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  1. #1
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Trailer max speed

    I've recently started using a Chariot Cougar one seater. I noted the manual warns not to travel over 25kph. I find that speed very limiting on flat smooth ground.

    Is this a 'cover our ass' warning for all situations given the handling issues on corners, bumps, downhill, stopping, etc. or are there reasons not to travel over this speed on flat or uphill intersection-less smooth roads?

    Obviously I take into account the much slower/longer emergency stopping distances and take extra caution on downhills and near intersections and on bumpy roads or on corners where 25kph or less is warranted either for safety or the comfort of the passenger.

  2. #2
    Fred J.G. dwilbur3's Avatar
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    If you've got human cargo I'd take that warning seriously. A bike with a trailer is no where near as stable as a bike alone. The time trials can wait until you're biking on your own.

  3. #3
    Hebrews 10:20a jhefner's Avatar
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    If I have done my math correctly, 25 KPH is about 15 MPH. I ride hard on my daily rides; and my average right now is 16-17 MPH.

    Unless you live in really windy or hilly country, I find it hard to believe you have trouble keeping your speed below 25 KPH/15 MPH. If you truly are, I would shift down to a gear of about 57 gear inches; on my 1970s ten speed, that would be 52-24. At that gear; even a cadence of 90 will keep you at 15 MPH; anything faster, and it is time to apply the brakes.

    Which is the other issue. If you have say (just as an example) a time trial bike with the double pivot caliper brakes; you will now be stopping for the two of you, and not just yourself. What may have been adequate when it was just yourself and a light load may now not be enough in an emergency stop situation at 25 KPH+ speeds, with say a little water thrown in.

    (I am not trying to lecture to you, just giving you something else to think about.)

    -James
    Last edited by jhefner; 12-15-09 at 11:32 AM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    Hebrews 10:20a jhefner's Avatar
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    I wanted to add the following because I have already given this some thought myself. For starters, here is my current ride, my c.1975 Viscount Aerospace G.P.:



    And here is my older son's bike; a 24" Magna Glacier Point. Yes, it is an X-mart bike; but it has held up well for ten years, and with Intense Micro Knob tires, he can keep up with me until he gets tired:



    My Viscount has 42-52 chainrings and a 14-16-18-21-24 rear cassette; his Magna has 42-48 chainrings, and a 14-16-19-21-24-28 rear cassette. At first, it seems like we are closely matched at the top; however, there is one problem -- I have 700c (27-28') wheels, and he has 24'.

    This graphic shows the gear charts for my bike and his bike side-by side. The numbers in purple are the range they have in common; the ones in green are too tall on my bike compared to his, the ones in black are too low:



    The point of this exercize is this: if I am riding in 42-14 at 90 RPM; my son on his 24" bike would have to ride his tallest gear at 97-98 RPM to just stay with me. That would not be very nice; the gear I currently ride on in the flats is shown in red; when I ride with my son, I read in the gear in dark blue. (His small wheels enable him to accelrate faster than I do; so I can keep up taking off; and he can keep up at cruising speed.)

    Now, transfer this example to your trailer bike. I don't know if you have the model with the 16" or the 20" wheel; nor do I know the chainwheel and cog size(s) on it. But I am sure you can figure it out.

    Now, lets say that you took my advice in my previous thread, and are riding a 52-24 gear, and you are crusing along at 15 MPH with a 90 RPM cadence. Furthering the example, let's say your trailer bike has a 16" wheel, and 28 chainwheel and 16 rear cog.

    With that setup, your co-pilot has a gear inch of 28, and would have to pedal at 180 RPM to keep pace with you. One of two things will happen:

    A. They won't pedal at all, and just coast; kinda defeating the whole purpose of giving them a trailer bike in the first place.

    B. They will try to spin that fast, and may bounce themselves off their seat in the process.

    Consider also that they have no brake, and therefore no control over what is going on; all they can do is hang on for dear life. Some may cry "Weeee", and love it; others may be terrified, and decide riding a bike is not for them (once again defeating the whole purpose of giving them a trailer bike.)

    This factor, plus the fact that my Viscount's tall frame and racing geometry already has minimum stability; not to mention its straight guage tubing is quite frail, are the reason why I am borrowing my son-in-law's 15 speed mountain bike, and starting out in granny gearing. As we both gain confidence, I will ride a little faster; though if I do mount it onto my Viscount, I will still ride in one of the bottom gears for the reasons given above. If he can keep up at that point, he is ready for his own bike.

    -James
    Last edited by jhefner; 12-15-09 at 01:03 PM.

  5. #5
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Ummm. this is a sit in trailer, not a trail bike
    cougar1.jpg

  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    No I haven't exceeded the limits with my son and don't plan to in excess.

    I have done only about 60mi of testing with an equivalent 'dummy' load mostly cruising over 30kph and occasionally peaking at 40kph - also testing hard stops, cornering, bumps, etc. - wanting to learn the limits and feel, even learning about jackknifing the trailer w/emergency stops down hill, or learning what happens if one takes a corner fast - a limited experience, but so far one that has resulted in finding trailering to be easier than I expected.

    The reason I ask is not about 'time trials' or workouts at all, it is about moving at a comfortable natural feeling pace and not having to be overly conscious of always keeping below a specific read out on the computer vs. what feels right for the moment. Sometimes keeping below specific speed can be 'harder' than just riding where it feels right. I am not talking about crazy speeds, just wanting a sense of overly focusing on 25kph vs. some excursions up to ~30kph under the right conditions. After the comfort I found testing at 30-35kph I wondered about the reasons for the 25kph limit.

    Of course the easy 'right' answer is don't think about it, but wondered if others had any experience to share. No one needs to tell me the importance of keeping my passenger safe or the hazards of intersections, slick roads, etc.

    Another consideration is the trailer is rated for a 75lb passenger load. My son is 25lbs now. I would think this limit is for the full load, after all handling a 100lb loaded trailer is quite different than a 50lb loaded trailer.
    Last edited by noisebeam; 12-15-09 at 01:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Endurance junkie
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    I think it's mostly a CYA thing.

    I'm an engineer and in looking carefully at our trailer I'm confident that it could go a heck of a lot faster than I'm capable of riding.

    We have a Burley D'Lite. I've Taken it up to 22+ mph with 2 kids in it (drafting a tandem on a closed road). No problem except that it's very hard to keep that speed since it's got a lot of frontal area.

    The safety concern would be if there was an emergency, like a squirrel darting out or something that it's hard to stop or might roll over in a swerve situation. I wouldn't recommend hard cornering either but that's pretty much common sense.

    The D'Lite frame serves as a safety cage and with the harnesses and helmets, I wouldn't be too worried about serious injury even if it did roll over.
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  8. #8
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    25kph is to cover their liability. You can safely get these things going much faster. It is just a matter of what you are comfortable with. If 25kph is your limit then that is what your limit should be. Let the equipment, terrain, weather, course, your handling abilities and your bikes braking power determine your speeds. The weakest link will give you your max.

    Personally, we've done ~40mph, maybe up to 45 in ours. That is about 65kph with 80-90 lbs between two kids. Would I go faster? Probably not unless we had something set up and cleared for a speed run but I just don't see that happening. I have no problems with 30mph and under. Above 30 and the worry starts increasing. For me/us the biggest factors are braking and obstacles. The others are kind of known. It's the emergency braking and unknown obstacles that typically determine my comfort speeds. The equipment and my handling are very low on my list of potential failure. Your measures might be different.

  9. #9
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Good to hear other perspectives. Seems I have the right considerations in place, primarily the effect responding to unforeseen emergency situations.
    I've got to say that 30mph is already quite a bit higher max han I was thinking. I am in the 20-22mph 'comfort' zone, both from a safety and physical perspective.
    As I am new to this I will be taking it easy until I get more miles of trailering experience.
    I've got to say it is very fun and my son so far loves it!

  10. #10
    Fred J.G. dwilbur3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    ...I've got to say it is very fun and my son so far loves it!
    I don't doubt it, my daughter loved our trailer. "Faster daddy, faster!" I didn't have to worry about the 25 kph limit, my motor wouldn't go that fast.

    Ride safe (whatever speed you choose).

  11. #11
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    I won't go over 44 mph pulling our little one behind the tandem (which is exceedingly stable). On my single, I struggle these days to get over 18 mpg average but often exceed that speed on the downhills.

    G'head you do-gooders, flame me for putting my son's life in danger. I'm over it. I ride safe.
    ~Kat

  12. #12
    Senior Member phinney's Avatar
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    Our D'Lite was good to about 25 mph behind the tandem. Above that the bike would start a wobble. No such problem with the Solo which was stable all the way to around 35 which is the fastest I ever remember going with it.

  13. #13
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    Wow, I am pretty risk-averse when it comes to my kid but even I have regularly exceeded that 15 mph max with the Chariot (only downhill or with a good tailwind, though!) and my husband averages about 18-19 mph with her, and has definitely taken her up to 25 mph or so. This is all on mostly flat paved trails, but we have experienced no squirreliness or braking difficulties with the Chariot. She's pretty happy at lower speeds, but she does prefer to ride with my husband because he goes faster.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by phinney View Post
    Our D'Lite was good to about 25 mph behind the tandem. Above that the bike would start a wobble. No such problem with the Solo which was stable all the way to around 35 which is the fastest I ever remember going with it.
    That wobble may have been from weight distribution. If too little percentage of the total weight is on the tongue you can get wobbles like that. Typically there is not much you can do on bike trailers except remove some extra weight you might be carrying in the back behind the axle of the trailer. Adding weight in front of the axle is harder to do without crowding the kids.

  15. #15
    Subjectively Insane MilitantPotato's Avatar
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    I've done 25-30mph with no issues, wouldn't do that with a child on board for their safety though.

    Only time the trailer has given me issues is turning under hard braking (my rear tire kicked sideways, stopped my heart but I recovered the skid) and turning into a driveway at 5-10mph (trailer rolled over after tapping a curb, daughter was fine.) Emergency maneuvers at speed becomes a little sketchy since the trailer wants to continue straight, any reduction of traction at the rear (from rear wheel braking, weight transfer, or debris) can cause your bike/trailer to jackknife.
    You've got a bike, so you gotta move.

  16. #16
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    The max speed warning is there because of a father who successfully sued Cannondale back in the early '90s when the Cannondale trailer he was towing overturned, resulting in grave injuries for his child. The trailer overturned when the father took a downhill corner at stupidly high speed. Naturally, the jury found for the father. So don't worry; if your trailer overturns at speed, the hospital bills or funeral expenses will be covered. In fact, the trailer manufacturer will probably be happy to settle out of court.

  17. #17
    Dr.Deltron
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
    ... the Cannondale trailer he was towing overturned, ... when the father took a downhill corner at stupidly high speed.

    Naturally, the jury found for the father.
    NATURALLY!!!

    Stupidity should ALWAYS be highly rewarded!

    (gives Darwin some validity)

    BOT, our top speed is 46.2 MPH on our Greenspeed tandem with myself & 4 kids onboard.
    (my 7 year old sitting atop the Blackburn rack w/footpegs)
    The trailer is a Burley.


    Hmmmm...maybe I should have flipped it,




    and retired to sunny Florida from the proceeds!

  18. #18
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    Just saw this thread.

    Al, we've put about 1500km on our Cougar. And I can say we've done many of those km faster than 25kph without incident.

    I've also leaned the trailer up on one wheel going around a corner... at a speed below 25kph. It was operator error, and my 2-yr-old let me know this in no uncertain terms.

  19. #19
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Actually the Cougar manual writes that when cornering speeds should be kept below 10kph.

  20. #20
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    Wait, 10 kilometers per hour? Not miles per hour? That is insane.

  21. #21
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    At speed, my [unloaded] WIKe trailer can catch some air...


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