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Why only 10mph with a bike trailer?

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Why only 10mph with a bike trailer?

Old 02-28-20, 12:51 PM
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JayKay3000
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Why only 10mph with a bike trailer?

Hi.

I've recently purchased a bicycle trailer. The manual and advice from bike shops says to only go 10mph max with it.

Is there a reason for this? Will going faster damage my bike or is it just a safety issue for stopping?

I'm planning a long trip soon, but don't want to break anything by exceeding this limit?
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Old 02-28-20, 01:02 PM
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Wilfred Laurier
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If it is a two-wheel bike trailer - like the ones normally used for hauling children - then the issue is probably more one of stability during turns as this type can flip over if turning too fast, or if one wheel hits a large bump unexpectedly. If it is a single wheel trailer like BOB trailers, then there is really no reason to limit your speed. Perhaps the warning is a CYA type statement so if you are hauling 400 lbs of lumber and crash into a tree they can say 'we warned you'.
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Old 02-28-20, 01:03 PM
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better only go 9mph just to be safe.
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Old 02-28-20, 01:06 PM
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The elephant in the room: "Don't sue me" "This bag is not a toy, keep away from small children"



Queue the SNL skit HAPPY FUN BALL
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Old 02-28-20, 01:09 PM
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Doesn't sound like any sort of trailer I would want to tour with. How about some pics, or at least a make and model?
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Old 02-28-20, 01:20 PM
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I have an older Burley Bee and I'm quite happy to go 15-20 mph down a hill with a kid. Use common sense but it's not a big deal. I've even backcounty skied with it (I made some attachments).

I average 12-13 for most of my rides. Is this to say I shouldn't use the trailer at all?

I've never had a situation where I'd consider it a close call. Ride like you've got a baby in the back and you'll be fine.
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Old 02-28-20, 01:56 PM
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A lot just "depends".

As with many trailers, they do better with a little tongue load than with tail load, so high speed and tail load and they're just wicked. The spring couplings are simple and work well, but have a little less control than more rigid couplings.

I do cargo, not kids. I've flipped my trailer multiple times. Usually riding light, but I have flipped it a few times with loads. Usually hitting curbs, curb cuts, or potholes, often "at speed", although not necessarily at extreme speeds.

I've had my trailer flip me once or twice.
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Old 02-28-20, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by JayKay3000 View Post
Hi.

I've recently purchased a bicycle trailer. The manual and advice from bike shops says to only go 10mph max with it.

Is there a reason for this? Will going faster damage my bike or is it just a safety issue for stopping?

I'm planning a long trip soon, but don't want to break anything by exceeding this limit?
All my larger mowers have warnings not to mow over children, but it's really just advisory, not a rule.
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Old 02-28-20, 02:08 PM
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Thank you.

It is a two wheel trailer. It weighs about 10kg empty and has side bars. I've ridden with it loaded a few times, had no idea how fast I was going, but not had an issue.

I guess I was more worried about doing damage to my bike as it attaches to the wheel / QR and this is my only daily bike. I guess i'll go with common sense and not attempt v max down the biggest hill I can find.
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Old 02-28-20, 02:15 PM
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Send us photos from your long trip and let us know how it goes.
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Old 02-28-20, 02:34 PM
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it most certainly will not damage your bike, even at 11 or *gasp* 12 mph. Or faster. But perhaps the added dynamic mass connected at your rear axle will cause the bike to handle weirdly, and maybe even cause speed wobbles or cause you to crash in very specific circumstances. Try the trailer out in many different situations with different loads and make sure you are comfortable with how it handles.
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Old 02-28-20, 04:30 PM
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I assume it's a braking thing. Just cause science says that for a given speed it will likely take longer to stop than a bike without a trailer safely.. and just cause 10mph is a nice round arbitrary number.
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Old 02-28-20, 04:34 PM
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As you speed up and approach the speed of light, the mass of the trailer will increase, but you will not notice it in your reference frame. So best to keep it about 10 mph, because 3 X 10^8 m/sec isn't just a good idea. It's the law.
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Old 02-28-20, 04:53 PM
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Cannondale built the original two-wheel bike trailer---the "Rear Bugger," as they named it. Some time in the early 1980s, a cyclist took a sharp downhill turn at speed with his infant child in the trailer, with the consequences you'd expect. He sued Cannondale on the grounds that there was no label on the trailer warning him not to do that. He won. Big settlement.
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Old 02-28-20, 05:05 PM
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I've gone fast with my trailer. I've also been push-pulled with it, and it's scary. You have to find your happy medium. And get to know your brakes well by testing them in various conditions.
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Old 02-28-20, 05:07 PM
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You shouldn't worry too much. My experience with that trailer is that it is not prone to tipping under any conditions I would consider taking kids. Towing them the three miles from my home to the park was a piece of cake, and we routinely rode at speeds up to about eighteen miles an hour. Once in awhile I would use it to take the kids greater distances, or in slightly more hilly terrain. But we didn't have sharp high-speed corners on steep downhill descents to contend with either. If you do, you might be well advised to keep the speed reasonable. Ten miles an hour seems a little overly cautious, but there are a few factors involved in coming up with a number like that:
  • Kid trailers live in a product category that is highly litigious, and that seems to constantly be the subject of recalls. Manufacturers need to be defensively risk adverse.
  • The speed limit may not have anything to do with trailer handling, but rather with the outcome of being in an accident at a given speed. Slam into a car door at 10mph, and everyone will probably be ok. At 20 mph, maybe not.
  • The speed limit probably covers the use-case of 95% of the people who buy these and use them five times in as many years for trips to the park a half mile away.
  • And then there are the daredevils: Clearly a speed advisory needs to be in effect to talk reason into those people who love burning down the 10% grade at 40 mph with their 2 and 3 year olds in tow. If you're going to set some speed advisory, you may as well set one that would mitigate injury and liability as mentioned in the first two bullet points.
  • Braking distance is greatly increased by adding weight to the mass that is moving down the road without increasing the contact patch of the wheels to which braking can be applied, or leverage to the brakes themselves. Your bike's brakes were designed to stop a load up to the weight of a rider, the bike, and a little gear. You're adding a lot of weight back there with a trailer, and your braking distance will increase accordingly. There's a way to reduce braking distance, too, though; by reducing speed. The manufacturer is giving a recommendation that keeps the braking distance within the realm of what they consider safe for bullet points 1 and 2 above.
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Old 02-28-20, 05:47 PM
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Sometimes I take the dog to the park in the dog trailer. I went around a corner just a little too fast, and Millie (my dog) was leaned over (her tether in the trailer was too long), and BOOM down we go! She was completely unscathed, no harm done, but it was a big surprise and easily could've been painful.

So it's best not to go too fast. The trailer might get away from you - around a bend, down a hill, etc.

Here's a youtube video of the incident.

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Old 02-28-20, 10:05 PM
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There's a LOT of maybes. Kid Trailer? Cargo trailer? 16" wheels ? 20" Wheels? Any suspension? What kind of load? (how heavy, how well secured)

i'd imagine that a 24" wide cargo trailer, with the platform +/- 1" of axle center, and an 'A-type' spring coupler would be a little more unstable than something like a 32" wide Chariot CX-2, where the 'seat' is below, and ahead of the 20" wheels, and the quarter-elliptical suspension, on a rigid ball-joint connection to the tow bike.
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Old 02-28-20, 10:27 PM
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Maybe they don't want you to do this...

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Old 02-29-20, 06:58 AM
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Why? Lawyers.
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Old 02-29-20, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob View Post
Maybe they don't want you to do this...
...
All joking aside, I knew a guy when I lived in CO that did technical singletrack on his mountain bike (not this extreme obviously) with his toddler in a trailer, fully armored and geared up. The kid loved it.
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Old 02-29-20, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Cannondale built the original two-wheel bike trailer---the "Rear Bugger," as they named it. Some time in the early 1980s, a cyclist took a sharp downhill turn at speed with his infant child in the trailer, with the consequences you'd expect. He sued Cannondale on the grounds that there was no label on the trailer warning him not to do that. He won. Big settlement.
Wasn't me that sued. I had one, my son loved it, my daughter hated it. I flipped it with my son in it, cut a corner a bit tight, and the inside wheel clipped the curb and flipped it. Yes, my son got some scratches. But he was devastated that the attachment to the bike broke... That was 1992.

Last edited by zjrog; 02-29-20 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 03-01-20, 11:13 AM
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Yikes!

I did about 35km trial run with it fully loaded so I guess it weighed about 25 to 30KG. (trailer is about 10kg empty)

We have pretty rough roads and some big holes in them so the flipping of the trailer was in the back of my mind. I did have to use more of the road more of the time as I'd only really used it round town the last few months.

With it loaded my rim brakes were sketchy on the big downhills. Once the bike and trailer combination got up to speed over 15 to 20mph slowing the whole lot down was a challenge if there was no up hill to stop progress. Wet, gravelly, sometimes muddy roads badly repaired or with big holes in them.

I normally do shopping runs with it so it's not got much extra weight so normally stopping is fairly normal. It reminded me a bit of mountain biking. At times I just had to let the thing go and have faith that my skill and bravery would get me through.

By doing it properly for real I petty much answered my own question and from your experiences I hope not to make the same mistakes. But I am having second thoughts about taking it on my long trip, but that's another thread.
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Old 03-02-20, 08:08 AM
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From the evidence, statistically speaking, the warning sticker should specify "ONLY TO BE TOWED BY FEMALES."
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Old 03-02-20, 09:39 AM
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B.O.B. Yak FTW. If my 5' tall, 105 lb. GF could bomb down mountains towing one without problems....
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