by Cherie Walkowiak
"I love my bike. It's awesome," says Jenn Bernat.
I couldn't agree more. I love to see her riding around town with her kids.
They are easy to spot riding their yellow Madsen bike to the local elementary school, the farmer's market, the grocery store, and to preschool when it's warm. Preschool is 5 miles away, so on cold days, Jenn and her 3-year old, Becky, opt to drive. Rainy days, however, Jenn prefers the Madsen when she picks up her 6-year old, Danny, from first grade - to avoid the crazy parking.
This is a one-car family. Jenn and her family moved to Mountain View in May 2013. Before that, she and her husband lived in Wisconsin for 14 years, where the winters are long. They had been wanting a bakfiets (aka box bike) for a long time, but it wasn't practical in Wisconsin. They thought it would be fun to make biking their main mode of transportation, which is exactly what they started doing once they moved to the Bay Area, where the weather is mostly perfect. They started by getting the Madsen bike for Jenn and the kids, pictured above, and by choosing the right place to live.
Jenn's husband's job is downtown on Castro Street. When they were looking for housing, they drew a circle on a map with a 2-mile radius around his workplace. That's where they looked, and eventually found a place to live.
Her husband bikes to work on his regular commuter bike. Every day. And lucky for Jenn, Mountain View is a city where almost everything they need is within biking distance.
After riding her 8-gear Madsen bike around town with her kids for two months, Jenn electrified her ride with the Bion X. This is a motor which gives her pedal assist, and the power she needs to easily get her not-so-light Madsen bike over bridges while lugging two kids and all their gear. The motor has 4 settings. She sets it to the assist level she wants, and the bike knows when to kick in. The control/display is attached to her handlebar:
Also at her fingertips, she's got: a rear-view mirror to see cars coming up from behind, a bell to alert others of her approach, a cupholder for her morning coffee or tea, a bike light to increase her visibility at dusk or after dark, a digital clock, two pouches for personals, a large front rack with bungee cord to hold gear in place, and a water bottle on her frame. She has packed a lot of essentials into a tiny space!
Add to that the carrying capacity the Madsen's yellow tub affords - and she's got herself a regular sport utility vehicle - building real sport into her trips. Who needs a minivan when you've got all this?!
Probably my favorite feature of Jenn's Madsen bike is the rack she installed on the back to carry Danny's bike.
Whether he needs to rest his little legs after a long bike ride, or she wants to bring his bike to him after school so he can ride home alongside her, Jenn can just throw his bike on the rack, strap it on, and go. No fuss, no muss.
Jenn loves her Madsen for its flexibility and cargo capacity. Is the Madsen the perfect family bike? In some ways. But she still dreams of another: the Haul-a-day, which is an adjustable long tail. This will be her next family bike.
Go, Jenn, go!!