How to Tow a Kid on Their Own Bike: Tow Bars, Tow Ropes, and More

Bike Tow Ropes and Bike Tow Bars

Biking with kids when they are young is (relatively) easy.  Put them in a trailer or bike seat and ride away.  A bigger challenge happens when your children are old enough to want — or insist upon — riding their own bike, but still too slow or weak to ride long distances quickly.  In these instances, we like using a tow rope or tow bar to help assist our little riders.  Here are some of the best options for bike towing.

BicycleBungee

BicycleBungee Bike Tow Rope

The BicycleBungee is an easy-to-use bungee cord that attaches to the adult’s seatpost and quickly hooks onto your child’s handlebars or stem.  When not in use, the cord retracts back into its case that bolts onto the adult’s seatpost for easy transportation and storage.  This is the first tow setup that our family used with our son when he was young, and we highly recommend it to other families–both for around town and trail riding.  The only things we don’t like about the BicycleBungee is the high price, and the fact that you can’t use it with a carbon fiber or dropper seatpost.

For more information, read our detailed review of the BicycleBungee.

Price & Where to Buy:

Tow Whee

Tow-Whee

The Tow Whee offers the best bang for your buck.  This bicycle tow rope lacks the ease of use of the BicycleBungee (you have to connect and disconnect the rope each time and figure out a way to carry it), but for the price, it can’t be beaten.  It works well for mountain biking and for bike path riding.  Thanks to the Tow Whee we’ve been able to tackle big mountain bike rides with our son that would have been impossible without it.  We also like the fact that it can be used with carbon seatposts and dropper posts.

For more information, read our review of the Tow Whee.

Price & Where to Buy: 

FollowMe Tandem

follow me tandem
Photo credit: Umberto Brayj

Ideal for families who are looking for a way to safely tow their children in heavy traffic, the follow-me-tandem actually lifts the child’s front wheel off the ground to pull them behind.  It does not allow the child to steer and gain bike handling skills in the same way that the BicycleBungee and Tow Whee do, but has the added benefit of keeping young children stable and safely tucked behind you.  It is also the only option we know of that will work with a rear child seat or a long-tail cargo bike.

Price & Where to Buy: 

Trail Gator Child Bike Tow Bar

trail gator
Photo Credit: Trail Gator

While the Trail Gator isn’t our favorite system, we are including it here as one of the only viable child bike tow bar options.   If you prefer the idea of a bar to a tow rope, then you might want to take a look.

Price & Where to Buy:

DIY Options

If you don’t want to spend the money on a ready-made product, or just prefer to DIY stuff, we’ve seen a couple of creative solutions.  We can’t vouch for the safety of using any of thse setups, but thought we’d share them as well.

Julie from Young Riders in Park City, UT recommends using a retractable dog leash for hauling kids.  She shared this idea with us:

 I have created an excellent and cheap design.  I bought a retractable dog leash for 40-50lbs and then cut the rope down to a little smaller length and then tied a bungee cord on the end to create a loop (taped it on to secure a little more).  This loop fits around the kids top stem.  The retractable unit gets zip tied underneath the adults seat and seat post.  The pros: it retracts when the kid pops it off with one hand from his stem, so neither parent or child needs to stop biking to unhook. I made a few of these to have on each parents bike so who ever is close can hook up very fast.  We leave the leash on the parents bike all summer and doesn’t interfere with our riding.  But zip ties are cheap if anyone wants it off for adult rides.

Another option is to repurpose old bike tubes.  We found this idea on an MTBR forum thread.  Writes @benjaminj:

Here’s a picture – one tube is looped around my seatpost, then two other tubes are folded in half, lopped through the full length tube and then connected on each side of his handbars.

bike tube towing system

Comparison Chart: Bike Towing Systems

Product
Price (MSRP)
Weight
Design
Tow-Whee
$40
5 oz
Bungee cord with two end loops
FollowMe Tandem
$300
12 lbs Coupling device that attaches to the adult’s rear axle
BicycleBungee
$200
1 lb
Retractable bungee cord with mount and hook
TrailGator
$129
2 lbs
Detachable tow bar

 

 

2 thoughts on “How to Tow a Kid on Their Own Bike: Tow Bars, Tow Ropes, and More

  1. I’ve used the dog leash method, but with surgical tubing instead of tire tubes or bungee. I like how much it stretches and gives a really gentle pull to avoid scaring the child with a sudden start. My kayaking rescue bungee also works, but more expensively and not as well.

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