Welcome to the mecca of Bike Cargo Trailers. We got everything covered below. Do you need a One Wheel Trailer or a Two Wheeled Trailer? Whats the difference? Is there a difference? Below we will detail out the best features of each trailer and hope that you can make the perfect decision for your trip or trips!
Sit back, relax and grab your favorite beverage and enjoy.
Single and ready to mingle..
Single-wheeled trailers deftly negotiate singletrack trails and through tricky urban terrain. This maneuverability is a defining distinction from two-wheel trailers.
Singletrack and rutted two-tracks are the stuff of nightmares for owners for two-wheeled trailers, but it's where single-wheeled trailers shine. But the added agility comes at a cost in load capacity. Depending on how you load the trailer, excessive weight can adversely impact your bicycle's handling, limiting the amount of weight you should carry to around 70 pounds.
The weight you carry on a single-wheel trailer is shared with the rear wheel of your bike. This means improved traction. When you lean, the trailer leans. A single-wheel trailer never flips over--unless you do.
Most single-wheeled trailers use similar methods to attach to your bicycle. A fork on the front of the trailer attaches to the bicycle's rear axle which allows the trailer to pivot. These forks offer a very solid, reliable connection to the bike because they attach to both sides of the bike. And your riding becomes connected as well. When you are out your seat doing a standing climb, and your body English swings your bike from side to side for maximum power, you are also rocking your single-wheel trailer along with all your cargo from side to side. With the right packing strategy--heavy stuff down low--you may hardly notice. (See below for more information on Mounting Points.)
Features vary widely among single-wheel trailers, starting with how they carry a load. Some, like BOB Trailers, have a load bed suspended between the trailer fork and the wheel. These trailers are the most versatile, allowing you to easily switch between touring mode and grocery mode. Others, like the Extrawheel Voyager, are designed to carry a set of panniers like a rear rack would, but making them somewhat less versatile, because they're designed for a specific type of load. Using grocery bag-style panniers allows some additional flexibility, but not as much as a trailer with a load bed. What these trailers do offer, however, is virtually unlimited maneuverability, easily going where no two-wheeled trailer could go--and even out maneuvering some single-wheeled trailers.
- Trailers such as the BOB Ibex have shock-absorbing suspension, which means both that your cargo shakes around less, and that less of the vibration gets transferred from the trailer back to your bike's frame and to you.
- Suspension adds cost and/or weight. The BOB Yak (no suspension) weighs four pounds less than it's sibling, the BOB Ibex.
- The Extrawheel Voyager has no suspension, but the cargo is cradled somewhat inside the panniers on either side of the wheel instead of on a rigid load bed.
Locking and Loading
- Trailers with flat load beds, such as the BOB and Weber trailers, can be loaded directly with the cargo--no bags required. However, unless you strap the cargo down somehow, using bungee cords or a cargo net, you'll start scattering your things down the road or trail. Your items will be more visible and vulnerable to opportunistic thieves as well.
- More sensible is to put your cargo in a large waterproof duffel bag, or dry bag. Rack Packs and Dry Bags will keep your cargo together as well as dry, plus will make it easier to remove the contents of the trailer in fewer loads. But, yes, you will still need to secure these bags to the trailer to keep them in the trailer.
- When leaving your trailer loaded and unattended, a locking security web will help protect your cargo from being too easily lifted from the trailer, and will deter snoops from looking inside the bags as well.
- Even if you remove the contents from the trailer, you will need a strategy for locking the trailer as well as the bike. The Weber Monoporter is designed to lock easily to the bike or to be transported wheelbarrow-style when not attached to the bike. A generously long cable lock will allow you to lock your bike and trailer together to the same bike rack or another secure locking point.
- Sometimes you just have a lot of stuff, and it's hard to keep it all packed low to the ground. BOB trailers can be adapted for panniers over the wheels using a Wandertec Rack Adapter Kit and a Greenspeed Rack.
Shipping and Storage
- Single-wheel trailers vary tremendously as to whether they break down easily for storage and shipping. A trailer like the Weber Monoporter fold up compactly without a lot of disassembly. A trailer like the BOB doesn't.
- Almost any bike trailer can easily be reduced in size by removing the hitch arm or fork and removing the wheel or wheels. Those parts can generally be tucked inside the body of the trailer. Or if you are traveling with a bicycle, often some of the parts of the trailer can fit inside your bicycle box.
- As noted above, most single-wheel trailers mount to the rear axle of the bike. This configuration makes the trailer an extension of the bike--"rotationally coupled" at the axle.
- A few single wheel trailers, such as the Farfarer, mount to the seat post which means that the trailer rotates less than the bike does in some riding situations, such as in tight turns. This configuration also means the load on the trailer is supported on at an angle, which affects the dynamics of the ride differently from other single-wheeled trailers.
Double up the fun, grab two wheels!
Two-wheeled bike trailers are good for carrying weight that you would rather not lean and tilt with the rest of the bike. A two-wheeled trailer is less likely to affect your balance.
With two wheels instead of one, these trailers are very stable, essentially bearing the weight of your load almost entirely on its own. In other words, very little trailer weight is transferred to your bike, thus effecting your bike's handling -- in contrast to single-wheel trailers which suspend their loads between your bike and the trailer's wheel and the entire load leans with the bike.
Flatbed Bike Trailers
Flatbed trailers are the workhorses of bike trailers, with typical capacities nearing or exceeding 100 pounds. If you are looking to replace your car with something a bit more practical, this is the genre of trailer for you.
They are available with a solid bed or a fabric bed.
Flatbed trailers are very simple, by design, but there are some crucial differences to consider when choosing between models, the most obvious being what material the load bed is made of. Most use a wooden platform, usually incorporating either rails or holes for securing your load. Others utilize a very strong, fiber-reinforced fabric base. This makes for a lighter trailer, but generally isn't as versatile as those with a solid base, because you have to be somewhat selective about the cargo you put on a fabric base. For instance, you would want to carry a metal toolbox with sharp edges on a trailer with a solid platform.
Quick-release wheels are another popular feature of flatbed trailers, often incorporating wheelchair-style, push-button hubs that greatly enhance trailer storage.
Because you generally need to secure cargo onto the flatbed's platform, how the trailer accommodates tie-downs is important. Most models incorporate holes, hooks, or rails for you to secure bungees or straps. Versatile flatbed trailers will have a platform large enough to let you tie down a storage bin, increasing your carrying capacity and protecting your cargo. The most flexible even allow you to replace the cargo platform with a bin of your choosing.
Though most flatbed trailers are two-wheeled, there are a few single-wheeled exceptions. The Weber Monoporter
, for example, is a very solid, adaptable, single-wheeled trailer. Though its total capacity is less than its two-wheeled counterparts, because of the adverse effects single-wheeled trailers can have on bike handling, it is every bit as flexible, employing a proprietary clip system for attaching a dry bag, straps, or cargo rail. This multipurpose design brings flatbed flexibility to a trailer that is ready for singletrack.
No-Bed Trailers -- Chassis Only
Sometimes your two-wheeled vision can't be accommodated by the load beds that come with flatbed trailers. That's when you need one of the trailers that come as just a solidly-built chassis, and you build upon that platform.
The advantage to this -- as opposed to just building an entire DIY trailer from scratch, is that the trailer parts are easy to get wrong: The chassis, hitch, hitch-arm, etc. Starting with a well-designed chassis, you benefit from the trailer design experience of others, and often quality materials that can be hard to source on your own.
The Surly Bill
are examples of a high-strength design that can carry up to 300 pounds. Wandertec trailers are also available without a loadbed.
Internal Frame Enclosed Trailers
Enclosed bike trailers offer easy access to gear that is just as easily concealed and protected from the elements as it is from prying eyes -- like the trunk of a car.
The enclosed cargo compartment also provides easy organization for small items that would otherwise need to be tied down or placed in a secured container. Being able to merely toss your bike gear, tent, or sleeping bag, into the trailer makes for easy bike touring.
The first thing to consider when comparing enclosed trailers is whether or not your intended cargo will fit inside. Most enclosed trailers can be used occasionally with the cover removed or open, but knowing that your load can be covered is the whole point.
The covers themselves come in several flavors; some are waterproof, others water resistant. Specialty enclosed trailers have slightly different feature sets, like the Radical Designs Cyclone II, which is essentially a large duffle bag on wheels.
Because enclosed trailer typically feature a frame, to provide structure, they tend to be somewhat less collapsible than comparable flatbed-style trailers. If you are tight on storage space and need your trailer to fit into a tiny space, collapsibility is something to consider.
Some enclosed trailers have additional organizational features that enhance their versatility.
, Burley's hard-working enclosed trailer, has an optional cargo rack that mounts above the trailer frame, increasing capacity and freeing up space inside the trailer for items that may need protection by moving out items that may not. The Optima Quik-Pak also features external cords for additional storage outside the trailer compartment.
Whether your enclosed trailer is completely waterproof or not will be a major factor in how you pack it up. Generally, enclosed trailers offer some level of protection from the elements, but most are not completely waterproof.
Water can eventually penetrate saturated fabric panels and seep in through seams and gaps. If you need your cargo to be completely dry, items like sleeping bags, clothes, electronics, and food should be placed in drybags or likewise protected inside the trailer.
Cargo Trailer Accessories
So you have a bike trailer. That's a start.
To make a bike trailer truly usable for your lifestyle, you're probably going to need some accessories. A bike trailer is a utilitarian platform, as well as a vehicle for self-expression. Moving cargo or moving kids, no two bike trailer users are exactly alike. Your unique selection of accessories is what will make using your trailer integral to your routines as well as your adventures.
We're the bike trailer experts, so we know how to get the most enjoyment and the most utility out of your bike trailer
Tires, Tubes, and Boring Stuff
At the very least you will need new tires eventually. (It would be very disappointing if you didn't; that would mean you're not using your trailer.) If you are going on a tour, you'll need to carry some spare parts, locks and security cables, and possibly a travel case.
That's all necessary, but kind of boring. Boring is good when these accessories are reliable, durable, and available when you need them.
Carry More. Do More. Let Your Trailer Freak Flag Fly.
A trailer begins to show its utility and reflect your personality when you attach a water bottle and cage, a flag, a cargo liner, blinky lights for visibility, or even an English willow basket.