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Biking with youngsters is a great way to bond and build memories. Safety should be one of your top concerns when you hit the road with little ones in tow. In addition to a bicycle helmet, you may wish to invest in a bike trailer for your group rides.
A bike trailer can hold up to two children. You tow the trailer behind your bicycle as you ride. Most bike trailers share a similar design, but significant differences exist among models.
To help you narrow down your bike trailer search, we compiled a product matrix containing the five best bike trailers on the market. We spent hours researching this product space. To ensure we remain unbiased in our recommendations, we never accept free samples from manufacturers. We value our integrity, and we want to be your go-to source for trustworthy product reviews and recommendations.
The more you know about bike trailers, the easier it will be for you to make a smart buying decision. You can use the information we’ve compiled in the following shopping guide to understand the differences between products. And when you’re ready to make a purchase, please feel free to click on the showcased products to learn more about them.
Although this shopping guide focuses on bike trailers, you actually have several other options for giving a child a ride on your bicycle: the mounted child seat and the trailing cycle.
A mounted child seat attaches to the bicycle frame. Some seats attach to the back of the bike, just behind the main seat. Others attach to the front, near the handlebars.
A trailing cycle consists of a third wheel with a seat, unmovable handlebars, and pedals that attach behind the bicycle. It’s primarily designed for children who are just about ready to begin riding their own bicycles.
The child must have good balance, as he/she will sit on the seat atop the third wheel and pedal.
As mentioned above, a bike trailer attaches to the back of the bike.
It’s the only design that allows more than one child to ride along.
That said, you can also buy a bike trailer with a single seat.
If you choose, you could use the trailer to carry a picnic lunch to your destination.
Some bike trailers can transform into a jogging or hiking stroller.
A bike trailer offers quite a few features that can help safeguard your child while you’re cycling. That said, they aren’t perfect. For example, the soft sides aren’t as protective as the steel frame of a car in the event of a crash.
Most bike trailers have an arm that bolts to the bike frame. As a backup connection, most will also clip to the bike frame with a strap. These two systems ensure that the trailer cannot break loose from the bicycle.
Because a bike trailer has two wheels, it handles road bumps fairly well and is less likely to tip if you take a fall.
Most bike trailers are considered safe for children up to 6 years of age. However, children under the age of one should not ride in a bike trailer.
The sides of a bike trailer zip in place, enclosing the riding area. This protects the children inside from gravel or dirt that the bicycle may kick up as you’re riding. The fabric includes clear “windows” so the children can see outside. And sometimes, the fabric includes a mesh component that encourages airflow within the trailer.
Children are strapped into the trailer with a harness that includes buckles and straps. These straps and buckles aren’t quite as secure as what you’d find with a car seat, but they’re necessary to keep passengers safely secured inside the trailer. They are often padded for comfort.
While it’s true that bike trailers have quite a few safety features, the children who ride inside still need to wear bike helmets.
Bike trailers gain much of their sturdiness from a metal frame. Because of this rigid structure, they aren’t going to simply collapse when you encounter rough terrain. If the trailer tips over, the frame acts almost like a “cage” to protect the passengers.
Most bike trailers have multiple reflectors and reflective tape on them. This ensures that the trailer will grab the attention of motorists.
Each bike trailer has a weight limit that depends, in large part, on its design. Most trailers can handle a total weight of 75 to 125 pounds.
To minimize the chance of tipping, the trailer’s attach arm includes a ball and socket mechanism. If the bike spills, the rotating ball and socket enable the trailer to remain upright.
Because it sits low to the ground, it’s important to attach a safety flag to your bike trailer. In order to be visible to motorists, the flag should fly on a pole at least four feet tall, and it should be orange. Most manufacturers include a safety flag with your initial purchase.
Make sure your bike trailer has reflectors, reflector tape, and tall safety flags attached. These items help make a low-profile trailer much easier for motorists to see.
Bike trailers can be pricey. In fact, some cost as much as a new bicycle.
The cheapest bike trailers cost anywhere from $75 to $150. Such units typically include less padding and legroom than pricier trailers. Furthermore, you will probably be limited to single-seat designs with these inexpensive units. But if you want a bike trailer just for hauling equipment, a budget unit could fit the bill.
A mid-range unit should cost between $150 and $250. You’ll find a few dual-seat designs in this range, as well as a few units that can transform from bike trailers into jogging and hiking strollers.
Bike trailers in this range cost $250+. Most offer dual seats along with plenty of padding and legroom. If your kids are older, you may appreciate the extra space. And if you want a conversion unit that can turn into a jogging stroller, you’re likely to find a good one at this price point.
Although you may be tempted to save a bit of money with a used bike trailer, we recommend against it. You don’t know how the bike trailer was cared for and whether its safety features are all intact.
Many experts recommend against buying a used car seat for your child. The same holds true for bike trailers.
Larger wheels will give passengers a smoother ride. However, smaller wheels will make the unit more maneuverable.
Here are a few features that you may want for your bike trailer. Whether you need these features depends primarily on how you plan to use the unit.
If you plan to transform the bike trailer to a stroller for hiking, an adjustable handlebar is a must. You want to be able to jog or hike comfortably with the unit. Placing the handlebar at a proper height for jogging is important.
Some bike trailer manufacturers try to save money by shrinking the interior area of the trailer. If you have young children, this may not be a problem — but kids grow. And kids that are packed tightly together inside the trailer will be hot, and the ride will be less comfortable. Interior space is measured in cubic feet.
Most bike trailers have a fold-down design, making them easy to transport and store.
An extra suspension system is available for some bike trailers. This system can help smooth the ride when you’re on a bumpy trail. But if you only ride on pavement, the extra suspension system probably isn’t necessary.
Some trailers include helpful weather protection features. When the weather is warm, for example, you’ll have a mesh fabric covering for the interior that encourages airflow. When the weather is cold or blustery, you can attach a secondary solid covering that helps shelter the passenger area.
Towing children in a bike trailer increases your amount of exertion. You may wish to build up your stamina over a period of several days so you don’t wear yourself out.
These brands offer the best safety features and construction materials.
Q. Are bike trailers only for children?
A. No. As long as you don’t exceed the weight limit, you can carry just about anything inside a bike trailer. Some bike trailers are made specifically for carrying dogs, for example. These trailers have special harnesses for dogs. Others are made to carry equipment.
Q. How can I make the ride more comfortable for my children?
A. Some units don’t have much padding in the seat area. Look for a roomy bike trailer with extra padding inside the trailer compartment. (If you drive the bike trailer through bumpy terrain, the jostling could cause discomfort on unpadded seats.)
Also make sure the tires are properly inflated, as this renders a smoother ride. Large-diameter wheels enhance smoothness, too.
Q. What is the best feature in a bike trailer?
A. Some bike trailers are able to convert to strollers for hiking or jogging. This is a great feature for someone who wants to cross-train with cycling and jogging. And being able to turn the bike trailer into a secondary device makes it a better cost value for you.
Q. Is it easy to fit a bike trailer inside a car?
A. Many bike trailers fold down to a compact size that allows them to fit inside the trunk of a car. What’s more, the tires disconnect from some units, making it even easier to transport them.
Some bike trailers are heavier than others, so take this into consideration if you plan to load your trailer into a car. If you’re by yourself, you may be juggling a child or two, a bike trailer, and a backpack — all of which can be heavy.
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