This was our dilemma when we (my husband and I and two children Alice - 10 and Tom - 7) went on a recent touring holiday. Having used a 2 wheel bike trailer when the children were smaller to carry them and some of the gear, we thought a single wheel trailer (in combination with one set of rear panniers) might be the answer. This would allow us not only to increase what we could carry, but meant that the strongest family member could pull it!
Topeak claim that their Journey bike trailer is 'perfect for a ride to the market or a trip across a continent'. We decided to see if they were right and put it this trailer to the test with the latter – a family cycle tour along the Danube….and it didn’t disappoint!
Topeak Journey Single wheel bike trailer review
Lets starts with the bag!
I'm the person who does the lion’s share of the packing, so the bag was an all important factor!
With the Topeak Journey Single wheel trailer you get a 63 litre ‘stand alone’ dry bag which allows you to literally ‘chuck it all in’ and go. Even the kids could pack it! Result! This is much easier than panniers, which in my experience require more precise, and definitely more frustrating, packing.
For camping kit that you don’t need to access during the day (accessing the bag is quite tricky once it’s loaded in the trailer), the bag was especially useful. This also left the panniers empty for food, waterproofs and colouring books. All the daily essentials of a family cycling trip!
The bag is made of a good quality fabric which is ‘sonically welded’ and ‘seam sealed’ (so the spec says). What I can confirm is that it’s both durable and waterproof. Our sleeping bags went directly in the bag and despite some quite heavy downpours were never wet. The bag, having been subject to airport conveyor belts and dragged through campsites, still looks like new.
The bag has a zip and a roll top closure with a good sturdy plastic clip buckle, which keeps everything inside secure and the elements out. Although it’s not easy to get the full bag in and out of the trailer frame the fact that it’s stand alone and has two robust handles allows you to carry the bag to where you want it. This was especially useful when we stayed in places where the bikes and trailer were stored in one place and we camped/stayed in another.
The capacity of Top Peak Journey bike trailer can be increased by using straps. The tubing of the frame means there are lots of grab points for bungees. We, for example, strapped our tent on the top. Bear in mind though that the more top heavy the trailer, the less stable it is. Where possible we would recommend loading heavy items at the bottom and towards the bike.
Now onto the trailer itself!
Build quality of the Topeak Journey
The Topeak Journey Single wheel trailer is constructed of a lightweight aluminium frame and forks, base board and wheel . We found the quality of all the components to be good. The trailer feels sound and sturdy. Nothing broke or required replacing on our trip and we put it through its paces on different road surfaces and with heavy loads.
Stability of the Topeak Journey Single wheel trailer
It's very light (6.45kg according to Topeak) so when empty you barely notice it’s on the back of the bike. Even when it’s loaded, the trailer follows nicely behind, corners well and feels in tune with the bike when travelling along at a constant speed. However when moving slowly or coming to a stop, this trailer was not as stable as the 2 wheel trailer we had previously used. In these situations the Journey trailer did have a tendency to pivot/tip to one side. Overall though what the trailer loses on stability it gains on efficiency and that was a top priority for us.
When we moved from the airport we really loaded the trailer up with all our stuff (you can see our bike bags that we used on the plane rolled up on top). I wouldn't recommend travelling like this for long distances, but it does show what's possible with the Topeak Journey when needed.
Disconnection/connection of the trailer from the bike
The connecting and disconnecting system is both easy to fit (there is a central axis which replaces the quick release skewer on your bike’s rear wheel) easy to operate and very secure. Just make sure you keep little fingers away! It consists of two spring loaded plastic clips on the hitch arms of the trailer that you pull back and drop over a peg on either side of the bike. Once in place you twist the clips to release them and they slide forward to lock everything in position. Topeak supply an extra optional fitting so that you can install the trailer on a second bike.
Please note that the Journey Trailer is compatible with 26" - 29" QR type rear wheels only. It is not compatible with rear wheels using thru-axles or solid axles.
Depending on the weight of the trailer it can require some effort to connect the trailer to the bike.
We found when it was fully loaded, it required two people - one to hold the trailer and the other to hold the bike at the correct angle.
Collapsing and transporting the Journey bike trailer when not in use
The number of components in the trailer is small (wheel, forks, frame and bag). This allows it to be collapsed easily when not in use, using just one allen key and a spanner. Simply disconnect the wheel, attach it with a cable tie to the frame, then loosen the forks and turn them inwards. Collapsed like this, the trailer measures 100 cm x 33cm x 43cm so doesn’t take up too much room in the boot of a family sized car, and when wrapped in plastic we were even able to book it in to the hold on the plane.
Overall verdict of the Topeak Journey Single wheel trailer for use on a family cycling holiday
The Journey is a compact trailer with a good carrying capacity. The build quality is good, and the carry bag excellent for keeping kit dry. The trailer performs best at steady speeds, so is recommended for families with older children who don't keep stopping every ten minutes.
The Topeak Journey Single Wheel bike trailer has an RRP of £359.99 and can be bought from Tredz or Chain Reaction Cycles.
The dry bag is available to purchase separately with an RRP of £97.99, but is sometimes available more cheaply on Amazon.
If this article has inspired you to start planning your family cycling holiday, check out these other posts. And don't forget to follow Cycle Sprog on Facebook to keep up to date on everything family cycling related.
About Kathryn: Kathryn is from the UK, but in Summer 2015 moved with her family (husband and two children, Alice and Tom) to Montreal. She works as a trainer, facilitator and coach, using her experience of cross-cultural working and cultural transition to support other families with relocation. Find out more about Kathryn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryneade
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