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Buying a Bicycle Trailer For Carrying Young Children
Have you considered purchasing a bike trailer for carting the kids about?
Bicycle trailers are becoming more and more popular. Almost every day, I see a parent cycle past me, with a child (or two) happily cocooned in their own little carriage. A bicycle trailer is separate from the bike itself, securely attached to the rear axle or the frame of the bike. You can purchase either single or double trailers, and children can sit comfortably strapped inside. If you regularly cycle and have more than one young child, a bicycle trailer is your only option when it comes to taking them both with you as you ride. Should you only need to carry one child whilst cycling, then you have a choice - you can go for a trailer or a simple bicycle seat which is fixed to the actual bike itself. Whichever you choose is your own personal decision; however, a modern trailer does have several advantages over the humble, simple child seat.
The first and most paramount consideration in the mind of a parent when deciding whether or not to purchase a bicycle trailer for a child is usually safety. We all want to protect our children from danger as much as is possible. If you are wondering just how safe a trailer traveling behind a bike really is, there is much opinion in favor of the trailer.
Trailers are low to the ground and children are less likely to be hurt if the bike falls
A child in a bike trailer rides just inches from the ground, whereas a passenger in a child seat sits much higher. Whereas many parents may feel more comfortable knowing that their child is right behind them, within speaking distance, the truth of the matter is that if you fall off your bike then a child strapped into a child seat will fall too. Not only that, but your child will fall about three feet before the bike hits the ground. With a trailer, a child has only the shortest distance to fall - mere inches. A good roll cage is a point to look out for when choosing a trailer - this will stop the trailer from collapsing if it does tip, thus offering your child the best protection. Another important point to note is that a trailer with a good hitch is likely to remain upright, should the bicycle fall. A hitch attaches the trailer arm to the left (non drive) side of the bikes rear axle and helps to keep the trailer properly centered. For instance, with the reputable Chariot Carrier, a self-lubricated plastic ball fitted into the hitch enables the trailer great freedom of movement - up, down, side to side and the ability to twist. This helps to keep the trailer upright should the bicycle fall. Most good quality trailers have this feature but you should check before you buy.
Occasionally, a trailer attaches to the seat post of the bike - this design is not advisable as it creates a higher center of gravity and therefore less stability.
Added protection is always a good idea when traveling, and here the trailer also comes up trumps. An ordinary child seat fixed to the bike itself is exposed to everything around. If the bike falls, the child in the seat takes the same amount of impact as the cyclist. On the other hand, a child in a trailer has the added protection of an aluminium frame encased in fabric. This frame offers a degree of protection to the child which is simply not there with a child seat. Not only that, but it means you can protect your child from the elements using a weatherproof cover which can completely cover the frame. Your child can travel in comfort, even when it is raining, cold or windy. After all, most of us know there is nothing worse than riding a bike in poor weather.
Another factor is that a child riding high in a rear child seat is more likely to affect your own balance whilst cycling. Children do not always sit still - they shift their balance which in turn can effect the rhythm of the parent cycling. The extent to which the cyclist is affected will probably depend on the strength of the person pedalling. Passengers in a trailer will not affect the cyclist to such an extent - therefore it may be considered that a trailer allows for a more stable ride.
The main point of consideration when cycling with a child trailer is to remember that the trailer will be much wider than the bike itself, therefore ample space should be ensured at the sides.
A correctly fitting bicycle helmet should always be worn, whether your child is in a child seat or strapped into a trailer.
Easier to set off, plus most convert into a regular stroller for ease upon arrival
There is no doubt about it - it is far easier to load a small child into a trailer than to sit them in a child seat before getting on the bike yourself. Getting off the bike upon arrival may also pose a problem. A two-wheeled cycle does not balance as well as a trailer, therefore more difficulty can arise when mounting and dismounting.
One of the great points about a lot of bicycle trailers is that you can convert the trailer into a regular stroller, or a jogger stroller, enabling you to easily manoeuvre your child upon arrival at your destination. For this you will require a stroller wheel, plus a conversion kit to make the change. Sometimes trailers will include the conversion kit in the initial price; sometimes you will be required to purchase this separately. Of the examples pictured to the right of this article, the Chariot Cross Country range is a top quality trailer selection; all can be convert to a jogging stroller. However the conversion kit (CTS) will not be included. None the less, it a top-of-the-range product, certainly at the head of the race if your budget allows. Chariot Carriers which do include the conversion kit are the Cabriolet and the Corsaire XL. Alternatively, the Croozer 535 Double Trailer (pictured) does include the necessary kit to convert the trailer into a stroller.
A trailer is lower to the ground than a child seat, but they are usually made in bright colors and have reflective material. In addition you can purchase high visibility flags (sometimes these are included) which will sit in the motorist's line of vision, enabling the trailer to stand out as much as possible. These flags will also reflect in low light.
Age Suitability of a Trailer
Trailers are suitable for children from around 1 year plus, which is the same minimum age requirement as a bicycle child seat. Sometimes you can purchase infant seats which fix into the trailers themselves - however, it is very important to note that these child seats are not designed for use with the trailer, but when the trailer is converted into a stroller. Therefore, it makes the stroller suitable for children from 3 months plus, but it does not enable you to transport your young baby in the trailer. To ride in a trailer, children must have a certain amount of strength in their neck muscles, allowing for impact and also for the fact that they should always wear a helmet. A helmet should be suitable for a child from around 12 months, for younger babies it will be too heavy. Whilst both a child seat and trailer can be used from 1 year, a trailer will accommodate your child for longer than a seat. Children will usually outgrow a child by the age of three; a trailer should last a child at least until the age of four but sometimes up to age 6.
Chariot Child Carriers - trailers of the highest quality
Chariot are reknowned for the manufacture of some of the best bicycle trailers on the market. Their products are of very high quality, and every thought has been put into the comfort and safety of the child. In fact, Chariot are dedicated to the easy transportation of children in the great outdoors.
Both the Chariot Cross Country Range, which includes the Cougar 2 (pictured) and the Classic Range, including Corsaire XL (also pictured) are all produced using Oeko Tex 100 certified fabric, which ensures that it is free from chemical 'nasties'. Some of the many features include frames made from lightweight aluminium, tinted side windows, 2 in 1 weather covers and 20" removeable wheels. Scotchlite fabric on the trailer is reflective making the trailer easily seen. All trailers have the desired 5 point safety harness which should always be worn.
The Corsaire XL is the largest Chariot carrier. It offers the most space for larger children. There is a good storage space and a deluxe 2 in 1 weather cover, with a zip down front window. This trailer boasts the Chariot Adjustable Suspension, reinforced padded seat and large rear mesh pocket, to list a few of the many features. This trailer can accommodate either one or two children.
Croozer Child Carriers
Croozer is, in fact, a division of Chariot. Croozer produce quality, popular bicycle trailers at a more affordable price for families with a budget. Perhaps the quality is not as top-notch as that of the Chariot, but it would be hard to compete and in the end you get what you pay for. Croozer trailers are very safe and are certainly worthy of consideration - they have received good feedback from previous purchasers, and one of the good points is that the kits to convert the trailers into strollers are included in the package.
The main difference between Chariot and Croozer is probably that Chariot Carriers are both designed and handmade in Canada, whereas the Croozer (along with most other things these days) is mass produced in China. The Croozer is a stable carrier, with a sturdy hitch arm, a spacious storage area, a convenient quick-fold system, reflective tape for high visibility, a 5 point harness and a safety flag included with the package. The Croozer 525 (pictured) is a double trailer and also includes a bicycle arm, stroller wheel, 2 in 1 weather cover and 2 hitches (mounts to quick releases or nutted axles).
Burley is another very popular and well-established choice when choosing a bicycle trailer. The Burley Bee (pictured right) can carry one or two children - however, space will be limited when carrying larger children as it will be with many other trailers. It comes with a 2 in 1 weather cover and has a lightweight frame (it weights just 20Ibs). The Bee does not convert into a stroller as most of the other models, although the rest of the Burley range can do so. The Bee has a 5 point safety harness, an internal roll cage, side windows with UV inhibitor, a cargo net for storage, 20" removeable wheels, comfortable padded mesh seating and a helmet pocket. The Bee is a good choice for families who are on a budget but do not wish to compromise safety and who do not mind that the trailer does not convert to a strolller. It is Burley's most simple, basic trailer and has received excellent feedback from previous buyers.
All Burley Trailers include the following:
Anodized lightweight aluminium frame, forged alloy wheels, wheel guards, 600D polyester fabric, fold flat design, safety flag, interior pockets, large enclosed storage area, helmet pocket