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Rolling With Kids, Cargo or Pets? How to Choose the Best Bike Trailer

Rolling With Kids, Cargo or Pets? How to Choose the Best Bike Trailer

Getting from point A to point B on a bike is fun, eco-friendly and good exercise. But what if you need to bring some precious cargo along for the ride – kids, pets or other must-haul gear? That’s where bike trailers come in handy!

Bike trailers attach to the rear of your bicycle and provide a rolling compartment to safely carry passengers, pets or stuff. They expand your riding possibilities, allowing you to continue cycling while transporting the whole family or heavy loads.

But not all trailers are created equal when it comes to durability, safety and performance. With myriad models on the market, it can be tricky to select the right one to suit your specific needs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover:

  • The top-rated bike trailers to consider
  • Key factors in choosing the best trailer type and features
  • Pro tips for safe use and proper maintenance
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

Let’s explore how to find the perfect bike trailer to enable you to ride for any reason!

5 Best Bike Trailers for Kids, Cargo and Pets

We evaluated over a dozen of the most popular bike trailer models to select the top 5 picks across three categories:

Best Child Bike Trailer: Thule Chariot Cross 2

Best Child Bike Trailer: Thule Chariot Cross 2

Key Features:

  • Lightweight aluminum frame with suspension
  • Spacious interior with padded seats and harness
  • Waterproof retractable cover with windows
  • Converts to stroller, jogger or sled
  • Lockable wheels with storage cover

The Good: Thule is known for top-notch quality and the Cross 2 doesn’t disappoint. The inclusion of multiple conversion kits provides excellent versatility. Large mesh windows enhance ventilation.

The Bad: One of the pricier child trailer options. Minimal undercarriage storage.

Best For: Active parents seeking a premium multi-use trailer for infants to older kids.

Price: $$$

Best Bike Cargo Trailer: Burley Flatbed

Best Bike Cargo Trailer: Burley Flatbed

Key Features:

  • Durable aluminum frame with bowtie design
  • Massive 400 lb carry capacity
  • Low center of gravity enhances stability
  • Adjustable tie-down system to secure cargo
  • Fenders, lights and reflectors for safety

The Good: The sturdy yet lightweight flatbed platform can handle oversized and irregularly shaped items. Outstanding stability when loaded.

The Bad: Minimal protection from weather. Large size can impede maneuverability.

Best For: Transporting bulky or heavy cargo like groceries, gear or furniture.

Price: $$

Best Pet Trailer: Aosom Elite II Pet Bike Carrier

Best Pet Trailer: Aosom Elite II Pet Bike Carrier

Key Features:

  • Lightweight steel frame with screen walls
  • Padded floor and front sun shade
  • Internal leash clip and reflectors
  • Easy tool-free assembly
  • Folds flat for storage and travel

The Good: Provides excellent ventilation for pets. Very affordable compared to other pet trailers. Collapsible design is handy for storage.

The Bad: Less durable than pricier models. Only good for smaller animals up to 66 lbs.

Best For: Cyclists seeking an inexpensive option for short trips with small pets.

Price: $

Best Hybrid Cargo/Child Trailer: Burley Bee Bike Trailer

Best Hybrid Cargo/Child Trailer: Burley Bee Bike Trailer

Key Features:

  • Tough honeycomb aluminum frame
  • Removable seats for cargo flexibility
  • 5-point safety harnesses for kids
  • 600 lb capacity when seats are folded down
  • Multi-sport trailer can also jog or ski

The Good: Convertible interior allows you to haul kids or gear. The high weight capacity enables transporting hefty loads. Dual-sided rear door facilitates loading.

The Bad: Less all-weather coverage than some trailers. Limited suspension can impact ride comfort.

Best For: Active parents needing versatile cargo and child transport in a single trailer.

Price: $$

Best Splurge-Worthy Trailer: Croozer Cargo

Best Splurge-Worthy Trailer: Croozer Cargo

Key Features:

  • Lightweight rust-proof aluminum frame
  • Hefty 220 lb carrying capacity
  • Symetric wheels aid stability when cornering
  • Padded removable walls and floor
  • One-handed folding system

The Good: Super sturdy yet lightweight. Assembly-free unpacking gets you rolling in seconds. All condition shield package protects cargo in bad weather.

The Bad: High price tag. Limited accessories or add-ons available.

Best For: Serious cyclists and bikepackers requiring heavy-duty carrying capacity and weather protection.

Price: $$$$

No matter your intended passengers or cargo, one of these top-rated trailers is sure to fit the bill!

Key Considerations By Trailer Type

To choose the ideal trailer for your specific needs, keep these factors in mind:

Child Trailers

  • Intended ages/sizes: Look forpassenger capacity and interior dimensions suited for your kids.
  • Safety features: Five-point harnesses, helmets, roll cages and reflectors maximize protection.
  • Comfort: Cushioned seats, padded harnesses, suspension and ample ventilation prevent discomfort.
  • Conversions: Models like strollers, joggers and sled kits maximize versatility across activities.
  • Extras: Storage pockets, sunshades, weather shields and adjustable handles add convenience.

Cargo Trailers

  • Hauling capacity: Consider the weight and dimensions of your intended cargo items.
  • Attachment method: Choose a coupler style that properly fits your bike.
  • Weather protection: Fenders, waterproof covers and sealing defend cargo from the elements.
  • Portability: Foldable or quick assembly trailers facilitate packing and storage.
  • Security: Tie-downs, straps and locking lids keep your stuff stable and protected.

Pet Trailers

  • Pet size and demeanor: Pick a trailer suited for your pet’s size, anxiety level and activity needs.
  • Ventilation: Open mesh screens allow air circulation to keep pets comfortable.
  • Comfort: Cushioned and waterproof flooring make rides cozier.
  • Containment: Interior tethers or harnesses keep pets from jumping out.
  • Cleaning: Choose a model with removable, washable padding and surfaces.

Must-Have Features to Look For

Key features to check for in any bike trailer include:

  • Durable frame: Aluminum or steel construction stands up to bumps and use over time.
  • Suspension: Shock absorption makes for a less jarring ride, especially with live cargo.
  • Hitch connection: Look for a coupling system that hitches securely but releases quickly in case of tipover.
  • Safety add-ons: Lights, reflectors, flags and wheel guards enhance visibility and reduce road risks.
  • Weatherproofing: Water resistant covers and sealed seams protect passengers and cargo from rain and moisture.
  • Versatile storage: Interior and exterior pockets allow organizing gear and essentials.
  • Quick folding: Easy pack down mechanisms make storage and transporting the trailer simpler.
  • Reliable wheels: Durable tires with sealed bearings provide a smooth roll and lasting performance.

Prioritizing the features that matter most for your intended purpose will help narrow the options.

Towing Your Trailer Safely

Once you’ve got the perfect trailer picked out, you need to use it properly for safe travels. Follow these guidelines:

  • Hitch it correctly: Attach the coupler securely to your bike’s rear axle following the instructions. Use secondary straps for added stability if needed.
  • Balance the load: Distribute weight evenly between both sides and low in the trailer to avoid tipping.
  • Secure the contents: Use built-in straps, ties and harnesses to prevent shifting and sudden movements.
  • Check clearance: Allow adequate turning radius when towing a trailer to avoid collisions.
  • Mind speed and terrain: Reduce speeds, avoid hazards and take corners very slowly with a loaded trailer.
  • Use extra caution: Give yourself more stopping distance. Yield carefully at intersections. Brake gradually.
  • Conduct routine checks: Inspect tire pressure, hitch connection and cargo restraints prior to every ride.

With cautious riding practices, you can safely enjoy the convenience and versatility of hauling with a bike trailer. Exercise particular care when towing young passengers!

FAQs

What’s the weight limit for passengers and cargo?

Most child trailers accommodate 1-2 kids up to 100 total lbs. Cargo trailers range from 110-400+ lb capacities. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s rated max capacity.

Can bike trailers be towed by e-bikes?

Yes, you can safely use most trailers with electric bikes as long as you heed any specific e-bike guidelines from the manufacturer. But allow for the extra weight when calculating cargo capacities.

How do you pack and check a trailer when flying?

Look for a trailer that folds compactly for packing in a large suitcase. Remove any parts like wheels or a tow arm to minimize the space. Check with your airline first about any fees for oversize items.

What’s the lifespan of a typical bike trailer?

With proper maintenance and care, most good quality bike trailers will last for 5-8 years before needing replacement. Higher-end trailers tend to have longer life expectancy.

How do you store a bike trailer between uses?

When not in use, keep your trailer in a clean, dry location out of the sun and extreme temps. Check tire pressure monthly and lubricate components to prevent deterioration.

Is it safe to let my child nap in a bike trailer?

Most manufacturers don’t recommend having unattended sleeping children in bike trailers. But for older kids, reclining seats and helmets make napping reasonably safe on straight, flat routes. Stay vigilant!

The Takeaway

Bike trailers are a fabulous way to expand your cycling possibilities to include kids, pets and cargo. Choosing the right trailer suited for your needs is key to safety, performance and convenience. Follow the tips in this guide to select a durable, versatile trailer with the right features and capacity for you. Employ prudent riding practices, properly secure contents and maintain your trailer to enjoy smooth travels. With the right bike trailer, you’ll be rolling in comfort and style wherever your journeys lead.

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