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  1. #1
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    Which Bike Trailer Should I Get? *with pictures*

    Purpose:

    I'm going to be bike touring 1000 miles throughout New England with a program called Climate Summer. I will need to carry a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, a change of clothes, and a few other items I haven't thought of yet. Because of all this voluminous equipment, I have decided to get a bike trailer instead of panniers. I'm unsure whether to get a two-wheeled 'cargo' trailer or one-wheeled 'touring' trailer.

    I also use my bike for grocery shopping in addition to touring, so one trailer could be more multi-purpose than the other.

    ---------------------------------------
    The Choices

    Single Wheeled: Single wheel touring/cargo trailer
    Two Wheeled: Bike Cargo trailer, new (not child carrier type)
    Last edited by Distinguished; 03-31-14 at 08:45 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distinguished View Post
    I will need to carry a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, a change of clothes, and a few other items I haven't though of yet. Because of all this voluminous equipment, I have decided to get a bike trailer instead of panniers.
    I recently booked a flight to Montana for a 9-day tour of over 500 miles. I will need to carry a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, fuel bottle, cookware, cycling and off bike clothes for a range of weather conditons, including possible nights close to freezing and miscellaneous items. I will be using panniers that will have plenty of room left in them for things like groceries that I will have to carry with me to camp a few days. My first tour covered about 6,000 miles in close to four months. I used panniers.

    If you want a trailer because it will serve other purposes, fine. But it doesn't sound like you need one for your tour.

    BTW...I went to Deerfield Academy.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  3. #3
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    Contrary to popular opinion, the venerable BOB trailer is extremely easy to carry as baggage on public transportation unboxed and would be a good choice. It's good for groceries around town also. Again contrary to folklore, mine has never jackknifed even on a bumpy, fast dirt road descent. Parts are in the bag along with travel gear or packed with bike. The protruding fork covered with cardboard could bump you up to oversize on an airline but this has never happened to me......


  4. #4
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    The only definite reason to get a trailer is if your bike can't mount racks and you have too much stuff to carry in frame/saddle bags.

    I've used a BOB and I've used panniers. There is nothing wrong with the BOB, but I prefer panniers.

    Two wheels vs one wheels? If you are hauling a week's worth of groceries a two wheeled trailer will have more capacity and be marginally easier to load up. If you are touring, a BOB will track your bike so there's no worry of a second wheel getting caught up on something.

    Trailer vs panniers is one of the classic threads done multiple times. What frustrates people is that it would seem that there should be enormous differences between the two methods. But both work.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distinguished View Post
    I have decided to get a bike trailer instead of panniers.
    The OP has already "decided" to get a trailer and is asking about "which". The ubiquitous "vs panniers" was not included in the question.

  6. #6
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    I've been using a BOB for 12 years and love it. I carry a total of about 50 pounds including the trailer so it's not a lot different than the weight of loaded racks/panniers. Utility wise, you may be smart to go the 2 wheel variety given the grocery shopping thing, but then again, you can do that with a BOB type trailer too. There is one I just discovered by Aosom on Ebay that's a LOT less than the BOB, but I know nothing about it's quality. It folds down. As far as transport of the BOB on public transportation, I can only answer about Amtrak and it went on as normal luggage. I pulled the tongue off and put it inside my bag. The tongue comes of in 2 minutes with just that one bolt. Easy.
    Dan in SW Iowa...
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  7. #7
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Have you considered an XTRACYCLE? Less weight, less extra rolling resistance, etc. Stabler and faster. Nothing beats that long wheelbase feeling, either....

    I met last year's group. You'll probably be going right by my street in West Haven, CT

    If not, I vote single wheel.
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobG View Post
    The OP has already "decided" to get a trailer and is asking about "which". The ubiquitous "vs panniers" was not included in the question.
    He also listed gear that could fit in a pair of small front panniers said that "all this voluminous equipment" was the reason for needing a trailer rather than panniers. So suggesting that he might be wise to revisit panniers as an option is not unreasonable.

    My advice to the OP is chose your gear carefully before you choose panniers or trailer Take only what you really need and trim trim trim your packing list. Then once you have the gear assembled choose the baggage that will just carry it and a bit of food and water. I've carried all of the items you listed in a pair of small front panniers and with the tent on top of the rack there plenty of room for food water and whatnot without even filling the bags.

    So buy a trailer if you really want to but it is unlikely that your gear will be a reason that you need to go that route.

    Assuming that you do go the trailer route, I'd recommend a one wheel trailer. I know that I have ridden a lot of places where having all wheels in line was a big plus to not have a wheel on rumble strips or dropping off the edge of the road. Consider the BoB or the Extrawheel if you go the trailer route.

  9. #9
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    I glanced at the Climate Summer website and noticed that their packing and gear list for last year (this year's isn't up yet) indicates to equip your bike with rack and panniers and that participants take turns towing the group trailers. Just wanted to be sure the OP has checked with the organizers that bringing his own trailer is an acceptable option.

    http://climatesummer.net/wp-content/...List_Final.pdf

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    So suggesting that he might be wise to revisit panniers as an option is not unreasonable
    Point well taken staehpj1. Just trying to keep the thread on topic and avoid another "vs panniers" discussion. My dad was a lawyer. Whenever he'd cross examine me about something I'd get reprimanded for any answer beyond what was asked and he'd yell, "That wasn't the question!!!"
    Last edited by BobG; 03-31-14 at 11:18 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    I glanced at the Climate Summer website and noticed that their packing and gear list for last year (this year's isn't up yet) indicates to equip your bike with rack and panniers and that participants take turns towing the group trailers. Just wanted to be sure the OP has checked with the organizers that bringing his own trailer is an acceptable option.

    http://climatesummer.net/wp-content/...List_Final.pdf
    Good observation.

    Did you look closely at the "required" gear and clothing lists? Seven pairs of underwear are required?!?! Yet a tent is not on the required gear list. The instructions also say that a rear rack is required.

    OP: Before you spring for a trailer for this trip, I think you should read the info. carefully.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  12. #12
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    I tend to carry way too much gear and I manage to get it all into panniers. That said I also have a Jack Taylor camping trailer. I haven't used it much for camping; I used it to carry my kids when they were small. My first born got a ride in it when she was a month old. She will be 39 in July.
    (This isn't my photo, but it is the Jack Taylor trailer.)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
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    More Details on the Required Gear List for Climate Summer

    To be honest, I'm just trying to get all of my equipment ready for when I do my own personal touring post-Climate Summer.

    Even if Climate Summer doesn't require me to have a tent or trailer, in order to get to the starting line of the trip, I'll have to travel 100 miles by bike (I want to bike), which will probably take me more than a day, therefore calling for some kind of tent/sleeping bag/cooking system.

    ------------------------------------------------

    I still haven't checked with them about bringing my own trailer if it comes to that, thank you for pointing that out! I'll get on it right away.
    Last edited by Distinguished; 03-31-14 at 01:40 PM.

  14. #14
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    More details on the Grocery Situation

    I have only recently started cooking for myself (after getting out of my school's exorbitant meal plan). So far I've done my groceries through public transit and sometimes through my bike & a backpack.

    I shop for food once a month, but I'm unsure whether to choose panniers*, a one wheeled trailer, a two wheeled trailer, or a combination of these to carry a month's worth of bulk groceries for one (vegan) person.

    This grocery-carrying mechanism, whether trailer or panniers, would have to work as my touring equipment as well. Perhaps I can purchase a rack & panniers at first, and if that's not enough, upgrade to a Bob Trailer (or the one I found above for $75).

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    *my 1990's down-tube-shifting Cannondale Road Bike only has one set of pannier/fender eyelets, 1 eyelet per rear dropout. The fork dropouts have no eyelets.
    Last edited by Distinguished; 03-31-14 at 01:22 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distinguished View Post
    More details on the Grocery Situation

    I have only recently started cooking for myself (after getting out of my school's exorbitant meal plan). So far I've done my groceries through public transit and sometimes through my bike & a backpack.

    I shop for food once a month, but I'm unsure whether to choose panniers*, a one wheeled trailer, a two wheeled trailer, or a combination of these to carry a month's worth of bulk groceries for one (vegan) person.

    This grocery-carrying mechanism, whether trailer or panniers, would have to work as my touring equipment as well. Perhaps I can purchase a rack & panniers at first, and if that's not enough, upgrade to a Bob Trailer (or the one I found above for $75).

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    *my 1990's down-tube-shifting Cannondale Road Bike only has one set of pannier/fender eyelets, 1 eyelet per rear dropout. The fork dropouts have no eyelets.
    I also have a 1990 down-tube-shifting Cannondale Road Bike and it works fine with a rear rack and panniers, but I go grocery shopping more frequently. The two rear panniers and rack top might be a stretch for getting a whole month's worth depending on the items involved. I'd opt for the panniers for touring and smaller shopping trips and supplement with a trailer if more extensive shopping trips are required.

  16. #16
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    Scratch that, just checked the bike: no eyelets on the rear drops or fork drops.

    I suppose that means I have to look for a non-eyelet method to attach the rack.
    Last edited by Distinguished; 03-31-14 at 03:36 PM.

  17. #17
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Unless you're riding on roads with very wide shoulders the single wheel is the way to go, IMO. The cargo trailers also tend to be heavy.

  18. #18
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
    Have you considered an XTRACYCLE? Less weight, less extra rolling resistance, etc. Stabler and faster. Nothing beats that long wheelbase feeling, either....

    I met last year's group. You'll probably be going right by my street in West Haven, CT

    If not, I vote single wheel.
    +1

  19. #19
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Unlike most of the folks on these forums, I'm very much pro-trailer. I probably would've stopped touring years ago if I hadn't found a trailer that I like. Nothing wrong with pulling a trailer if that's what you want.

    The biggest difference between a one wheeled trailer and a two wheeler (IMHO) is that a one wheeled trailer shifts it's weight from side to side as the bike rocks, which it will when you stand while pedaling, a two wheeled trailer stays level. That's a big deal to me, as I stand often. I hate the feel of a loaded bike. Almost any bike will feel heavy and many will shimmy and wobble if there is a lot of weight shifting around and torquing on the frame and wheels.

    I recommend a two wheeled trailer for anyone who stands often when riding. The load stays in place and the bike feels almost completely unloaded, you just have to pull the weight. I would recommend a one wheeled trailer if you are going to be off-road and on narrow paths to any extent.

  20. #20
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distinguished View Post
    Scratch that, just checked the bike: no eyelets on the rear drops or fork drops.

    I suppose that means I have to look for a non-eyelet method to attach the rack.
    Not sure if your bike is the same as the 1990-ish Cannondales I have dealt with, but I found that there is a small threaded hole in the dropout on each side and my Axiom Streamliner rack mounted nicely using that and the brake bridge bolt as would other racks. Look closely the threaded hole is easy to miss. That setup has worked for me for me on three different Cannondales of that vintage (a crit bike, road race bike, and a mountain bike). Alternately there is an Axiom Streamliner model that uses the quick release skewer to attach the rack.

    The majority of my touring has been on other bikes, but I did use that setup for a coast to coast ride on the Southern tier and for a dirt roads Colorado Rockies tour. So it is certainly capable of hauling enough to tour if you pack carefully.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distinguished View Post
    Scratch that, just checked the bike: no eyelets on the rear drops or fork drops.

    I suppose that means I have to look for a non-eyelet method to attach the rack.
    Seems like you are a primary candidate for a trailer. You also need lots of capacity for your monthly shopping trips (what? No fresh produce?). In that case a two-wheeled trailer would be best. I know a Burley is surprisingly light.

    I have never had any issues standing in the pedals with a BOB in tow. Some people have crashed with them, however, so I must have been doing something right.....

  22. #22
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    Old Man Mountain makes front and rear racks which utilize mounts on the wheel quick releases. Others probably do to. The B.O.B. trailer uses a quick release mount as well, so if your frame is suitable in other ways but doesn't have the frame mounting points, there are work arounds.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distinguished View Post
    Scratch that, just checked the bike: no eyelets on the rear drops or fork drops.

    I suppose that means I have to look for a non-eyelet method to attach the rack.
    Which bike are you planning to use?

    Brad

  24. #24
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    This was all I needed to go from New Haven CT to Agawam, MA and back. Photo from the MA/CT border.
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    Which bike are you planning to use?

    Brad
    Right now I own my 1990's Cannondale and a Mongoose Alta. I plan to use the Cannondale--it has 23 mm road tires & it's much lighter than the Mongoose (my winter mountain bike).

    I found the two threaded holes mentioned in this thread in the Cannondale's rear dropouts. I'll take a few pictures of the bike to see how I can strap some fenders & at least a rear rack.
    2012-2013: Trek 1000, Cannondale CAAD9
    2013-Present: Cannondale 1990's Road Bike, Mongoose Alta

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