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Toddler trailer for commuting?

Old 03-11-16, 09:11 PM
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ypsetihw
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Toddler trailer for commuting?

I just posted a thread in the touring forum about the same subject - namely using a single seat toddler trailer instead of a backpack or racks & panniers.

Long story short, I got a smokin deal on a single seat, high quality toddler trailer ($45 brand new in box, down from $179). I DO plan to use it with my toddler, but I also bike commute 5 days a week in fair weather, and want to do some touring this summer. I used to carry a backpack, which was fine for my 7 mile commute, but it was not very comfortable and made me VERY sweaty (not ideal before work). Also, capacity is limited with a backpack, and it makes me very top heavy which significantly changes the feel of my bike.

The trailer holds 50 lbs, has well built 16" wheels and an aluminum frame, has a rain cover, and is light enough. It attaches by a simple lug through the rear QR skewer, fits all of my bikes, and installs in seconds, without tools. What I really like is that the volume is plenty enough for work clothes, tools/flat kit, lunch/groceries, and whatever else I might pick up during the day. Also, it means I can ride my #1 road bike without a backpack, frame/saddle bags, or racks/panniers, and just unhook one cotter pin to drop the trailer for spirited intervals during my lunch hour

The issue I'm having mentally is that I NEVER see anyone doing this . . . why?! I am part of two very large cycling groups in town and I do regular group rides with professional types like myself who still find time to get plenty of miles. NOBODY I know, even the ones with kids, uses a converted toddler trailer for this purpose, although plenty of people I know still use backpacks or racks/panniers. Why?!

It seems like a great idea, but it worries me that my hardcore cyclist friends haven't "caught on." Or perhaps they have, and there is some huge downside that I'm missing?!
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Old 03-11-16, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw View Post
I just posted a thread in the touring forum about the same subject - namely using a single seat toddler trailer instead of a backpack or racks & panniers.

Long story short, I got a smokin deal on a single seat, high quality toddler trailer ($45 brand new in box, down from $179). I DO plan to use it with my toddler, but I also bike commute 5 days a week in fair weather, and want to do some touring this summer. I used to carry a backpack, which was fine for my 7 mile commute, but it was not very comfortable and made me VERY sweaty (not ideal before work). Also, capacity is limited with a backpack, and it makes me very top heavy which significantly changes the feel of my bike.

The trailer holds 50 lbs, has well built 16" wheels and an aluminum frame, has a rain cover, and is light enough. It attaches by a simple lug through the rear QR skewer, fits all of my bikes, and installs in seconds, without tools. What I really like is that the volume is plenty enough for work clothes, tools/flat kit, lunch/groceries, and whatever else I might pick up during the day. Also, it means I can ride my #1 road bike without a backpack, frame/saddle bags, or racks/panniers, and just unhook one cotter pin to drop the trailer for spirited intervals during my lunch hour

The issue I'm having mentally is that I NEVER see anyone doing this . . . why?! I am part of two very large cycling groups in town and I do regular group rides with professional types like myself who still find time to get plenty of miles. NOBODY I know, even the ones with kids, uses a converted toddler trailer for this purpose, although plenty of people I know still use backpacks or racks/panniers. Why?!

It seems like a great idea, but it worries me that my hardcore cyclist friends haven't "caught on." Or perhaps they have, and there is some huge downside that I'm missing?!
In my case I can park the bike in my building. Getting a bike + trailer through the door would be a pain. Mostly though pulling a trailer just makes you work harder than you have to for what most people need to carry with them to work. I mean, it's not awful or anything but it definitely takes some of the fun out of riding, - more than either a backpack or panniers.

Finding places to lock up is harder. Riding through traffic is harder - etc, etc.

We got a 2 seater bike trailer when my son was a toddler and it was one of the best purchases we made. 13 years later we still have it and I use to haul stuff, but only if I need to haul a lot. For work I have a change of clothes, lunch, and my 15" macbook. My backpack is plenty big enough for that. It can carry a full bag of groceries. I've also used panniers and I would choose either over a trailer for everyday riding.

Last edited by tjspiel; 03-11-16 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 03-12-16, 12:51 AM
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Why are you hauling so much stuff that you need a trailer to fit it all?

My commuting panniers are a smaller set of touring panniers intended for the front. I can fit a whole week's worth of work clothes in one, and a whole week's worth of lunches and snacks in the other. Plus library books, (an occupational hazard). I can't imagine why you'd need to haul more than that on a weekly basis, let alone daily.

I pull a trailer for work. It makes me considerably less maneuverable in traffic. Shifting over for left turns requires patience, planning, and great big balls. I can't just slot myself between two cars. The arc of right turns is limited by the rear wheel contacting the trailer tongue. (Our trailer is designed to clear 26" wheels, not the 700C that I run.) I end up doing the "semi swing", pulling out left, before swinging right in a wide arc.

Dodging potholes is an order of magnitude more difficult as well, since you have to calculate for wheels in three lines, instead of only one. And every bump, manhole cover, wave in the pavement, and transition from uphill, to flat, to downhill creates bucking and chucking from the trailer.

Not to mention that doubling the number of wheels you have on the ground doubles the potential for flats.

Oh, and let's not forget how much wind it catches. You know those gales off Lake Erie that you struggle through now? You want to yank a trailer into those? Or give the crosswinds something more to work with? (I have one bridge where the winds can make me change lanes even without the trailer.)

I don't mind pulling the trailer for work, but I sure wouldn't want to do it daily in rush-hour traffic.

Just because a thing *can* be done doesn't mean it *should* be done.

YMMV.

Last edited by tsl; 03-12-16 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 03-12-16, 08:21 AM
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In addition to above... Trailers are a real drag. Literally. Most are also quite wide so become bikeway hogs on any bikeways you're using. They're long so create a similar hog problem, especially at crossings.

Trailers have largely fallen out of favor in Europe and been replaced with bakfiets. This especially for parents who prefer having their children up front where they can interact with them and where their children enjoy seeing things other than Daddy's sweaty butt.

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Old 03-12-16, 08:44 AM
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Yeah I carry everything I need to work with a Topeak rack and trunk bag with fold-out panniers. I guess if I carried a laptop regularly I would have to come up with a different solution, but I don't - I have a high-powered PC at the office and access it remotely from home if need be.

A trailer would add FAR more weight and drag than what I carry on the rack. And the rack by itself is quite light, certainly not enough to make any difference when riding without the trunk bag.
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Old 03-12-16, 09:27 AM
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My kiddo in a trailer was a lot of work to tow. Two or four gears down from normal pace. It's not the weight so much, it's the added rolling resistance and aerodynamics. I've started using a rear mounted seat and it's not nearly so difficult.

Also, at risk of opening a can of worms, in my town, a bike trailer with no kids is usually being towed by a homeless person.
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Old 03-12-16, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Also, at risk of opening a can of worms, in my town, a bike trailer with no kids is usually being towed by a homeless person.
Oh gee, thanks. Now I'm homeless.

I'm off to tow our trailer in the St Paddy's Day parade starting at noon.
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Old 03-12-16, 05:32 PM
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This is one of those it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time ideas. I suppose once in a while if you had a ton of stuff to bring to/from work, then it could work, but to do it every day is just too much work. I still wouldn't bother. I'll only use my panniers when I need to haul a lot of stuff. Travelling light I'll use a backpack.
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Old 03-12-16, 05:37 PM
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Do what you need to Do...Why care what anyone else thinks.

You can borrow my rig.

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Old 03-12-16, 05:42 PM
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or borrow Mary's rig.

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Old 03-15-16, 11:54 AM
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OP, you should enjoy this article:

MMM Challenge: Try Getting Your Groceries with a Bike Trailer
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Old 03-15-16, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
This is one of those it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time ideas.
yeah I'm starting to see that now . . . I guess I was thinking of bringing a week's worth of stuff in on Monday and not having to haul a backpack to and fro everyday, in which case it might work, but yeah it would be a pain, and I don't want no ugly stinkin trailer hitch on my beautiful minimalist road racer
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Old 03-15-16, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post

or borrow Mary's rig.

now THAT's a rig
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Old 03-15-16, 12:41 PM
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I know, right? I see a rear-view mirror, it also needs some forward-view mirrors, or prisms, or periscopes, or something!
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Old 03-15-16, 01:06 PM
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You could certainly use your trailer since you already have it. But it seems like overkill for the amount of stuff most people would need on a daily commute. I just used a large saddlebag on my commute bike. I do have a cargo trailer but only use it when I need to carry particularly large and/or heavy items (last use was for some furniture). Having the trailer in urban cycling can be a nuisance for things like chicanes built at bike trail entrances, avoiding wheel-catching grates, entering buildings/elevators, etc.
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