Thinking about taking your young children out for a bike ride? We don’t blame you – Taking the family out for a bike ride is one of the best things you can do together.
Time together, fresh air, exercise and exhilirating makes for quality time.
Choosing a bike trailer isn’t straightforward. There are numerous different styles designed for different purposes.
Although there isn’t one best bike trailer for kids, we’ve narrowed down the best options to save you time and to ensure you get the best one for your needs and budget.
Buying a bike trailer to pull your baby or child is a big decision. You want to be sure they are safe, secure and comfortable.
Let’s get started!
What are Children’s Bike Trailers?
A bike trailer is a one or two wheeled trailer towed behind the bike using a hitch mechanism and usually made of lightweight materials.
They are designed as an alternative to child bike seats. Trailers can be used to transport two children and you can fit one more on a rear-mounted bike seat. Many trailers you come across can accommodate two children and some may have additional storage for luggage.
How To Choose a Trailer Type
There is the standard bike trailer that can be either a single or a double.
You will also come across many bike trailers are convertible into 3-wheeled, 4-wheeled strollers and joggers. These work with a detachable handle and additional front wheel to be used on their own, without the bike.
Before you start to look at specific bike trailer models have a good think and be realistic about the activities you are likely to do. You may prefer to have a separate bike trailer and stroller.
Single Bike Trailer or Double Bike Trailer?
If you only have one child and don’t plan on expanding then single bike trailers are usually the way to go.
Single bike trailers tend to be lighter and narrower than their double counterparts. This makes them easier to pull and easier to navigate across roads and different terrains.
You may have one child but consider a double bike trailer if you plan to take a child friend or for additional storage options.
Do I need an External Cover?
I highly recommend you choose a bike trailer that has an excellent external cover.
Why? Your bike trailer will be far more versatile and so you’ll get much more use from it, in almost any weather condition.
A decent sunshade will keep your child cool and happier in hot conditions.
Rain covers will protect you from rain, wind and dropping temperatures. This will mean you can get out in autumn and winter than you would not otherwise. Do ensure if you go out in the rain that there is still safe cycling conditions on the road or whatever terrain you are travelling through.
What Age Can My Child Be To Ride in a Bike Trailer?
It is recommended that your child be at least one year old before they ride in a bike trailer.
If you are considering a bike trailer that converts into a stroller then you can use with a baby as young as 6 weeks old. With this in mind you will need a baby insert accessory to securely, safely and comfortably support your baby’s head and neck.
You will find that some bike trailers that convert to strollers or joggers do not offer a baby insert upgrade. You may well need to opt for one of the higher end bike trailer brands such as Burley or Thule.
How Much Are Bike Trailers?
Bike trailers do not come cheap. That’s not unexpected given how much they can offer and the quality to which they must be designed and built to ensure your child’s safety and comfort.
A typical child seat can cost from £40-100 but the price for a bike trailer can range from £100 to over £1000.
It’s worth noting that with the huge demand for quality bike trailers, once you’ve had all the use can from it then you can make some of your money back by selling on a marketplace like eBay.
I’ve broken down the cost ranges from budget, mid-range and luxury. There are some key points to consider for each:
Budget Bike Trailers
Plenty of decent options and they will comply with all necessary safety standards. They can lack durability and features such as all-weather waterproofing or lacking in maximum comfort. Might also lack upgrades like conversion kits and padded seats. Tend to be own-brand products such as Halfords or lesser known brands on Amazon.
Mid-Range Bike Trailers
Improved quality and performance over budget options. More likely to have more options to convert to strollers/joggers. Mid range brands include Croozer and Burley and can cost from £300 upwards.
Luxury Bike Trailers
The best of the best in terms of features, comfort and versatility. Brands at this end include Thule and Hamax and expect to spend in excess of £450-500 and up to £1,000.
Before you drop what is a considerable amount of cash on a trailer (particularly from the mid-high end category) you could think about hiring one first. This way you can see if your child enjoys it and test a model out for comfort and features.
There is also a bike trailer rental scheme for Burley Trailers if you would like to try before you buy or simply rent for a short time.
Best Luxury Bike Trailers
Thule Chariot Cross
Thule are an exceptional brand from Sweden that you may know from their excellent roof racks. Their high quality products extends to bike trailers and they offer the highest safety standards.
The Thule Chariot Cross is pretty much the best bike trailer money can buy.
It comes with a conversion kit for a stroller.
Highlights: Roll bar offers protection for your child, reclining seats, adjustable suspension (Not Lite model), top view window. Excellent adjustable sunshade and very decent amount of internal height. The Cross is the only jogger to offer a rear hand wheel brake as well.
Accessories: Thule trailers are designed to be converted to strollers and joggers and there are a number of excellent add ons. A popular one is the infant sling. This attaches inside and used for babies between the ages of 1 to 10 months. This is solely for the stroller mode, not for the bike trailing. For older children, between the ages of 6-18 months there is also the Baby Supporter that provides head support and padded sides.
The Thule Chariot Cross is the latest premium model. You may see Chariot Cougars on sale second hand on eBay.
Available in two versions, Thule Cross and Thule Cross Lite.
The Chariot Cross Lite has all the key safety features as the Chariot Cross.
The suspension is adjustable on Thule Cross and has a separate storage section. The suspension on Cross Lite is fixed and no separate storage, simply a pocket on trailer.
The Cross Lite is better for shorter trips whilst the Chariot Cross is better for longer adventures.
See below for two videos from Thule covering both models of Chariot Cross.
Burley is a very well respected American brand that makes excellent bike trailers.
The D’Lite is their premium bike trailer. It comes included with a conversion kit for a stroller. If you’re an adventurous family you can upgrade with a conversion kit for jogging, hiking and even skiing!
The Burley range of bike trailers come with impressive safety features as standard. These included an internal roll cage in the event of an accident. As all manufacturers recommend, even if there is a roll cage a helmet should still be worn. The Burley trailers include a recessed helmet pocked to cater for the additional headroom.
Highlights: Flex connector feature that allows you to lay your bike flat whilst you get your child bike ride ready. This is handy if you don’t have a bike stand. Adjustable suspension as standard so the Burley is a great choice for any all terrain enthusiasts. Waterproof zipper, reclinable seats into three different configurations, padded seat and back rest.
Best Mid-Range Bike Trailers
Burley Encore X
Excellent mid level double bike trailer from the Burley brand perfect for those families who want to benefit from conversion features but aren’t concerned the extras that cost more.
Highlights: The Encore X provides support bench seats and coupled with a high quality harness system, a comfortable and easy to set up secure position for your child. The sunshade with UV protection on the windows will protect their skin from the sun’s rays. There’s also a handy cup holder to provide them handy hydration on those hot days (while you do all the work!) Most parents find this is a very smooth ride and lightweight to pull yet still feeling very sturdy and safe.
Another solid bike trailer from Burley but the Minnow is at a lower price point compared to the Encore X. The Minnow is a single seater bike trailer and to be used cycling on smooth surfaces. It lacks the suspension provided on higher end Burley models. If you don’t have a need to go cross country then you can save going for this option. The Minnow is purely a bike trailer so there is no conversion kit for jogger or stroller.
Best Budget Bike Trailers
Halfords Double Child Bike Trailer
As you can hopefully tell by now, the you get what you pay for rings very true with bike trailers.
This model from Halfords is far cheaper than the above costing in the region of £100. Many of the features we’ve discussed in the mid range and high end section are not available here. However, if these aren’t an issue this is still a very good buy and has excellent reviews. It would suit a family that may only use a few times during a holiday.
What you don’t get: No integrated roll bar, not suitable for children less than one year, no reclining seats, additional comfort features or storage features. It does include a compartment for drinks and snacks and there is a high visibility flag – two features that will surely please the children.
eBay Bike Trailers – New and Secondhand
There has been a massive increase in the popularity of bike trailers for children in the last few years. You may find many UK retailers running out of stock.
eBay is a good option as they sell a lot of secondhand bike trailers for children.
eBay is also a marketplace for many retailers so you may also find a number of new bike trailers on eBay that you cannot source elsewhere.