Thule Chariot Cross Bike Trailer / Jogger Review

Chariot Cross ReviewFor all the Chariot devotees out there, things just got even better.  Thule has released their re-designed and better-than-ever line of Chariots, and let me tell you, they live up to the hype.  After 4+ years of using and abusing our Thule Chariot Cougar, we just received the new Thule Chariot Cross to test and it hasn’t disappointed.

For Chariot newbies, the Thule Chariot is THE penultimate piece of equipment for active parents everywhere.  It serves as a bike trailer slash jogger slash stroller slash cross country ski trailer.  Yup, one product—four uses.  Its multi-sport applications and extremely high level of quality have provided the Thule Chariot with a cult-like following.

What follows is my initial review  after using the Chariot Cross for about a month.  As we use it more this spring and summer, I will update the review. 


Review in a Nutshell

Pros:

  • Use for multiple sports (biking, running, strolling, xc skiing)
  • High quality / good resale value
  • Suspension
  • Five-point harness
  • Folds for easy storage / transport
  • Plenty of internal storage space
  • Waterproof for 4 season use

Cons:

  • It’s expensive
  • Rain cover and sunshade aren’t integrated into the door

Specs:

Cross SingleCross Double
Price$900$1,000
Weight Capacity75 lbs99 lbs
Trailer Weight28 lbs32 lbs
# of Children12
Suspension?YesYes
Safety Harness5-point5-point

Price and Where to Buy:


Thule Chariot Cross Detailed Review

Multi-sport – Bike Trailer, Jogger, Stroller, Ski Kit

While our family’s first love is biking, I use the Thule Chariot for running almost as often as I do for biking.  The fact that I don’t have to have to have a jogging stroller AND a bike trailer is really nice, especially since we don’t have a garage.  When P was a baby, we never used the strolling kit (we never used a stroller in general), but after using the strolling kit with the new Thule Chariot Cross, I can also see how the Chariot would work just fine for a primary stroller.  Of course, it is pretty BIG, but would work in most places—probably just not the airport.

Thule Chariot Cross

Finally, you can use the Chariot for cross-country skiing, which I’ve never done, BUT we have used it behind a fat-bike for snow biking.  With the door closed and the rain cover on, and a few blankets inside, the Chariot works well even in winter and other inclement weather.

The Thule Chariot Cross now comes standard with the Strolling and Bike Trailer attachments, and the Jogger and XC ski kits are sold as add-on options.

Safety

The Thule Chariot Cross is a roll-cage for babies.  This thing is seriously safe.  Of course, there is always a risk when riding a bike with your children in traffic, but the Thule Chariot is one of your safest options.  The aluminum cage is super sturdy, and there is even a newly added roll bar directly over the child’s head, so if it flips, they are still supported.

A five-point harness holds the child securely in the seat.  When we were assembling the Chariot, my 4 year old actually climbed in, strapped himself in, and then had me shake him upside down.  Obviously, this is probably not recommended, but does go to show that the kiddos are secure in there.

The foot brake is nice as it allows you to park the Chariot without fear that it will roll away, and is much easier to operate than the one on the older Chariot Cougar.  Speaking of things rolling away, there is also wrist strap for use when strolling or jogging as an added precaution.

Finally, there are lots of visibility features on the Chariot including an orange flag,  two front “headlight” reflectors, and rear reflectors.

Thule Chariot Cross Safety Features

Comfort

Let’s be honest: comfort might be the single most important thing when choosing a trailer–because if the little one isn’t happy nobody is going to be happy.  Fortunately, Thule recognizes this.  The Chariot Cross has a reclining seat which is nice for nap time.  The seat padding seems adequate–my 4-year-old said it was comfortable–and it removes for easy washing.  Finally, the trailer’s suspension system helps absorb vibration from the road or trail (read more on this topic later on).

Storage and Transportation

The Chariot is easily and quickly fold able for transportation and storage.  Once collapsed, it fits easily in the back of my Ford Escape SUV.  The two rear wheels remove with the push of a button, the handlebar rotates forward and out of the way, and the frame folds in half.  I’m fairly mechanically challenged, and I can tear it apart in 3 minutes or less and reassemble it in the same amount of time.

Folded, the dimensions are 33.7 x 24.4 x 14.2in for the single and 33.7 x 29.9 x 14.2in for the double.

Adjustable Suspension

We love the Thule Chariot because it can be used on-road and off due to its suspension.  If you think it is fun to ride on a dirt road in a trailer with no suspension, think again.  If you are going to be riding on rough surfaces, whether that is a dirt rail trail, or just uneven pavement, your child will be so much more comfortable and happy in a trailer with suspension.  The Chariot’s suspension is also adjustable, so you can increase the travel as your child gets heavier.

Thule Chariot Cross Construction

High Quality

The Thule Chariot has the reputation that it does because of its extremely high quality.  With our older Chariot, we’ve taken it off-road, we’ve flipped it over, we’ve left it out in the rain, we’ve used and abused it day in and day out.  And it STILL has lots of life left in it.  People buy their Chariot trailers and use them for multiple children, over multiple years—and then still manage to sell them on Craigslist for a fair amount of money.  No, they aren’t cheap, but they offer excellent value for the price.

Obviously, I haven’t had the chance to test the Chariot Cross for 4 years like my old Chariot, but if I had to put my money on it, I would bet that it will hold up just as well.  The fabric is sturdy, the wheels are well constructed.  Nothing on it looks or feels cheap.  As previously mentioned, the frame is aluminum; all other parts are steel, nylon, or polyester.

Storage Space

For our family, storage space in a trailer is important.  We’ll often leave the house in the morning with the Chariot, and not return until evening.  I’ve used this trailer to haul groceries, library books, and a kids bike.

Inside the Chariot, there are two mesh pockets on either side of the seat.  These provide ample space for pacifiers, water bottles, snacks, and action figures.  At  the rear of the Chariot, there is an open mesh pocket where I like to stuff my things—a jacket, my wallet, a phone, etc.  There’s also a large rear trunk (that can fold up out of the way when not in use), and it is large enough to hold a diaper bag or large bag of groceries.  Unfortunately, the weight limit on the trunk is only 8 pounds which is less than our older Cougar.

Thule Chariot Cross Storage Space

Price

So is the Thule Chariot Cross worth the price? 

That’s the million-dollar question (no pun intended).  Compared to other bike trailers out there, the Cross is EXPENSIVE.  At $1,000 for a double and $900 for a single, it makes sense to question the price tag before purchasing.  For me, personally, the Thule Chariot Cross IS worth the price.  But that’s because we’ve managed to use our older Chariot for almost 5 years on at least a weekly basis.  If you are an active family that bikes, that runs, that does bike touring, that commutes to daycare, etc, etc, etc–the Chariot is worth the price.

If you just want a trailer (or a jogger) for infrequent use, then the Chariot Cross is probably overkill.  You can get a cheaper but perfectly functional trailer that will work just fine for the occasional ride to the ice cream store.

Double versus Single Thule Chariot Cross

There are two versions of the Thule Chariot Cross.  The “Single” fits one child, the “Double” fits two.  The only difference is the width of the trailer, the weight, and the number of child harnesses.  Due to the high price tag, and the fact that the Double is only $100 more than the Single version, if you are thinking of having more than one child sometime in the future you might want to buy the double right off the bat.  If not, stick with the single as it is lighter and will fit thru tighter spaces.

Thule Chariot Cross compared to the Thule Chariot Cougar

So how does the new Chariot Cross compare with the older Chariot Cougar?  Overall, very favorably.  I was the Chariot Cougar’s #1 fan, so was slightly skeptical about how it could have been improved.  But it has been.

The first thing I noticed was the handlebar.  The new handlebar is screwed in (so it doesn’t easily uninstall like the old version), but I never took it off anyhow, so no biggie.  It’s also rotates so that it can be positioned at a height that is comfortable for you, and so that it can get out of the way for storage.

In terms of safety, it has two “headlight-like” front reflectors that I like, and the location and ease of use of the brake has been improved.

So what didn’t I like on the new design?  The door!  We live in a location where it might rain, hail, snow, and be sunny—all within the same bike ride.  On the old Chariot, the sunshade, rain cover, and screen were all part of the same integrated door.  In the new Chariot, the sun shade has to be clipped on and off and stored in the back of the Chariot.  Pretty sure I’ll lose that in the first month!    The rain cover is also a separate piece and it’s a little hard to get it to stay on.  Overall, not a big deal, but this was the one thing I will miss about the old Chariot.

Thule Chariot Cross Door and harness

Bottom-Line

Forget wipe warmers and baby monitors—the Thule Chariot Cross is what you should really be putting on your baby registry.  (No joke—it was the first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant.  No regrets).  For active families, the Thule Chariot is an essential piece of gear that will allow you to keep running biking and skiing even with a rug-rat in tow.

Buy Now:

 

 


Kristen

Kristen is a project manager and writer. She spends all her free time mountain biking with her family on the trails in Salt Lake City and Park City, UT.

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