You want to take your kids with you whenever you go and biking seems no different. Most parents wait till their babies turn 7 or 8 years old before going out on a bike. However, this isn’t going to be the case anymore. The best thing about bike trailers is that you can do biking with your kids whether they are 1 or 6 years old.
Taking the kids along when you head out on your bike seems tricky? Well, it can be simple only if you used a bike trailer.
A bike trailer is a trailer or cart with little wheels that can be easily hitched to your bike and your child can sit in it and ride the bike together. Basically bike trailers look like little sidecars when attached to your bike’s frame. You can use bike trailers to carry kids 1 to 6 years.
There are bike trailer models that can carry one child and you can find trailers that can carry two kids at the same time.
The good thing about bike trailers is that they have a maximum weight limit that ranges from 80 to 125 pounds which is quite impressive for young kids. Your kids can sit comfortably in the trailer and some models have straps to hold the child in the place for additional security.
Unlike bike seats, bike trailers are low to the ground and they greatly reduce the risk of possible injuries from falls. It is recommended that you only use bike trailers when there is no vehicular traffic. Also, you should have an orange safety flag on the trailer that can help others to see the model. Most bike trailer models come with a hitching device that can keep the trailer steady even if the bike topples over.
Stroller bike trailers are becoming increasingly popular these days. You can convert some bike trailer models to hiking and jogging stroller by purchasing an additional kit. This is especially convenient if you love to spend your weekends shopping – a bike trailer is a great way to get your kids in on the shopping fun.
If you want to use your bike trailer as a stroller, make sure you purchase a product that converts to the type of stroller you desire. Jogging attachments can also be found but most parents reveal that they don’t swivel and become quite burdensome to use every day.
Some high-end bike trailers can convert to a sturdy four wheel stroller and they receive the most compliments from parents. Before we have a look at trailer characteristics, let’s have a quick look over the different types of bike trailers that are available.
There are three main types of bike trailers – trailers for cargo, bike trailer for kids and trailers designed for carrying pets.
These let you carry bulky gear with ease when you are going on long trips. The entire weight of the cargo is balanced on trailer wheels and towing the trailer won’t bring your bike down. When you arrive to your destination, you can easily unhook the trailer and leave your gear behind.
Some cargo trailer models when detached from bikes can be converted to wheeled carts. This is a huge advantage if you are taking the cargo trailer to a farmer's market or a grocery store. You can even wheel the groceries and other items straight into the house to unload.
If you are planning to transport gear on rough trails or roads, it’s recommended that you invest in a cargo bike trailer with suspension. Not only will suspension prevent your gear from being bounced around, but the trailer wheels will remain in contact with the ground which makes it easier for you to maneuver the bike. Furthermore suspensions reduce stress on your muscle, your bike as well as the cargo trailer.
Cargo trailers can either have one or two wheels. Single wheel bike trailers for cargo are easier to tow as they have less drag on the road. In fact they can run really well even on the narrowest tracks and you can maneuver your bike with ease.
Two wheel cargo trailers make loading and unloading easier as they keep upright. Yes, the trailer has enough support to keep ‘standing’ both when it is attached to your bike and when it is taken off. Perhaps the best thing about two wheel cargo trailers is that you don’t have to stress about perfectly balancing yourself, your bike and your load while moving.
Some cargo trailer models come with an assortment of accessories such as compatible bags to keep your gear organized, hitch arms which are compatible with different bicycle rear axles, wheel sizes and brake configurations and spare skewers.
There are two main types of bike trailers that are designed for kids – trailer bikes and enclosed child trailers.
Enclosed trailers are typically for younger kids. Your child can sit comfortably in the cart and doesn’t have to pedal. Trailer bikes are more suitable for slightly older kids who are strong and confident enough to pedal. Both styles of bike trailers for kids can be attached to the back of your bicycle.
You should always make your child wear a helmet when he or she is riding in a bike trailer. Not only this will keep your child safe, but they can also develop good ‘travel safety’ habits.
Enclosed Child Trailers typically are covered with a weather resistant fabric and there are aluminum bars for structure. There is a zip door at the front of the trailer and there’s a plastic mesh window for ventilation.
The biggest advantage of using enclosed trailers is that they offer great protection to your child. Most modern enclosed bike trailers have full roll cages to keep your child safe in the event of a crash. The inside of the enclosed child trailer has a secure seat with a harness system. The more expensive enclosed trailer models also have the option of reclining the seat for a more comfortable riding and resting position while traveling.
Almost every bike trailer designed for kids has some kind of adjustable suspension and storage pockets. These suspensions are quite effective in smoothing out the bumps on the road. You should always have a look at the seating capacity of the bike trailer – some models are designed to carry only one child while there are trailers that can hold two.
Another important feature to note here is that all convertible enclosed bike trailers for kids have parking brakes. As the name suggests, these brakes prevent the trailer from rolling away when the bike is not moving.
Some kid’s trailers have exciting features such as retractable sunshades and plastic windows so your child can have a good view of the outside as you are riding the bike. High-end models are constructed using UV rated fabric and plastic to keep your child safe from the harmful rays of the sun.
Accessories that normally come along enclosed kid trailers include stroller conversion kits, toddler neck support pillow, accessory bag, bike mounts and light kit for making the enclosed trailer extra visible when you’re out on the road.
Many enclosed bike trailers can convert to strollers thanks to the spare wheel. That’s right. You don’t require any extra parts to convert bike trailers to jogger or stroller. Convertible enclosed trailers can either come with a handle (also known as the handlebar) or a handle that can be mounted to the rear axle of your bike.
A common strolling kit you will find includes a single swivel wheel that can be attached to the tow bar. Jogging kits include a single large wheel that can be attached to the trailer. If you are traveling with a young child, you should always support his or her head with a neck support pillow.
Medical experts recommend that your child should be able to sit upright in a bike trailer and hold his head straight while wearing a helmet. To be safe, always check with your doctor to confirm your angel is ready to be towed in a kid’s trailer.
Trailer bikes for kids are an excellent option for young girls and boys who want to pedal but are not strong or confident enough to do it alone. Upright trailer bike models work in pretty much the same way as your bike. These bike trailers have basic adjustments and the trailer can ‘grow’ with your child.
Bike trailer for dogs are specially designed for carrying medium to large sized dogs. However, you can get a dog trailer for a smaller dog as well. Choosing a bike trailer for your canine friend is a little more complicated than choosing a basket or carrier.
Here’s what you should look out for when choosing the right bike trailer for your furry ball.
It is important that you give your pet sufficient time to get used to riding in a trailer. Don’t just throw your pet in and set off. Remember, panicked dogs especially if you own a large breed can become potentially dangerous if they try to run or jump outside the trailer.
Some pet trailers can be folded and kept away when not in use. Another advantage of pet trailers is that some models come with their own harness and hook on points. In this case if there’s an accident and your pet falls out, he won’t be injured or end up tangled in his own leash.
Finally and perhaps the most important consideration you need to keep in mind while buying a bike trailer is that it should be easy to clean. Similarly, the floor mat needs to be held in place by something secure like Velcro straps that can be easily removed. You also need to ensure that the floor mat is not slipping or sliding all over the place. Yes, your dog would hate the ride if he cannot sit or stand properly in one place.
Before you but the first bike trailer you come across, it is important to consider how you and your kids will use the trailer. Carrying your child in a bike trailer is more comfortable and definitely safer than carrying him or her on the bike.
Regardless of the type of bike trailer you choose, you need to remember that you will be towing the entire weight of the trailer in addition to the weight of your child or cargo or your dog. If your child asks whether he can bring his friend along for the ride, you should consider the request very carefully.
From light-weight basic trailers to high-end all terrain trailers, there are plenty of options. However you should consider the following factors before making a final decision.
In most cases, you can judge the quality and performance of bike trailers by looking at the price tag. However, not all expensive models are a good investment, if you are looking for a budget friendly trailer for occasional use; don’t forget to look at the brand reviews and features a particular product has. You can get bike trailers ranging from $100 to $1,000.
The more expensive bike trailers for kids feature larger wheels, supportive seats, high weight capacity as well as thick, durable UV protective plastic, fabric, suspension as well as conversion kits.
If you plan to use your bike trailer as a stroller, be sure to purchase a model that converts to the exact type of stroller you desire. Simplest attachment kits include a wheel on the end of the trailer arm. You can also find jogging attachments but most parents say that they can become difficult to control.
It’s not surprising that the size of the trailer is an important consideration. Most trailers designed for kids come in single and double versions. Remember that the internal dimensions of bike trailers, i.e. the amount of space your child has while sitting inside the model, might vary greatly between brands.
If you are buying a trailer for your pet, go for a model that offers the best height and biggest internal dimensions for additional room.
Well brakes aren’t a huge concern in case of cargo trailers; however a well-designed brake system can make a world of a difference in case of trailers designed for kids and pets. If you want to use your bike trailer as a stroller, having an adjustable handlebar is a must.
Majority of kid’s trailers offer at least two handlebar heights. The more high-end brands offer multiple heights which is always a huge advantage.
Of course you will be seldom be riding in heavy rain, however keeping your children dry and warm is a legitimate concern if you’re living in a wet climate area. Most bike trailers for kids vary greatly and you can find ones with simple plastic mesh and elastic tie-downs to more advanced models with thick weather and UV resistant covering.
Majority of high-end trailer models for kids are made with thick waterproof fabric and along with weatherproofing, some trailers have additional vents to prevent fogging. Yes, your kids can continue to look out of the window and enjoy their view.
When it comes to bike trailers, you should really go for foldable models if you have space constraints. Unfortunately you cannot predict the actual space your bike trailer requires unless you bring it home, however having a quick glance over the manufacturer’s specification can give you some idea.
While majority of bike trailers you find today can be folded down for easy storage. This is especially useful if you have a small trunk or limited space to keep the trailer. A quick release wheel is another useful feature to have if you plan on folding your bike trailer on a regular basis.
Purchasing a bike trailer with suspension system is always a good idea if you want to enjoy a blissfully happy ride.
Especially critical factor while choosing a bike trailer is the hitch and its arm. Hitches are used to connect the trailer to your bike and the system should be strong enough to prevent the trailer from breaking free.
Your kids wearing a helmet can ride in those little carts with wheel s when they are at least 12 months old. Pediatricians at AAP – the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that before kids are put in a bike trailer, they should able to sit steadily.
Medical experts suggest that bike trailers might be expensive, but they are a lot safer for your child. If you are not taking your child along, you can use the bike trailer to carry groceries and other cargo.
It’s easy to load your little one into a bike trailer even if you are alone unlike a bike seat where you require two people – one person will hold the bike, while the other will hold the child.
When you are choosing a bike trailer for your child, it is recommended that you look for a model that has a three or five point harness belt. This belt can be used to strap your child in securely and your kid will be comfortable as well. If you are using bike trailer models designed for two children, there should be two separate safety harnesses.
Make sure your child knows that no helmet means ‘no bike ride’. If you are riding a bike, you need to set a good example for your kids by following the rule yourself. Remember, wearing a protective helmet can keep you and your child safe from serious injuries.
While most parents don’t use bike trailers for kids less than a year old, you can still trailer accessories that provide safety and additional support for babies, even infants. There are various support slings and inserts that can be used in stroller mode.
Last, and most importantly, the material used in the construction of bike trailers should be non-toxic. This is especially important if your child has the habit of chewing on the straps of bike trailers. On the other hand, no one wants to be stuck with a sub standard product and if you cannot decide between any two products, don’t forget to pay attention to the product warranty offered.
Now that you know what to look for in a bike trailer, here’s hoping that you can find the best bike trailer that matches your needs, your desired features and your budget.