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Old 03-22-07, 04:48 PM   #1
cynergy
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Should I buy a "tag-along" bike?

Hi All,

I have recently started to ride recreationally again. I currently have a recreational road bike (I think it's a Giant OCR3) and a Trek 800 mountain bike. I have three children ages 6, 5, and 2. The two oldest have been riding their two wheelers for over a year now and they enjoy riding a lot. Currently we just ride around our neighborhood, but I'd like to take the two big kids on some longer rides this spring and summer. I am thinking about splurging and purchasing a "tag-along" type of bike that I could use to convert my bike into a tandem.

Does anyone here have some experience with these tag-along bikes? In your opinion, would it be a wise investment for me to purchase such a bike? I want my kids to be able to pedal and work a little during the ride, but I also want to be able to help them out so we can ride on some more challenging roads (with more hills) safely. Would I be better off just buying my oldest kid a bike with a few gears on it so that she can use the low gear to chug up the hills? Also, I've seen some tag-along bikes that have 3 speeds on them - are these worth the extra money?

I' d like to do some easy bike tours with my oldest child, but I don't know if she'd be able to make it own her own bike, even if it had some gears. I live in NH and the roads near us are very hilly.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-22-07, 05:34 PM   #2
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We have had one for about three years. The main disadvantage is that your child will be disappointed when you pick them up after school with a car. The one we have (an Adams) is single speed, but geared quite well for helping on hills. It's a good way to teach children traffic safety.

Paul
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Old 03-22-07, 06:05 PM   #3
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Paul,

Thanks for your reply. I like the idea of teaching them traffic safety - that's a good idea.

I have a follow up question - how old can my kids be before they stop using the tag along? My oldest (daughter) is on the petite side right now. My next oldest, however, is fairly large. Do they outgrow these things pretty quickly or is it OK for them to keep riding them for a couple of years? I'm not sure how these tag-alongs are sized - do they run on the smaller size for young kids?

Thanks again!
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Old 03-22-07, 07:15 PM   #4
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Burley has said our Piccolo can handle an 85 lb child, or one that is no more than half the adult rider's weight. I put my younger daughter on it when she was not quite four, and figure that theyll ride it until they are eight - I'm figuring that by the time they're in fourth grade, they'll be too independent to want to ride with Dad. If that's not the case, then we'll go looking for a tandem.

Mine are five and almost seven, and haven't tried to use the gears yet. I don't know how much benefit they'll be.

On the sizing, they're very adjustable, so you'll only need one.
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Old 03-23-07, 05:03 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies everyone. It sounds like a tag-along might be a good investment. i can ride for a couple of years with the older kids, and then start riding with the little baby (who's only 2 right now) when he turns 4 or 5.

Any recommendations on which tag-along bikes to buy? Also, should I consider buying one online or buy one in person instead?

Thanks!
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Old 03-23-07, 06:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynergy
Thanks for the replies everyone. It sounds like a tag-along might be a good investment. i can ride for a couple of years with the older kids, and then start riding with the little baby (who's only 2 right now) when he turns 4 or 5.

Any recommendations on which tag-along bikes to buy? Also, should I consider buying one online or buy one in person instead?

Thanks!
Since the Piccolo is out of production, the Adams Trail-A-Bike is probably the best out there, followed by Trek's Mountain Train. Adams has improved the hitch design so excess play can be fixed with a few turns of a wrench and can be replaced with a $20 part and about a half hour worth of labor. They also have an aluminum frame version, but I recommend getting an aluminum seat post to replace the steel one that comes with it. All new Trail-A-Bikes will fold, as does Trek's Mountain Train. Trek also has a 24" wheel version. All of the above have a 6 or 7 speed shifter option.

If you do try to do some light touring, remember to carry a spare tube for it and a wrench, a 15mm, to fix flats. You will need the wrench to adjust the chain tension as the chain wears out on a single speed model. I maintain 20 for rental everyday and know just about every trick there is to keep these things running and stable. When you try one out, pick up speed fast, don't go slow thinking that is safer. The slower you ride, the more you use your arms and handlebars to keep your balance, causing the bike to wiggle from side to side, which is transferred through the hitch and magnified back to your little passenger. Don't use a 24" wheel bike with one, as trailercycles are engineered to be stable with 26" and 700c(29") wheels.
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Old 03-23-07, 08:13 AM   #7
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We have the Adams. I agree with Diesel Dan's comments. If your bike has a rear rack, you will have to mount the hitch high on the seatpost, which will compound the potential stability issues. Faster really is better!

I think that buying in person is best. The Adams is a very durable piece of machinery -- we put about 800 miles per year on it.

Paul
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Old 03-23-07, 09:05 AM   #8
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My 5yo is riding on an old used Kent trailercycle with a home made seatpost mount (the stock one was very wobbly). She, at 42" tall, has the seat almost all the way down right now. There is plenty of years left. While she is fairly good on her own bike, she is no where near road ready! And her endurance/attention span when riding on her own is about 15 minutes or so. When on the trailercycle combo, she can easily go 30-40 minutes at a time without complaint. That's as long as I go before stopping at a park or something, just cause I want to keep biking fun and easy for her...

We generally drop off little sister at preschool, then head out for about 2 1/2 hours on the bike (including stops and play time), then pick up sister at school again to go home.

Ours is a single speed, which seems just fine. On the really steep hills where I'm in granny gear, she cannot help pedal. The cadence is just too slow. However, in 90% of the basic city/trail riding, it's geared just about right and I can really feel her helping out. I never use the big chainring, and generally keep speeds pretty slow with her anyway, so taller gears are not needed for us at all. We're just out having fun, not trying to win any races (don't tell her that though, she wants to race everyone!).

I bought my Kent used (very neglected, rusty, and missing some parts) at a local garage sale for $10. I see other brands all the time on craigslist for between $40 and $90. For the relatively small investment, they really are worth trying out, imo!
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Old 03-23-07, 11:41 AM   #9
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I was wondering about biking up to the surly LBS (there is the friendly one, the surly one, and the good one), the one that carries trail-a-bikes onhand, w/ my 5 yr old in the trailer this weekend to try one out. I doubt they carry Adams, but it sounds like Trek is good? It's good to read this thread, thanks.
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Old 03-23-07, 01:11 PM   #10
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Replacement connector for old tag along?

Hey all,

Thanks for the great replies. I think I'm going to invest in a tag along bike for this spring.

Here's a question for you all - my neighbor has an old tag along bike that is missing the connector bracket that attaches to the seat post of the parent's bike. I've look around at some local shops, but wasn't able to find a bracket that would fit.

Does anyone know where I can find a replacement bracket?

I've placed a couple of pictures of the connector joint at the following links,

http://home.comcast.net/~cynergyou/tag1.jpg
http://home.comcast.net/~cynergyou/tag2.jpg

the brand name on the bike is called "Cycle Design" and the model name is "Tag Along". I went to the original store that sold the tagalong bike but they no longer carry this model (instead they carry the Trek tag alongs).

The second image that I've listed ("tag2.jpg") shows the end of the connector where the bracket that is attached to the parent's bike would be connected to the tag along.

Any suggestions on where I could get a replacement joint? Would the Adams joint fit? Anyone have a photo of the adams joints and some dimensions on it?

Thanks again! Great forum.
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Old 03-23-07, 01:51 PM   #11
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cynergy, the good news is that the universal joint is still fully intact. All you need is a rigid connection to the bike seat. The bad news is that it is quite different than the Adam's hitch, so you could not easily use one of theirs. this link, http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/adams-trail-a-bike.html , shows what the Adam's hitch looks like.

Something like this one from instep, http://www.instep.net/accessories/detail.php?id=72 , looks much closer and could probably be adapted to work. You'd probably need to make some measurements though.

hope this helps,
david.
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Old 03-24-07, 05:14 AM   #12
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Thanks all for your replies. I think I'll check out Ebay and the local garage sales to see if i can find a good deal on a trailer bike. I'll also check out our local shop to see the brand new bikes (I believe they carry the Trek trailer bike that Diesel Dan mentioned.

Have a great weekend!
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Old 03-26-07, 09:30 AM   #13
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Hey Everyone - here's an update for my original post....

I took the plunge and purchased a brand new Chariot Carriers' "Catch 'Em" bike trailer. It has a 6 speed derailleur and a lightweight aluminum frame (see link for a description),

http://www.chariotcarriers.com/html_...h/catch_em.htm

I hooked this trailer bike to my heavy-duty Trek 800 this weekend and took my two oldest kids (one at a time) on several rides. We love it! So far, I've kept the trailer bike in the granny gear and the kids have been able to pedal, even on the bigger hills in our immediate neighborhood. I like riding with the tag-along much more than a regular trailer. The kids are more involved, they get exercise, they help pull their own weight, and they are getting a feel for riding on the open road.

The bike store had a Burley Picolo there too, plus a lower cost trailer bike ($99) that was aluminum, like the Catch'Em, but only had one gear and no folding frame. The price on the Catch'Em was about $250, but I figure it was worth the cost since I can get several years out of it with my 3 kids.

My older kids and I are really excited about doing some longer rides this spring. So far, we've only rode a few miles each trip around the neighborhood, but I'm going to slowly ratchet up the distances and ride them to the library, sandwich shop, playground, etc..

Thanks all for your responses. If you're thinking about getting a trailer bike, i definitely recommend it.
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Old 04-01-07, 02:58 PM   #14
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I just found a new burley piccolo and purchased it, now I am researching the best bicycle to get for my wife to pull it with. The LBS that had the piccolo also has an '05 Giant OCR touring that looks like her frame size. This seems like a good choice for the piccolo since it has disk brakes, stable ride and rack mounts. I checked out the burley rack mount with the disk calipers, and everything looks like it will fit. My only concern is drop bars and pulling the trailer. Is this a good idea? I've heard upright bars are better with trailers because they give more leverage when the passenger shifts around. This bike would be good for longer rides when there will be only two of us, or weekend tours we would like to do. And it seems like a good deal--they've had it for 2 years and will sell it for $800. Still, if it won't work with the piccolo I don't want it. Any thoughts?
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Old 04-01-07, 07:01 PM   #15
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Depends on how solid you are with drop bars. I personally wouldn't tow with drop bars, but there are others who do fine with them. I also would consider the riding position. My drop bar bike has the traditional riding position, and I like having my head up more than that while pulling the trailercycle. I'm using a Cannondale Bad Boy, which is essentially an unsuspended mountain bile on road wheels.

Also, depending on your terrain, consider the gearing. It's hilly here, and I need some pretty low gears to get up some of these hills.
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Old 04-02-07, 05:59 AM   #16
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whatever2,

I ended up sticking my tag-along onto my Trek 800 which has the upright, mountain bike type bars. I haven't tried the tag along on my Giant OCR (which has drop type handlebars) but based on my experiences so far, the upright bars are very convenient for controlling the tag along. i find myself grabbing the ends of the bars sometimes when I feel my bike and the tag-along sort of wobble a bit.

Still, if you really like the OCR bike, I don't think the drop bars will make much of a difference. perhaps your local bike store will let you and your wife test ride a bike with the drop bar config, and then compare the ride with a bike with the straight upright bars so you can compare them and see which feels better with your tag-along.

Enjoy the new tag-along. My family and I love it. The kids and I took some longer rides this weekend, going to the public library and to the grocery store. it was a lot of fun.
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