As your little one starts to grow a tag-along (or trailer bike) is a great option for introducing the sensation of traveling on a bike at reasonable speed. With handlebars to control and pedals to stamp on they are brought into the thick of the action; now having an active role in the experience rather than being an observer.
Tag along and trailer bikes for kids – description
Think of the main portion of a child’s bike (handlebars, saddle, pedals and rear wheel) but instead of a front wheel and forks there is a long towing arm that attaches via a hitch or clamp to the rear of your bike. The lack of a front wheel and handlebars that are fixed in place gives you total control over balance and steering, while your child has the sensation of being on a bike with the freedom to sit by themselves and the opportunity to pedal.
Generally constructed of steel they are not lightweight and assistance from your child on hills should be encouraged. High end models are fitted with lighter weight components such as alloy wheels and seat posts to help reduce some weight.
Most manufacturers make single speed and geared versions. Single speed are ideal for younger riders, who get distracted easily by gears, or for those only cycling on flat routes. For hillier rides, or those with older kids, geared versions can make the journey easier.
what sizes do they come in?
The majority of tag-a-longs come equipped with a 20” wheel which tends to be suitable for children aged from 4 to 7 years. Some manufacturers, such as Trek, produce a larger 24” wheel version which is ideal for the larger rider.
why buy a tag along?
- If your child isn’t able to fully control their own bike yet, a tagalong is a brilliant way to get out cycling together. They are also really good if you want to cover a lot of distance in a day, and know your little one won’t have the stamina to keep up.
- If you want to make regular commutes by road (say to school) but your child isn’t ready to cycle with traffic, then a tagalong is a good way to introduce them to on road cycling, without them needing any road sense.
- A tagalong’s manoeuvrability is better than that of a trailer, and a tag-a-long is speedier too. It should enable a lot of ground to be covered far quicker than if you were towing a trailer, as in theory you have another pair of legs to share the load.
things to consider before buying a tagalong
Tagalongs at the cheaper end of the spectrum can be very heavy, which in turn can make progress difficult.
Storage can be a problem due to the length, especially when left attached to the adult cycle
A tagalong doesn’t have the ability to defend against the weather in the way that a trailer can.
Your child may realise they can sit there while you do all the hard work. This can encourage them to be lazy and turn you into a fitness instructor, shouting at them to pedal harder.
useful tips for using a tag along
When the tagalong is attached to a bike it becomes pretty lengthy so it can be difficult to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
Sudden movements from your child will be felt by you and can cause some leaning. Try to discourage your child from standing up in the pedals when traveling uphill.
They require more space to park up than a regular bike, so you may need to plan your journeys to ensure you’ve got somewhere to leave it on arrival.
Other road users may not expect your bike to be pulling a tag-along, so always use a flag on the back
It’s difficult to communicate with your child, especially when there is significant traffic noise
before you buy……
Not all bikes fit a tagalong, especially those with rear suspension. It’s always best to seek advice from your local bike shop before purchasing
Check how the tagalong connects to your bike and ensure a good fitting is achievable as it can be disconcerting for a little one if there is play at the hinge as this translates into rocking from side to side.
Buy a tagalong bike that fits, not one that your little one will ‘grow’ into.
do you need accessories?
Depending on time of year and when you intend cycling, it may be appropriate to purchase a front and rear light set.
Your child is sitting directly behind your rear wheel, so in wet or muddy conditions will get filthy. Fit a rear mud guard to your bike to help minimise this or you’ll have one disgruntled passenger.
are you planning on using the tag along in all weather conditions?
The more expensive models such as Burley and Trek have alloy components which will last much longer
how easy is it to get replacement parts?
This will be a key consideration if you’re relying on the tag along for the daily school run or other regular commute. Ask how quickly your retailer can get spare attachments, flags and tyres.
Models vary in price from under £100 for sale models to over £250 for some geared versions. If you’re planning on using it on the daily commute every day for several years and if your budget can stretch to it, a more expensive model may be worth the investment .
For details of makes and models available, and where to buy them, go to our tagalongs to get you cycling page.