- Pets and Animals
Bicycle Dog Trailers, Which One Is Best For Your Dog
There are a lot of reasons to ride a bike these days. It's easy on the earth for one thing. We're all trying to reduce our carbon footprint and be less oil dependent, but cycling is also great exercise. If you hate going to the gym, ride your bike to and from work to burn those calories, or just ride for fun. You'll save money and get in shape at the same time. I've saved hundreds on gas, parking, and car maintenance since I began commuting by bicycle. If you haven't ridden a bike lately, give it a try. You'll feel like a kid again!
My dog goes everywhere with me, so when I began cycling, I started looking for a safe and comfortable way to include her on my outings. I investigated a number of bicycle dog trailers before I found one that was appropriate for our needs. There are many sizes and prices to choose from. Take your time and consider all the features available before you make a decision. Your dog's weight is a factor as well as the type of terrain you will be traversing. The most expensive choice isn't necessarily the best. Take the time to find the trailer that suits your personal habits.
I spent a couple of weeks this summer shopping for a bicycle dog trailer. Here's what I found out. All the trailers I investigated shared a few common features. They all have quick remove wheels. You can pop those suckers right off and fold the kennel component up flat. That’s great if you live in an apartment or just have limited storage. They all have a zippered polyester shell and a couple of D-rings inside so you can secure Fido. For my girl Lucy, a chest harness clipped to the D ring has proven to be the best restraint. All trailers connect to your bike axel with a quick release hitch.
Now that we know how they're all similar, let's discuss the features that separate the puppies from the pit bulls when it comes to bicycle dog trailers. Here’s a rundown of the brands I investigated.
Solvit Track’r Bicycle Dog Trailer
The Solvit Track’r is a good value for your money. This dog trailer has all the standard features . The medium size trailer holds up to 45 lbs and the large trailer will hold a 110 lb dog. Some trailer manufacturers include a stroller conversion kit, but Solvit gives you the option to buy one separately for this model. One reason I‘m sure for the attractive price tag.
Check out this video from Solvit. You can see how easy it is to get one of these things assembled and on the road.
Solvit Bicycle Dog Trailer
Burley Bicycle Dog Trailer
Burley has a great reputation as a bicycle dog trailer manufacturer, but there’s a pretty hefty price tag to go along with it. I’m sure these dog trailers are probably some of the most solid and durable products available, but there are pros and cons. The Burley models all come with the stroller conversion kit, and they have a parking brake. That's a feature you wont see in other brands. Unfortuneately the Burley trailers have a top weight capacity of 75lbs. No big dog love here. The Burleys also have smaller wheels than the other products. Sixteen inches as opposed to 20 inches for most brands. This gives you less clearance under the trailer. If you‘re going off road choose something else.
Croozer Bicycle Dog Trailer
This one has two openings so you can load from the front or back, but there is no top flap. Your canine buddy can't stick his head out the top while you’re riding. Lucy likes to interact with her environment while we’re traveling so I didn‘t even consider the Croozer. This bicycle trailer does include a front wheel attachment and handlebars so you can quickly convert it into a stroller. Now you’re all set to browse the farmers market with your best friend. This might be an important feature for you if your dog is arthritic or just has a difficult time getting around
Doggy Ride Original Bicycle Dog Trailer
This is my favorite and the one I finally purchased. The DoggyRide bicycle trailer has all the standard features mentioned before, but DoggyRide sells an optional cargo roof rack. It allows you to carry a load on the roof of the trailer even when the dog is inside. You can take your pooch to run errands without worring about where to stash your stuff. DoggyRide has a trailer that accommodates up to 120lbs. Saint Bernards everywhere rejoice! I realize that probably sounds like a heavy load to haul, but Lucy weighs 70 pounds and I barely feel it. You’ll definitely do some extra work going uphill, but otherwise it’s just a pleasant ride.
Solvit Delux Tagalong Pet Bicycle Basket
Here’s a fun option for your small dog or maybe even an adventurous cat. This one attaches to your handlebars. This basket is roomy and has storage pockets for a leash or a tennis ball. Solvit thoughtfully includes a sunshade with this purchase. The pet bicycle basket will support up to 13lb. Keep in mind that any time you carry a load on your handlebars it shifts your center of gravity. It can feel a little out of control when making turns. I’m usually a lot more relaxed when my load is behind me.
There‘s a lot of variation in price here. Choose according to your budget. Beware less expensive trailers on Ebay. They may look like a Solvit trailer, but they are often poorly constructed. The trailers are wobbly and the polyester shell is flimsy. Avoid these, your pet is worth it . If you’re looking for a real bargain keep your eyes open for yard sales and thrift stores. I find used trailers all the time, usually for a fraction of the price of a new one. If the hitch is missing, as it often is, check out this video from the guys at BikeHacks.com to learn about a DIY trailer hitch.
So, you’ve got your trailer, you’ve attached it to your bike and you’re ready to go, but first you must introduce your dog to the trailer. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make the first trailer experience as pleasant as possible. If your dog is crate trained the process will probably be fairly painless . If not I find that bacon is a great incentive. Put some bacon in the trailer. When the dog goes for the treat give the “load up” command. I use “load up” but you can say “frog snot” or “weed eater” or whatever you want as long as you’re consistent. Just say the same thing each time the dog steps into the trailer and soon enough Fido will associate the command with the phrase and the treat. I would suggest that you give your pooch a little time to adjust to the trailer before you take your first ride or even zip the flap.. Let the dog realize the trailer is harmless.
A few more words about bicycle dog trailers. This bike accessory is not nearly as specialized as it might seem. This trailer could be your grocery getter, or it could haul laundry to the dry cleaner, maybe the pizza delivery business is in your future. Undoubtedly your trailer will attract a lot of attention. If you like to keep a low profile this might not be for you, but if you want to pick up hot guys at the park, this is just the ticket.