I’m such a fan of tow ropes for biking with kids, I’m convinced every single family should have one. In fact, in 8+ years of biking with our son, we’ve used a tow rope more than any other biking accessory–more than any trailer, bike seat, trailer-bike, etc.
So when Kids Ride Shotgun announced they were releasing a tow rope, we were obviously excited for another tow rope to come on the market. Kids Ride Shotgun (KRS), makers of the KRS bike seat, have created a great little tow rope AND a kids fanny pack for it to go in when not in use. The Kids Ride Shotgun tow rope is very similar to the Tow Whee (which we already have and love) but the idea of a kids hip pack for storage was new to me.
If you’re looking for a way to get your kiddo up hills and to ride longer distances, without tears or whining, consider the KRS tow rope. If you love biking with your kids, it might be the best $60 you’ll ever spend.
Review In A Nutshell
- Helps kids get up hills and do longer rides
- Flat-ish profile lets it fold/coil easily for storage
- Durable construction
- Can haul to 500 lbs
- Optional hip pack for storage
- Comes with caribiner and stem loop for quick hooking/unhooking
- Can be a pain to carry on rides
- Can’t be used on downhill/rolling terrain
Price: $60 (tow rope only), $90 (tow rope/hip pack combo)
Makes Riding With Kids MUCH More Enjoyable
For kids who are old enough to ride their own bike, our favorite solution is a tow rope. It helps you pull kids up hills that they may not be able to climb on their own.
Even on flat terrain, you can cover a lot more distance a lot faster with the Kids Ride Shotgun tow rope than you would be able to with your child unassisted. In fact, it’s rarely my son who asks to hook up first, it’s usually me. I know that we can ride a decent clip if we’re hooked up.
That said, unlike a trailer or cargo bike, kids are able to pedal and still get exercise. And compared to a trailer-cycle, which does allow a child to pedal, the Kids Ride Shotgun allows your child to steer their own bike and brake independently.
The other bonus is that when you get to the top of the climb, you can unhook and let your child rip the downhill–the fun part!
Designed For Mountain Biking But Works Well On The Road As Well
Where trailer-cycles really fall short is on mountain bike trails. On singletrack that has tight switchbacks or technical terrain, riding with a trailer-cycle can be challenging if not impossible. A tow rope is much easier to handle on tight switchbacks and in corners, and weighs almost nothing.
While the Kids Ride Shotgun addresses these issues with mountain biking with kids on singletrack trails, it works well for paved and recreational riding as well. In fact, we often grab the Kids Ride Shotgun tow rope if we are headed out for a day or running errands by bike and our son wants to ride his own bike.
Easy to Attach And Detach For Use On The Trail (Or Road)
The KRS tow tope is a piece of xxx covered in protective polyester fabric with loops at either end. One loop slips over the adult’s saddle while the other accommodates a small section of paracord and a caribiner than can either be quickly loped around your child’s stem or wrapped around the headset for a more secure connection.
(Sound confusing? Watch the video above to see it in action).
We appreciate that the caribiner/paracord combo comes with the KRS. Tow Whee offers a similar attachment, but is an add-on feature.
Hooping and hooking is quick and takes 15 seconds (or less). This hook up time is painless, except when riding rolling terrain where there are frequent uphills and downhills that require you to hook and unhook over and over.
Which brings us to our next point…..
Use The Kids Ride Shotgun Tow Rope For Flat Or Uphill Use Only
Parents often ask me if tow ropes are safe. The answer is yes–but only if used on flat terrain or uphills. The KRS should never be used on downhills–even short ones.
We’ve used a tow rope for years (and had learned our lesson about downhill use), but still tried with the KRS rope recently. Oops!
We were riding Bearclaw Poppy in St. George, UT. The trail has lots of rolling sections on the climbing trail. We wanted to get to the top of the climb quickly, so hooked up.
My husband cruised into one of the (very short) dips thinking they’d be okay, but his body weight pulled our son forward and caused him to crash. He got drug under teh bike for a few seconds before my husband stopped.
There were some tears and a little blood, but ultimately he was okay. Still, it was a good reminder, don’t use the KRS (or any tow rope) when riding downhill!
Hip Pack And Flat Profile Helps With Storage…But Transporting The Rope Is Still A Bit Of A Pain
My biggest (only?) complaint with the Tow Whee has always been that it’s ackward to carry when not in use. (I usually end up wearing it around my neck like a lei).
KRS has tried to address this issue by offering a hip pack to carry the rope. This is helpful for rides where you have a big uphill followed by a long downhill, but less convenient when doing a ride with frequent attachments and detachments.
Compared to the TraxMTB, where the rope retracts into its container on the parent’s seatpost, the KRS is definitely more cumbersome to deal with.
The other way KRS has addressed this issue is by making the profile of the rope relatively flat when compared to the Tow Whee. This makes it easier to fold up or coil before tucking it inside the hip pack (or wherever you choose to carry it).
Can Tow Up To 500 Pounds
We’ve been known to use and abuse tow ropes (yup, we’ve broken a few), but thus far anyway the Kids Ride Shotgun tow rope has held up. It is well constructed, durable, and can tow up to 500 pounds. That means it can even carry an adult.
Provides A Nice Smooth Towing Experience
The Kids Ride Shotgun tow rope pulls kids without ever jerking them. (Unless you go downhill as mentioned earlier).
While I prefer using a tow rope like the TraxMTB or the BicycleBungee do to the retractable nature, my son FAR prefers a tow rope like the Kids Ride Shotgun. The KRS rope feels safe to him and provides a nice smooth towing experience. And since the whole point is to create a happy, tear-free child, at the end of the day, I choose the KRS too.
Hip Pack Can Be Used With Or Without The Tow Rope
Now on to the KRS hip pack. This ended up being my son’s favorite part.
Since hip packs are all the rage right now, he was super excited to have a hip pack that actually fits him! The pack is both cute and comfortable.
The back includes mesh to help keep your child’s back from getting to hot and sweaty, and the pack includes two pockets–one to fit the tow rope and one to fit a snack. That said, you can use the hip pack even if you’re not using the tow rope.
My son has made this his new go-to ride accessory, even on days where we leave the tow rope at home (which isn’t often).
Bottom-Line: A Must Have Accessory For Families Who Love To Bike
If your family rides a bunch (or even if you don’t ride a bunch but want to make the occasional ride easier), you NEED the Kids Ride Shotgun rope. It makes riding more fun for both kids and parents.
The rope provides a smooth towing experience, is durable, and well made. We appreciate that Kids Ride Shotgun have also tried to address the storage issue we’ve run into with similar tow ropes.
Two thumbs up.
More Stuff You Might Like
- How to Tow a Kid on Their Own Bike: Tow Bars, Tow Ropes, and More
- Best Kids Mountain Bikes: 15 Brands that Deliver
- 7 Best Kids Full Face Helmets (BMX, MTB)
The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.
Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.
If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!