View Full Version : Compensating for trailers

01-28-2009, 02:32 PM
Greetings and hoping someone can help!

I'm fitting a client for a 3-day road tour; however, this time he's bringing his child in a trailer. He's not the strongest gent so his gearing is maxed out, and I've already beefed up his breaks for the down hills (total elevation gain of approximately 6,000 feet).

How, where and what else can I do to help compensate for the additional 50lbs and weight distribution on the climbs and twisty descents.

Oh, BTW, I'll also be riding the tour, so he's decided [read: I offered] that half way through his wife will take the kid and I'll make the trailer swap for them.


01-28-2009, 03:43 PM
IMHO-- Does this guy know what he's getting into? I tow my kid (s) regularly in a Trek Doodlebug and would estimate the effort on hills as double the work without them. Plus, the aero drag due to the trailer's width is significant-- my speed on a downhill will stall at about 17-18mph on a hill that I'd be going 40mph solo. A levelish route that I can usually get around with a 21mph average is about 14mph with the kids. That said, I love taking them along for the experience and company (though I could do without the insults from the back as to how slow we're going up hills) and even hook them up for hill repeats and heart rate based intervals. However, its a LOT harder to get around with them on the back and would warn your client as to the extra effort required. Traffic safety can also be an issue, as the trailer sticks out an extra foot or so on each side. The one thing, oddly enough, I wouldn't worry about is braking, as the sail he's pulling will keep his speed under control. Quick stops can be an issue, another reason to stay away from heavy traffic. Also, depending on the kids' demeanor, they will more than likely get bored after an hour or so-- an all-day tour could get mighty whiny...Great way to spend time with the little ones, tho.

My $.02, Chris

PS-- Oh yeah-- a triple crank is a must-- there's no way he can climb with a trailer in CO with a 39-27 if he's not an animal. Plus, 25mm tires and no weight-weeny rims-- you can't afford a wheel failure with kids.

01-28-2009, 05:58 PM

my $.02

01-30-2009, 11:10 AM

I appreciate your insights. This is an area still foreign to me since I've yet to procreate ;-).

Based on your recommendations their bikes are spot on, but the handeling is something I'll need to get out and experience first hand with a sack of potatos in the back.

I think I'll set-up some cones in the back and ensure to set those expectations.

Again, thanks for your responses.


01-31-2009, 08:11 PM
I would echo the sentiments shared by Chris.
My wife and I lugged my son all over the place in his Burley Solo. My wife provided additional evidence of how much tougher women are by all but insisting on pulling him as she grew so accustomed to the pain/additional effort (she stayed home with them so they rode nearly every day).

Though our trailer did stick out a bit, we never had traffic issues on the bucolic roads of VT. I think it's novel/serene enough that most people gave a lot of respect.
The handling is definitely something to consider. Braking was never an issue with our rolling hills, but it did feel a little jerky on some winding descents. I don't know if he was shifting in the trailer or if it was the physics of it all, but it would get a little whippy feeling, if that makes sense. In other words, it would feel like the trailer was lagging, and then it would almost surge through a sweep in a manner that took some getting used to.

For us, the mountain bike set up with slicks was the best option. The road bike felt too twitchy and I never bothered changing the gearing to a range that would make it all manageable.