The Best Type of Bike to Pull a Bike Trailer: A Definitive Answer

The type of bike you use to pull a bike trailer makes a big difference in your riding experience. Not to mention that you’ll be pulling 40+ lbs of extra weight behind you!

But what’s the best bike to pull a bike trailer?

I’ve pulled many bike trailers to all types of bikes over the years since my kids were babies, including a beach cruiser, hybrid bike, mountain bike, road bike, and disc brake bike. This article covers everything I’ve learned about the pros and cons of using the different types of bikes, and why road bikes are the best for pulling a bike trailer.

A road bike is the best type of bike to pull a bike trailer because the riding position allows the rider to transfer more power to the legs. In addition to the added power, the lightweight frame and aerodynamic position of a road bike also make pulling a 40+ lbs bike trailer much easier.

Four reasons a road bike is best

To come to the conclusion that road bikes are the best bike to tow a bike trailer, let’s first take a look at what features would comprise the ideal bike for pulling around 40 to 100 lbs of extra weight (trailer + cargo + kids).

Considering that riding with the added weight of the bike trailer and cargo is significantly harder than just riding by yourself, it’s important to consider the qualities of a bike that would make the riding easier for the rider.

The ideal bike would have these qualities:

  1. Lightweight frame
  2. Aerodynamic riding position and frame
  3. Transfers the most amount of power to the legs
  4. Quick and easy gear shifting

Road bikes check all the boxes for the ideal bike for towing a heavy bike trailer.

Let’s dive into each of these qualities one at a time.

Here’s a helpful table with pros and cons for different types of bikes.

Road bike✅ (19 lbs)
Mountain bike❌ (29 lbs)
Cruiser❌ (40 lbs)
E-bike❌ (45-50 lbs)
Hybrid bike✅ (24–28 lbs)

1. Lightweight frame

Road bikes are the most lightweight bike available. The average road bike weighs around 18 lbs (8.1 kg), which is significantly lighter than other bikes. For instance, mountain bikes weigh 29 lbs (13.5 kg) on average and cruisers weigh 40 lbs (18.1 kg).

When it comes to pulling a bike trailer, the lighter the better. Pulling an additional 40 to 100 lbs of weight (the bike trailer plus one or two children) is significantly more difficult than pulling just yourself.

You might think that the difference in weight doesn’t matter so much, which is a valid point. In the end, the difficulty of pulling a bike trailer will decrease over time as you become stronger and follow a few riding tips to make it easier.

But if you have the option to choose which type of bike to use, a lightweight road bike is definitely preferred and recommended.

2. Aerodynamic riding position and frame

Wind resistance is one of the greatest factors that adds difficulty to riding a bike. Road bikes offer the optimal riding position for being aerodynamic because the frame brings the rider’s body to a lower and flatter position. Additionally, the road bike frame itself is commonly designed to add more aerodynamics.

Other bikes, such as mountain bikes, cruisers, and hybrids, are designed to have the rider seated upright, which invites more air resistance while riding.

3. Transfers the most amount of power to the legs

Road bikes position the rider’s legs in a way that transfers the most amount of strength to the legs. This is the most significant advantage of using a road bike.

Have you ever seen someone riding with their seat too low and their knees coming up high to their chest while they pedal? The reason that riding position is so inefficient is that it does not allow the rider’s legs to fully press down on each pedal stroke. It’s like running on sand! It’s like trying to throw a ball with just your wrist, without using your entire arm.

The only way to get the full strength from your legs is to be leaned forward slightly and have your seat high enough to allow your legs to almost extend fully on every pedal stroke. That’s exactly what a road bike offers. It’s free power!

Here’s a helpful video on getting your seat height perfect.

4. Quick and easy gear shifting

The last thing that the ideal bike would need is easy shifting. When pulling a 40+ lbs bike trailer behind, you’ll find that it’s essential to be able to switch between gears with ease. It’s especially important to have instant access to shifting gears right before climbing a hill, when accelerating after stopping, and when going on long rides.

In terms of which bike has the most gears available, mountain bikes obviously have a wider choice of gears. However, mountain bikes are much heavier than road bikes (about 11 lbs heavier) and they also don’t offer the same aerodynamic benefits that road bikes have.

Concerns with using a road bike

Many riders have concerns when riding on road bikes in general, such as the more aggressive riding position and the strange-looking shifters. I had the same concerns when I bought my first road bike. In fact, I had no idea how the shifters even worked!

But after just one ride on a road bike, you will quickly get used to it and immediately notice how much faster and harder you can ride with minimal effort compared to other types of bikes.

Another concern that people have is that road bikes are expensive. Road bikes can be expensive if you buy the top-of-the-line model. But the same can be said for mountain bikes. You don’t need to get one of those high-end road bikes that you see in the Tour de France. All it takes is a used road bike from Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or a local garage sale. You’d be surprised how many used bikes are being passed around.

Read the tips below on how to ride safely with a road bike.

Pros and cons of pulling a bike trailer with different bikes

To get a definitive answer as to why road bikes are the preferred option to pull a bike trailer, let’s take a hard look at the main pros and cons of using the other types of bikes available.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons, with detailed explanations below the table.

Road bike– Lightweight
– Aerodynamic
– Power transfer
– Takes getting used to
Mountain bike– Ideal for rough terrains– Heavy
– Disc brakes and trailer incompatibility
Cruiser bike– Comfortable– Limited gears
– Heavy
– Low seat
E-bike– Pedal assistance– Heavy
– Danger from high speed
– Disc brakes and trailer incompatibility
Hybrid bike– Comfortable
– Lightweight
– Not as optimal as road bike

Mountain bike pros and cons

A mountain bike may seem like a good companion to pull a bike trailer, but unless you’re riding on rough terrain, it’ll just make it more difficult.


  • Ideal for rough terrains, such as mountain riding or gravel
  • Comfortable upright riding position


  • Disc brakes may require adapters to connect the trailer (see here for details)
  • Heavy frame makes it more difficult to pull the trailer

Cruiser pros and cons

Many people like beach cruisers because of their convenience and comfort, but there are some disadvantages to cruisers.


  • Comfortable upright riding position


  • No gears (or limited gear options)
  • Seat is low and does not offer optimal power to legs
  • Heavy frame makes it more difficult to pull the trailer

E-bike pros and cons

E-bikes seem like the ideal bike for pulling a bike trailer. They’re powerful, sturdy, and fun. But there are a few reasons not to use an e-bike.


  • Pedal assistance while riding


  • Danger of high speeds and losing control
  • Reduced exercise and over-reliance on pedal assistance
  • Disc brakes may require adapters to connect the trailer (see here for details)
  • Illegal in some areas

Hybrid bike pros and cons

Hybrid bikes try to offer the best of all the different types of bikes, with an emphasis on casual riding. A hybrid bike is my second choice after the road bike when towing my kids in a bike trailer.

However, generally speaking, hybrid bikes are not as optimized for pulling a bike trailer as road bikes are. Hybrids have a more upright riding position, which does not allow for as much power transfer as a road bike. In addition, hybrid bikes are generally heavier than road bikes.


  • Comfortable flat handlebar
  • Lightweight frame (lighter than mountain bikes)
  • Upright riding position


  • Not as light as road bikes, generally
  • Riding position not as optimal as road bikes

Carbon bike frames: will it crack?

Carbon fiber bike frames are a lot stronger than is generally perceived. The tension added by the bike trailer is not enough to crack or damage a carbon bike frame.

In fact, carbon bikes are even preferable when pulling a bike trailer due to being extra lightweight and stiff.

I contacted Burley directly to ask for their official recommendation about attaching their bike trailers to carbon bikes. They responded kindly with this response:

“Our child trailers have not had reports of damaging carbon fiber bike frames.”

I have also not had any issues attaching bike trailers to my carbon road bike for years.

To find out exactly why a carbon bike frame is actually ideal for pulling a bike trailer, read this article.

Three tips to effectively pull a bike trailer with a road bike

If you’re an avid cyclist (roadie) or somewhat comfortable with riding a road bike, then you will love pulling a bike trailer.

Road bikes are my first choice when I take the kids out, primarily because of the added power that the riding position transfers to your legs. With all that extra weight I’m pulling around, any extra power to the legs is welcome! 

Some people are afraid to ride a road bike because of unfamiliarity and the fear of falling off. If that’s you, then keep reading!

Here’s how to pull a bike trailer with a road bike:

1. Optimize your seat height to give your legs more power

Power is king when pulling a bike trailer. Unfortunately, so many people are missing out on some serious power from their legs simply because their bike seat is just too low.

The reason their seat is so low is usually out of fear of being high off the ground and falling off the bike. But when pulling a bike trailer, it is absolutely worth it to properly set up your bike seat for maximum power! 

Riding with a low bike seat is like jogging in sand.

Here’s a helpful video on how to get a perfect bike fit!

2. Watch out for these bikes that might not work with a bike trailer

Bike trailer companies do a pretty good job at providing manuals to help riders figure out if their bike is compatible with a bike trailer.

The good news about road bikes is that most are compatible with any bike trailer. In most cases, you’ll be able to easily attach your new bike trailer right out of the box, with all accessories included.

Specifically, if your bike’s rear wheel has a standard quick-release (skewer that goes through the center of the wheel), then most trailers will attach easily to your road bike.

Some types of bikes, however, may require a simple adapter in order to attach the trailer. Typically, bikes that have thru-axle wheels or hooded-style dropouts may require an adapter attachment. 

If you have disc brakes, be sure to read the article on Bike Trailers & Disc Brakes.

3. Avoid falling over on your road bike

What happens to the bike trailer if you fall over on a road bike? Because the riding position on a road bike puts the rider higher off the ground, one of the fears some people have about road bikes is the potential of falling over.

With that said, if you’re not yet comfortable with riding a road bike, then spend a few days riding on your own to get used to the feel before pulling a bike trailer.

We always recommend that riders get familiar with the terrain and any new equipment before involving a child and bike trailer. 

What happens if I do fall over?

One benefit of using a bike trailer is that if your bike falls over or you crash your bike, the incident will most likely have very little impact on the child.

Bike trailers attach to the bike using a flexible connection system that allows the bike to fall over without bringing down the bike trailer.

In the unlikely scenario that the bike trailer does roll over, trailers are designed with a canopy-like cage that protects the passengers from coming in contact with the ground. 

My recommended bike trailer: Schwinn Joyrider

My recommended trailer for most people is the Swhinn Joyrider, which is an affordable double-seater that converts beautifully to a stroller. Check out my full review with photos here.

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Buying a Bike Trailer for more help with choosing a trailer. I also have compiled a list of the top bike trailers for every common situation, which you can check out here.

Ride on!

Benjy Suzaki

Hi, I'm Benjy Suzaki and I love cycling with my kids. Biking has been a big part of our family life ever since I decided to bike everywhere instead of drive, including to my job in NYC from New Jersey. is all about how to make biking a priority in your daily life through bike commuting, bike maintenance, and riding with kids.

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