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Bike Trailers

originally p

We're thinking of getting a double bike trailer for our 6 month old and 3-1/2 year old. Any suggestions on brands? When do you think our baby will be old enough to ride in the trailer?

updated by urbanmamas on March 12, 2007

Now that springtime is coming, there is a flurry of renewed interest in bike trailers and towing the little ones around town.  So:Bike_seat 

  1. Did you decide on a bike seat or a bike trailer?
  2. What brand or make did you decide on?
  3. What are good local sources on where to buy your bike seat or bike trailer?Burley

We found a great nuts-n-bolts Bicycle Child Trailer Buyer's Guide, but we'd love to hear your experiences.


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Trailers vs. child seats
"Trailers can hold more weight than a child seat, can hold up to two children, and can hold toys and other necessities; in addition, the child does not need to be lifted to the height of the adult bike, and some trailers can double as strollers. Child seats generally cost less, are more compact, and allow the child view his or her surroundings more easily. Trailers are lower to the ground and so have a shorter distance to fall when overturned; furthermore, trailers have flexible hitches to allow the trailer to remain upright even if the adult bike falls.

Bike-mounted child carriers have the potential to destabilize the bike if the child moves abruptly or if the parent is not accustomed to the added weight. A fall from the height of the adult bike is potentially much more damaging to the child than a roll in a trailer."

We love our trailer - it's a Chariot and we got it at REI. It converts from jogging stroller to bike trailer and holds up to 100 lbs. I haven't pulled Carter along on it, but my DH has and he mentioned that he barely notices it pulling on the bike. Also, we live in a fairly busy area and had to navigate around a bus stop (very tight) and the Chariot did an excellent job. I still ride behind to make sure that all is well. Even though it is collapsable and a breeze to set up, it can be bulky to store if you do not have a shed or garage. Otherwise, we've logged quite a few miles running with it and hope to with it as a bike trailer! Good luck on your search ;-)

I looked into this when Everett was around 7/8 months. The general warning on the bike trailer is that your child should be about 18 months before going into a trailer. This seems a little old to me, but the first priority would be to get a helmet that fits your child. I found it REALLY hard to find bike helmets for little ones. Target had only one that would fit my son when he was 9 months. So, that should be a good starting point - don't let the baby ride until you can find a helmet that fits her!

The other good rule of thumb with things like this is if she can sit up unsupported. That's good for backpacks, high chairs, bouncing swings, etc. And if she's swimming in the harness, you'd probably want to wait until she was a little bigger.

Someone read my mind! We're preparing to buy a bike trailer for our 12 month old. I've been researching and most everyone is saying that 12 months is the time they can go in a trailer - with a helmet, of course.
We're planning to buy a Burley D'Lite at REI (free shipping to any store). REI members just got a coupon with their dividends that allows for 20% off one item. And these trailers are expensive - so we've been waiting all year for that coupon!

I found this nice article with info on biking with kids: http://www.biketraffic.org/content.php?id=27_0_6_0

We put our older son in the trailer starting at about 10 months. We got a helmet for him (complete with extra padding) at the Alberta bike co-op that fit just fine at that age. He's always been a bit punkin-headed, though, so YMMV. Providence has a kids helmet program, too. As for straps, that summer we shoved a 4-inch-thick piece of foam covered with a beach towel behind him so the straps were nice and snug and so there was room behind his head for the helmet's width. (Otherwise his head was shoved forward into his chest).

And only last year (when he was 2) did we learn we shouldn't have had him in there until age 1! Oops.

Anyway we have the Burley double dealie with the stroller kit - haven't used it as that, yet, but it's been winter and the baby is only 5 months old so I carry her in the Ergo for warmth on our walks.

We're glad to have it because it makes market trips and grocery shopping possible on bike - I believe it has more cargo space than the Chariot. But we'll probably get a seat at some point in the not-too-distant future, so I don't know if we'll ever have both kiddoes in it at the same time.

My sons both loved the bike seat. I felt safer having them right there with me. Plus you can hear them giggle and laugh with pure joy.

We have the d'lite which we got off Craigslist. Our son is 8.5 months now, so we haven't used it yet, but we were able to find a helmet at Performance (a Giro) that fit him when he was 5 months and will fit him until he's 2-3. Giro has a kids trade-up program so they will replace your kid's helmet when it doesn't fit anymore. This is a pretty good deal since the helmet was only $19 to start with. I can't wait for summer. I envision us riding to the park with a picnic in the back, going to the new Trader Joes (I wish it would open already) in Hollywood and having a nice time all around. Anyone have any tips for keeping it cool enough in the trailer? I'd also be interested to know what your limits are as far as the outside temp with your little one (toddler/baby).

We've got a Burley d'Lite and a Bobike Maxi seat, and I love them both.

We started putting Calvin in the Burley at 3 months, in his carseat, rear-facing, and Milo would ride in the Bobike seat. Now that Calvin's one, they both ride in the Burley together most of the time.

I've never had a problem with it not being cool enough in the trailer - if the plastic is rolled up, the screen cover lets in plenty of air.

You can get the Bobike seat from koolstop.com - they've got a warehouse in Lake Oswego, though I think the actual ordering was done via their California office. And we found a tiny helmet through nashbar.com

We bought the Burley double d'Lite (using the 20% off coupon at REI) and it meets all our needs. We were worried about visibility factor since it's so low to the ground, but - with the flag and with the adult pulling it - that really has not been an issue. I fell once while pulling it, and the trailer stayed completely upright. We love the cargo space in the back, though I can sometimes end up buying too many groceries that I have a slow ride home. The Burley collapses easily and quickly. The girls have never complained of getting too warm inside - in the summer, there is a visor-like thing and you can leave the plastic part completely rolled up. They enjoy the breeze as we bike. In the colder months or rain, they are totally warm and cozy and dry.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what to do when your kids are just too heavy for the trailer but the oldest isn't old enough to bike along with you on his own? I really want to continue biking and I have a great double trailer, but I just can't realistically zoom around town with the 70+ lbs. of kid and add groceries, library books, etc. Any experience with a tag-along and a trailer?

oh yeah, i wanted to throw out an alternative to the bike trailer or bike seat...the bakfiets. http://clevercycles.com/

what i wouldn't do for one of these! a friend just got one, and has been biking her 6 year old, 3 year old, and 2 month old (in the carseat) around town in it and loves it.

I want a bakfiet! I also just saw one yesterday at New Seasons as I was weaving cables to lock-up our bike + tag-along + trailer contraption.

I read up a little on the new Portland-based bakfiets here: http://bikeportland.org/2007/01/30/bakfiets-shipment-arrives-sightings-begin/

and apparently they're so safe there's no need for a helmet

Well I don't know about that, Leslie. I think most of the pictures on the clevercycle page are promo shots from the Netherlands*, where they don't as a rule wear helmets. I know I'd still be inclined to use them here, where even though it's a darn bike friendly city, cars tend to not be quite as used to bikes on the roads as in Holland.

*As an aside, the woman in the picture on the far left, with the two young kids in the bakfiets, is H.H. Princess Marilène - I love that royalty in the Netherlands is so into biking!

all sarcasm aside (i certainly wasn't serious, jj!), bike trailers are a fantastic way to commute and/or enjoy a leisurely ride with kids in tow. a couple notes, though...

*it's really important to invest in a GOOD trailer, i.e. Burley, Chariot, etc. Even though many have a hard time swallowing the $300-500+ price tag (as we did as po' college students w/our first child), good trailers hold their value, withstand the elements, and most of all, provide a safe environment for your child. So even if you spend more than you anticipate, know that you'll get it back out in the end, as well as having the peace of mind that your child is safe.

*also, be a defensive "rider." we all know that feeling of "i'm carrying precious cargo here - get the hell out of my way." let's just say it's exaggerated with a trailer, whereas it may not be as much so with a behind-parent-seat. always ride in designated bike lanes or on side streets. while it might seem lovely to meander down hawthorne on bike, it causes innumerable traffic problems and is a danger for everyone. if only the u.s. was more bike centric than auto centric, this wouldn't be a problem....we can hope....

happy riding!

*grin* i figured it was sarcastic, but you just never know...and i wanted to make sure that someone who was a newbie to biking with kids didn't think otherwise!

Fast forward two years from my initial post, another kid later and after logging miles and miles of use, our Chariot is still going strong! For those that are into multi-use, the Chariot is fantastic. I used it quite frequently to jog (until this winter)and bike with both of my boths. It does lack cargo space but now that my older son rides an Adam's trail-a-bike, we can use part of the trailer for hauling goods. I can't wait for lots of sunshine-y weather so we can go on more bike rides.

Just want to point out for anyone who is skeptical - helmets on kids (under age 12?) is the law.

(We called it an 'adventure hat' and that seemed to help the boy accept it).

Thanks for writing this.

Good post.

the child does not need to be lifted to the height of the adult bike, and some trailers can double as strollers. Child seats generally cost less, are more compact, and allow the child view his or her surroundings more easily. Trailers are lower to the ground and so have a shorter distance to fall when overturned; furthermore, trailers have flexible hitches to allow the trailer to remain upright even if the adult bike falls.

Child seats generally cost less, are more compact, and allow the child view his or her surroundings more easily.

I need a bike trailer that will hold my son and has ample space for groceries....it is going to be my main mode of transportation to help me lose weight....what would you suggest???

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