An Introduction to Bicycle Trailers – Your Guide to Finding the Right Bicycle Trailer
Leave worries about rising gas prices behind and join the wonderful world of bicycle trailers! Whether you’re a cycling enthusiast, or an occasional rider, the team at BicycleTrailers.com has compiled the following information to assist you in finding the right bicycle trailer to suit your needs. Read on to learn about the variety of bicycle trailers we carry from passenger trailers for children and pets, to cargo bicycle trailers and child bike seats. Stay tuned to the end for essential bicycle trailer safety tips.
When BicycleTrailers.com talks about a child bicycle trailer, we are generally referring to the enclosed trailers that tow behind, or to the side of, an adult bicycle. The first thing to consider when shopping for a child bicycle trailer is how many kids you will be carting around. From there you can narrow your search to either a single bike trailer that has a maximum weight capacity of 75 lbs, or a double bike trailer that has a maximum weight capacity of 100 lbs. Child bike trailers come in range of prices from $100+ to almost $1,000, so depending on the nature of your use, there are a number of other options you might want to consider.
Whether you’re an eco-friendly advocate looking to use a bicycle as your primary means of transportation, or an active parent simply looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors with your children, a bicycle trailer is the answer. The following are features to consider depending on what type of riding you intend to do.
- Trailer weight: Single trailers range from about 20-30 lbs; Double trailers range from about 20-40 lbs
- Suspension: Trailers equipped with suspension offer a smoother ride, especially over uneven surfaces
- Conversion kits/capabilities: Trailers with conversion kits have the capability to be converted for use while biking, strolling, jogging, hiking, or skiing
- Other features & accessories: Storage space, weather covers, padded seating, folding/assembly
Of course each bicycle trailer manufacturer designs their product slightly different, but generally speaking the hitch of a child bicycle trailer should be able to mount to any adult bicycle either through a quick release or a nutted axle.
Since there are no specific rules as to when a child is old enough to ride in a bicycle trailer, we recommend parents check with their pediatrician as to when their child has the neck development to support a helmet and safely ride in a child bicycle trailer. We always recommend children wear helmets when riding in child bicycle trailers. The following are additional safety features offered with some bicycle trailers.
- Orange safety flag
- 5-point harness
- Parking brake
- Reflective material and wheel reflectors
Pedal trailers and trail-a-bikes are great way to teach your child the joys of riding a bike. In both instances, you control the balance and steering, while your little one contributes to the pedaling. Even though BicycleTrailers.com combines pedal trailers and trail-a-bikes under the same category there are some key differences between the two. For example, your child sits higher up in a trail-a-bike and is required to pedal, whereas the pedal trailer features a lower center of gravity, and gives your child the option of pedaling, making it more suitable for younger children.
Most pedal trailers and trail-a-bikes on the market are pretty basic and don’t include many additional features. Some pedal trailers and trail-a-bikes include a padded, adjustable seat and adjustable handlebars for your child’s comfort. Mud guards and storage racks are also a plus! It’s important to remember that trailers with a low center of gravity offer better stability.
Pedal trailers and trail-a-bikes attach to the seat post of almost any adult bicycle. Simply install the hitch to the seat post and mount the trailer to the bicycle.
To ride a pedal trailer or trail-a-bike your child should be big enough sit comfortably in the seat and reach the pedals. There are no set guidelines regarding age, but generally the recommended age for use is about 4-9 years old, and up to 75 lbs. We always recommend children wear helmets when riding a pedal trailer or trail-a-bike. Additional safety features to consider include:
- Reflective fabric and reflectors
- Safety flag
- Covered sprocket and chain
- 3-point harness
Bicycle cargo trailers are convenient for cycling enthusiasts who use a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation, or for those who simply enjoy long bike rides and require a lot of gear. There are two types of bicycle cargo trailers available – one-wheel or two-wheel trailers. The most obvious differences in the two cargo trailers are how they handle, and the amount of cargo capacity. One-wheel trailer is easy to maneuver and better at handling turns than the two-wheel trailer. However, a two-wheel trailer has a higher weight capacity for cargo. Read on to find out about other important features to consider before choosing which cargo trailer is right for you.
Once you decide whether a one-wheel or two-wheel trailer is right for you, there are other features to consider. Obviously, the amount of cargo you intend to carry around is important, but here are some other features that might help you make your decision.
- Trailer weight: Between 10-25 lbs
- Price: Generally range from $200-$400
- Suspension: Trailers equipped with suspension offer a smoother ride than trailers without suspension
- Capacity: One-wheel up to 70 lbs, two-wheel up to 100 lbs
- Other features & accessories: Wheel guards, weather-resistant materials, folding/assembly
Depending on the manufacturer, exactly how a bicycle cargo trailer attaches to your bicycle can vary. However, the hitch of a cargo trailer should be able to mount to any adult bicycle either at the seat post or the rear axle.
- Low center of gravity for better stability
- Fender reflectors
- Safety flag
BicycleTrailers.com carries a variety of dog and pet bicycle trailers that give you the freedom to hit the road with your precious pet. These bicycle trailers come in various sizes to accommodate pets both large and small. The “mini” trailers are designed to accommodate pets up to about 45 lbs, whereas the regular pet trailers can hold pets up to 110 lbs. Dog and pet trailers are specifically designed to haul pets or cargo, and are not suitable for children. For your convenience, most pet trailers either feature removable flooring or liners for easy cleaning. Once you’ve determined what size pet trailer you need, you can further narrow your search by considering the following options:
Since dog and pet bicycle trailers range in size, it’s only fitting they range in weight as well. On average a pet trailer weighs between 22-35 lbs. A number of the pet trailers currently on the market have the ability to convert to a stroller to push your pooch around town. Some extra features that will make your pet feel as if they are riding in luxury include sunroofs, all-weather covers, inside pockets for your pet’s treats and toys, and water bottle holders.
Like most other trailers, the hitch of a dog and pet bicycle trailer should be able to mount to any adult bicycle either through a quick release or a nutted axle.
- Interior attachment for pet leash or harness
- Parking brake
- Kickstand for stabilization while loading or unloading
- Safety flag
- Reflective materials
Child bike seats are a practical solution for toting your child around while you bike. Bicycle-mounted seats can either attach to the front or the back of a cyclist’s seat, and depending on the model, can accommodate up to 50 lbs. Some main differences parents have noticed between the front and the rear mounting of the seat is that the bike is easier to control with the seat at the front due to the overall center of gravity. However, it has also been said that when the seat is mounted to the front, the child is almost sitting between the parent’s legs making it harder to pedal normally.
Since selecting a child bike seat is mostly based on personal preference, here are some features to consider when shopping for the right child bike seat:
- Adjustability: Headrest and footrest to accommodate growing tots
- Comfort: Reclining backrest and padded seat for a more comfortable ride
- Storage: Removable pannier bags to carry snacks, toys, etc.
Installation varies depending on the model and style of child bike seat you choose. However, one convenient feature is that most child bike seats will have additional mounts available so that you can easily switch between bicycles.
Compared to a child bicycle trailer, a child bike seat is not as safe for your precious passenger in an accident due to the lack of coverage and height at which they are riding. We always recommend children wear helmets when riding in a child bike seat. Additional safety features to consider include:
- 3-point or 5-point harness
- Lap bar/grab bar
- Safety reflectors
- Children riding in bicycle trailers must always wear a helmet. Proper use of a bike helmet reduces risk of head injury by as much as 88%. Adults should also always use a helmet.
- Use a safety flag, which helps motorists see you.
- Use hand signals before turning left or right.
- Pay attention to bicycle trailer weight limits. For child bike trailers, confirm the minimum height and weight and use any recommended inserts for smaller children.
- Follow all posted road signs – a bicycle is part of traffic.
- When riding at night, attach a light to the front of your bike and reflectors to the rear of the trailer.
- When hauling a pet, always secure them with the safety leash.
- Before riding, check the bicycle’s connection to the trailer and be sure the tires are properly inflated.
- Practice riding in a safe area before taking the trailer on the road. When practicing, pay particular attention to breaking distance, which increases with a trailer attached to your bike.