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Bike trailer, mad, bad, dangerous?

  • 01-10-2022 10:00pm
    Registered Users Posts: 885 ✭✭✭

    I'm thinking of taking the plunge and buying a trailer for commuting with my two under 3 (dropping them off at a creche). I've always hated the idea, to be 100% honest, but it seems more practical than the bike seat and crossbar seat combo.

    I imagine pros are:

    Kids probably more comfortable

    Rain shouldn't be an issue


    Cost of trailer


    Lugging the yoke around with me after dropoff

    It'd be good to hear peoples experiences or if i'm right about the pros and cons. People who use them seem positive about them in general I'd say. A secondary question would be is it worth getting the better brands or are they all basically the same?


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,862 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    I've never used one but have seen a few and know some here used them for years. Kids love them, drivers appear to give more space to them. Having seen some test videos on here a few years ago, I'd say they are safer than most options once the kid is buckled in as they are effectively a roll cage. For this reason, if i had to buy one, I'd buy premium, those companies rely on positive reviews and I imagine have a bit more r&d into safety.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,614 ✭✭✭✭Del2005

    The kids will be at the same level of the exhaust of every vehicle you pass. Don't think I'd like to be that near the exhaust of a petrol never a coal rolling diesel.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,146 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    The other option you might want to look at is an Urban Arrow type front loading cargo bike. Most are electric assist but some brands do non-electric too. Would be a whole different price range (the electric ones probably start at around 5000), but if you could potentially use it to replace a car you are looking at a huge net saving when you factor in running costs. I'm currently in the market for one for the creche run too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 782 ✭✭✭gn3dr

    Never tried one but I'd be concerned about not being able to see them when travelling along. Also that someone could hit you from behind and they would take the impact. The front loading ones, cargo bikes like Urban Arrow mentioned above would seem a better option to me. Prices of them are mad though.

    I'm thinking about sourcing an alu mountain bike frame and a Bafang mid drive kit to try build one for the craic. I personally don't see why they cost >€5k. But then again I can't see why a normal bike is as expensive 🙄

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,146 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    I was looking at a Riese and Muller one yesterday - looked great, safe and comfortable, but was closer to 9k. I was really trying to figure out where they got that from. But I do on the other hand ride a 5k carbon road bike.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,039 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    In a study is was worse for car drivers as the cars suck in that air at bumper height to the cabin. Then pedestrians. Cyclists are least effected as they spend least time beside it.

    Unless you cycle at walking pace and your journey is constantly in traffic. You should be better cycling. You might also have option to take a quieter road on a bicycle.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,381 ✭✭✭Gerry

    I use bike trailer occasionally for bringing my kid to creche.

    It saves a lot of time. much quicker and more predictable than car. And a decent workout.. can get a few intervals in!

    safety is a concern, theres bike lane for maybe 2/3 of the journey. But so far car drivers seem to be patient and giving a lot more room than if I was out on a proper spin in the dreaded lycra. A lot will be parents on the school run and while I'd have general concerns about their driving they are looking out for kids. I am keeping up with traffic so presumably that helps also.

    You need to watch out for potholes.

    My trailer is halfords and doesnt have much cushioning to it.

    The only incident of note happened after dropoff with an empty trailer as I went down to builders providers to pickup a few bits. I guess this is not a route that would see bike trailers much but no excuse.. far as they knew when close passing there were kids in the trailer.

    So you need to assess based on your route. The front loaders probably have some advantages, depending on the type they look a bit top heavy though

  • Registered Users Posts: 885 ✭✭✭brocbrocach

    Ah those front loaders are obscene money. I can't see why as they're mostly bulky 'dutch' looking yokes. I can buy the carrier and crossbar seats for under €90 so that's my starting point. As mentioned above I'd probably be looking for a good brand from the safety pov but those are very pricey too.

    Maybe second hand wouldn't be a bad option? Most people presumably offload them when kids get too big.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,862 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    From a physics vs feelings perspective, a good trailer would be safer than a cargo bike in my opinion. Having watched the test videos, a good one will act like a cage, that can roll and bounce with the hit, taking the energy out of the hit. A cargo bike doesn't do that, but you have the feel good factor of being able to see them.

    Long story short, I don't see any actual (although lots of perceived) danger.

    Also do such collisions happen enough for it to be even a consideration.

  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,368 Mod ✭✭✭✭Cabaal

    Had a Burley Encore trailer for a year which I used to tow using my road bike or dutch bike, the little lad really loved it and I had managed a good few trips of 10-20miles with it but most trips were 3-4miles. Rain wise it was bullet proof and I did find that for the most part motorists did gave it a lot of space, the other aspect is because it was so wide I had to cycle pretty far out on the lane.

    Although we only have the one I had opted for a double trailer for two reason, extra space but also it could convert to a stroller. The downside as I learned is the extra width as a stroller/trailer can also be pretty limiting in relation where you can go. (using a double stroller with twins must be a nightmare for parents!).

    In August I finally switched to a electric assist cargobike, this wasn't because of a fault with the trailer. It was down to the terrain I had to cycle, it was hilly and the trailer was just not enjoyable on any level. If you have a flat route though the trailer should be fine. The cargobike was a lot of money but I see it as a long term option (say next 5 years) instead of a second car. Rain wise its also bullet proof with the full rain cover on.

    I've had upto 80kg of stuff loaded in it from the local co-op, I've done full shops and of course the little lad gets brought to creche and he loves it. One upshot over the trailer is I can chat to him which is great. But I will say he cannot sleep properly like he could in the trailer sadly.

    I still have the trailer but truth be told I'll only be using it on green and blueway routes and that only because I'd need a van or a trailer on the car to get the cargobike to those locations due to distance 😀

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,279 ✭✭✭Ferris

    I have used a double trailer and the kids like it. Its not however the most pleasant to tow (ebike) as there is a fair bit of push pull and a 'tail wagging the dog' feeling but its manageable. Problem now is that all routes to my area now have 'temporary' cycle lanes and I am nervous about trying to tow the trailer on them as they are very narrow. I would love an urban arrow or similar but thats not really going to happen anytime soon.

    A possible compromise would be a longtail cargo bike like a Yuba, Radwagon or the Decathalon one. They have a lot of advantages, basically they are just a longer bike, they fit well down cycle lanes and they tend to not be as expensive as the front loader cargo bikes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,972 ✭✭✭Stone Deaf 4evr

    Hi - where are you based? I have one sitting idle in my shed that my kids have long outgrown, you're more than welcome to it if you want to give it a try without buying something.

  • Registered Users Posts: 885 ✭✭✭brocbrocach

    That's very kind of you! That's probably what I need to do, see how it works in real life. I'm in Dublin 3, I don't know if you're anywhere near?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,009 ✭✭✭buffalo

    I have both a trailer and a three-wheeled cargo bike. I haven't had them very long, but I'll give you the pros and cons so far.

    Cargo bike: more 'fun' for kids (they can sit on a bench and wave and smile at people), and more social for you and them (easy to chat). Great for carrying cargo (this might be obvious) as the box is study and the bike doesn't have to balance. Easy to get going, just wheel out of the shed, stick the roof on in under a minute and away you go. BUT they're more awkward for parking and not quite as manoeuvrable. The wooden benches aren't as comfy, but we've just invested in some cushions to try sort that out.

    Trailer: great for longer trips where the kids can fall asleep and be cosy. My one converts into a buggy, so we use it to cycle to the park and then walk/run in the park with it, so we only have to park a normal bike. Completely rainproof, and cosy in a way the cargo box is not. BUT pain in the hoop connecting and disconnecting from the bike - very fiddly, takes me up to five minutes most times. If you're doing a regular commute every day, I'd just be leaving it attached, which might not suit for storage or other bike use. (That could be an issue limited to my model though.) It's a lot easier to ride with, but on tight corners I have to keep checking rearward for clearance. edit: and obviously, not as social for you and the kids.

    In terms of safety, I find people give the trailer more room on the road when overtaking. I was surprised by the lack of space given to the cargo bike (i.e. same as a normal bike). I think the general public are more aware of trailers carrying kids - or it's more obvious when approaching from behind there's a trailer - but whatever the reason I haven't had a bad experience with the trailer on the road.

    I got both of them second-hand but in good condition ~€1k for cargo bike, ~€700 for trailer (it was like new).

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,972 ✭✭✭Stone Deaf 4evr

    I'm in Cork I'm afraid, bit far for a test run!

  • Registered Users Posts: 885 ✭✭✭brocbrocach

    Ha! It'd want to be a long commute alright! Appreciate the thought though!

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,691 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo

    I used a Chariot Cougar trailer (think they're branded as Thule now), which was pricey, but great. I ended up using it mostly as a stroller though, walking thousands of kilometres with it, because too many people in my family thought it was dangerous with the first-born. I still did use it for cycling round with her, albeit not as much as I'd originally hoped, and I found it fine when I did; people gave me plenty of room. Then with two kids we got a bakfiets, the cheaper non-electric version, which family had far fewer safety concerns about, and which I'm still using to transport the second child to school over six years later.

    I still use the Cougar Chariot to carry flat-pack furniture from Ikea and stuff like that. It really paid for itself. Never regretted buying it.

    I think you want to pick quieter routes if possible. I mean, I'd apply that to cycling solo too, to some extent, but your options for emergecy manoeuvres with a cargo bike or a traller are not as numerous.

    If I had to pick one, I'd definitely pick the bakfiets, as I found it more generally useful for carrying kids, and for much longer, and there's no assembling and disassembling. But I have good options for storage, which is probably where cargo bikes fall down. (Well, there's price and weight as well, but the plain bakfiets was affordable enough for us; I'm used to the weight now, but it does take a bit out of you.)