The Best Bike Trailer

InSTEP Sync Single Bicycle Trailer

Our Top Pick for 2016: InSTEP Sync Single Bicycle Trailer
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $89.24*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Riding bicycles as a family can be a fun, rewarding way to enjoy the outdoors together. Sharing your love of bicycle riding can be a joy and bring families together through exercise. Bike Trailers make it possible to involve even the youngest family member in your outdoor adventures. Using a bike trailer can also be excellent physical activity, especially if you are pulling more than one child. However, all trailers are not made alike. A good bike trailer should be foldable, lightweight, have proper safety equipment, and a quality hitch to ensure the kind of experience you want. We’ve put together a few of the top picks to help you in your search for the best bike trailer for you.

Table of contents

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Lightweight Steel Construction
Single-passenger Bike Trailer
Flattens For Easy Storage
Comfortably Transports 2 Children
Folds Down For Easy Storage
Tinted Side And Rear Windows
Foot Guard Tube
Two-in-one Canopy With Bug Screen
Rear Window Ventilation
16″ Inflated Rear Wheels
Coupler Attaches To Almost Any Bicycle
20″ Push-button Wheels
Safety Harness
Lightweight
Includes Hitch, Tow Arm And Safety Flag

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): InSTEP Sync Single Bicycle Trailer

InSTEP Sync Single Bicycle Trailer Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $89.24*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe InSTEP Single Bicycle Trailer (InSTEP) provides a smooth ride that parents and children are both going to enjoy. The InSTEP weighs 29lbs. and can hold up to 40lbs of child and cargo. This lightweight, durable trailer requires some assembly out of the box but this does not pose a problem for most users.

Despite being a single bike trailer, the InSTEP has plenty of pockets and storage space in the trailer for a diaper bag, water, snacks, bike cable, and lock. Because it is a single rider, it is narrow enough to give you plenty of room on narrow trails or when passing other riders. This also helps to make turning easier, but be sure to turn wide enough because of the extra length added by the trailer.

The inside of the trailer has a safety harness to keep the child safely seated, which is particularly important when riding over rough terrain. Children can easily be injured while being jostled around in a bike trailer. Using the InSTEP safety harness as directed can keep your child in their seat while you both enjoy a challenging ride.

Foldability is a strength for the InSTEP. The frame can be easily folded down by one person. The tires are quick release allowing you to place them on top of or next to the frame for easy storage and transport. The provided safety flag also breaks down into two pieces for compact storage.

Users report durability as a solid feature despite the low price tag. The InSTEP has proven to be particularly well constructed. Users report that it withstands use on uneven, rocky terrain with no structural and little cosmetic damage.

Rain, wind, and cold temperatures can make riding in a bike trailer an unpleasant experience for children. If you want to help them learn to love bicycling, you have to protect them from the elements. A 2-in-1 canopy protects the child while they ride in the trailer. A plastic shield protects from wind and rain in cold weather. In the hot sun, the plastic shield can be rolled up and attached to the top of the trailer, leaving a protective screen in its place. The screen keeps out the road debris and insects but allows for air to move through the trailer so your child does not become overheated.

The pneumatic tires with moldable rims will keep the trailer moving smoothly along the road. Pneumatic tires absorb shock well and provide some protection from bumpy roads. The can be refilled when air gets low and repaired if they become damaged.

A separate conversion kit can be bought to convert this trailer to a stroller. Using your bike trailer as a stroller can reduce the amount of children’s equipment in your home. However, when in the stroller configuration it will not be as compact and easy to fold down as a regular stroller. If you have the space to store the InSTEP as a stroller, it would make sense to buy the conversion kit as it gives you more versatility out of your purchase.

The coupler on the InSTEP can be attached to most models of adult bikes and the safety strap assures that, if the coupler gets knocked loose, the trailer will remain attached. An extra coupler can be ordered separately if you want to leave a coupler attached to another bike for quick transfer, otherwise you can unhook from one bike and transfer the trailer to the other with one coupler.

Heavy use over rugged terrain can be hard on any equipment, making it important to be able to replace parts easily. InSTEP does provide replace parts for the bike trailer should it suffer any damage but you need to have the model and date code, so keep this information in your files somewhere just in case you need them.

The warranty covers all defective parts for up to a year except for the tires. The cover fabric can be wiped clean with a mild soap then air dried. Do not machine wash or use bleach on any part of the trailer as this can void your warranty.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Allen Sports Steel Bicycle Trailer

Allen Sports Steel Bicycle Trailer

View it on Amazon for $85.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Allen Sports Steel Bicycle Trailer is a well-constructed trailer that comes as a single or double model. This review focuses on the double trailer model. The single rider can hold a child and equipment up to 50lbs., while the double holds up to 100lbs. of total weight. The trailer is narrow for a double trailer, which is good when riding on narrow trails and makes it easier to pass other bike riders. However, some users have found the narrow width makes for a tight fit with two children who may be reaching the upper weight limits of the trailer.

This trailer has solid steel construction yet still manages to be lightweight and provide a smooth ride. It comes in a stylish red and gray color scheme that makes it more visible to vehicle drivers. Assembly is simple right out of the box with spring release pins throughout the frame. The 16in. pneumatic tires help to absorb bumps on a rough road. Steel spokes give the tires a solid feel and sleek look.

The hitch attaches to the rear axle of the bike. A safety strap secures the trailer should the hitch come loose and the trailer detach. Users report that using the hitch is simple and easy. You cannot purchase an additional hitch to attach to a second bicycle for easy transfer.

Inside the trailer is a foot guard tube to protect children’s feet from any rocks, sticks, or bumps. The front and side windows are large, giving a good field of view. The front window’s plastic cover can be rolled up on hot days to allow ventilation and prevent overheating. Underneath the plastic cover is a bug shield that stops road debris and insects from spraying your child while riding. A simple buckle attachment feature allows the cover and bug shield to be removed entirely if necessary for cleaning. It is not recommended to pull the trailer without the cover and bug shield.

Bike trails can be fun and exciting for parents and children but they are frequently rougher than a paved trail. This trailer uses an internal 5-point safety harness system that will keep children safe and secure during a venture off of the paved trail. A safety flag is also included for greater visibility to vehicle drivers.

A pocket, conveniently located on the back of the trailer, is large enough to hold a diaper bag and other essentials necessary for a day out on the bikes. Any items stored will be protected from the elements by the cover that extends over the top of the pocket.

The frame folds flat for easy transport and the wheels are quick release. It is recommended in the owner’s manual to place the safety flag and wheels inside the body of the trailer and then fold down for the most compact storage.

The trailer and cover fabric can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and mild detergent, then air dried. While the owner’s manual does state there is a warranty, there are no specifics available in the manual or online. You can contact the manufacturer directly to learn what the warranty includes.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Burley Design Bee Bike Trailer

Burley Design Bee Bike Trailer

View it on Amazon for $281.31*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Burley Design Bee Bike Trailer (Bee) offers safety, comfort, and storage. Weighing in at only 20lbs., it provides a smooth comfortable ride and cuts down on weight significantly. It can hold two children with a 100lbs. maximum weight limit.

The Bee has a recessed helmet pocket so that riders’ heads are not tilted uncomfortably forward, a frequent problem with bike trailers. Passive suspension seats, somewhat like a hammock, help over bumps for greater rider comfort. The 5-point harness system keeps children safely secured with causing uncomfortable restriction. UV protected windows are rated with an SPF 30 providing protection from the sun and heat while riding.

A common problem with bike trailers is building up to much heat inside the trailer. A protective cover can keep children dry in inclement weather, while in the heat the plastic cover can roll up leaving a bug shield. There is also rear window ventilation that allows air to move freely through the trailer so children do not become overheated. The window allows for greater flow modification because it can be left open while the protective cover remains closed.

A full internal aluminum frame protects children from a tipped trailer but also makes it extremely lightweight for its size. The aluminum is heat treated making it extremely durable and strong. Nylon plastic joints are reinforced with glass for greater durability in an accident. It also has a reinforced deep foot area that protects from rocks and curbs.

The frame folds easily and the quick-release 20in. wheels can be taken off and put inside the trailer along with the safety flag for easy storage and transport. Folding takes place by pressing two red latches at the top of the frame bar, making it simple to fold for one person. The large wheel size provides a smooth ride on trails or city streets.

Safety is taken to another level with the Bee. The bright yellow cover is constructed of high quality, weather resistant polyester with reflective piping. There are also reflectors located on the wheels and front and back of the trailer for greater visibility. Vehicles can better see the trailer using the provided neon orange safety flag. Side battens protect riders from the wheels and provide a barrier from scrapes, cuts or other injury should the trailer tip over in an accident.

The steel hitch design allows for the bike to be laid on the ground and the trailer will stay upright. This is not only beneficial when riding but also in case of an accident the trailer has a greater possibility of remain safe. Another hitch can be purchased separately for a second bicycle for easy transfer of the trailer from one bike to another.

The Bee has a large cargo area that can easily accommodate all the necessary items for a day long bike ride. This storage compartment, separated by a barrier from the seating area, is only accessible from the back of the trailer. Children will be comfortable and happy with the storage inside, as they have room for snacks and even toys. These items can be kept separate from the larger cargo area for better organization.

The warranty covers fabric parts for one year and frame and plastic parts for three years. Always read the details of a warranty closely so you understand what is covered and what is not.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Schwinn Trailnblazer Single Bike Trailer

Schwinn Trailnblazer Single Bike Trailer

View it on Amazon for $129.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe Schwinn Trailnblazer Single Bike Trailer (Schwinn) provides solid workmanship at an affordable price. It does not compromise on safety or convenience features. It can hold one child and any gear up to 50lbs.

Assembly is simple and does not require extra tools. Foldability is good as it can become compact enough to transport or store easily. The 16in. pneumatic tires are quick release and can be stored on top of or next to the frame. Users report that the wheels provide a smooth ride on pavement but do not perform as well on rougher terrain or trails because on occasion they became caught on rocks or sticks.

This Schwinn has a narrow profile, slightly wider than a bicycle with rider. The narrow profile makes it convenient on narrow trails or when weaving through traffic. A narrow profile does mean that the trailer is small and your child may outgrow it before they are ready or able to ride a bicycle independently. This also mean space is inside is limited for snacks and toys.

A plastic cover protects the child during inclement weather. Overheating can be a serious problem for children in a bike trailer. The cover of the Schwinn can be rolled up for better ventilation in the heat. When rolled up, the bug shield protects from rocks flung up by the bike tires or from insects Good ventilation is key to a comfortable ride and the rear ventilation window, along with the bug shield, provide the necessary air flow for a pleasant experience.

The coupler attaches to the rear axle of the bicycle. Additional couplers can be purchased for a second bike, making transferring from one bike to another fairly easily. A safety strap ensures that the trailer will stay attached should the coupler release for any reason.

There is a small storage compartment behind the child’s seat for a diaper bag or other necessities. Users report that the seat is comfortable for children, providing enough padding to avoid injury from bumps and rocks. The 5-point safety harness holds riders securely without overly restricting their movements.

Before buying, be sure the rear axle of your bike has a slot cut out that will allow you to safely attach the coupler. This trailer is not as lightweight as some other models, weighing in at 27lbs. The fabric portion can be cleaned with a damp cloth and allowed to air dry.


Pre-purchase considerations

Safety

Equipment meant for children has to have safety as the first priority. Bike trailers are low profile, making it difficult for vehicle drivers to see them. If you are going to be using the trailer on the road be sure to attach a safety flag that is 3 ½ to 7 feet high. It is safest to use a bike trailer on trails rather than on a roadway. Reflectors on the body and wheels of the trailer will also help with visibility.

The frame of the trailer should form a full cage to protect the child in the case of a rollover. Keep in mind that a roll cage is not intended to protect the child if hit by a vehicle. Models with a rotating hitch are the best for preventing rollovers. These hitches allow the bicycle to be laid on the ground without tipping over the bike trailer.

Children also require protection from road debris, mud, and insects. Check the bug shield to be sure the mesh is small enough to prevent anything from entering the trailer during use.

Children should wear a helmet when riding in a trailer. Bike trailers are not recommended for children that cannot hold their heads up independently.

Foldable

Bike trailers are a large piece of equipment that can take a lot of room in the trunk of your car and in your home. If space is an issue for you, foldability is a key feature to consider. Measure any space that you plan to store or transport the trailer in so you do not end up with a trailer that won’t fit into the trunk of your car.

A quick-folding frame will save you space, time, and frustration. Some trailers even have a one-hand fold feature for added convenience. Tires are another aspect of a bike trailer that take up a great deal of space. Look for trailers with quick-release tires that can then be laid on top of or next to the frame during transport and storage.

Lightweight

Riding a bike is great physical exercise. Add a bike trailer on the back and you’ve created resistance training. With a two-seated bike trailer you can be towing close to 100lbs. Frames are commonly made out of steel, which is sturdy, but heavy. Some frames are made of alloy or aluminum which is considerably lighter, but you will have to pay a higher price for the weight reduction.

Tire construction is another place that you can save on weight. Wheels that have steel rims are going to be heavier than rims made with aluminum. Again, aluminum rims are going to be pricier than their steel counterparts, but might be worth the extra money if you are going to be using the bike trailer frequently.

Hitch

The hitch and arm connect directly to the bike, making this equipment extremely important to the overall safety and proper functioning of the trailer. The hitch should always have a backup, usually in the form of a strap, in case the hitch comes loose or breaks free.

Look for hitch and hitch arm designs that keep the bike trailer upright in event of the bike being tipped over. Rotating hitch arms, springs in the hitch arm, and rotating ball hitches all work to prevent the trailer from being tipped over. Other models have a specific hitch made only for their brand. If that is the case be sure you have the correct hitch for your model of bike trailer.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Consider what is important to you before you purchase. If you are going to be using a bike trailer for an occasional ride, a less expensive model with appropriate safety features will probably do. If bike riding is a passion that you want to share with your child or grandchild, it would probably be worth spending a little more money for a lightweight bike trailer that provides extra storage for long rides. Whatever model you choose, familiarize yourself with the warranty for your own protection in the event that defective parts become an issue.

Building a love of exercise and the outdoors can start with bike riding as a family. Bike trailers open this activity to the even the youngest members of the family. Riding in safety and comfort will make this activity a family favorite.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Best Bike Trailer Review, outdoorgearlab.com
  2. Best Bike Trailers, metaefficient.com
  3. Bike Trailer Buying Guide, consumerreports.org, November 2012
  4. Bike Trailers: Comparison Charts, twowheelingtots.com
  5. Burley Products, burley.com
  6. 5 Best Bike Trailers, bestreviews.com
  7. Top Rated Bike Trailers for Kids, Dogs, or Cargo – 2016, bestbicycletrailer.com

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