Have you ever had to end a ride early because your child couldn’t make it up a hill, or because they got tired before you made it to your destination?
If so, you need a tow rope. In my opinion, every parent should have a tow rope (or tow bar). It makes rides happier, easier, and faster for everyone involved. Our family uses a tow rope on 75% of our rides.
The Trax MTB is the newest tow rope option on the market. Offered by a Spanish company, it can be shipped to the U.S. easily. We like that it is self-storing on the adult’s seatpost (you don’t have to figure out how to haul a tow-rope while riding) and connects/disconnects from the child’s bike in a matter of seconds.
If you’re in the market for a towing solution, make sure you check out the Trax MTB.
Review in A Nutshell
- Stores easily on the bike, you don’t have to figure out how to carry it
- Quick and easy connection / disconnection to child’s bike
- Small and lightweight
- Gets your family where you want to go!
- Attachment uses zip-ties
- We managed to break the Kevlar rope (under lots of load)
Price (MSRP): € 38 (At the time of writing, that’s about $42)
Retractable Kevlar Rope Attaches To The Adult’s Seatpost
The thing we appreciated most about the Trax is it’s retractable design. When not in use, the cord retracts back into its case that is installed on the adult’s seatpost.
This is a huge plus, in my opinion, and what really makes it stand out when compared to other towing options like the Tow-Whee. (For which you have to figure out a place to carry it when not in use).
It’s great that you don’t have to figure out where to store the rope while riding or keep track of it when its not in use. I’ve been known to accidentally set a tow rope down on the ground before and ride off without it–ugggh!
With the Trax MTB, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of strorage or transport. It secures to the adult’s seatpost via several heavy duty nylon flanges (aka zip ties). These are included.
While this attachment method is fine if you plan on leaving the Trax installed most of the time, I wasn’t crazy about this attachment method for our family. My husband and I often switch out towing our son, and it would be nice not to have to cut off zip-ties every time we want to swap between bikes.
If you plan to be the only adult using the device, then this isn’t a problem.
Attaches To The Child’s Bike By Looping It Around The Headset
When you’re ready to tow your kiddo, simply pull the cord out of the device and secure the end loop around your child’s headset. This takes a couple of seconds. So easy!
When I first saw a video of the Trax MTB, I didn’t think that this seemed very secure, but in practice it actually worked out great. We didn’t have any issues with the loop coming undone or slipping off.
I also appreciated that this process was easy enough that my son could attach and detach himself without me even having to get off my bike.
Feels Smooth When Towing (Most Of The Time Anyway)
When testing the Trax, I had the opportunity to be both the tower and the towee.
When my husband was towing me, the ride was nice and smooth. The Trax provided a nice even-feeling pull and didn’t jerk either rider excessively. I think this was because I was able to watch his cadence and speed and maintain the distance between our bikes.
On the other hand when I towed my son, we did experience some jerking. In fact, there were a couple of times that the cord retracted just enough to forcibly pull or jerk him forward. It wasn’t awful or unmanageable, but some younger kids might struggle with it.
For parents who’ve never used a tow rope for biking before, it is worth noting that the whole thing takes some practice, especially riding up uphill switchbacks. This is the only time I personally find a tow rope tricky to use. Make sure to take a wider line than you normally would, and have your child holler if they have to put a foot down).
Small and Lightweight Design
The Trax is tiny….in fact it’s a bout 1/4 of the size of the similarly designed BicycleBungee. This is great for anybody who is worried about either weight or aesthetics.
The Trax MTB weighs a mere 170g–which is basically nothing. You’ll never notice the weight, and it won’t get in the way on your bike.
Compatible With Dropper Posts…Mostly
If you have a dropper post, you’ll be happy to know that the Trax MTB works with droppers. We ran it on both my husbands dropper as well as mine and had (almost) no issues.
That said, if you ride with your dropper fully inserted into your seat-tube, the Trax won’t work. You need a couple of inches of post to work with to install the Trax on.
The only issue we ran into was when we installed the Trax on my dropper post. Because my husband’s dropper is extended further, we were able to install the Trax higher on the base of the dropper, leaving plenty of clearance between the rope and his rear wheel. Additionally, he was towing me (and adult) and the rope angled directly backward from his bike to mine.
On my dropper, the post is inserted further AND I was towing my son with smaller wheels (i.e. the rope was angled downward from my bike to his). As a result, I didn’t have quite enough clearance between the rope and my rear wheel. I still used the Trax relatively ok, but there were a couple of times the rope ended up rubbing my rear tire.
Hauls Up To 200 Pounds…We Pushed The Limits And Broke It
According to the Trax MTB website, the device can haul up to 200 lbs. We decided to put this to the test…and consequently broke it!
My husband put the Trax on his bike and attached it to me. I was pedaling the whole time but we also had my son in the Hamax Outback trailer with ski kit behind me. I’m 120 pounds, the trailer is 34 pounds, and my son is 45 pounds. So yeah, the total load was probably right at 200 pounds.
We used it for one and a half rides like this before we snapped the rope. Now to be fair to Trax MTB, we were pushing it to the limit and it did NOT snap when using it to tow a kiddo. And our family has been known to snap other tow ropes before.
When it did break, it when flying into a nearby tree and it was actually pretty uneventful. Nobody got hurt.
My husband was able to take the device apart and repair it. We’re still using it now (with far less weight) and it seems to be working fine.
That said, when putting the device back together, we did install the body upside down….if you look really closely in the photos you might notice this mistake. It didn’t seem to make a noticeable difference, but according the Trax MTB folks it should work even better if installed properly. Oops!
I’ll be curious to hear how it holds up for our readers–so make sure to drop me a note if you have been using one for a while…
Trax MTB Compared To The Tow-Whee and BicycleBungee
We’ve tried all the towing solutions and have yet to find one that seems perfect to us. The Tow-Whee is great for towing, but not so great for carrying. (I usually dangle it around my neck or stuff it in my hydration pack).
The BicycleBungee is great for towing and for carrying, but is crazy expensive and not compatible with dropper posts or carbon.
The Bicycle Bungee
While none of these solutions are “perfect” each of them is good enough. Which tow rope is best is probably dependent on your personal preferences.
The BicycleBungee is out for most people based on price alone, so that leaves us with the Tow-Whee vs the Trax MTB.
If hauling around the Tow-Whee seems like a pain in the butt, then go with the Trax MTB. The Trax is also quite a bit faster to attach/detatch than the Tow-Whee which can be nice if you are doing a lot of rolling hills where you are frequently attaching and detaching.
If you prefer durability over convenience, I do think the Tow-Whee is a little more substantial. That said, we’ve also broken a Tow-Whee….so who knows. Tow-Whee advertises that it can haul up to 500 pounds; while the Trax is only good up to 200 pounds.
Bottom-Line: Solid Solution For Towing Kids On Their Own Bikes
Yeah, we ran into a few minor issues while putting the Trax MTB thru the ringer. But the thing is, towing another human being on a bike is a bit of an unelegant affair.
As long as you are willing to be patient and tweak things a bit as you go, you’ll be happy with the Trax MTB. It beats the heck out of waiting for your kiddo on the climbs, and for folks who’ve been unhappy with the storage component of other towing solutions, the Trax MTB is a solid alternative.
It’s lightweight, unobtrusive, and won’t get left behind on the side of the trail. All in all, we’re giving the Trax MTB two thumbs up.