Fall is that time of year when the kids are back in school, whether that school is public, private or homeschooling. It’s the same all over the United States. Fall is also a great time to add some extra activities to your normal school schedule. The weather is still great for cycling off to the park to learn about how the changes in weather affect nature.
But what about those toddlers and young ones who haven’t caught up with big brother or sister yet? This is where bike trailers shine. Not only can the little ones tag along, but there’s room for all the school supplies you’ll need too.
Bike trailers aren’t too difficult to locate- either at your bike store, a box store, or online. If you’re in need of a certain level of guidance in figuring out which trailer is the best for your family, the amount of useful help you’ll get is greatest at the bike store and drops off precipitously from there.
Bike Trailer Benefits
With a bike trailer you’ll be accomplishing a whole bunch of things at the same time. Some of the benefits that immediately come to mind are…
-Introducing your kids to a sport that you’re passionate about while adding some fun to their education.
-Including the whole family in home schooling activities.
-Having the ability to bring along extra ‘gear’ that you couldn’t carry in your cycling jersey.
-Starting your family doing activities together, rather than separately.
Bike Trailer Features
If you’re wondering what features you should be looking for in a bike trailer, here’s a list to consider:
- One of the defining features of a deluxe trailer is a suspension system. While it’s debatable how necessary suspension really is considering that there is some natural ‘give’ in the tires and in the hammock style seating, the high end trailers have an elastomer plastic between the axle and the body of the trailer to absorb additional shock.
- Is the trailer designed to carry two kids, or is it like the Burley Solo, which is narrower and accommodates one kid at a time?
- How easily does the unit fold down. In fact, how effectively does it ‘get small’? Do the wheels come off easily and does the tow arm disconnect quickly?
- Some of the models have easily detachable seats and safety harnesses, making it easier to clean up after Junior spills juice and snacks all over himself.
- UV protected plastic windows are important for protection from the harmful effects of the sun. Any kind of window is critical for toddler amusement…who would want to bump along behind a bike if they can’t see what is going on?
- Versatility in the ventilation system is greatly appreciated by the trailer occupant. Is there an ability to roll up the front window and still have a screen intact for those hot days? On the other hand, can the trailer be ‘buttoned up’ for unexpected rain showers?
- A lot of bike trailer owners appreciate an extra hitch assembly that can be put on a second bike, making it convenient to switch between trusty steeds.
- Getting back to basics…the higher end trailers are made of aluminum while the budget models may be made of steel tubing, contributing to a substantial weight difference between the two.
Different Levels Of Bike Trailer Quality
When I first started taking the kids cycling with me I used an early model Burley trailer. It would probably be most similar to the current no-nonsense Burley Honey Bee. Burley makes a very high quality product, with an aluminum frame, all the necessary UV protection, and the ability to fold down into a store-able size when not in use.
Something that the Honey Bee lacks, but is included in the Burley D‘lite or the Burley Solo, is a ‘suspension’ system.
Now don’t get visions of elaborate shocks and leaf springs. What suspension systems in bike trailers entail are usually ‘squash-able’ elastomere plastic bumpers between the axle and the frame of the bike trailer. Nevertheless, a suspension system does smooth out the ride for the passenger. Keep in mind that the compressibility of the tires themselves, along with the ‘hammock’ style of the seating, will add a bit of suspension as well.
Bike Trailers Get The Whole Family Into The Home Schooling Process
I started this article by presenting the bike trailer as a ‘parental aid’ in homeschooling. But that only presents a small part of the bigger picture. Let me say clearly that a bike trailer can be an excellent way of involving the whole family in a very wholesome lifestyle- whether you are expanding their education or simply sharing your world with them.
I know that taking my toddlers along on my rides was the start of me including my kids in my appreciation for the great outdoors…a perspective they now share with me as young adults.