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  1. #1
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    Child Trailers and Falling Off Road Bike

    Sorry for the stupid question. I scoured this forum and didn't find anything - but i may have missed something . Anyways, my son is four months old now and i'm starting to do the research on child trailers for us later down the road. I have a road bike that i'd like to connect the trailer to. We are possibly thinking about another kid later down the road but are there any trailers that don't roll or tip over if i happen to fall off my bike? Also, what age did you folks start taking your kids with on bike trips? (I know, 4 months is WAY too young).

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    I forget how young we started. But we started with one of those seats that go on the bike (they can use those younger) and moved to a trailer.

    The trailers I have used have a multi way joint at the attachment. Basically you can completely lay the bike down without tipping the trailer.

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    I'm not aware of any trailers that will tip over or roll if you fall off your bike. They all seem to have hitches that allow for full rotation of the bike while remaining upright. Also, the center of gravity of a trailer with child is very low -- it would be very difficult for it to tip or roll under most conditions. (When the trailer is empty, the center of gravity is quite high, and strong winds or major bumps will quickly put the thing on its roof.)

    Our doctor recommended one year as a good age to start with the trailer. Our daughter loved the thing -- she was disappointed when we used one of the cars to pick her up from school.

    I've transported our daughter by backpack, bike seat, trailer, and trail-a-bike. The trailer is vastly better than all the other alternatives other than the trail-a-bike. However, they have to be older for the trail-a-bike.

    Paul

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    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH
    I'm not aware of any trailers that will tip over or roll if you fall off your bike. They all seem to have hitches that allow for full rotation of the bike while remaining upright. Also, the center of gravity of a trailer with child is very low -- it would be very difficult for it to tip or roll under most conditions. (When the trailer is empty, the center of gravity is quite high, and strong winds or major bumps will quickly put the thing on its roof.)

    Our doctor recommended one year as a good age to start with the trailer. Our daughter loved the thing -- she was disappointed when we used one of the cars to pick her up from school.

    I've transported our daughter by backpack, bike seat, trailer, and trail-a-bike. The trailer is vastly better than all the other alternatives other than the trail-a-bike. However, they have to be older for the trail-a-bike.

    Paul
    by "trail-a-bike" do you mean the tandem kids add-on thing?

    What is the early age limit for that?

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    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    As others said, the hitch is designed so you can take a tumble but the trailer won't.

    They say 1yr plus to start towing, but i lay the 4-mo old down, strap him in, wedged with some blankets, and he has a ball.
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  6. #6
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The Chariot trailer we have uses a ball and socket hitch that secures to the rear axle. That means it's attached at one of the strongest parts of the bike and the bike can be laid completely down on its side. It also has a five-point restraint for the kids so even if you managed to tip it, the kids are completely strapped in. I have a buddy who misjudged an embankment and rolled his, and the kids were like "Yay, Dad! Do it again!"

    As far as age: they need to be able to hold up their heads and (at least in my household) wear a helmet. So I think our first bike ride was just around their first birthday.
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    Senior Member DynamicD74's Avatar
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    We use a Chariot Caddie, and one of its features is that it will NOT roll if the bike goes down. And, one year old is the youngest a child should be in a trailer, if safety is a concern.
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    I think all trailers allow the bike to fall without the trailer falling. Or, to look at it another way, the trailer won't hold the bike up for you when you stop.

    1 year is the recommended age for trailer riding. I guess the vibrations are supposed to scramble the brains of infants...? I don't see how a bike trailer on a smooth path at 10mph is any rougher than a jogging stroller at the same speed. I'd even think that a bike trailer might ride smoother - with its large pneumatic tires - than a typical stroller. Still, 1 year is the recommended age and that's what I do/have done.

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Phantoj makes a good point, and I thought it was kind of silly myself since I'd been pushing the kids in the jogger mode for several months before we used the biketrailer setup. But, we do use the streets to get to the path and it's a $50 fine for a minor to be helmetless on a bike or in a trailer here in California.
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    For what it's worth:

    1. I don't really think helmets are absolutely necessary for the passenger of a bike trailer. OR - what if the tiny tot was strapped into a car seat - most trailers can accomodate them. On the other hand, obeying a dumb law is better than paying a $50 fine.

    2. I go quite a bit faster than 10 mph, and I ride on the roads a bit as well as the smooth bike trail. There's a lot of jostling back there.

  11. #11
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Phantoj makes a good point, and I thought it was kind of silly myself since I'd been pushing the kids in the jogger mode for several months before we used the biketrailer setup. But, we do use the streets to get to the path and it's a $50 fine for a minor to be helmetless on a bike or in a trailer here in California.
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  12. #12
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    When my duaghter was about three, (2001) I flipped here trailer popping it over a curb. She is autistic and wouldn't wear a helment at the time. However the trailer we bought had a "roll bar" on it that protected her just fine. That trailer would not flip if I laid down the bike, but I think that just about any trailer combo would if you wrecked at speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone
    by "trail-a-bike" do you mean the tandem kids add-on thing?

    What is the early age limit for that?
    We have a Burley Piccolo. Burley suggests that it is appropriate for 4 to 9 year olds. We started our younger daughter, who is a little taller than average, at 3 1/2, and she fit acceptably, although I never went for more than about 20 minutes with her. The older daughter was 5 when we started, and has always been comfortable.

    One thing to be beware of, don't expect a 4 year old to pedal very much!

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    Senior Member DynamicD74's Avatar
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    The reason for the one year safety requirement for trailer riding is the same reason for the one year/ 20 pound weight limit when it comes to turning a child's car seat to front facing in a car. It's strictly a generalization, but most childrens' necks are not strong enough to support their heads and a helmet in the event of a crash. There is too much of a risk of vessel shearing and therefore, potential fatality, during some sorts of accidents or impacts.
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    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantoj
    I guess the vibrations are supposed to scramble the brains of infants...?
    It's called "shaken baby syndrome" and it can be an issue.

    10mph is within the recommended speed suggestion of many trailers, I'm guessing (unless you go off-road). The Wike trailer recommends no more than 12mph and that's what I did until both my boys passed 14 months. Now it's go as fast as I can without worrying. What a great workout!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone
    by "trail-a-bike" do you mean the tandem kids add-on thing?

    What is the early age limit for that?
    Sorry -- I just noticed this. The answer is yes. I'm not sure what the minimum age is. They have to be old enough to sit in the saddle and hold the handlebars. We got ours when our daughter was six. They are much easier to pull than a trailer, particularly if the child is pedaling

    Paul

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    Kids on Trailers

    I have a 6.5 year old and a 4 year old and have now used bike seats, a trailer, and a trail-a-bike. My advice would be not to put any child under 1.5 or 2 years-old in any of these. Too much can go wrong that would throw the child from side to side in a trailer or down with the bike in a car-seat. Also, I would spend the money needed to get quality. The child bike seats flex with the bike and unless the seat is of high quality I would worry about fatigue and failure at some of the connections. More of an issue for still for a trailer. These fold up and so are reasonably complicated, which leaves room for breakdown. I bought a Burley trailer which, when put together properly, feels as if constructed from a single piece of metal (though it isn't) and that's the feel you are looking for in a trailer where you'll put your kids; buy Burley.

    This brings me to the trail-a-bike. Here I didn't follow my own advice and purchased a cheaper Adams instead of the Burley (or Giant) version. I have run into a problem (the subject of a separate post) but that's not what I'll talk about here. Generally I agree with the consensus views expressed on this site, but not on trail-a-bikes. Specifically, I think these are potentially more dangerous than posters on this site tend to suggest. Trail-a-bike setups are rock-solid if you and your child travel on level ground in a straight line and never move. If you turn the bike though, or if you or your child shifts weight on the bike, it's a bit of an adventure. The lateral motion of either rider is transferred in part to the other. Your child doesn't have to keep the bike up of course, but does have to hang on and it takes some getting used to. When your child shifts weight it can be even worse as you *do* have to keep the bike upright. Until I get accustomed to my six-year-old daughter's weight shifting on each ride the ride is a bit of a challenge even though I weigh 4 times what she does. I believe the manufacturers recommend that the adult weigh at least twice what the child does, but in my view that is cutting it too close as even a strong rider weighing only twice what his child does could be thrown from a sudden shift; so, for example, if the child is scared of falling and moves violently as a result his fear may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For all these reasons, I would not put a child on a trail-a-bike if you are riding on streets with cars until she can ride a two-wheeler on her own (and thus has experience balancing) and would not put her on one anymore once her weight significantly exceeded a third of my own.

    Hope this is useful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobalobo
    I have a 6.5 year old and a 4 year old and have now used bike seats, a trailer, and a trail-a-bike. My advice would be not to put any child under 1.5 or 2 years-old in any of these. Too much can go wrong that would throw the child from side to side in a trailer or down with the bike in a car-seat. Also, I would spend the money needed to get quality. The child bike seats flex with the bike and unless the seat is of high quality I would worry about fatigue and failure at some of the connections. More of an issue for still for a trailer. These fold up and so are reasonably complicated, which leaves room for breakdown. I bought a Burley trailer which, when put together properly, feels as if constructed from a single piece of metal (though it isn't) and that's the feel you are looking for in a trailer where you'll put your kids; buy Burley.

    This brings me to the trail-a-bike. Here I didn't follow my own advice and purchased a cheaper Adams instead of the Burley (or Giant) version. I have run into a problem (the subject of a separate post) but that's not what I'll talk about here. Generally I agree with the consensus views expressed on this site, but not on trail-a-bikes. Specifically, I think these are potentially more dangerous than posters on this site tend to suggest. Trail-a-bike setups are rock-solid if you and your child travel on level ground in a straight line and never move. If you turn the bike though, or if you or your child shifts weight on the bike, it's a bit of an adventure. The lateral motion of either rider is transferred in part to the other. Your child doesn't have to keep the bike up of course, but does have to hang on and it takes some getting used to. When your child shifts weight it can be even worse as you *do* have to keep the bike upright. Until I get accustomed to my six-year-old daughter's weight shifting on each ride the ride is a bit of a challenge even though I weigh 4 times what she does. I believe the manufacturers recommend that the adult weigh at least twice what the child does, but in my view that is cutting it too close as even a strong rider weighing only twice what his child does could be thrown from a sudden shift; so, for example, if the child is scared of falling and moves violently as a result his fear may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For all these reasons, I would not put a child on a trail-a-bike if you are riding on streets with cars until she can ride a two-wheeler on her own (and thus has experience balancing) and would not put her on one anymore once her weight significantly exceeded a third of my own.

    Hope this is useful.
    I have a Burley, and after reading your experience with the Adams, I'm very glad I do. When I ride with my six year old, I have to remind myself to keep my speed under control; the rig is comfortable enough that I have to look in the mirror to make sure she's still there. When I ride with my four year old, she occasionally thinks it is funny to rock back and forth. This causes the rig to move a few inches off the desired track, and earns her a warning from me. I've never felt challenged for control. I weigh 160 lbs, the six year old is 49 lbs, and the four year old is 42 lbs. I'm using an old steel framed MTB with 1.95 in. city tires to pull it.

  19. #19
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    Interesting feedback on the Adam's trail-a-bike. My husband has been using one with our daughter since she was 4.5 years old and he's never had any issues. Of course, at six years old now she only weighs 39 lbs. so there's not much weight for her to throw around back there. I would agree that they definitely have to be trustworthy enough to hold on and I would say that my almost four year old son is a long way off from being able to use the trail-a-bike. He's just too impulsive to be trusted, so as he outgrows his bike seat, I'm looking into getting a trailer for him.

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    Brandy,

    I'd get the trailer sooner rather than later if you are going that route. For the expense he won't be in it long. I would guess the trailer would handle better than the seat (I have only tried a seat a few times and that was years ago). Your four year old will likely only be in the trailer until he is about 5 maybe until 6. A trailer will run ~$100-$500 (depending on what you get). If your family is dedicated to riding, you might want to consider a tandem. You can get decent used tandems for under $1k. You can put adapters on them for kids and pull a trailer or trail-a-bike. You can even go on rides with your significant other.

  21. #21
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    Thanks We currently have the bike seat on my "family recreational" bike and his legs are getting too long...weightwise he's still okay. I'm definitely going to get the trailer soon to attach to my road bike. He starts preschool in the fall and that way I can ride him to school those days and then get in a 2.5-3 hour ride while he's in school without taking anymore time away from all of the kids...plus the added bonus of saving money on gas. I figure that pulling him on my road bike will improve my strength as well!

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