The pull-behind bike trailer has gone from rare bird to common sight over the past decade or so, particularly on limited-access trails and other places where perceived risk is lower. It’s easy to see why: Not only is a trailer considered to be considerably safer than a high-mount bike seat, it also allows active parents to stay active during that part of a child’s life when they aren’t ready to pedal along at a steady pace. As with the rest of the cycling hobby, trailers have become surprisingly specialized in recent years, with off-road-focused models gaining traction in the market. The most common type, however, is still designed for use on paved roads and trails. No matter which model you choose, chances are you’ll enjoy taking your child for a ride more than you expect.
How We Selected
Single or double trailer? It’s the first question you have to ask—and as your grandparents may tell you, it’s more than possible to wind up needing a double trailer when you thought you’d need only a single. We looked at good examples of both. We also selected a few trailers with off-road and cargo capability. In all cases, we prioritized durability and utility over gee-whiz features. A few trailers are convertible into running or ski models, but we did not use that as a basis for selection. And while there are a lot of places to save money on a bicycle, a child trailer isn’t among them, so we avoided the absolute lowest-cost entries unless they demonstrated extraordinary sturdiness. There are a few well-established brands in this business, but that’s not to say they’re the only games in town. Finally, we suggested a truly boutique product just in case you want something to go with your $12,000 electric-shift carbon road bike.
―THE DO-IT-ALL OPTION―
Thule Chariot Cross 2
Thule has a well-earned reputation as top of the trailer heap. The Chariot Cross 2 is a godsend for the indecisive: Strolling, biking, jogging, and skiing are all part of the mission plan. There’s enough tire and suspension for the occasional off-road diversion—think gravel bike or cross-country trail here, not UCI downhill or Danny MacAskill in that famous video where he does a backflip while pulling a trailer—and enough cargo space to carry all the things that two children might need. It stores almost flat and includes a rear light. This is all the trailer most parents will ever want, and it’s priced accordingly. Also available as a single for a hundred bucks less.
Allen Sports Deluxe
At the opposite end of the feature-packed and higher-priced Thule is the Allen Deluxe, which requires some challenging (confusing) assembly, isn’t terribly upscale, and lacks a list of extra features. Yet its owners love it because it’s cheap, it’s simple, and it holds up to extended use. It also provides some weather protection, like front and side windows, and safety features, like a padded five-point harness, a flas, and a bar to protect your child’s feet. It’s available in both single (shown) and double ($119) seat variants. This is one of the smaller and lighter trailers on the market. It weighs about 22 pounds in its lightest version and folds down easily with a quick release.
―BELLS AND WHISTLES GALORE―
Tout Terrain Singletrailer
This uniquely German take on a child trailer offers a Cr-Mo steel roll cage that is welded rather than bolted. An air shock absorbs impacts. It uses a single wheel and is intended to lean with the bicycle. An aluminum stand flicks out to hold it upright for loading and unloading. The coupler uses four separate ball bearings and approaches the status of industrial art. A Fidlock buckle for the belts offers top-notch security. If you know what Di2 is, or if you can tell the difference between Fox Factory and Performance Elite on a singletrack trail, you’ll want your child in a Tout Terrain.
―SUPER STURDY AND RUGGED―
Burley Cub X
Burley’s upcoming Cub X is another entrant in the all-things-to-all-parents category, with a few fascinating features to make the case for its stout price. The two seats recline individually, a stroller kit turns it into a four-wheeled all-terrain stroller in short order, it has a little extra rear cargo space, and the whole thing is designed to be hosed out through drain holes in the plastic tray. Adjustable sunshades keep the kids happy, and a hub-mounted parking brake keeps them from rolling off into the sunset without you. It’s currently out of stock, but you can sign up for an in-stock alert.
―A FAIR-WEATHER OPTION AT A FAIR PRICE―
Weehoo iGo Blast
This is a minimalist approach to a bike trailer for a single child: no suspension, no weather coverage, a simple harness, and a hitch system that simply clamps to the seatpost. The net result: a simple, cheerful way to take a smaller child for rides in conditions where they will enjoy the exposure to the elements. There are a few thoughtful touches, such as a fabric fender to prevent any unpleasant interaction between road debris and the child’s back, as well as a broad and useful footrest. If your plans don’t include any bumpy roads or bad weather, this could be a surprisingly functional choice. Weehoo offers the same basic idea, with additional comforts, across its line, but this model is the entry-level.
―NO-FRILLS, PREMIUM CHOICE―
Thule Cadence Two
Parents who are fascinated by Thule’s Chariot trailer but want to avoid a four-figure commitment can try the Cadence. The high-end features are missing—no easy conversion to ski or jog, no suspension—but the same general form factor, spacious cockpit, and high-quality build are all present and accounted for. There’s plenty of ventilation for when the weather is good and a quick-flip-down plastic shade for when it’s not. Storage isn’t as sophisticated as with the Chariot, as the wheels have to be removed, but it’s still a quick pack-up that easily fits in a trunk or storage area. Be aware, however, that the seats are unpadded—something you can easily rectify using just a few of the eight hundred dollars you’ll save over the high-end Thule.
―LOTS OF FEATURES FOR LESS―
Looking for a fully equipped trailer for less than the Thule or Burley? Schwinn has the Joyrider (shown), Trailblazer, and Echo. They’re all slightly different takes on the same idea of a wide, comfortable trailer with plenty of room for kids and trailer. While there’s a weight limit of 40 pounds per child, this shouldn’t be a problem for most parents. The hitch design allows the trailer to stay upright if the bike falls over, which is reassuring. Other premium features: spoked wheels with aluminum rims, rubber tires, and canopies that open and close without tools or hassle. All models fold flat. The hitch does not work with every bike—make sure you take a close look at what you have before you make this choice.
Like the Tout Terrain, the Hamax Outback has a full roll structure, adjustable suspension, and an easy-storage design. Unlike that German model, the Outback is a conventional double-wheel trailer with your choice of one or two seats. It’s roomy, comfortable, and allows children to recline in a manner that is both comfortable and safe. Think of it as the Volvo 240 “brick” of child trailers. Unfortunately, it’s also fairly brick-like in terms of weight: The double model is a full 55 pounds, more than almost any bike you’d use to pull it. Only the fittest, or most ambitious, of parental tow vehicles need apply.
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