Trailer-Cycles are a great way to bring your child on your next bicycle ride. Not only do they help children improve their cycling skills, while getting exercise, they also allow children to contribute to the speed and fun of your family cycling adventures. Trailer-cycles are essentially the back-half of a bicycle, including the handlebars, the saddle, the pedals, and the rear wheel, and they mimic the position of a traditional bicycle designed for smaller riders, though without the front wheel. They typically mount onto a dedicated rear rack or the seat post of a towing bicycle, and they can be easily mounted and unmounted from the towing bicycle or transferred to another bike. So as your child outgrows his or her bike child trailer
, balance bike
, or bike child seat
, you might want to consider a trailer-cycle to ease the transition to a regular bicycle.
Trailer-cycles allow you to increase the distance of your family cycling adventures without tiring out your child. On a trailer-cycle, your child is able to pedal along with you enabling him or her to ride farther than he or she might be able to on an independent bicycle. Additionally, your child still has the security of being under your control, since you are in charge of braking and steering. Unlike a tandem, your child can coast while riding on the trailer-cycle, and the two of you do not have to pedal in-sync with one another. At the same time, your child can develop a feel for riding a bicycle at a reasonable speed, which he or she can translate to his or her own bicycle when the time is right. Your child is also able to get some exercise and fresh air while riding on a trailer-cycle, as are you while towing one!
Trailer-cycle attachment systems make them very user-friendly and adaptable. Unlike a tandem, a trailer-cycle can be easily removed from a towing bicycle when it is not needed. On the same token, it can easily be transferred from one towing bike to another. Trailer cycles are typically mounted to a towing bicycle one of two ways: seat post or rack mounted. The most common attachment system is a seat post mounted system like those from Adam's Trail-A-Bike or Weehoo. Another, less common, system of attachment uses a dedicated rear rack that is attached to the rack eyelets on the towing bicycle and joins with the tow arm of the trailer-cycle. It should be noted that both systems will have an impact on your bicycle's handling characteristics. Since the trailer-cycle articulates from the towing bicycle, the weight can have varying push, pull, or sway effects. Single-wheel trailers like a trailer-cycle can often be felt swaying side-to-side slightly, which is perfectly normal but does take some getting used to. Also, the high mounting point of seat post or rack mounted systems above the axle of your rear wheel can increase the changes in bike handling, so it is important to get in some practice on the trailer-cycle before you head out for a long ride.
Much like a regular bicycle, trailer-cycles come in a variety of gearing options from single-speed trailer-cycles to geared trailer-cycles. Some trailer-cycles, like the Adams Folder 24 Trail-A-Bike, have larger wheels (ie. 24") to accommodate bigger riders. They are even available as tandem trailer-cycles for carrying two children. Most trailer-cycles can be folded down for easy transport and storage. As your child grows, you can make adjustments to the trailer-cycle in order to accommodate longer legs, arms, and torso by adjusting the seat post and saddle. Trailer-cycles typically do not have brakes, as the towing bicycle is in charge of braking. Additionally, it is often beneficial to add a set of toe-clips to the trailer-cycle pedals to help keep those little feet from flying off the pedals.
- Seat Post Mounted: Seat post mounted systems utilize a hitch that attaches to the seat post of the towing bicycle. With a seat post mounted trailer-cycle, like those from Adam's Trail-A-Bike or Weehoo, the pivot joint for the trailer-cycle is slightly extended from the seat post via the tow arm, which allows the trailer to pivot more naturally in corners and provides for a stable connection between the towing bike and trailer-cycle.
- Bike Rack Mounted: Rack mounted systems utilize a hitch that is integrated into a rear rack, which is mounted to your bicycle using the rack eyelets. Rack mounted systems are nice, because they provide a very stable base for the trailer-cycle pivot points, but they are less common and less adaptable between different bikes than their seat post mounted counterparts.
Impacts on Towing Bicycle Handling Characteristics
- Child Weight: It is generally recommended that any children who ride on the trailer-cycle only weigh about half as much as the rider of the towing bicycle. This recommendation varies slightly depending on the experience, riding style, and bicycle geometry of the towing cyclist and bicycle. However, the closer the child and adult are to each other in weight, the more the handling of the bicycle will change.
- Child Behavior: Additionally, it is recommended that the towing cyclist ask the child rider to stay relatively still and not get out of the saddle to pedal, as excessive movement can cause the trailer-cycle to rock from side-to-side and further impact the towing bicycle's handling.
- Towing Bicycle: Most bicycles are capable of pulling a trailer-cycle, but it is important that you make sure the towing bicycle is in good working order before using a trailer-cycle. If you have any questions about whether your bicycle will work with a trailer-cycle, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Is Your Child Ready for A Trailer-Cycle?
- Age: Children as young as the age of 3 can use a trailer-cycle, but as a parent, you are the best judge of whether or not your child is ready to use a trailer-cycle based on his or her size, strength, and disposition. The Adams Original Folder Compact Trail-A-Bike is designed specifically for smaller children from the ages of 3 to 5. The Adams Folder 24 Trail-A-Bike has larger wheels for bigger kids and can be used for children up to the age of 10.
- Weight: Although each manufacturer and specific product has different weight ratings, most trailer-cycles can accommodate children who weight up 75 - 85 pounds. Check the specs on your trailer-cycle to determine its load rating.
Features to Consider
- Gearing: Trailer-cycles are available in both single-speed and geared versions. Single-speed trailer-cycles are great for children who are new to riding and haven't learned the fundamentals of shifting. Geared trailer-cycles are perfect for older children who want to be able to contribute to the ride and learn how to shift.
- Folding: All of the trailer-cycles in the Adam's Trail-A-Bike model line can be folded down with an easy-to-use quick release mechanism that is integrated into the frame of the trailer-cycle. It is much easier to transport or store a trailer-cycle that is folded down, as they are quite long when fully extended.
- Multiple Riders: Tandem trailer-cycles allow you to bring two children with you on the next family cycling adventure. Not to mention, they give you twice the pedaling assistance!
- Panniers & Bags: The Weehoo iGo trailer-cycle comes equipped with two small panniers that are integrated onto the rear wheel of the trailer-cycle. There is also extra storage capacity in the seat of the iGo. However, unless your trailer-cycle is designed to carry panniers or bags, you should not mount additional bags on a trailer-cycle.
- Accessories & Extra Hitches: Trailer-cycles can be outfitted with a few useful such as a canopy for your Weehoo iGo or a backrest for your Adam's Trail-A-Bike. Another useful accessory is a second hitch for your trailer-cycle, which can be mounted on a second bike for easy transfer.
*For further information on trailer-cycles, please review our Trailer-Cycle FAQ's and our Bike Kids Comparison Chart.
Adams Trail-A-Bikes: Since 1986, Adam's has been focused on developing great products that make family cycling a great experience for everyone. The Adam's Trail-A-Bike line has something for children of all sizes, and their great accessories will make your next family cycling trip fun, memorable, and repeatable!
Weehoo Trailers: Weehoo products are designed by parents, for parents (and children, of course)! The Weehoo iGo trailer-cycle is a unique trailer-cycle/ bike child trailer that allows your child to comfortably sit, pedal, and enjoy your ride together. Try a Weehoo for your next family cycling adventure!