Motorcycle trailers for biking with children may be among the most useful cycling accessories out there.
They offer a huge number of additional carrying capacity, both as a comfortable place to place children as you pedal them around, and as a way to transport impressive quantities of less precious freight, also. Cycling journalist Matt Lamy clarifies all.
Which are the advantages of child-carrying cycle trailers?
To understand the benefits of bicycle trailers for children, first we have to recognise the constraints of other options, such as kid bike seats. The dilemma of child numbers is a clear stumbling block.
Then there is the question of relaxation. Infants can only utilize child bicycle seats once their neck is strong enough to hold their heads upright, but they might be placed in many infant bike trailers essentially from birth (do check your particular model, though, because a few trailers have minimum age limitations ).
Most child carrying trailers may be used for babies 12 -18 months.
However, do recognise that in the opposite end of the scale, there are weight restrictions on all types of trailers. So, once your child or kids become overly heavy, it’s time for a tag-along or even bike of their own.
Once children are old enough to use a kid bike seat, there’s another strange phenomenon that invariably occurs:
they doze off and though there are child bike seats that recline at an angle which are more comfy, at a trailer children can snooze happily with their heart’s joy.
Many trailers fit two children side by side so they can chat to each other. But be mindful your children are inside the trailer behind you, so you will not be able to hear them clearly or check on them as often as though they were sitting in a chair directly next to you. Looking over your shoulder lots and a bicycle mirror may help you determine if they’re asleep, fighting or happy!
Trailers offer benefits for your rider, too.
There are no control or balance problems that having the burden of child and chair attached to a bicycle can cause. Since the child or children are restricted underneath a canopy they’re dry and the rider also does not have to worry about whether they’re sticking they arms out to the side or any other clowning around that can happen in a kid bike seat.
Trailers also have a higher weight-carrying capacity than child bike seats, so you can keep using them when your family has outgrown other options. And even when children have started cycling themselves, you can convert your trailer to some helpful freight carrier.
Finally, here is a straightforward thing. Quite a few contemporary child trailers easily convert into a buggy or pushchair. So, once you’ve arrived at your destination, you do not even have to disturb sleepers because you would do if they had been in either a front or rear kid bike seat. Simply attach the necessary accessories and push on.
One downside is that you want to be strong and fit enough to tow a trailer, but if you begin when your kid is lighter you will gradually build strength as they grow.
You might want to try out riding with a child bike trailer on a traffic-free route first to get used to towing a heavier load. You need to be reasonably fit to tow a trailer with two kids a longer distance or up a mountain. And do get off and push mountains if you find this type of battle (even Josie Dew pushes her bicycle with a trailer hills sometimes!) . Having a bicycle with especially low gearing for trailer responsibilities is a god idea.
There’s a single first concern that potential child trailers users ask:
‘aren’t trailers low, out of a driver’s eyesight and so potentially dangerous?’
There are 3 components to answer this query. The first is that almost all trailers come with a massive warning flag marking their existence. ‘So what?’ You may say, which leads us to point two: trailers are already large, reflective and brightly colored bits of kits themselves — they are also attached to a bicycle, making for a total automobile presence about just like a little car. The next point is: it is you the rider in charge of which paths you take.
You will have to consider more about your road position and how to help drivers see you when you’re towing a trailer. Cycling UK biking instructor Julie Rand advises:”You will need ride even further from the kerb as you are a wider load. Also ride no less than a metre away from car doors also. If you would like more help contact your local cycle teacher , they would be delighted to help you get used to cycling with a trailer”
When cycling with a cycle trailer you’ll have to ride even further out in the kerb as you are a broader load. If you would like more help contact your regional cycle instructor.
Julie Rand, Cycling UK cycle teacher and mum of two
Different trailer brands have marginally different attachment technology, the huge majority work on the principle which you fit a coupling to your bike’s rear axle fast release and the trailer is connected to the via a long articulated arm. Additionally, there’ll almost certainly be an extra retaining strap connecting trailer arm to bicycle frame for added security. If you have more than 1 bicycle, or a trailer which will be towed by various people, choose a trailer type at which you can buy extra hitches.
Although we’ve stated trailers eliminate the equilibrium conditions that come with having the weight of a child seat and child fitted to a bicycle, they do come with their own hands quirks. By way of instance, that trailer arm is articulated, meaning it does not follow in a direct line behind you when you go round corners. Just a little bit of training seeing how the bicycle and trailer act together is necessary before you first use it for the intended job.
In addition, you need to be aware of the maximum weight your trailer will take and recall that anything and bags you stuff in the trailer’s pockets and boot counts too. Every trailer includes a tipping point if it’s overloaded, so don’t take bends too fast and tight and look out for kerbs, even those that you might be able to mount on your bicycle.
So if all that weight of child and seat isn’t on your bike, where is it?
It’s being pulled along behind you, which instead dictates what kind of bike you want to use with the trailer.
A skinny-tyred street bicycle might leave you going nowhere, turning your rear wheel a cloud of liquid smoke (metaphorically speaking). You are going to want something with an adequate amount of traction and relatively easy gearing to efficiently transfer the torque required to get the trailer rolling. A mountain or hybrid bike with rather grippy tyres would be the obvious option.
With the excess vehicle weight, make sure that your brakes work well and check your bike regularly.
The Way to Purchase
Even the most fervent trailer evangelist can not ignore 1 drawback: cost. While the normal kid seat costs anything from #50 to #100, the marketplace for kid trailers ranges from approximately #100 to #1,000.
At the budget end are own-brand goods from firms like Halfords. They are decent options and comply with all essential security standards but they may also be a little heavier and devoid of comforts, all-weather functions or waterproofing.
From around #200 to 350 you will find the Experience Outside assortment of kid trailers, which feature far more capabilities like the possibility of being converting to a stroller. Likewise, Burley and Croozer do a great range of trailers from around #300 around #600.
Then we start heading into luxury trailer land, with Hamax performing a fantastic Outback trailer at about #700. However, arguably the leaders of this child trailer market is Thule (previously Chariot) using a range that spans from #450 to 1,000 and includes the choice of not turning your trailer to some jogging buggy and stroller, however fitting it with snow skis (if the requirement arise!) .
Before spending your money, employ a trailer initially to determine if you and your little one like it.
Beyond kid transportation
Finally, let us also just offer a fast word for trailers which are not used for ferrying children around.
When it’s grocery shopping or even used as part of your working life, trailers open a huge variety of cargo-carrying chances for those who don’t need to be tied into the internal combustion engine or put money into a cargo bike.
For some cyclists, they supply particular possibilities.
Touring tandem riders, for instance,
can only match four pannier bags to their bike — half of the amount that could be transported by 2 solo riders — nevertheless trailers can aid with raising their bag allowance. Trailers are already a specially excellent shape for carrying tent totes. In the same way, the present enthusiasm for bikepacking or demanding stuff touring, means that off-road explorers can take kit with products like the Bob or even Adventure CT1 trailer even if their chosen bikes aren’t acceptable for panniers.
And needless to say, instead of children you might have a totally different kind of loved one you want to transfer in safety: dog-specific trailers are available, also.
So purchasing a trailer may be a substantial investment, but in several of ways it might also open up a huge new selection of possibilities with regard to everything you could do with your bicycle.