30 July 2009

Do you know anything about trailer bikes...?

I have a kid's trailer bike - or is the right term a 'tag-along'?. You know: a bike's rear-half, with wheel, seat, pedals, chain and a fixed handle-bar to hold on to. We got it from friends and I've used it once. The hitch is... well, it is the 'hitch' - the attachment that secures the tag-along to my bike's seatpost. It is too wide for my seatpost, I suspect because it was meant to come with some sort of plastic packing that got lost along the way.

I tried to pack it with bits of my old rubber inner tubes, and it seemed to work... but alas, only when going in a straight line. Any bends would cause the hitch to shift to the side, and because of the way it articulates with the tag-along, the more the hitch was out of aligment with my bike, the more the tag-along tilted. This happened, luckily, away from traffic one day I took my kids to Tatton Park (yes, I drove there - spare me the sermon).

My eldest gave me a shout at some point, for I had no idea there was any problem. My poor youngest was holding on precariously, the tag-along tilted at an angle behind me. Another bend and she'd ended up on the ground. Not something a 4-year old is likely to forget (or forgive) in a hurry.

Last summer we gave family cycling a miss - it was, if you'll remember, such a washout, and what with the two weeks in Spain (rented car for 1 week) etc. So, yesterday I naively went round a couple of shops with the 'hitch' in my hand, looking for alternatives to fit my bike. It is not, I fear, as simple as that. "Make and model of the tag-along?" No idea - it's a rusty old thing we got from friends. "Ah, well, there are different attachments depending on the manufacturer". And as for a new tag-along, they are, in my view, too expensive for what they are - half-bikes which won't carry heavy loads and for not very long.

The answer is probably to grasp the nettle and teach the little one to ride - off with the stabilisers!


David Hembrow said...

I have some experience of them, both from owning them when our children were small and helping out at various events where they were in use.

IMO you're still best off trying to find a second hand Islabikes Trailerbike. These are all old now, but they were properly engineered, using a specially made rack to hold the trailerbike upright.

The result was no wobbling about at all. Also, as they were so well made they last through many children and families using them.

coco said...

Thanks David. It does look a far better way of attaching the trailer to the bike. I'll look in the 2nd hand market - brand new they are a bit pricey: if this was my 1st child I'd view it as a long term investment, but it's my youngest and, at 6, should really learn to ride - which means, I should spend more time teaching her.