The Best Bike Trailers for Cycling with Kids
Bike trailers are the most popular way to bike with young kids–and for good reason. Bicycle trailers can carry multiple children, gear, and even kid’s bikes. Many trailers are convertible for use as jogging strollers which makes them a good investment for active families. Finally, trailers are often safer than bike seats; in fact, a good bike trailer acts as a roll-cage.
Of course, there are cons to using a bike trailer as well; the biggest for me personally is the lack of interaction you get with your child. Still, bike trailers remain one of your best options for biking with kids. Below I’ll discuss reasons for buying a trailer, situations where you might want to consider another choice, and which trailers are best.
Bike Trailers in a Nutshell
- Many trailers can convert to jogging strollers
- Affordable compared to a cargo bike
- Can carry more than one child
- Can carry gear in addition to child
- Child is relatively safe in the event of a tip-over or crash
- More expensive than a bike seat
- Parent-child interaction is low
- Child engagement is low (no pedaling, etc)
If you like to run as well as bike, then a trailer is an obvious choice. Rather than buying separate gear for each activity, choose a convertible trailer that can act as a jogging stroller as well. Some trailers, like the Thule Chariot, can even be used for cross-country skiing or fat-biking.
Comparison to other child carriers
Compared to child bike seats, trailers tend to be safer. A good-quality trailer is essentially a roll-cage providing protection to your child in the event of a crash or a tip-over. With a bike seat, on the other hand, if the parent crashes, the child is crashing too.
That said, I still prefer a bike seat (especially a front-mounted bike seat) to a trailer–although I use both. This is because with a bike seat you have your child close by where you can talk to and easily interact with them. In a trailer, it is much harder to see and hear how your child is doing. When we use our trailer, we often have to pull over and stop to help our son or to hear what he’s saying. A bike seat is also much lighter than a trailer, which can feel awfully heavy when you are climbing hills.
In terms of cost, a trailer falls squarely between a bike seat and a cargo bike. While a good-quality trailer can be quite a bit more expensive than a bike seat, it is still much cheaper than a cargo bike. A cargo bike is awesome if you can afford it, and if you are going to be commuting on a daily basis. If you only plan to do the occasional bike path ride or cruise to the park, go with the trailer.
Finally, trailers tend be best for use with young kids. If you are comfortable with it, you can even buckle a carseat into a trailer. For parents of multiple young children, a trailer is often the ideal option as you can put two kids in there.
Unfortunately, for slightly older kids the trailer quickly becomes BORING. If you have a child 3 or up, I much prefer a trailer-cycle, where they are able to pedal along.
How to choose a bike trailer
When comparing bike trailers, I tend to ask people to answer these questions:
- Do you want it to be multi-use (i.e. a jogging stroller, cross-country ski attachment, etc)?
- Does it need to fit more than one child?
- How often do you plan on using it?
- How much can you afford?
Other things to consider are weight (the lighter the better), on-road versus off-road use (when riding on dirt suspension is a must), and cargo capacity.
The Best Bike Trailers
The Thule Chariot
No doubt—this bike trailer takes the #1 spot. The Thule Chariot is the very first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant. It is the crème de la crème for active families. My favorite model is the Cougar (comes in a 1 or 2 child version). This trailer has suspension for off-road riding, plenty of storage, and will last for years. Click here to read my full review of the Chariot.
The Croozer Kid
Like the Chariot, the Croozer Kid can do it all—but unlike the Chariot, you don’t have to buy any accessories. The base purchase price includes the trailer kit, jogging kit, and stroller kit, making this a great deal. That said, it is heavier than the Chariot Cougar and not as easy to tow. It also comes in 1 and 2 child versions.
The Burley Bee
When thinking of bicycle trailers, Burley is probably the name that comes immediately to mind. Known for high-quality products and good value, Burley deserves their positive reputation. The Burley Bee isn’t the most expensive trailer in the Burley line-up, but it is the best value. This trailer has durable construction, and a five-point harness for safety. The one big drawback on this model is that it is does not convert to a jogging stroller—although that might be fine if you already have one or if running isn’t your thing.
Allen Sports Steel
This trailer lacks all the bells and whistles that the other trailers on this list have, but it also has an awesome price tag. Unlike other “cheap” trailers, the Allen Steel is lightweight and easy to pull. If you’re on a budget, or only plan to use your bike trailer occasionally, look no further than this top pick.
If you’re still not sure which of these trailers is best for your situation, use the chart below to compare them.
|Brand||Model||Price||Capacity||Weight||Multi-Use (Jogging or other)||Suspension?|
|Thule||Chariot Cougar 1||$690||1 child (100 lbs)||24 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|Thule||Chariot Cougar 2||$790||2 children (100 lbs)||28 lbs||Yes||Yes|
|Croozer||Kid 1||$575||1 child||30 lbs||Yes||No|
|Croozer||Kid 2||$749||2 children||31 lbs||Yes||No|
|Burley||Bee||$299||2 children (100 lbs)||20.5 lbs||No||No|
|Allen Sports||Steel||$120||2 children||25 lbs||No||No|