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The 4 Best Bike Trailers and How to Safely Use them

You get a workout. Kiddo takes a nap.

If you’re most at home on two wheels, a great bike trailer for kids is one of the best parenting investments you’re going to make. Chances are, your kids will be sleeping soundly while you get a great workout in and maybe even pick up some groceries while you’re at it. A bike carrier for kids, otherwise known as a bicycle trailer, hitches to your bike, and your kid (or kids) sit in it. In fact, if you’re a cycling enthusiast, it’s the smartest way to transport your kids around. 

“The safest thing is for them to be in a bike trailer,” says Dr. Maneesha Agarwal, an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Emory University and a pediatric ER doctor based at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hughes Spalding Hospital. “With a bike seat, if the bike falls down, the child falls down with the bike. Bike trailers can have special attachments where you if you fall off a bike, the trailer won’t tip over. Make sure you are highly visible. Attach a bright flag to the trailer to increase visibility so a motorist will see it.”

Experts generally agree that bike trailers are the safest way to cycle with young children, but there are few things to bear in mind. First off, your child needs to be able to support his or her head, unaided, to safely sit in the seat (without flopping around), so that means you can’t use your trailer until your child is at least 12 months old. The kid needs to wear a helmet and be strapped in with a sturdy harness.

It may seem counterintuitive that a trailer you can’t see is actually safer than a bike seat that’s in your line of vision, but it makes total sense because if you fall off your bike, your kid hits the ground. Per Dr. Kirsten Bechtel, an associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and an attending physician in the pediatric emergency department of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, “If the child is in a trailer, the child is closer to the ground so if you get hit or struck, there’s less of a height for them to fall.”

In fact, “If you have a kid in a trailer in a separate bike lane and you’re both wearing helmets — that’s probably the safest form of travel,” says Bechtel. 

With a maximum weight limit of 100 pounds, this bike trailer easily seats two children. It weighs 22 pounds, comes with a handy bright orange flag, which is a nice safety feature. The harnesses are secure, there's extra storage space, and it folds up when not in use. It's solid. It's basic. It gets the job done.

So you're looking for something fancier? Meet the Hamax Outback. It's a bike trailer, a stroller, and a jogger all in one, and built in such a way that makes switching from one activity to another absolutely seamless. The interior is roomy, there's rear storage, adjustable padded seats, and UV-protected windows with a sun shade, as well as bug, and wind screens. The Push bar is height-adjustable, the trailer itself folds up nicely when not in use, and the seats recline. Because of course they do. Note that this weighs 50 pounds, so it's a beast. The capacity limit is 88 pounds.

Burley has been in the bike trailer business longer than anyone else here. In fact, they pioneered it, in Eugene, Oregon, becoming a worker-owned cooperative in 1978 dedicated to supporting a car-free lifestyle. So they know a thing or two when it comes to human-powered towing. Burley has a reputation for durability, because their stuff is … like … totally burly. The Encore X folds flat for transport and has suspension and independently reclining seats. It’s compatible with a range of add-ons for skiing and jogging, and there’s even a fat-tire 16 inch wheel kit for parents who want to rack up miles off road, a unique offering among convertible kid trailer kits. It has an adjustable handlebar and the total weight limit is 100 pounds. The trailer itself weighs 24 pounds.

Thule’s top-of-the-line Chariot Cross is the newest iteration of the long-running Chariot series of multisport kid haulers, and it continues to impress with a wider-than-ever range of add-ons and features. It comes stock with bike trailer and stroller kits, with jogger and ski attachments available separately. Unlike earlier versions of the popular carrier, it features a reclining seat, and the whole carrier folds down for easy transport. You can use it as a stroller, jogger, bike trailer, or while cross country skiing. It has a compact fold. A none-handed recline for naps, with seats reclining separately. Cargo space that can be stored away if you need to be more maneuverable. Rear lights for visibility, adjustable ventilation vents, and adjustable handlebars. And with all these features, the trailer weighs less than 30 pounds. The capacity limit is 75 pounds.

The newest entrant into the multi-stroller space: The Cybex Zeno. And truth be told, this thing is gorgeous. You can use it for jogging, running or cycling, as well as cross-country skiing. And its unique feature is its adjustable cabin height. It means you can raise or lower the center of gravity, depending on which mode you're using it in. The seat is also luxurious as hell, with soft and removable padding. The adjustable handlebar is made of silicone, so it gets less sweaty and slippery when you're in motion. The maximum child weight limit is 49 pounds.

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