Bike Trailers: In Depth

There are a number of factors to be considered when buying a bike trailer, especially one in which you intend to put your kids.

The low position of child bike trailers has led some to question their safety, although independent tests have indicated that they are equivalent to, if not safer than, child bike seats. While there is no specific safety standard governing child trailers in the UK, they must be CE marked and are expected to meet the requirements of a generic British Standard for products or equivalent (or better) European standard. In the US the ASTM F1975-09 safety standard is applicable and many trailers sold in the UK and Europe will meet this standard.

Whatever standard your trailer claims to meet, be sure to look out for additional safety features such as a secure and childproof five-point harnessing system, a working handbrake and durable construction in both frame and fabric materials. Also – as with child bike seats – be conscious of the extra weight and effect on handling that result in having a trailer hitched on, and change your riding behaviour accordingly (e.g. allow for longer braking distances).

Hitching mechanism
The hitching mechanism will vary according to trailer model and design. Some use a mechanism that attaches via a custom quick release (QR) skewer that inserts into the rear dropouts and hub (for this reason many trailers are incompatible with thru-axle rear wheels). Others forego the need for a skewer in favour of a clamping mechanism to lock against the left (non-drive side) chain stay and seat stay tubes. Whichever kind you have, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions carefully when attaching your bike trailer.

While most child trailers will claim to be ‘two-seater’, their interior dimensions can vary considerably. Check the manufacturer’s specification to ensure that the interior size will suit the needs of your children, and that the exterior dimensions (when folded) are small enough for storage purposes.


How to attach the Bike Trailer

I show how to attach the “coupler plate”, the thing that holds the end of the trailer, to the bike, then I show how to attach the trailer “hitch”. Finally I show how to strap in my kids.

Click above to watch the video

How to Choose Bike Trailers

How many kids do you want to drive around?
Each model has a little bit different structure, and this affects the space kids have in a cabin. In all trailers, kids should wear an appropriate helmet and be secured by the trailer’s harness. Some models are suitable for 2 kids (1.5 – 5 years old) and can carry a max weight between 80 and 100 pounds. These trailers are Burley D’Lite and Hamax Outback.

Thule Chariot Cross and other Burley models are also great choices if you’re looking for premium trailers that can carry 1 or 2 kids.

What is your budget?
You can buy a trailer for less than $150 or for more than $500. Premium trailers offer a more pleasant ride for kids and drivers. If you’re interested only in high-end trailers, then you should consider picking a Thule Chariot Cross because of its exceptional functionalities.

In case you plan to use the trailer occasionally, and you’re only looking for a model which won’t break your bank, then you should pick a Burley model. Burley trailers give an excellent experience for an affordable price.

InStep, Clevr, and Schwinn models are also decent picks that will do the job, but you shouldn’t expect that “wow” effect.

Where will you use the trailer?
Knowing on what kind of terrain will you use a bike trailer is crucial. If you plan to use it on mountain roads or off-road, then you need to consider buying a model which offers a suspension. A trailer should also have 20″ wheels, which are significantly easier to tow over rough terrain.

If you plan to use your trailer occasionally, on smooth terrain, you don’t need to invest in trailers with suspension. You can even buy a trailer with 16″ wheels, but we don’t suggest that you do that. 20″ wheels are better in every possible way.


Bike Trailer vs Bike Seat

Bike trailer or bike seat? Which one is safer, easier to use, more practical, and more enjoyable for kids? Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at them!

What Bike Seat Should I Choose for My Kid?

Find out which seat is best suited for you and your kid