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Old 03-18-07, 08:35 PM   #1
748eric
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Can you pull a trailer with a road bike?

Hi,

I was thinking of purchasing a Lemond Tourmalet road bike and wanted to know if I could pull a trailer with it? At first I thought I couldn't but then someone said maybe.

Your thoughts???
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Old 03-18-07, 08:58 PM   #2
ken cummings
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Yes. I have one that clamps to the seat post. Most attach using the rear wheels quick release.
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Old 03-19-07, 11:11 AM   #3
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I think topography, gearing, and size of the kid(s) are the main issues. You'll always be able to pull them downhill, but climbing can be difficult if there's a lot of it and your gears don't go too low.
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Old 03-19-07, 12:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
I think topography, gearing, and size of the kid(s) are the main issues. You'll always be able to pull them downhill, but climbing can be difficult if there's a lot of it and your gears don't go too low.
Well, I guess rider strength is as much a factor as the rest.

One thing that you DO have to consider is the way the hitch mounts. Most trailers today are going towards skewer-mount hitches. These will work with any bike. But the older Burleys were made with a hitch that clamped itself into a corner of the rear triangle. These hitches are easy to use, BUT they will eventually rub a spot on your seatstay, and you can end up hitting them with your heel on a road bike (short chainstays). Plus, for a carbon frame or stays, you may not want to clamp onto them at all. Best to go with a skewer mount.

My personal experience is that the gearing of a standard road bike is fine -- but I mainly pull the trailer on bike paths, and they generally don't have severe hills. For hills, having a trailer on the back increases your weight by about 20lbs (30 for cheap steel-framed trailers) plus the weight of the kid. So that makes whatever hill you're climbing that much more severe.

Example:
180-lb rider on 20-lb road bike pulling 40-lb kid in 20-lb trailer up an 8% grade

is equal to

180-lb rider on 20-lb road bike climbing up a 8%*(260/200) = 10.4% grade
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Old 03-19-07, 12:37 PM   #5
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Burley has skewer mounts to swap out the triangle mounts. I would have kept the triangle mount but that's where my kickstand is.

I do find myself pulling the kids (and groceries too, sometimes) up long enough steep enough hills that I kept downshifting until a mountain bike was my clear choice. After a while of that (during which the kids kept growing, would they only stop thinking of themselves for a minute), I am not downshifting as low as I was when they were smaller, so I'm making progress too.
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Old 03-19-07, 12:44 PM   #6
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Keep in mind that when going downhill you might need to stop. Brakes are just as important as gearing. Having had my 60 lbs of loaded trailer going 28 mph down a hill and needing to stop, I'll just say that the push against the rear wheel can come as quite a surprise if you aren't ready for it, and stopping distance is pretty much tripled. Still...it can be done.
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Old 03-19-07, 01:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
I do find myself pulling the kids (and groceries too, sometimes) up long enough steep enough hills that I kept downshifting until a mountain bike was my clear choice.
A touring bike give you best of both worlds... low, MTB-style gearing, with comfort-road geometry. I'm having a blast pulling my Burley D'Lite on mine!
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Old 03-20-07, 11:09 AM   #8
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I'll second the comment about needing good brakes when towing a trailer. My Burley cub is 30lbs, my 3 yr old is 35lbs, and I'm 175 lbs. I trust the brakes on my MTB and touring bike to stop a load like that going downhill but not my road bike with sidepulls.
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Old 03-20-07, 11:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chuck G
I'll second the comment about needing good brakes when towing a trailer. My Burley cub is 30lbs, my 3 yr old is 35lbs, and I'm 175 lbs. I trust the brakes on my MTB and touring bike to stop a load like that going downhill but not my road bike with sidepulls.
I have found (with similar weights to yours) that my road bike's brakes are fine for trailer duty.

But:

1. I don't pull the trailer in the rain with the road bike.

2. I don't bomb the downhills. I will exceed 20 mph by a bit, but I don't go crazy.

3. My road bike has 105 dual-pivot brakes, and they're pretty effective.

4. I mostly ride on flat trails, but there's a hill between my house and the trail.


The way I see it, if the road bike brakes are good enough to stop me at 45 mph on a steep descent, they are good enough to stop me + 30% at 20-25 mph.


I actually prefer to pull my trailer with a disc-equipped touring bike. The discs are better brakes, and the low gearing makes climbing the hill on the way back home a lot less painful.
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