I just returned from watching my daughter graduate from college. One of the treats of the weekend was watching a video that my wife put together of Katie’s life, from cradle to walking across the stage getting her diploma.
And that video prompted me to remember the many hours I spent pulling my kids around in an old Burley bike trailer. Those were good times and they allowed me to share my love of cycling with my kids, even before they could run around…never-mind ride along with me on a bike ride.
Before I get too far along in my ‘pitch’ for the use of bike trailers, let me make this disclaimer: bike trailers aren’t for everyone. We’re fortunate to live in an area with very few autos, and we also benefit from the wide shoulders alongside the roads that are so common in the western United States. That isn’t the case in the eastern U.S., or in much of Europe.
But with a little bit of ingenuity, a dedicated cycling parent can find bike trails, bike paths, or other routes that enable the smallest members of the family to safely ‘go for a bike ride’.
Bike Trailer Benefits
Let’s face it. Serious bike riding can be a self-centered sport. In that, I’m alluding to the many hours a cyclist spends out on the roads. This is all well and good until one becomes a parent.
Now the tension between a love for cycling and a desire to be the best parent possible starts to rear its ugly head.
But let’s take a ‘glass half full’ approach to it and discuss some of the benefits to bringing the kids along on a bike ride.
- If you’re still stuck on the ‘what’s in it for me?’ frame of mind, just think of all the extra stuff you can carry along for yourself in the storage compartment behind the seat of the bike trailer.
- Having some company on the road (in the form of your toddler) can add a fresh new perspective on riding. Seeing the world through the eyes of little people can be refreshing.
- In an era in which the population is becoming increasingly less fit, introducing young people to the joys of cycling can establish an ‘active’ lifestyle which may follow them throughout their lives.
- How about the issue of families merely doing activities together? Recent studies indicate that many families don’t even eat their meals together. So in the spirit of sharing each others lives, getting the entire family out on the road for a bike ride can be important for the spirit of family unity.
Different Levels Of Bike Trailer Quality
At the start of this article I reported that I used an early model Burley trailer. It would probably be most similar to the current no-nonsense Burley Bee. Burley makes a very high quality product with an aluminum frame, the all 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. None-the-less, 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.
From Bike Trailers To College Graduates
I’m not sure if there’s a correlation, but in our family each and every kid (2 out of 2) rode in a bike trailer and went on to get a college education. I’m pretty sure that all of that bouncing around must have stimulated cognitive thought in their developing brains; thoughts like…
- “How do I get out of here?”
- “Why does my dad sweat so much?”
- “When I grow up, I think I’ll strap my kids into one of these contraptions and just see how they like it.”
All kidding aside, we had a lot of wonderful times together pursuing outdoor sports. One of the first times was me happily towing them in a bike trailer behind my bicycle.
About the author: Ron Fritzke looks for, and reports on good cycling gear for his website Cycling-Review.com. It’s been quite a while now since his kids would agree to get into a bike trailer, so he anxiously awaits the next generation (grand-kids) to pull around behind his bike.