There are multiple different options for towing young child behind your bike. This kind of family riding is great fun and can be started when your child is approximately 1 year old. However, not all towing options work with all bikes…what do you need to know to make a good buying decision… will your bike work for towing kids?
We are going to take a look at some of the things that a bike can have or be made of that restricts what can be attached to it for towing;
- carbon frames/road bikes
- full suspension
- 29 inch wheels
- frame size – small or x-small
- electric bike battery placement
For kids bike seats that are “on” the adult bike please read Will your bike work with an attached kids bike seat?
TYPES OF KIDS BIKE SEAT TOWING OPTIONS
Here is a quick reminder about how you can attach a kids bike seat for towing.
TOWING A HALF BIKE
Half bikes are attached at the seat post of your bike. Child age range varies by type: standard seat 4-6 years, reclined seat 2-9 years.
TOWING A KIDS BIKE
Bike to bike connection points vary by type. Tow frames connect from adult rear wheel hub to kids front wheel – age range 4-9yrs. Tow bars connect from adult seat post to kids steering tube – age range 4-9yrs. Tow ropes connect from adult seat to kids steering tube – age range 4+yrs.
TOWING A BIKE TRAILER
Bike trailers attach onto the rear wheel hub of the adult bike. Age range 1-6yrs for a single trailer, 1-4yrs for a double trailer.
CARBON FRAMES/ROAD BIKES
Carbon frames and carbon seat posts are designed to be lightweight and are not built for strength. So anything that attaches to a seat post e.g. half bikes and bike to bike tow bars are not compatible with carbon seat posts. You can not excessively screw an attachment for towing a child onto a carbon frame/post. This is also the case for road bikes which are usually designed for speed not strength. Ideally adding the weight of a kid and seat needs the strength of a standard diameter steel frame.
FULL SUSPENSION MOUNTAIN BIKE
Full suspension bikes can be used with most towing options. It would be a good idea to lock the rear suspension while you are using any rigid bike systems for towing.
Most adults with mountain bikes will want to continue to use their mountain bike for their own enjoyment. Attaching mounting systems for towing that are not easily removed is not ideal if you are still planning to do your own riding. Exception: Tow Whee tow rope is completely removed from your bike within seconds.
See also Carbon Frames
The seat post is a common attachment point – carbon seat posts can not be used for towing
The Tow Whee has a simple loop or carabiner attachment system that is easy to completely attach and detach from both the adult and kids bike
29 inch WHEELS
Large wheels can make it challenging to tow children (find your wheel size written on the side wall of your bike tyre). This size wheel is a relatively new development in cycling and a lot of the designs for towing were not made to clear the top of such big wheels. These wheels will not work with tow frames (Follow Me Tandem), tow bars (Trailgator) and some half bikes.
FRAMES SIZES – XS,S
Knowing the frame size of your bike is key to determining whether a kids bike seat will work for you. Extra small and small frame sizes struggle with most of the “on” the bike options but tend to work with towing. You do need some exposed seat post for the half bikes and bike to bike, tow bar towing i.e. you can not have your seat height right down low. This may be a challenge for some shorter people.
Some helpful links showing attachment points on seat posts
- will a reclined half bike attach to your bike
- attaching a half bike to your adult bike… coming soon
- tow bar connection points…. coming soon
See also 29 inch Wheels
Tow frame attached to 26inch wheel – not compatible with 29inch wheels
Reclined half bike attached to a small frame mountain bike
Hugely popular and growing market – electric bikes are a great choice for using to tow children as they will make the experience easier on the adult rider. You just need to be aware of the placement of your battery and how that may affect your ability to tow a half bike or tow bar – a clear pathway to the seat post is needed. Electric bikes can also have hub gear systems (mechanisms for changing gear are at the centre of your rear wheel). These hub systems will need special adaptors for any towing system that attaches here.
Batteries can be position on or below the rear carrier. This may be an issue for any towing system that attaches to your seat post as it will need a certain amount of clearance above the rear wheel to safely reach the seat post. This problem is made worse by small bike frames/seat heights set low (see photo below).
Gear hubs at rear wheel centre. Bike trailers and the bike tow frame attach to your bike at the hub. You will therefore need a special adaptor if you have a gear hub. The bike tow frame – The Follow Me Tandem – sells these separately.
See also Full Suspension, Frames Sizes
Electric bike with battery over rear carrier and no patheway for an attachment to go to the seat post
Brakes & Gears
When adding the weight of a seat and your child to a bike the handling and balance of the bike will change. This may take a bit of time to adapt too. It is a great idea to have a good range of gears because getting going and climbing hills will be harder – electric bikes help here. Brakes will have to cope with added weight meaning you will need to brake before you normally would and be careful to use both brakes evenly.
Please check your brakes regularly as well as having a good routine of checking your whole bike… Am I safe to ride?
get Ready and goRide – Will your bike work for towing kids?
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