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Archives for : July2015

Reviews of the Best Trailercycles, trail-a-bikes, and trailer bicycles

These go by several names: Trailercycles, trail-a-bikes, trailer bicycles, third-wheel cycles, ride-alongs, tag-a-alongs… but they are all pretty similar in that they have one wheel, and they are supported in the front by attaching to the adult bicycle.

My daughter started riding on our Burley Piccolo when she was about 4, and she loved it. In addition to feeling the thrill of gliding down the road without training wheels, I think it helps kids overcome their fear of balancing a bicycle, and ultimately makes it easier to ride on their own. Plus, you can go on much longer rides than if your kid were to ride on their own bike.

There are a few models to choose from. My favorite is the Burley Piccolo / Kazoo. The main thing that differentiates the Burley is that it attaches to the adult bicycle via a special rear rack. This makes it more stable than clamping to the seat-post as is done with most other models, and it reduces the chances of “shimmy.” Shimmy is an uncontrolled vibration that typically occurs when your bike frame isn’t very stiff (or in this case, when the trailer cycle is not firmly attached to the adult bicycle.

Below is a list of the trailercycles that I looked into when I was choosing one.

Burley Design Piccolo (Green)
The main distinction of the Burley trailercycles is that they attach via the included rear rack.  This attachment method is simple to attach/unattach, and makes a very good stiff attachment.This model folds and has a 7-speed gearshifter. 
Burley Design Kazoo (Blue)
The Kazoo is the same as the Piccolo except that it doesn’t have gear-shifting.
Adams Trail-A-Bike Original Folder, Blue
This one of the more popular models that I have seen zipping around.
Weehoo iGo Pro Bicycle Trailer (Silver/Red)
This model has the child lower to the ground, which theoretically improves stability. Your kid will want the adult bicycle to have a rear fender if it’s wet outside.
WeeRide Co-Pilot Bike Trailer
This another fairly popular model.

Crank-arm shorteners

Even though some of these trailercycles say that they are for ages 4-12, the fact of the matter is that many 4-year-olds will not be able to reach the pedals comfortably. In these cases, crank-arm shorteners can be attached to the crank-arms of the trailercycle and used to mount the pedals closer to the bottom bracket. This reduces the diameter of the pedal stroke and allows shorter legs to reach the bottom of the stroke.

Tip: Crank-arm shorteners can also be used on a tandem bike to help children reach the pedals.

Ride2 Crank Arm Shorteners for up to 28mm wide 9/16 arms
Make sure to measure the width of the crank-arm on your trailercycle to get the right model.
Ride2 Crank Arm Shorteners for up to 43mm wide 9/16 arms
Make sure to measure the width of the crank-arm on your trailercycle to get the right model.

Transporting your trailercycle

Transporting two adult bicycles, a Chariot Cougar 2, and a Burley Piccolo in a single car can be a challenge. Indeed, the first couple of times we did this, we had to drive in two separate cars because we couldn’t fit the Piccolo and the Cougar 2 in the same trunk. The solution was to find a way to mount our Burley Piccolo on the roof, but there are no racks specifically designed for trailercycles.  However, as it turns out, the Yakima Raptor Aero works really well and doesn’t require any modifications to the rack or the Piccolo. The newer model Burley Piccolo’s (2011+) are designed to fold, so this may be a non-issue for many of you, but ours is an older used model.  This method might work for other non-folding trail-a-bikes too, but I’ve never tried it.

Yakima Raptor Aero Rooftop Upright Bike Rack
This is the rack I use to mount our Burley Piccolo. The claw that normally grabs the down-tube of the bicycle is used instead to grab the curved arm of the Piccolo. Obviously this rack will also work with adult bicycles too. There are cheaper racks, but I like this type because it’s nice to be able to mount your bike without taking off your front wheel and trying to stuff it into a trunk already filled with a children’s bicycle trailer.

These two photos show how it looks carrying Burley Piccolo Trailercycles with the Yakima Raptor Aero.

Burley Trailercycles on roof rack

Two Burley Piccolo trailercycles on one car!

Burley Trailercycles on roof rack

Two Burley Piccolo trailercycles on one car!

Of course, in order to use the Yakima Raptor Aero, you will need some roof crossbars. Here is a cheap but good choice for getting some crossbars.

SportRack A21010S Frontier Roof Rack
This is a cheaper brand alternative to the Thule or Yakima systems.  Sportrack used to be made by a company called Barrecrafters, which apparently got bought by Thule, which seems to keeping the brand as a lower-end line.

See our other posts on bicycle trailers, balance bikes, children’s bike helmets, and teaching your child to ride without training wheels!