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  1. #1
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    trail a bikes, worth the time, effort, expense????

    I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old. I am attempting to get the 4 year old a little more involved in his riding. I was wondering if getting him out of the trailer and on a trail a bike was a good option. I've never used or known anyone who has used one. Are they an exercise in futility or will he get something from it?? I know the trailer has to stay for the little one to ride with but maybe the larger could help with a little peddling? ? Not sure any ideas out there??

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    The biggest problem we have with a trail-a-bike setup is that it's not nap-friendly. But naps are pretty easy to plan around (especially for a 4+ year old) and you could get a weehoo trailer: http://www.weehoobicycletrailer.com/ Then they could nap, and either kid could ride in it (I've definitely seen a 1 year old in a weehoo). The 4 year old could pedal or not depending on energy levels.

    You could also get something like a trail gator tow bar: http://www.trail-gator.com/ That would allow you to hook up a kid's bike to the back of your bike. It can accommodate different size bikes, so it can grow with your child, and it's cheaper than buying both a trail-a-bike and a kids bike. You can easily disconnect the child's bike so they can ride independently when it's appropriate for them to do so.

    We don't have a weehoo, but we do have the trail gator, and like it. My 4 year old adores riding the "bike train". What we use even more often is our xtracycle, with two kid seats on the rack. Our 4 year old mostly rides independently, but when he gets tired we can load him up on the bike rack, and hook his bike up so that it tows from the pannier. For now the 2 year old rides passively on the rack.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bomccorkle View Post
    I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old. I am attempting to get the 4 year old a little more involved in his riding. I was wondering if getting him out of the trailer and on a trail a bike was a good option. I've never used or known anyone who has used one. Are they an exercise in futility or will he get something from it?? I know the trailer has to stay for the little one to ride with but maybe the larger could help with a little peddling? ? Not sure any ideas out there??
    Had one with both of my kids. I hated it with a deep and burning passion. Part of that was because I live on a street whose only exit is a 10% hill, and having to climb it with all that extra weight on the back was a major PITA. ;-)

    But even on the flats, I still hated it. I found that it was much more pleasant to have a bike seat for when they were still small enough to fit in one, and then start them out on their own bikes when they were old enough. It's worked out great.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  4. #4
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    Is the difference in weight significant between trailer and trail-a-bike? Trailer + trail-a-bike seems like a PITA, but trailing either one seems roughly equivalent. So if you're used to a trailer already....

  5. #5
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebartom View Post
    Is the difference in weight significant between trailer and trail-a-bike? Trailer + trail-a-bike seems like a PITA, but trailing either one seems roughly equivalent. So if you're used to a trailer already....
    Never had a trailer, but the trail-a-bike was something on the order of 25 pounds or so, not including the child.

    In addition to the weight, the other big PITA was that if the kid, say, leans to one side, being connected by a rigid bar means that you get pulled off to the side too. So if you have kids who tends to want to lean over and look at things, you're constantly dealing with randomly having your bike off balance.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

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    We have an Xtracycle, Trail-gator, and a trailer. I have the Xtra/trailer, my wife has the TG. For me, the trailer isnt much weight up/down hill but with head winds you really feel it. The added weight of the Xtra is only noticed when I have to pick it up. I also have an attachment for the older kids' bikes. I cant take the front tire off and attach thier bikes to my Xtra while they ride stoker on the deck. The first few times doing this took some gettin used to, but it wasnt long before we got the hang of it..

    My wife occasionally pulls our 8 year old with the TG and she said it was difficult at first, but once her and the boy got it figured out it was easy peasy. As for the leaning issue, he can only lean so far before he falls off and minor back/forth doesnt seem to bother her.

    So I guess in short, any setup will take some practice, but shouldnt be long before you and the kids are enjoying our rides together =)

  7. #7
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    I like the (Burley Kazoo) trail-a-bike for kids age 4-7 and the Burley D'Lite sit-inside trailer for ages 1-3.

    Our three year old twins are large for their age, bigger than most 4 year olds, and ride trail-a-bikes with us on quiet streets and greenways at low speeds for up to an hour, with frequent breaks. Their older brother could go faster and longer before he graduated to his own bike at age 8.

    Above age 7 I would go with a tandem rather than a trail-a-bike, for better stability, handling, and speed if you plan on riding together a lot, especially under conditions where the child won't keep up on their own bike or handle traffic safely on their own bike.

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    Cabledawg, what do you use to attach the kids' bikes to the xtra? We just buckle the front wheel into the freeloaders, but so far we're only towing one bike, and the freeloader straps are already showing some real wear, after a year of use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebartom View Post
    Cabledawg, what do you use to attach the kids' bikes to the xtra? We just buckle the front wheel into the freeloaders, but so far we're only towing one bike, and the freeloader straps are already showing some real wear, after a year of use.
    I cant take credit for this mod as I "stole" the idea from a couple folks on the forum. There are a couple wasy to attach a bike to the back of the Xtra. The first is how I did mine and that's bolting a piece of flat steel to the Xtra frame and then bolting a front fork bracket (from something like a roof top bike carrier) to the flat steel. Works pretty well but keep in mind it isnt designed to be load bearing sothe kids cant ride on the bike while its pulled.

    The second version is to use a pair of brackets to attach a front wheel hub to the frame of the Xtra. THis will probably be best if your kid's front fork is narrow or an oddball size. Again it's not load bearing while towing.







    NOTE: These photos arent mine, they were borrowed from other Bike Forum members to show where I got the idea from. I'll post up my own setup once I get some decent pics.
    Last edited by cabledawg; 11-02-11 at 07:42 AM.

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    Looks good! Can it accommodate both of your big kids' bikes? Or just one at a time?

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    Mine only does one at a time and so far that's all I've needed, but the original plan was to build a wide enough bracket and put two fork adapters on there so both can hitch a ride if they wanted/needed to. Just for giggles, I put my wife's bike on back with the trailer hooked to her bike and rode up/down the street one day. I'm sure it lloked just as weired as it felt

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    That's a pretty clever setup cable.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bomccorkle View Post
    I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old. I am attempting to get the 4 year old a little more involved in his riding. I was wondering if getting him out of the trailer and on a trail a bike was a good option. I've never used or known anyone who has used one. Are they an exercise in futility or will he get something from it?? I know the trailer has to stay for the little one to ride with but maybe the larger could help with a little peddling? ? Not sure any ideas out there??
    My personal experience has been positive, while my professional experience has been mixed. I have a few hundred at work for rent. It all depends on the child. Some kids hop on and ride with no trouble, while some need prompting and a few won't ride at all. See if there is a rental option at your LBS to try one out. Unless you have some mechanical skill, avoid those sold at big box retailers and wholesale club stores. Those are cheaply made and you will have hitch problems after too little use. Burly, Adams, Trek, and Sun are the better ones to get, and in that order.

    The Trail-Gator has stability problems and your child has a brake, which can cause an avoidable accident. The few using a fork clamp is dangerous, as those clamps are not designed to handle the weight of a bike with a rider.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Denelle's Avatar
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    I really love the TAB that we have. I ride with two children, a 1 year old and 4 year old. Putting both of them in a trailer is disasterous (with fighting and space constraints). Having the 1 year old in the Yepp up front and the 4 year old on the TAB has been fantastic. They both love having their own space. The only problem is nap time, but we just plan around it for rides.

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    I do a ton a riding with a kids on an Adam's compact sized Trail a bike and a front mounted Yepp bike seat. I find this setup to be far superior to two kids in a trailer. A four year old is big enough to contribute to the locomotion of things and with a little training not lean back and forth.

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    I think it depends on the kids. Ours hated the trailer and we could never ride with them in it. Did the rear seat and then the trail a bike and they loved it.
    I buy as much of those kind of things used since we don't know if we will get to them or for how long.

  17. #17
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    The bike trailer helped my son learn how to ride (become more comfortable at speed), and my 4YO daughter enjoys riding it now. My daughter can't ride on her own, yet, and I don't know how well she could keep up. The trailer bike let me get my son out on the road to work on his riding and still take my daughter along this fall.

    I hope to take my son (7) and daughter on some longer rides this summer on trails we have around here, and the trailer bike will make it a lot easier to get the young one to go on longer rides. Also, I think it will help her as she learns to ride a bike on her own.
    '06 Specialized Tarmac Comp, '98 Diamondback Voyager II

  18. #18
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    We have about 1000 miles on 2 TABs. The Burley Piccolo is best by far. We have toured across NY state and done MS150s with TABs. Our littlest fell asleep once on the TAB at age 4, but held on and balanced somehow until realized the chatter stopped and we stopped for a break. It was scary, but never happened again. You can get a back rest and strap to hold them in place if they do fall asleep, but if they do even with that you should stop and take a break. TABs are a great solution to let you get out with the kids for a safe and longer ride. They cannot weave into traffic and they always keep up with you. We always mix rides back and forth with longer TAB rides and shorter rides on their own bikes so we all get a little of each in continually. A TAB kept me using my bike for real exercise once we had kids!

    http://www.adventurecycling.org/week...ndex.cfm?w=655
    Last edited by dwmckee; 02-02-12 at 08:02 PM. Reason: added

  19. #19
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    TAB are nice even once they can ride their own bikes, because you can go faster & farther than you kids could ever ride on their own. Although my youngest starts to complain about the seat being uncomfortable after 5-7 miles. They are less stable than the trailer because the kids can lean & throw off your balance, but I have never actually tipped over. I do think they help the kids with balance & being ready to ride without training wheels. They also broke up the fighting that was starting to happen in the trailer.

  20. #20
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post

    The Trail-Gator has stability problems and your child has a brake, which can cause an avoidable accident. The few using a fork clamp is dangerous, as those clamps are not designed to handle the weight of a bike with a rider.

    I'll second that opinion. Very different from the Trail-a-bike which has a more natural seating position and a shorter combined wheelbase.
    Last edited by Burton; 02-03-12 at 07:09 PM.

  21. #21
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    My son loves his hitch bike (tag-a-long). The only trouble is they will always want to ride.
    Here's a good reference showing the different types. Some pivot around the seat post to turn. Others clamp tight on the seat post and pivot over the rear wheel. And Burley attaches to a rack:
    https://sites.google.com/site/bicycletrain/tag-alongs

  22. #22
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicycletrain View Post
    My son loves his hitch bike (tag-a-long). The only trouble is they will always want to ride.
    Here's a good reference showing the different types. Some pivot around the seat post to turn. Others clamp tight on the seat post and pivot over the rear wheel. And Burley attaches to a rack:
    https://sites.google.com/site/bicycletrain/tag-alongs
    Don't know what to say. Adams TrailABike make 6 different models, they originated the concept and are recognized for producing top quality products and there isn't even a mention of them on that site. Any reason you're aware of?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Don't know what to say. Adams TrailABike make 6 different models, they originated the concept and are recognized for producing top quality products and there isn't even a mention of them on that site. Any reason you're aware of?
    Not sure what happened. I just checked: https://sites.google.com/site/bicycletrain/tag-alongs and it lists: Adams twenty four, Adams original shifter seven, Adams folder Tandem, Adams original alloy folder one, and Adams original folder compact. Which ones aren't listed? Maybe the non gear version of Shifter Seven? It is a great place to find out whats available and compare options. I have a Adams folder one and it works really well.

  24. #24
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicycletrain View Post
    Not sure what happened. I just checked: https://sites.google.com/site/bicycletrain/tag-alongs and it lists: Adams twenty four, Adams original shifter seven, Adams folder Tandem, Adams original alloy folder one, and Adams original folder compact. Which ones aren't listed? Maybe the non gear version of Shifter Seven? It is a great place to find out whats available and compare options. I have a Adams folder one and it works really well.
    No - could have just been my iPhone acting up again. Picked up an iPhone 4 last month and there've been some technical issues that the iPhone 3 didn't seem to have. I got a page freeze at five items and assumed that was the complete list. Not sure why this is called 'progress'.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Last edited by Burton; 02-05-12 at 03:19 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    No - could have just been my iPhone acting up again. Picked up an iPhone 4 last month and there've been some technical issues that the iPhone 3 didn't seem to have. I got a page freeze at five items and assumed that was the complete list. Not sure why this is called 'progress'.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Oops website was made with 17 inch screen. I don't have a phone. I checked on a friends phone and "it is funny on iphone". Maybe this is better for i phone: https://sites.google.com/site/bicycl...mobile-version

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