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Photo by Ben Johnson
Double Bike Trailers - Feature
Double Bike Trailers - Feature
My husband and I decided it was time to try out the world of trailers. With two young children under the age of four attending two different daycares, both within two miles from our home, and winter weather quickly approaching we were looking for a solution that would allow us to share the pick up and drop off responsibilities as well as keep the kids dry when it rained.
The good – Most trailers allow you to keep your kids dry when transporting them by bike. This type of transportation system even has the possibility of becoming a full "sport utility system" with accessories such as jogging kits, ski kits, hiking kits as well as strolling wheels.
With the added weight you will be towing, you will find yourself with stronger leg and butt muscles as I can guarantee that you will feel the added weight that a trailer with children adds to your bike, especially when you are riding up hills. Be prepared to feel super fast on your bike when you don’t have the trailer.
The bad – The biggest difference I found between a cargo bike and a trailer was the simplicity of stopping and starting. I still much prefer how cargo bikes require only a good kickstand and you and your kids can stop and go with little fuss. Whereas with the trailer, I still struggled with ensuring that my bike didn’t fall over every time I loaded the kids into the trailer. The kids were always fine, it’s just my poor bike that has taken quite a beating since adopting the trailer. While all of the trailers we tested fit through a standard width of a door or gate, I can’t get used to having to swing the gate completely open. If you have to make a sharp turn to enter, this can also be a big pain in the butt. To solve this issue, we have decided that in the spring, when our old gate finally bites the dust, we will design a larger opening so that I no longer get frustrated every night just trying to get into the yard. Don’t get me wrong, I also struggle with this same issue with my cargo bike, but at least it is one moving part and not two.
The reality – After using trailers for two months straight, even though I can’t say I love them, I can no longer live without one. They do the job of keeping the kids dry and allow both parents to share in the child schlepping responsibilities. I’m also really excited to use the trailer to return to the mountains to do more outdoor activities like backcountry hiking and cross country skiing.
Here are a few important things to consider when choosing a trailer for your family:
- Ensure that you have enough room to store the trailer. Trailers take up space. Not as much as a car, but if you want to keep the trailer in good shape it is advisable to have a covered area or a storage cover. Since it’s started to rain and we park the trailer outside we have found that even though the back of the trailers have mesh venting, with the high relative humidity of the Pacific Northwest and unrelenting rain, it can quickly get a little moldy in the trailer. Luckily the materials used allow for easy maintenance. We just wipe them down and throw the seat pads into the washing machine.
- If you’re looking for a single stroller, consider that double strollers, while they look bigger can often have a similar width of wheelbase of a single stroller.
- If more than one person will be using the trailer purchase two hitches.
- Always get the rain cover. While you may be a fair weather rider, you will still want to protect your kids from debris that kicks up from your back tire.
- Make sure the back tire of your own bike has a fender and long mud flap to keep water and debris from kicking up onto the trailer.
- Get lights. As it gets dark, you’ll want to let others on the road know that you have babies on board. Remember that trailers are low to the ground and may not be easily seen by drivers. They may also block the lights mounted on your bike.
- Consider getting the stroller option, so that others watching your kids can use it even though they don’t have a bike.
- If you have an internal-gear hub, check to see if the trailer offers an internal hub hitch adapter. Internal-gear hubs often render the attachment point too short to attach the hitch. The axle may not be able to withstand towing over 50 lbs without a special attachment.
- Remember that trailers are wider than your bike and that you should take extra care when passing bollards on cycle tracks and bike paths.