Bike Trailers

Which trailer is right for you?

It is remarkable how much can be towed behind a bicycle.  Loads in excess of 400 kg have been hauled behind bikes along flat surfaces; however, about 140 kg is generally considered a safe upper threshold for hauling.  Full-sized refrigerators or couches that won’ fit in the car can comfortably be pulled behind a bicycle with the right kind of trailer.

The type of bike trailer for you depends on your plans.  The main trailer-types are listed below:

BOB trailer
B.O.B. Trailer

Single Wheel (B.O.B. style): These are practical trailers that are good for carrying light to medium-weight loads (up to 35 kg).  Having only one wheel reduces resistance and allows for narrower riding surfaces, so they are a popular choice for long-distance cyclists.  When overloaded the single wheel trailer transfers too much weight to the bicycle and riding becomes unstable.  Additionally, heavily loaded trailers can cause frame or hub damage to your bicycle due to the torsion forces transferred through the unidirectional pivoting hitch.

two wheeled bike trailer
Two Wheeled Trailer (www.tonystrailers.com)

Utilitarian: Two Wheeler Two wheeled trailers have the potential to carry more weight because they create a more stable platform, and the weight can be distributed right over the trailer wheels, taking the burden off your bicycle.  Two wheelers also utilize multi-directional pivoting hitches (since they don’t rely on the bike to keep them upright) which don’t transfer torque through to your bike frame. A trailer such as this pictured (made by Tony’s Trailers) is ideally suited for domestic errands and can carry up 45 kg.  The trailer can be removed from the bicycle and comfortably wheeled into the supermarket by hand

Cargo beast bike trailer
Cargo Beast (courtesy of www.tonystrailers.com)

Cargo Beasts Two – wheeled trailers are available which can carry loads of 120 kg or more.  These trailers have unlimited uses, and are ideal for companies wishing to cater to their cargo transporting needs in an ecologically sound fashion.

Boat Trailers:  Whatever you need to haul,  there’s a trailer out there that will fit your needs.  Kayaks, canoes, and surfboards can all be hauled comfortably behind your two-legged transportation.

Boat trailer
Boat Trailer for your Bike (courtesy ofwww.tonystrailers.com)

Warning: Do not attempt to descend steep hills with a heavily loaded trailer. Learn the limitations on hills with safe run offs.

Xtracycle
Xtracycle

Trailers Vs Xtracycle
An Xtracycle is a frame extender that moves your rear wheel further back and increases the stowage capacity of your bicycle.  It also comes with racks, straps etc for securing the extra cargo onto your bike.  For those of you who like turning heads, the Xtracycle is for you.

The main benefit of an Xtracycle is that it significantly increases the cargo-carrying capability of your bicycle, and large or unwieldy items that wouldn’t fit in a conventional rack and pannier system can be strapped on.  Also, because it is permanently affixed to your bicycle, it allows you to spontaneously buy groceries, or pick up twenty library books, when you may have left the panniers or trailer at home with a conventional system.

One of the big drawbacks with this system is it doesn’t detach from the bicycle easily (it’s a major job that involves changing brake lines, extending chain, etc.). This means that your bike is permanently encumbered with this performance-limiting hardware.  Wheelies, bunny hops and tight maneuvering are no longer possible.  It is virtually impossible to pack a bicycle of this size into the hold of a bus or into a train.

Unlike a trailer, an Xtracycle does not remove weight from the bicycle to be supported on additional wheels.  Instead, the system invites extra loading onto a frame and hardware that may be insufficient to carry this extra weight.  Tire pinching, spokes popping and bearing damage can result from an overloaded bicycle.  The lengthening of the bike frame further increases frame torsion stress which is aggravated by heavy loads.