Here’s a guest post from Ron Fritzke on an addition some Bike Noob readers will want to make to their stable.
Riding a bike can take up a tremendous amount of time. We love being out on our bicycles and, when you don’t have domestic obligations, that usually doesn’t pose much of a problem. But what’s a cyclist to do once the kids start arriving, especially when they’re too small to keep up on a ride?
In the right circumstances (rides that aren’t weaving through the honking and bumping that occurs on city streets), a bike trailer may be your savior.
What Good Is A Bike Trailer?
- Bike trailers can start a pattern of the family doing things together rather than separately.
- Rides can be guilt-free, since there’s no issue of abandoning the spouse with the kids while going off on a solo ride.
- It’s nice to have some companionship on long rides…and sometimes refreshing to ‘see’ a ride through the eyes of a little person.
- Taking the kid(s) along introduces them to a healthy lifestyle.
- You can even take along some of the extra gear that you wouldn’t have been able to stuff into your bike jersey.
So Many Features…Which Are Important?
So let’s say you’re interested enough to look into the bike trailer world. What should you be looking for?
On the most basic of levels, the type of metal used for the frame will be important. The least expensive trailers are made of steel, while the better trailers use lightweight aluminum tubing for their frames. In high-end bike trailer companies, even the basic models like the Burley Honey Bee feature a strong, light aluminum frame.
Quality trailers roll along on wheels that are made of a metal alloy, but cheap trailers will have plastic wheels. And then there is the issue of ease of storage. It helps if the wheels are quick-release so that the trailer is easily reduced to a small package taking up as little room as possible in the garage between rides.
The best trailers have some sort of suspension system in them. When I first became aware of this I was expecting to see leaf springs, nitrogen-filled shocks, and a few of the other things you see on redneck trucks.
I should have known…the suspension system is so subtle that it could be missed completely if you lack my sleuthing skill-set. A bike trailer suspension is essentially some elastomer plastic between the axle and frame. I suppose it’s effective, but because I already weighed 150 pounds (and couldn’t fit into the trailer) when this feature was first introduced, I’ll have to go on faith with this one.
A feature you won’t necessarily see is any UV protection that may or may not have been put into the plastic windows. Your kid may be in the trailer for quite a long time, so limiting their exposure to harmful UV light is important.
If it isn’t important, why are you pinning them to the ground while you drown them in sunblock any time they even think about going outside?
I also mentioned earlier that the best bike trailers have wheels that come off easily…and that increases the ease in which the trailer folds down for storage. Let’s face it, most of the time the trailer won’t be rolling down the road; it’ll be taking up space in your garage. Along with a whole bunch of other toys.
So the ability of the the trailer to be reduced to a flat little square may be appreciated as much, or more, than any other feature. I know that when I had an early model Burley (before the folding days) I had to store it with other junk piled into it so that I could salvage as much wasted space in the garage as I could.
Enjoy A Bike Trailer Now…Sell It Later
I won’t beat a dead horse (I’ve already given you a list of the benefits of getting a bike trailer), so here’s an added slant to the bike trailer angle. If you get a quality bike trailer to begin with, the resale value can remain relatively high. That means selling it on Craigslist will recoup most of what you paid for it…and if you bought it used to begin with you may lose very little at all.
And the benefits you’ll gain by taking your kids for rides may set up a parenting style that lasts long into the future. I know that I’m glad I did.
About the author: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. His time spent pulling his kids around in an old school bike trailer are some of his fondest cycling memories.