Now that Spring has sprung and Summer temps seem to be hitting us early, we’ve been riding bikes to school more often. I’ve had the Adam’s Trail-A-Bike add on kid hauler for about a year now and we’ve used it to go to and from school, on dirt road adventures and just around town to the farmer’s market.
Several versions are available, most with a 20″ rear wheel. We tested the Original Alloy Folder One, which translates into a) it’s alloy, so it’s three pounds lighter than the original steel one, b) it folds in half for easier packing in a car and c) it’s a single speed. There are a couple models with larger wheels, a couple with gears and a shifter for the kids to play with and even a tandem one to haul two kids at once.
It’s a convenient way to haul a child to school or on errands, and works for a wide range of ages and sizes, particularly if they’re either not quite ready to ride their own bike on streets or the distance is a bit much for young legs. It’s also a solid workout when they decide not to pedal, as shown above. Read on for all the details…
The Trail-A-Bike is recommended for ages 4 to 6. I say that’s conservative, but go outside that at your own risk. My son is 7 and I still ride him to school on it. I’ve had my daughter on it since she was 3-1/2, which required an unapproved cutting of the seatpost. Here’s why: To fold the Trail-A-Bike in half, you remove the seatpost by loosening the quick release in the middle of the seat tube. The unit then pivots just in front of the chainring, essentially cutting its length in half.
The max insertion line on the post is designed to ensure there’s adequate post left below the quick release to keep it all stable. I cut about 1″ off to be able to get the seat low enough for my daughter to ride it, which means I’ll be limited as to how high it can go as she grows up. Or I could just order another seat post, which I may have to do since the max (claimed) weight limit is 85lbs and my kids have a ways to go before they’re tipping the scales that far. And I don’t know too many kids in the 4-6 range that weigh that much.
I also mentioned they offer a tandem version. I’m not sure I’d want to try that one, as having one kid on the back can cause the bike to wobble when they inevitably try to do tricks, spin around and sit backwards or pedal enthusiastically. Fluid pedaling from the kid minimized the feedback on the adult’s bike, but it can sometimes feel like your rear wheel is wrestling a boar. It’s enough to throw you off your line, which can be a bit dangerous if you’re riding in traffic. Their shenanigans affect a lighter weight adult more than a heavier one…which is why my wife didn’t care for towing it on her bike. At the very least, the adult pulling it should be an experienced rider.
The Trail-A-Bike attaches to the adult bike using a seatpost clamp. The clamp and the trailer are connected via a quick release bolt that has a nut threaded on one end and a clamp for extra security. A universal joint section lets it move up and down and side to side freely. The clamp comes with several sizes of sleeves to fit between it and the post, and you need to make sure you use the right size:
On the left is an original clamp. On the right is one I overtighted around a too-thin spacer. There is no turning back…I tried my darnedest to spread it back open, wasn’t happening. So I had to order a new one. The plastic spacer also protects your post since there’s no metal-on-metal contact. Each spacer has a lip that goes on the bottom to keep the clamp from touching your frame/seatpost collar, too.
There is a bit of play between the connections, which can be disconcerting at first because it feels like the kid is rocking back and forth. Once you get used to it, it’s not as bad, and it could probably be fixed by shimming something small into the connection between the clamp and the trailer. I haven’t tried that because it hasn’t bothered me that much.
The stem is adjustable for height/reach and the handlebar has a small pad on the top bar. A fabric sleeve covers the top portion of the front tube to keep it from scratching the frame when it’s folded up.
It also includes a tall flagpole with a day glow orange flag and foam ball. It includes reflectors, too, and I put a blinky light on the seatpost. It has a full fender, full chainguard and even a bashguard as part of the frame. We’ve breezed down hills and through fast corners and it’s felt very stable. Uphill, it’s like having a little turbo boost when they start pedaling hard.
Besides providing a way to get my children to school without driving, it gets them (and me) some exercise and seems to delight passersby. Even motorists are much more pleasant and pass with much greater care than when I’m riding on my own. It doesn’t hurt that my kids wave to everyone.
Retail is $319. The steel one is $245 and only weighs 3lbs more (20.5 versus 23.5 pounds).