A guide to choosing a child bike trailer

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This post is a guide through the kinds of things you might want to think about or look for when searching for the right bike trailer for you. I am not going to do a comparison of different trailers on the market- I don’t have enough experience of different brands to be able to do that! I own a Chariot double Trailer and a Weeride Classic single trailer. We used to have a Halfords trailer which we gave to a family member, and a Weehoo Igo Two which I sold on ebay. Despite having experience of these, there are so many other brands that I would not be able to begin to talk about which brand is best for you. If you want more information on specific brands after reading this post, you could start by looking at Two Wheeling Tots, an American website with lots of reviews of child bike kit.
Naturally they don’t have everything that’s available on the market on there, but it’s a pretty good place to start.

Here we talk about the choice between a single/double trailer, whether price matters, and the types of features to look for in purchasing a bike trailer.

Single or double?

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The first most obvious question is do you want to use it for one child or two. There is a bigger demand for double trailers out there, they allow you most obviously to carry two children, but can also be used if you have a lot of cargo or for touring.

Having bought a single trailer at the start of this year, though, I feel the need to sing their praises! They have a few benefits you might not think about at first:

  • You can get through tighter spaces with them
    while out and about, such as through bollards on cycle paths
  • When using the trailer as a stroller, should you choose to, you are more likely to be able to get the trailer through the front door or shop doors.
  • The trailer will take up less space when you store it.
  • Whilst commuting you take up less space on the road which on some busy roads can make you feel safer.

So whilst many would say get a double trailer to give you the option of carrying two children, depending on how you use it (or how many children you have!) there are good reasons why a single trailer is worth considering. A single trailer doesn’t necessarily limit you to carrying only one child as most trailers attach to your bike with a hitch on the wheel and so you should be able to also use a child bike seat for an additional younger child. Having done this a few times though I would say it can feel unbalanced if you are carrying older children (I tried it with a 6 year old in the trailer and a 3 year old in the bike seat and I didn’t feel totally comfortable).

I think after reading all this, most people will still want a double trailer to have the option of carrying two children. I would probably make the same choice and to be fair, we are not ready to give up our double trailer just yet. It is still useful for family rides rather than our daily commuting. But for my daily school run the single trailer fits the bill perfectly, for all the reasons above.

How much to spend, and does it really matter?

You’ll get what you pay for, but is it really worth paying more for a trailer when you can pick one up from Halfords or Aldi for around £100? If you will use the trailer a lot for long rides or even for touring then the higher end trailers are more robust and more comfortable with padded seating for example. Having said that if you don’t plan to use it that often, then the budget options will definitely be a more sensible choice.

It sounds obvious but do check ebay, gumtree and Facebook buy/sell groups. If you are not necessarily looking for a particular brand, there are usually a good selection of trailers available, and often in very good/hardly used condition. You could get more for your money this way. We picked up our Chariot double trailer (now known as Thule) for a third of the RRP on ebay. The Weeride single trailer I bought on ebay as a ‘second’ (it was a customer return but was basically new bar a few scratches) at a good discount.

Also bear in mind when setting your budget that you should be able to sell the trailer on once you’re done with it.

Features to look for

There are a few key features that you may wish to consider:

  • How much internal space is there? Is there enough leg room, enough room for two children to be comfy in a double trailer, and is there enough headroom as well- if you use helmets in the trailer you want to make sure there is enough room for them. A decent amount of internal space also means you can sometimes use it to carry cargo, as in the picture below where the trailer carried  picnic stuff for about 20 people on a Cycle Sisters ride! (Don’t worry there is no child hiding under all that stuff, my daughter was at preschool and the helmet was just there as I needed it for the pick up after!)
  • How much storage space does it have? Never underestimate how much space you will need for kids paraphernalia. Never. Ever.
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  • Are there internal pockets? Useful for kids drinks, snacks, toys etc
  • How wide is the trailer? You may wish to measure your front door width and compare to the trailer widths so you can figure out if you need to fold the trailer before bringing it in the house/garden, or whether the kids can stay in until you fold it up inside (note that some manufacturers don’t list this information on their websites, but you could contact them directly, contact a retailer, or look up a seller on ebay selling a preloved one of the trailer you’re looking at and ask them to measure for you!)
  • Does the trailer come with a stroller kit or do you need to buy this separately? A stroller kit is extremely useful for once you have arrived at your destination. It’s basically an additional set of front wheels and a handlebar, which you use to switch the trailer into a stroller that can be wheeled around. Great for shopping, café stops, and sleeping children! Some trailers come with the stroller kit (eg Weeride, Aldi, Thule), others you have to purchase separately (eg Burley, Halfords).
  • Does the trailer have a jogging accessory (if you are into that!)? This is similar to a stroller kit but is usually a bigger wheel to enable jogging rather than plain walking.
  • How easily does the trailer fold up? You tube videos with reviews can help to figure this out before you buy.
  • Do you want to switch bikes that you attach the trailer to? For example you and your partner may both wish to use the trailer at different times. We lock up the trailer at preschool if one of us is doing drop off and the other picking up so an extra hitch is useful. If you want to do something like this, look at how much does a second hitch cost would cost. Shop around- we found a generic hitch on Amazon for our Weeride which was half the price of the Weeride one.

 

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Some of the information listed here is not available on manufacturers websites, but you can look online for reviews for different trailers- Amazon reviews and Youtube reviews are great as well as searching online for particular brands to see if any bloggers have reviews. There are other factors you may want to think about too, but these are the ones that were most important to me when searching for a trailer. Let us know if you found this useful, or how your search for a trailer went in the comments below!

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