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  1. #1
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Trailer bike for a tandem...

    Wanted to ask if any of you have any experience towing a trailer bike behind your tandem with a child on it for a week long journey? I am looking at and thinking through a few options.

    I currently have 2 tandems for our family, but we have some friends that will be making this 500 mile ride (RAGBRAI) with us this summer who will be coming from overseas (Vienna, Austria) and do not own a tandem - nor will the father and son be bringing their own bikes because they need to ride together on a tandem. Which means I am trying to make arrangements for wheels. This is a couple with their 10 year old son. I have found a local rental shop that can rent a low end, 21 speed 26" wheeled tandem for the week at a fixed price. I could just about double that price and pretty much buy the same low end tandem.

    I am also toying with letting the father and his son use one of our tandems so my wife could ride solo this year on her bike along with her friend (who is bringing her bike from Austria with her) on RAGBRAI. If we did that arrangment, it would mean I would have my 11 year old son as a stoker with me and would need to pull my 8 year old daughter behind us in some sort of a trailerbike. My 2 kids and the son of our friends could all rotate who rides where and take turns over the course of the day or week. That is if we go with a trailerbike option and my wife rides solo instead of captaining her tandem with my daughter. It is all still up in the air and we are trying to figure it out.

    One of the more interesting (and costly) options I am looking at is a recumbent trailer bike to pull behind a tandem this summer for this 500 mile trip. It is made by a German company called Hase. It fits someone that is up to 5'2" which means the three children coming along on the 500 mile trip this summer could rotate or take turns sitting on the Trets behind the tandem.

    http://www.kinetics.org.uk/html/trets.shtml

    The other option is something like the Burley Piccolo or one of the trailer bikes from Trek (either a 20" or 24" wheeled, geared version).

    In all of the above options, gearing seems to be limited to 6 or 7 gears which probably means little contribution will be coming from the children in terms of providing any forward momentum, but would be better than nothing. In addition, it would be an expense for an item that for all practical purposes is not going to get used that much beyond the 500 mile trip. I can't find any of those options to rent around here.

    Do those of you that may have ridden a tandem with a trailerbike have any suggestions? Or do any of you know any outfits that rent better than low-end tandems for a week's duration?

    Is it even feasible to think that I could captain a tandem with a child stoker while pulling yet another child in some sort of a trailerbike?

    Thanks for any input.

    BB

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Sure! Tandem + trail-a-bike + trailer

    Howdy from Tucson!
    If you've attended any tandem rallies you can see all sort of rigs; including tandems hauling a trail-a-bike + a trailer attached to trail-a-bike with 2 kids in it!
    If we recall correctly Adams makes a tandem trail-a-bike so you can have 2 kids a-pedalin' behind the tandem or a single, for that matter.
    But give it a test on a shorter ride as a five-day event is not the place to experiment with a rig like that!
    Good luck on RAGBRAI!
    Rudy & Kay/Zona tandem

  3. #3
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    I ran across this fun tandem trike trailer today doing a web search:

    http://www.twoplustwo.uk.com/tbikes/bb04.html

    However, according to the company they are currently changing their name from 2 plus 2 to Bike HOD and no longer are making those dual pedal (tandem) trailer bikes.

    I can't seem to find a link to the Adam's tandem trailer bike. Does anyone know if they still make it? I found links to four single trailer bikes they make. And I found a link with a picture of the Adams "Ultimate Tandem" for 2 children, but don't know if they still make it.

    http://www.electric-bikes.com/trailers.htm

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    Last edited by BruceBrown; 03-12-04 at 02:31 PM.

  4. #4
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    We have done the tandem and trailer bike thing before, but it was with my wife as a stoker rather than a child. For my wife and I it was very easy to pull the trailer bike. They do tend to wobble a bit, which seems to amplify on a tandem. Make sure you have a real solid connection to the bike, we always used shims to make the connection very tight.

    With 2 kids back, over a RAGBRAI distance, I think your in for a real workout unless they are both strong and conditioned riders.
    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. M.L.King

  5. #5
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    [With 2 kids back, over a RAGBRAI distance, I think your in for a real workout unless they are both strong and conditioned riders.]

    That's my greatest fear if going with this option. I did RAGBRAI last summer with my son as my stoker (who was 10 and strong as an ox). He's a pretty good rider and contributes all he can (he's now 5'3" and 135 pounds at age 11), but as you mentioned it is an entirely different situation when you add another child in tow. She's light and comes with endurance and was a stoker last year on RAGBRAI with her mother.

    I imagine the best thing to do is find a trailerbike in the area to borrow and give a test run or two to see if it is even feasible. I liked the looks of those trailerbike trikes as in theory I would think that they would be more stable when it comes to towing.

    BB

  6. #6
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    We have owned two different "trail a bikes" - the Norco Adams Trail-A-Bike (by far the most common out there) and a Burley Piccolo.

    My advice: if you are at all serious riders who intend to use the trail a bike for more than just a few casual rides a year, invest in the more expensive Piccolo.

    I wish I had up front. We sold our Adam's off to a more casual riding couple - I bought them a new set of universal hitches so essentially its a new deal for them.

    http://www.burley.com/products/child...?p=Piccolo&i=9

    The Piccolo is by far a more stable riding machine. While a single + Piccolo isn't exactly like riding a tandem in terms of stability or weight, its close. The difference in stability between an Adams and a Piccolo is like night and day. While I am sure that some people do serious tours pulling an Adams, I feel a lot more comfortable pulling the Piccolo down a hill at 50 - 60KM/H, behind our tandem or our singles.

    Up here in Vancouver BC the price difference is about double the cost, especially if you purchase more than one rack (we did) - the Piccolo comes with its own extra beefy chrome-moly rear rack that is a mandatory component for its use. Its a great all around rack as well, and on first use of this with touring gear you will appreciate that Burley folks designed this for people that both have kids but also tour. No problems with extra-high stuffed panniers and the Piccolo at all. You certainly will not have to buy another rear rack again ever. Being chrome-moly, its made to fit either standard drop-out sized singles or 145mm width tandems... or at least it fit our custom Bushnell tandem like a glove.

    As far as pulling two kids with a tandem + Piccolo combo, I can comment on this - we just returned from a 130K weekend adventure with a couple of other families. On this trek were two tandems, three singles (two pulling either a Piccolo or an Adams, one pulling a trailer).

    I took the Piccolo from my wife's single for day two and three and with that and our tandem and a 4 year old and 7 year old, was able to keep up with the pack or push ahead from time to time. On hills when carrying panniers as well they had me all beat but what the heck... our two boys love being on the 'big train'.

    We noticed our youngest being more active and happy when he was behind dad and brother. I think the two brothers get to chat more and that works well. There's no doubt a bit of competition going on there as well.

    I think our kids have natural racing instincts - one couple are year round cyclists and put on tens of thousands of miles with their kids (they rarely license their car) - anyway Liz was ahead of us and as we pulled within "rubber band" distance (my term for when someone is close enough to reel in and pass with a burst of energy) my two kids started putting on the pressure - with no hint from me and no communication between themselves. They sure love to hoot and hollar when passing another parent/kid combo :-)

    All in good fun.
    Mike

  7. #7
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    PS - both Burley and Adams publish maximum weight and speed limits for their machines. Needless to say we routinely exceed the speed limitations; but the weight one I think I'd pay more attention to - I think its 85 lbs for either of them.

    I think its a rather expensive option for a one-off trip however, but a great solution for families with 4 year olds up to those who should really be on a tandem anyway.

  8. #8
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Yes, the expense of a one time event is an obstacle and the trailer solutions, if purchased new, would be $150+ all they way up to an amount that is not worth spending for the Hase Trets model.

    It looks as if I would be able to get the extra, low end tandem for our visiting friends rented at around a $30 per day charge with the travel to and from days being gratis.
    My wife, although she would rather ride solo with her friend this year, is warming to the idea of being a captain for her daughter again on this year's RAGBRAI.

    Thanks for everyone's advice and thoughts.

    BB

  9. #9
    Year-round cyclist
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    Mike (Watkins)

    Here is another guy that agrees with you. I had the Addams Trail-a-Bike for 1 year, and the hitch developped play over the 1800 km we used it. I then bought a Piccolo which has been used for almost 3 years by the oldest child and for a few months (so far) by the youngest one.

    On the loaded single bike + Piccolo trailercycle, we went to a little over 70 km/h before it started to develop minor shimmy. However, I generally limit my speed to 40-60 km/h... less if the road isn't perfect.

    I have little experience so far towing it with the tandem. The tandem is a new vehicle for Ève and I and the Piccolo is still a new experience for Sophie (who, at 4, wiggles a bit), so I can't judge too well. I believe everything will be fine.

    Regards,
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Pccollo by Burley

    Howdy from Tucson!
    We agree the Piccollo by Burley is pricier but well worth the exta $$. It tracks 100 per cent behind towing bike and will not 'clip' a curb like others could that do not track that well. The Piccollo also is geared so the youngster can learn how to shift properly The rack, supplied by Burley, is a must as it has the locking mechanism for the trail-a-bike in the center. When not hauling the Piccollo it makes for a very sturdy touring rack to boot!
    You get what you pay for. Be on the lookout for a possible used Piccollo.
    Enjoy the ride!

  11. #11
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    We'll have a used Piccolo... in about 3-4 years.

    Even with two tandems in the family we'd still need the Piccolo for a while - its the only way I can transport two kids at once now that they don't really fit in the trailer any more.

    Our double wide Chariot trailer may end up for sale sooner than the Piccolo, although I am tempted to use it for touring so I *can* bring the kitchen sink.

  12. #12
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    We're going to give this chariot a try...

    Quote Originally Posted by mwatkins
    We'll have a used Piccolo... in about 3-4 years.

    Even with two tandems in the family we'd still need the Piccolo for a while - its the only way I can transport two kids at once now that they don't really fit in the trailer any more.

    Our double wide Chariot trailer may end up for sale sooner than the Piccolo, although I am tempted to use it for touring so I *can* bring the kitchen sink.
    Odd looking contraption, but we're going to give it a try in some training runs to see if it is even feasible:

    A recumbent Trail-A-Bent

    http://phred.org/~josh/forsale/113-1343_IMG.JPG

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  13. #13
    Señor Member Tom_The_Bikeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown
    Wanted to ask if any of you have any experience towing a trailer bike behind your tandem with a child on it for a week long journey? I am looking at and thinking through a few options.
    I've played locomotive for my wife, two kids on a Addams Trail-A-Bike ultimate tandem and my youngest in a Burley for a week fully loaded (self supported, staying in hostels)

    Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do that again since I got hit by a car a couple of years ago, but this summer we hope to take a rented quad back out on the road.

    Works fine. Make sure you are fit. Practice. You'll love it.

    Happy riding!
    Tom

    P.S. a better picture of us locked and loaded can be found at http://www.nettworks.ch/tt/photos (as well as my Avatar)

  14. #14
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_The_Bikeman
    I've played locomotive for my wife, two kids on a Addams Trail-A-Bike ultimate tandem and my youngest in a Burley for a week fully loaded (self supported, staying in hostels)

    Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do that again since I got hit by a car a couple of years ago, but this summer we hope to take a rented quad back out on the road.

    Works fine. Make sure you are fit. Practice. You'll love it.

    Happy riding!
    Tom

    P.S. a better picture of us locked and loaded can be found at http://www.nettworks.ch/tt/photos (as well as my Avatar)
    Tom,

    That's an impressive array of human powered travel. Glad you have plans to get out as a family on a quad this summer. I hesitate to ask, but how bad were the injuries you sustained from the car that hit you?

    BB

  15. #15
    Señor Member Tom_The_Bikeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown
    That's an impressive array of human powered travel. Glad you have plans to get out as a family on a quad this summer. I hesitate to ask, but how bad were the injuries you sustained from the car that hit you?
    Don't be...(shy to ask) Although I kept questioning myself if I could have somehow rolled better and avoided breaking my clavicle at the left tip (far worse than a normal break, needed surgery to repair it and VERY painful!) I had good reviews by witnesses. That being said, I really wish I could have a tape of me being hit (basically immediate stop of my bike and me flying over the hood of the car) to view. Must have been pretty darn amazing for the woman who was driving!

    I can really hardly wait to get on a quad...had one ordered, but that deal went unfortunately sour.

    ride safely,
    Tom

    P.S. is that Wien Vienna?

  16. #16
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Glad that you have healed up. It could have been a lot worse, I guess.

    P.S. is that Wien Vienna?

    Yes. We lived there for a decade, but just recently moved to the U.S at the end of 2003. I guess I should figure out how to change my profile information....

    BB

  17. #17
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    I have two daughters ages 11 and 12. We have a tandem and initially attached a trailabike to it so all three of us could ride. It's not as stable to ride as the tandem itself but you get used to it. The nicest thing is not having to continuously round up and keep track of the kids if they were on separate bikes.

    A couple of years ago my youngest daughter outgrew the trailabike at about the age of 10. I searched for a larger store bought trailabike but the biggest thing I could find was something with 24" wheels and it was pretty expensive. I wanted something that would take the girls right into adulthood. What I finally ended up doing was finding a good used bicycle with 26" wheels, the same size as the tandem. I then proceeded to modify the bicycle to make an adult size trailabike.

    What I did was to cut off the front forks. I cut the down tube just behind the head tube. I cut most of the top tube off leaving about 6". I then obtained a 5' length of thin walled chrome molybdenum tube that would slide over top of the top tube. I now had a top tube that was 5' long. I bent the down tube up slightly to meet the top tube. I also made a handlebar bracket which attached in the middle of the top tube. I brought the whole thing to a professional welder who tig welded it all together for me. Arc welding is too crude for the thin walled tubing.

    A good source for chrome molybdenum tubing might be a local car racing frame builder or you can do a search on the net for it. I was able to obtain a hitch to attach the trailer to the tandem seat post from a manufacturer of trailer bikes.

    If you're interested email me and I'll send you a picture. Another alternative is that I still have the old trailabike that might still be big enough for a 10 year old. I'd be willing to sell it to you.

  18. #18
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    Hi I'm looking for a tandem for two. I am a single mother with 2 small children.
    Any suggestions would be great.
    Lisa
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam McGee
    I have two daughters ages 11 and 12. We have a tandem and initially attached a trailabike to it so all three of us could ride. It's not as stable to ride as the tandem itself but you get used to it. The nicest thing is not having to continuously round up and keep track of the kids if they were on separate bikes.

    A couple of years ago my youngest daughter outgrew the trailabike at about the age of 10. I searched for a larger store bought trailabike but the biggest thing I could find was something with 24" wheels and it was pretty expensive. I wanted something that would take the girls right into adulthood. What I finally ended up doing was finding a good used bicycle with 26" wheels, the same size as the tandem. I then proceeded to modify the bicycle to make an adult size trailabike.

    What I did was to cut off the front forks. I cut the down tube just behind the head tube. I cut most of the top tube off leaving about 6". I then obtained a 5' length of thin walled chrome molybdenum tube that would slide over top of the top tube. I now had a top tube that was 5' long. I bent the down tube up slightly to meet the top tube. I also made a handlebar bracket which attached in the middle of the top tube. I brought the whole thing to a professional welder who tig welded it all together for me. Arc welding is too crude for the thin walled tubing.

    A good source for chrome molybdenum tubing might be a local car racing frame builder or you can do a search on the net for it. I was able to obtain a hitch to attach the trailer to the tandem seat post from a manufacturer of trailer bikes.

    If you're interested email me and I'll send you a picture. Another alternative is that I still have the old trailabike that might still be big enough for a 10 year old. I'd be willing to sell it to you.

  19. #19
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa
    Hi I'm looking for a tandem for two. I am a single mother with 2 small children.
    Any suggestions would be great.
    Lisa
    What kind of riding do you do - or are you planning on doing and how "small" are the children? I'm sure there are plenty of suggestions from riders on this board who have or are doing the parent/child tandem routine. I've got two 26" wheeled tandems and we cycle with our 8 and 11 year old most every weekend. If you have 2 small children (depending on what age and size) and are a single parent - perhaps your options include a triple tandem so all 3 of you can ride together or a tandem where 2 of you ride on the tandem and you pull the other child behind you.

    They make parent/child friendly tandems where the sizing in the rear is smaller. In addition, you can get either crank arm shorteners so the child can reach the pedals or a special crankset for kids that allows them to climb on any size tandem in the back and pedal with the kiddie crankset. Here's a link to the Burley kiddie stoker kit to give you an idea:

    http://www.burley.com/products/tande...toker+Kit&i=13

    And while at the Burley website, take a look at the specially designed parent/child or new tandem enthusiasts rig:

    http://www.burley.com/products/tande...o+Mixte-X&i=12

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