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Bike trailers for cycling with children
Bike trailers for cycling with children are a brilliant way to transport your kids when they are too young to ride themselves. T'hey're perfect for year round use, and most young children seem to revel in the opportunity to ride in one, helping to make every trip exciting. They're also good for transporting shopping when you don't have passengers with you!
What are bike trailers for cycling with children?
Cycle trailers resemble a chariot or carriage with a single wheel on either side of the seating area. At the back there may be a storage pouch that has a flap cover fixed in place by either a zip or velcro.
At the front there is an arm or boom that secures onto the bicycle frame by a connecting kit that comes with the trailer.
If the bike trailer is to be pulled by more than one bicycle, then consider a trailer by manufacturers such as Burley, who sell additional hitch kits, so there’s no need to keep swapping the fixings over. This is really useful if both parents need to use the trailer.
Most children's bike trailers can hold two passengers. Inside you will find a bench type seat complete with safety harnesses to keep things in order and little ones in position. Some models have storage pockets which can be useful for securing drinks, snacks or favourite stuffed toys.
There are several single seat bike trailers on the market, which are obviously lighter and cheaper than the double seaters.
Visibility for the little passengers inside a trailer is good, with windows to the side, front and rear - some children's trailers also have little flaps to improve airflow.
In the summer, the front flap can be rolled up and secured, thereby giving the occupants the feeling of ‘open-topped’ trailering and allowing them an improved view of the outside world.
What age can I put my child in a bike trailer?
Children can travel in bike trailers when they are able to support their heads unaided - usually between the ages of 12 and 18 months.
There is a model of the Croozer trailer which allows you to transport a rear facing car seat, so you can start using a trailer virtually from birth. It's best to check with your GP or Health Visitor that there is no reason why your baby shouldn’t be transported in a bike trailer before you set out.
How long you can keep pulling your children in the bike trailer for will depend on the weight limit specified by the manufacturer, and how fit you are!
Sizes and weight limits are different for each trailer model, so do check the suitability for your child/children/ shopping before purchasing. Also look at how roomy the trailer is inside because you don’t want your growing over because headroom is limited, or squashed in like sardines because it isn’t wide enough.
Why buy a bike trailer for cycling with your child?
It’s fun!! Preschool kids love going in a bike trailer, and you may find your kids friends queuing up for rides.
Most children's bike trailers can accommodate two passengers, so are ideal to transport a growing family.
Children's cycle trailers are inherently safer than bike seats, as they are separate to your bike. If you come a cropper on your bike the trailer may well remain upright. The most expensive models have excellent roll cages to protect your children.
Protection from the elements is a major benefit of bike trailers, and means you can cycle with your children for the majority of the year.
The stability of a bicycle trailer means that if you’ve got appropriate tyres on your bike and the confidence, fitness and desire then you can cycle in more challenging conditions. For example, Cycle Sprog’s Chris trailered the kids to school every day throughout the snow of winter 2010/11.
Most children's cycle trailers come with storage pockets. This is great as it provides flexibility to carry or purchase items on your trip. Given all the extras you need to take with you on even a short trip out with a little one, this can be a major bonus compared to a front or rear seat. Remember though you do have to pull your load, and heavy additional objects can affect the tipping point (see below), and must be included when calculating the overall load.
Is a cycle trailer right for you and your family?
Bike trailers for cycling with children are much heavier than front or rear seats, so you do need a reasonable level of fitness before using one. Transferring from a rear bike seat with one child to a trailer with two children is quite noticeable, especially if you’re still recovering from pregnancy.
Even the slightest hill is magnified when pulling a trailer loaded with passengers, so unless you’re super fit you’ll need a bike with a good range of gears to get you to the top, and don’t worry if you need to get off and push.
All children's bike trailers have a tipping point – something that is more likely to be reached if you’re transporting two kids and all their bags etc. As your load gets heavier, be wary when stopping or going over kerbs. It can be a struggle to right the trailer again on your own.
Being wider than a bike, trailers can be troublesome in tight spaces. They also need a lot more space when parked up and can’t handle narrow off road paths, so you do need to plan your routes with care.
Your child / children are in an enclosed space behind you. This means you have no idea what they are up to, and be prepared for surprises when you open the trailer door. Never ever leave them with chocolate or felt tipped pens.
Being low down and enclosed the view from a trailer is very restricted. Whilst you may be seeing wonderful views over hedges and fences whilst doing all the hard work, expect some “we’re bored” whinges from your ungrateful passengers.
Being quite a distance behind you, deciphering shouts from the trailer can be difficult, especially if there is a lot of traffic noise. Factor in time for stops so you can understand and resolve these calls for attention. This leads on to the next point....
If you’re kids fight and argue when they are at home, they are unlikely to stop when you strap them into a confined space next to each other. You’ve been warned.......
As your children grow, they can start to open the trailer door, and poke limbs out. A leg hitting the rear wheel of your bike signals it’s probably time for a big talk about cycle safety. Repeat offenses and you’ll probably be starting to think about a tag-along or first bike.
Thinking of buying a children's bike trailer?
See our article on things to consider before buying a trailer to help decide what features you should look out for before parting with your cash.
We've also got advice when using a trailer on the road for the first time.
Check out how one dad and his young son got on reviewing the Bumper Solo trailer
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