 4,000 pounds by itself.
O'Leary said he's a little surprised that it's been parents who are running out to purchase these new seats. Then again, "it allows them to take their 12-to-14 year olds with them on bike rides," he said. "They also are using the seat for utility purposes, like taking their kids with them to a store or to school."
Photos courtesy of Companion Bike Seat
But now O'Leary is trying to reach out to non-parent consumers. With that goal in mind, he'll be tooling around the Mission offering free rides this weekend. Check in with his Twitter account @Companionseats to grab a free ride to-and-from the bar this weekend. If you're headed to a BYOB party, no worries. O'Leary was quick to point out that the lockable stash box is perfectly sized to carry a six-pack of beer.
It still remains to be seen if the Companion will be a worthy enough ... companion. But if you are that multi-tasking type (picking up kids, hauling groceries, or bringing beer to the pot luck), then consider this the cyclist's equivalent of a station wagon.
Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill -- literally and metaphorically.