Zigo Leader Review

Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to test-ride a couple of Zigo Leaders at the NYC Summer Streets event. As a serious racer with 2 youngish children and a wife who is an average cyclist I’m always looking for opportunities to include the family in my sport. In the  interest of disclosure I should mention that a long-time friend of mine (Marc) works for the company and asked that we accompany him on the Summer Streets ride. That said, our personal relationship had no bearing on what you’ll read below.

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The Family on/in the Zigos

The Zigo Leader is a modular carrier bicycle that lets you ride with one or two children in a ChildPod. The pod acts as the front wheels (basically a reverse tricycle set-up). The modular aspect comes from the fact that you can detach the pod and use it as a double stroller, a jogger or even a traditional kid trailer. The jogger and trailer modes require the purchase of additional accessories.

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The Zigo Carrier Bike. You can see the 2 knobs that secure the Leader Link – between my hands and at the junction of top-tube and head-tube.

The Zigos before attaching the child pods

The Zigos before attaching the child pods

A Brief History of Totting My Kids

Over the years I’ve had experience with a couple of different contraptions designed for hauling kids with a bike —  rear-rack mounted child seat, a rear trailer attachment. The rear-rack seat is OK when your kids are small, but even then it tends to be a bit tippy and you have to look around behind you to check on your kid. You can mount the seats to your regular bike, but with the model I owned you had to have rack braze-ons. Since none of my race bikes had them the seat went on my wife’s MTB. Trailers are a nicer, more expensive option. I never owned a trailer, but borrowed one from a friend and towed the kids all over Block Island, RI a few years ago. The experience was pretty good, but I didn’t like it enough to purchase one.

Sizing up the Zigo

Before the Summer Streets ride I had only seen online pictures of the Zigo. Truth be told I was a little apprehensive. The whole thing just didn’t seem too slick. But when we arrived in SoHo to meet up with Marc I was pleasantly surprised. The bikes were actually rather cool and the setup was easy. The ChildPod takes shape through a siple series of unfolds and clicks — sort of like a regular stroller, but on a larger, more rugged scale. The Pod attaches to the bike via what Zigo calls the Leader Link. Basically two large, easy-to-manipulate knobs that, when tightened, secure the ChildPod to the bike part of the Zigo. I’m pretty ham-fisted when it comes to things like this, but it was simple enough that once I saw Marc do it once I had no problem operating it myself. Now we were ready to load up the kids. My son (5-years-old) hopped in, buckled the 5 point harness and was ready to go. My daughter is 7 and quite tall — she had a tougher time. She couldn’t really get under the harness and spent much of the day w/ her legs hanging out the front. Can’t really call this a flaw w/ the Zigo just a simple statement of fact that there is an upper limit for height. All that said there wasn’t any complaining from her about being uncomfortable. As for my fit the height-adjustable seat (via a standard quick release) was fine. I’m 6’1″ and still had plenty of post in the seat tube.

The Ride

Let’s get something straight about the Zigo — it’s a bike designed to carry your kids. It is NOT nor does it claim to be a race bike or even an everyday road or mtn. bike. The riding position is pretty upright, which for most casual riders is rather comfortable. To a racer it feels hokey at first, but you don’t really notice after a minute or two. The shifting on the Zigo is handled by a Sutrmey-Archer 3-speed internal hub. I’ve had no experience with these type of hubs before, and was curious to see how they worked. The shifting was pretty quick and smooth, but the 3 speeds just aren’t enough. I think even the casual rider would find it limiting. The low isn’t low enough (my wife had to really work hard up the one or two steep-ish hills on our route) and the high gear often left me spinning like crazy. For most bike paths I think this gearing would probably be fine, but if you have many ups or downs you’ll be looking for more gears. Luckily the folks at Zigo tell me that the next generation of the bikes will feature a 7-speed internal which should help things out a lot.

The steering on the Zigo feels a bit heavy since you have the ChildPod right in front of the handlebars, but the heaviness actually works to your advantage in that the ride is very stable and steady. On a few quick downhill sections I appreciated the heavy feel at the handlebars in that there was no hint of speed-wobbles. That steadiness is also an asset when you come to a stop. Due to the 3-wheel configuration there’s no need to put your feet down when you slow or come to a stop. This is a real advantage over the rear-rack carriers which require you think ahead as you slow down due to their top-heavy nature. My wife actually toppled over once at a traffic light with our daughter in the rear carrier. Nobody was hurt, but it was sort of scary. The stopping duties on the Zigo are handled by drum brakes in the front and rear wheels. The lever feel is light and the brakes to a fine job of stopping the bike.

Overall Impressions

In short, a fun day was had by all. Although I initially had my doubts a day spent on the Zigo was a good time. As a serious racer I sometimes lose sight of the simple pleasure of a bike ride with the family and friends. Since my kids are both riding 2-wheelers a Zigo probably won’t find a place in my garage, but if I had younger children a Zigo would be high on my list. At $1349 it’s not inexpensive, but when you take into account that the Zigo is a bicycle, a stroller, a jogger (with a $70 accessory), or trailer for any adult bicycle (a $75 accessory), the price seems much more reasonable. My advice is to visit a Zigo dealer and take a ride to see if it’s right for you and your family — I think you’ll be impressed.

A Fun Day with the Family

A Fun Day with the Family

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16 Comments

Filed under Bikes, Reviews

16 responses to “Zigo Leader Review

  1. Hi . . .any chance a 3 and 5 year old can fit together in the pod . . . for short rides (mile or two to get to a destination? We are a one car family and the walking/stroller thing is getting a little old for me . . . am looking for something like this that will protect the kids from the elements since I walk all year in Mass. If it existed (not sure if it did) and I knew about it, I would have loved to have had one of these 2 years ago . . .

    Thanks for your write-up.

    • Hey, thanks for writing. The pod is designed for 2 children, so I would think a 3 & 5 year old would be OK — especially for the short distance involved. I would have loved something like the Zigo when my kids were smaller too.

      • Thanks. We’ll keep considering this. Our 5 year old has been riding a 2 wheeler for a year but we’re not ready for her to ride near the roads that take us to our frequent destinations . . plus there is the weather factor. Hopefully, we can find one to try out w/o having to travel too far.

        Thanks again.

  2. Hi, me again w/ one more (I hope) question . . . how tall is your daughter (to give me a reference point w.r.t my daughter).

    THANKS!

  3. Karen

    Hi, I have 1 year old and a 4 year old. I would like to purchase something like this for when my 4 y/o start school. Is my 1 year old big enough and will be secured riding with his brother and then riding alone after I drop his brother off? Thanks!

    • I’m not exactly sure. I would think so in that the seat is much like a jog stroller. I’ll ask my contact at Zigo to comment on this post. Maybe you two can correspond directly.

  4. Hi Karen,
    Your kids would fit well in Zigo’s childpod. The harnesses are adjustable and will fit a child from 6m to 6yrs old.
    We actually have a customer that uses it in the same way you plan to. Here is a link to her story. http://tinyurl.com/ybvzhdh

    If you have any other questions please feel free to email me directly mu @ myzigo.com

    Best regards,

    Marc Urbanski
    Zigo Inc.

  5. My wife and I have twin six month old girls. We’re ready to try exercising out of doors without having to leave one parent and both girls at home, and we’re looking at the Zigo as an all in one solution.

    We looked at one at a Boston area dealer, and they commented that one problem was the very limited turn radius when the stroller is attached. Any observations on this?

    Also, is the stroller useful as a principal stroller, or does it need to serve as a short term alternative to something more substantial like a Bob Duallie Revolution?

    • It certainly didn’t turn on a dime, but I don’t recall being hampered by the turning radius. It is easy to pivot however. When we stopped for lunch I parked head-on against a fence. When we were leaving I picked up the seat, pivoted the rear wheel around and was on my way.

      During my test I didn’t try out the stroller side of things much, so I don’t have any insights on that.

  6. phoebe

    Hi – thanks for your nice review. Im just wondering about the how the weight of the front load affects the ride… as I dont have great upper body strength and even find pushing a stoller with 2 kids quite tiring on the arms. Does turning the handelbars with a weight at the front require much effort ?

    • I didn’t notice any problem turning it at all. I thought it turned quite easily. You’re not really turning the whole weight of the kids. I asked my wife today if she thought it was tough on the arms and she said no too. I’d suggest hitting up a dealer and taking a test-ride.

  7. Are you able to hook up a bike trailer behind the bike as well as have the one on front?? I have triplet 1.5 year olds, a 3 and 6 year old, so I need to have 4 kids on the bike??

  8. Kiasa

    We just spotted it at Summer Streets on Saturday. And I can’t stop thinking about it. I have a 3 & 1 yr old and we like to do family bike rides with borrowed or rented bike & trailer. I also run a lot, but always have to go when my husband is home since we can’t seem to commit to a jogger. This might be our answer. I love hearing what others think! Thanks!

  9. My wife and I bought a Zigo about two months ago, and have been using it to tote around nine month old twins. We love this thing. As a stroller, it is remarkably maneuverable, a dream to push around compared with the tandem car seat stroller that we had used previously, and the disc brakes give firm control over stopping. There’s room for the twins and a few things in front, a small bag in front that can carry stuff and a pouch in back. Not quite as roomy with storage space as some strollers, but we’ve been very happy with this.

    Attached to the bike, it’s also been terrific. As bikebreath notes, it isn’t a racing bike or a road bike, but it can make 90 degree turns without much difficulty, turning the bike by lifting the back of the bike and swinging it around isn’t especially heavy at all, and I for one feel so much more at ease having the girls in front of me where I can see them at all times. So, it’s become essential equipment in our household.

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