At a certain age, kids get sick of sitting in a bike seat or trailer. They want to be a part of the action and bike too! Unfortunately, they are still too little to bike long distances without getting tired and they can be painfully slow.
A trailer-cycle, also known as a tagalong or trail-a-bike, is a great solution. Kids get to pedal but mom or dad do the bulk of the work.
Here I offer my recommendations for which trailer-cycles you should buy (“the 5 best”). If you keep reading to the bottom, I also offer suggestions on what to look for when shopping for a trailer-cycle, and a handy-dandy comparison chart to help you choose.
The Weehoo is unique in three ways: 1) it is recumbent, 2) thanks to a five-point harness it can be used with kids as young as 2-years-old, and 3) it comes in a double-seat version so you can use it with two children.
The only thing we don’t love about the Weehoo is that because it’s so close to the ground, kids get dusty and dirty. Just make sure your kiddo has glasses on and they should be fine.
Read Review: Weehoo
Price (MSRP) :$399 (single) and $525 (double)
Among parents in the know, the Burley Piccolo is consistently a top-pick. As expected from a brand like Burley, the quality is high.
Because the Piccolo attaches to a rack (included), rather than the seatpost, stability is WAY better than other trailer-cycles. It doesn’t wobble and it is lightweight.
One word of caution before you buy though: bike compatibility can be an issue so make sure to do your research to make sure the rack can be mounted on your bicycle.
Read Review: Burley Piccolo
Price (MSRP): $359
Tout Terrain Streamliner
For serious mountain bike and adventure families, the Tout Terrain Streamliner is a dream come true. This trailer-cycle has 160 mm of suspension (!!!) and its own rear brake, so no trail is too rough to share with your little one.
It also works well for long touring trips where comfort day after day is key. The only downside is the price–but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.
Like the higher-end Burley Piccolo, the Burley Kazoo comes with a rack to attach to which helps with stability compared to seatpost-mounted trail-a-bikes.
In fact, the construction of the Kazoo has many of the same features of its more expensive sibling. The price, however, is kept lower by using a single-speed drivetrain rather than offering gears.
The Weeride Co-Pilot is really light and REALLY affordable—in fact, you can usually find one for well under $100. This isn’t my top choice for heavy use, but if you want a trailer-cycle for occasional family bike rides, the Co-Pilot is a great choice.
Price (MSRP) :
Things to Consider for When Shopping for a Trailer-Cycle
Ease of transport and storage
Different families have different needs. If you have a three-car garage for all your toys, storage space probably isn’t an issue. If you live in a walk-up apartment in the city, it obviously is. Our Weehoo takes up quite a bit of space in our no-garage home. Similarly, if you plan to DRIVE to your biking destination, this is also something to consider. Trailer-cycles are notoriously difficult to transport.
Let me tell you, hauling a 40-pound kid is no easy feat. If your child is like mine, they will put up their feet and sing a song, and let you do the hard work. The last thing you want is to pull EVEN MORE weight. For this reason, I’d urge you to look at the weight of the trailer-cycle you are picking—especially if you will be riding up a bunch of hills.
Some trailer-cycles are single-speed (just one gear), and others have a rear cassette and shifter (multiple gears). Having multiple gears is nice for two reasons: 1) it makes pedaling easier for kids, and 2) it allows kids to practice shifting so that they begin to develop that skill prior to having to learn it on their own bike. That said, a trailer-cycle with gears is certainly not necessary, and it also increases the required maintenance and price.
Expect to spend a minimum of $100 on a trailer-cycle (although as mentioned, you might find a WeeRide Co-Pilot for less than that). A good trailer-cycle like a Weehoo or a Burley Piccolo will also hold up well second-hand, so you can look on Craiglist or other local classifieds. Like almost anything, the higher cost trailer-cycles tend to have better quality and more nice-to-have features.
Seatpost vs Rack Installation
Most trailer-cycles attach to the adult’s seatpost, but some attach to a rack installed on the adult’s bike. These rack-installed trailer-cycles tend to have better stability and less sway (a major downfall of trailer-cycles). For this reason, we really like the Burley Piccolo. That said, installing and uninstalling a rack requires tools, and you may not want a rack on your bike when not riding with your child.
Another thing to keep in mind is the type of bike the adult has. A rack requires frame eyelets in order to install. Some bikes don’t have eyelets—check this out first.
Also, you don’t want to attach a seatpost mounted trailer-cycle to a carbon fiber seatpost.
Trailer-Cycle Comparison Chart
So how do these options stack up against each other? Use the comparison chart below to figure out which option is best for you. In addition to my Top 5 picks, I’ve also included some of the other popular trailer-cycles on the market. (Tip: if viewing on mobile, you may need to turn your phone sideways (landscape) to view).