The first bike trailer I bought I spent about 47 seconds deciding what to get.
Needless to say, I no longer have that bike trailer even though it set me back about $300
I can’t knock the trailer itself — it was a Trek GoBug Single, and it looked like a spaceship.
Back then, I didn’t know anybody with a bike trailer, and I thought it was totally gangster.
Well – as gangster as you get in Central Park while hauling a little girl in an expensive piece of gear while she drinks from a juice box.
The trailer was a high performer for sure, but it wasn’t what I needed. It didn’t suit my circumstance, and it was ultimately a bad purchase that I ended up fire selling on Craigslist so that I could get the trailer that I needed.
Having owned several bike trailers and testing dozens (and adding a second passenger!), I can now clearly delineate what’s important, what’s hype, and what is essential.
Why do you want a bike trailer?
I can probably save you at least $100 right now by just asking to clearly define what you’re going to do with the trailer.
Hauling your kids around with a bike trailer is actually quite intoxicating — like you’re doing everything right. I get it.
But, I want you to keep using it – like, a lot. Chances are if you don’t really know why you need/want a bike trailer then you’re just shopping for a trendy gadget, and that’s not really helping anything. The idea is to do things smart, right? Then let’s do this!
So, you need to ask yourself if you’re done having kids for awhile (single child trailer vs. double child).
That being said, you might be surprised how many single child bike trailers are available used. Oops. This might be your best bet to get the taste of the trailer.
Also, keep in mind you may be excited about the birth of your first (and you think only) child, but you’re not getting a six-week old baby in a bike trailer. Yeah, I made this mistake.
Your child needs to be old enough to sit up and keep her head up. Think about it – these trailers are FAST! This is not your normal stroller that you’re taking to the drug store or the mall.
These are wide, lightweight, and built for frictionless transport. They’re impressive.
But, the speed may freak you out at first – realizing that your kid is now feeling the road at 12-30 miles per hour! Plus, you are supposed to be minding the road and NOT staring over your shoulder. Your child needs to be at least semi-independent (if there is such a thing).
Now, I have seen inserts for the Burley trailers that will accommodate a baby which is awesome, but I’ve never tried it.Â I’m sure it works great, but I don’t know how I feel about putting a 3-month old in the trailer, so you’ll have to decide given your own terrain, location, and experience.
How often are you going to use this trailer?
I’d say that if you’re planning on at least 3-season use at once or twice per week, then you should probably get a higher end trailer by Burley or Thule. It’s not necessary, mind you. A less expensive trailer will likely last you for a good long while albeit with more problems probably.
As an example, I owned a trailer that I paid a fair amount of money for, put some serious miles on it, and broke it. NO problem here because I don’t expect things to last forever. At that point, it’s worth fixing whereas cheaper trailers tend to become landfill fodder.
HOW do you want to use this bike trailer?
Are you planning on 3 Sunday hauls to the beach per year? Or, are you hardcore and planning on hauling kids to school everyday rain, snow, or shine?
Also, keep in mind that pretty much any bike trailer for kids is also a stroller. Yes, they will all point out that it’s built as a stroller, but so long as it’s got at least 3 wheels (on a detachment), then its’ a stroller.
Speaking of Bicycle Trailers that are also Strollers
One of my biggest complaints with the first Trek I bought was that the front wheel was fixed once it was attached — as in, it didn’t swivel. To the layman this doesn’t appear to be a big deal until you try doing some jogging with it then realize that you have to keep lifting the front end off the ground every five paces or so in order to stay on track.
At first it’s no big deal, but if you love using your trailer as a stroller as well, believe me, what ends up happening is that it becomes such a pain in the ass that you end up canceling your trip — this is the worst possible outcome.
Plus, don’t forget that your little angel is getting bigger all the time. The only person hauling/pushing is you!
Where are you using this child carrier?
Most of us are going to be using these Bad Larries on urban/suburban streets, but if your vision is to haul your young ones on a mountain bike trail, you may want to opt for a more purpose-built trailer that is built a bit beefier.
BTW, YOUR tires matter a lot more than the tires of the trailer because you’re the one who needs the traction, and you want the least amount of friction as possible.
Also, consider your climate. Any trailer worth buying for your kids will come with a rain shell and a bug screen. Most times, I don’t bother with it, but it’s handy as hell when you need it.
Nobby tires on a trailer generally isn’t necessary unless you’re regularly encountering rough terrain and want the extra nobbiness (is that a word?) as insulation against branches and rocks.
A bike trailer is a big piece of gear — especially if you live in a 450 sq ft apartment in Brooklyn with a spouse and baby. Just sayin’.
When I rocked the Trek, I had no idea how it folded up and stored. I just figured it DID – somehow, and it was a messy struggle.
Nowadays, most bike trailers fold and store flat with relatively little effort. But, I want to emphasize that the more friction there is between you and your kid actually sitting behind you in a trailer, the less likely it’s going to happen.
This is important, so if your trailer is a pain in the ass to get together and get moving, the more likely you are to cancel your plans…. again, worst case scenario! You want to get out there as much as possible, so pay attention to how the trailer is stored.
If you’ve got a giant garage or suitable space outdoors that is secure, I recommend not folding it down at all. That way, when your kid goes running to and sits down in the trailer, they’ll essentially guilt you into taking them out.
It’s a great motivator. Keep that thing visible and ready to go, and you’re far more likely to actually use it.
There’s a lot more to this than you thought, huh? Well, there’s actually more to it based on your personal decisions, but that’s what I’m here for.
Ultimately, I’m motivated to get you out on the road as much as possible and out of your car because it’s just better for everybody.
I’d like to save you both time and money while maximizing your enjoyment.
But, if you don’t mind — what did I miss or what questions do you have? It would be great if you dropped a comment because that helps everybody!
Thanks, and good luck.