The joys of biking are not reserved for only the able-bodied. Feeling the wind in your hair and the bumps of the road is a sensation that everyone should experience, regardless of age, size, or physical abilities.
Fortunately, the joys of riding a bike can absolutely be felt by individuals with special needs through the power of bike trailers.
If you’re a parent or a loved one of someone with special needs, then a bike trailer just might be the perfect solution. You will be happy to know that bike trailers are a safe, fun, and innovative way for children with special needs to get around by bike, regardless of their physical abilities.
Can children with special needs ride in a bike trailer?
For children with special needs who weigh under 100 lbs (or 45 kg), a standard bike trailer for kids can be used. For children who weigh 100–150 lbs (45–68 kg), a dedicated bike trailer for special needs will be needed. It is perfectly safe and feasible for an individual with special needs to ride in a bike trailer.
If you want to know how to ride safely and enjoyably with your loved one, then keep reading!
What is the weight limit for bike trailers?
Bike trailers can hold an impressive amount of weight, which makes them one of the most desirable ways to get around with a child. Particularly for a child with special needs, it is crucial that the bike trailer has a weight capacity high enough to safely hold the child.
Here are the weight limits of 7 popular bike trailers:
|Schwinn Trailblazer||40 lbs||Single||Around $135 (check price on Amazon)|
|Burley Bee||80 lbs||Double||Around $300 (check price on Amazon)|
|Schwinn Joyrider||100 lbs||Double||Around $360 (check price on Amazon)|
|Burley Honey Bee||100 lbs||Double||Around $400 (check price on Amazon)|
|Thule Coaster XT||100 lbs||Double||Around $430 (check price on Amazon)|
|Burley D’Lite X||100 lbs||Double||Around $850 (check price on Amazon)|
|Wike Special Needs Bike Trailer||125-150 lbs||Single||Around $760 for Large, $900 for Extra Large (check prices for Large and Extra Large)|
Is it safe for a special needs child to ride in a bike trailer?
Bike trailers offer a protective cage and harness seat belts that help protect a child in the event of a crash. In comparison to alternative options, such as bike-mounted child seats, bike trailers are the safest way to ride together with a child.
By following some basic safety tips and your own common sense, bike trailers can be much safer than alternative options, such as bike-mounted child seats.
I wrote an in-depth article on the safety and risk factors of bike trailers, which you can check out here.
What happens if I crash or my bike falls 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.
Below we will outline five ways to make biking with your child even safer.
Five tips to safely ride with a special needs child in a bike trailer
Here are five main ways to make sure you’re pulling your precious cargo safely.
1. Practice without the child first
Pulling a bike trailer is surprisingly easier than you would imagine. Sometimes it almost doesn’t feel like you’re pulling anything (except when climbing hills!).
However, it will take a few rides to get used to pulling a bike trailer behind you. Especially when turning corners and mounting sidewalks, you will have to be mindful of how much wider the trailer is than your bike. It sounds hard, but it’s really easy once you get used to it.
2. Travel a low speeds under 10 mph (16 kph)
Regardless of the age or size of the child, it is always recommended to keep speeds under 10 mph (or 16 kph) to reduce the risk of losing control. (Good luck going any faster than that anyway 🙂). Kidding aside, riding at lower speeds will give you more control over steering the trailer and also braking when needed. In addition, riding fast may cause more bumping up and down for your baby, especially on rough terrain.
3. Ride on sidewalks and bike paths only
I do not recommend taking a bike trailer on the road, simply because it is harder for cars to see the trailer due to the fact that it is much closer to the ground. Being visible is key to riding safely with a bike trailer. Not to mention, the trailer is much wider than your bike, so it will put you closer to the center of the road.
4. Ride on smooth surfaces
Riding on a smooth surface without much gravel will give you better control over steering your bike and the bike trailer.
5. Use flashing lights and a flag
One of the potential dangers of biking, in general, is cars and other riders not seeing you. This is even more important when riding with a child because bike trailers are closer to the ground and a driver might not see it. It is always good practice to ride with flashing lights on your bike, as well as on the bike trailer (even during the day). The other recommendation to ensure visibility is to mount a flag to the trailer that will put the trailer in the eye line of drivers. Some bike trailers come with flags to help with visibility.
If you follow these five simple recommendations, then riding in a bike trailer is arguably safer than riding in a car because of the low speed and added control.
How hard is it to pull a bike trailer?
Your next question becomes how difficult it is to pull a bike trailer. This is probably the biggest mental block riders have when considering pulling a bike trailer.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that it’s actually not as challenging as you might initially think (I promise!). You don’t need to be an experienced cyclist or be in excellent shape to pull a bike trailer. Yes, pulling 40+ extra pounds of weight behind you can be significantly more difficult, but you will only really notice it when you’re climbing a hill or riding for a long period of time. The good news is that the difficulty of pulling a trailer will decrease over time as you become stronger and follow some simple riding tips.
What to look for in a bike trailer for special needs
According to parents of children with special needs, it is recommended that your bike trailer has the following:
- High weight limit
- Stroller conversion
- Five-point harness
- Suspension (nice to have, but not needed)
Top 5 best bike trailers for special needs children
The following five trailers are all good-quality trailers that have large interior space, can convert to a stroller, and have a high weight limit.
If you’re on a budget, I would recommend the Schwinn Joyrider. It has high-quality features, large interior space, and a high weight limit of 100 lbs (45 kg).
|BIKE TRAILER||WEIGHT LIMIT||PRICE||STROLLER||PROS||CONS|
|1. Schwinn Joyrider||100 lbs (43 kg)||$350 (check on Amazon)||Yes||– Affordable|
– Protective cage
– Stroller conversion
– Heavy (40 lbs)
|2. Burley Honey Bee||100 lbs (43 kg)||$400 (check on Amazon)||Yes||– Affordable for a Burley trailer|
– Stroller conversion
– Large 20-inch wheels
|– Front wheel attaches to hitch arm|
– Folding up is not easy
|3. Thule Chariot Lite||100 lbs (43 kg)||$1,000 for Double (check on Amazon) and $900 for Single (check on Amazon)||Yes||– Highest-quality materials|
– Double front wheels
– Lots of storage
– Complicated to assemble
|4. Burley D’Lite X||100 lbs (43 kg)||$750 for Single (check on Amazon), $850 for Double (check on Amazon)||Yes||– Stroller conversion|
– Comfortable seats
– Folding up is not easy
– Seats do not recline much
|5. Wike Special Needs Bike Trailer||125 lbs for Large, 150 lbs for Extra Large||$760 for Large, $900 for Extra Large (check prices for Large and Extra Large)||Yes||– Highest weight limit|
– Highest height limit
– Cumbersome to purchase
Price: Around $360 (check on Amazon)
Stroller Conversion: Yes
Weight Limit: 100 lbs (43 kg)
The Schwinn Joyrider is a steal of a deal at only around $350 for a double-seated trailer that converts seamlessly to an excellent stroller. It has high-end features, such as stroller conversion out of the box, a solid protective cage, large 20-inch wheels for extra smoothness, and large interior space. You get all of that without breaking the bank at just around $350!
I personally have been using the Joyrider the longest out of all the trailers we have, and I still stand by it as the best bang-for-buck bike trailer on the market!
Note: The Amazon description page mistakenly labels this trailer as a “1 Seat” trailer, but that is incorrect. It is in fact a “2 Seat” trailer.
- Affordable—A low price point for high-quality features
- Protective cage—Added peace of mind
- Stroller conversion—Converts seamlessly to a comfortable stroller
- Wide—The frame is slightly wider than average double-seat trailers
- Heavy—On the heavier side of trailers weights (40 lbs)
Price: Around $400 (check on Amazon)
Stroller conversion: Yes
Weight limit: 100 lbs (45 kg)
If you’re looking for a Burley trailer for a good price that comes with stroller conversion, then the Honey Bee is the cheapest stroller-convertible bike trailer that Burley offers.
The Honey Bee comes with all the features you would expect from Burley, like sturdy lightweight frame, large interior space, and those large 20-inch wheels.
Although a high-quality trailer for a good price, I would still recommend the Schwinn Joyrider over the Honey Bee because of the lower price and the more sturdy protective cage that the Joyrider offers.
- Affordable for a Burley trailer—it’s the cheapest stroller-convertible trailer that Burley sells
- Stroller conversion—a nice touch for this price range
- Large 20-inch wheels—Burley has really solid wheels
- Front wheel attaches to hitch arm—can make it difficult to handle while strolling
- Folding up is not easy—expected on a non-stroller trailer
Best for active families who want the most out of their bike trailer, the Thule Chariot Lite is a top-of-the-line quality trailer that is worth every penny. Its large wheels and suspension feature make it a great option for gravel riding or mountain riding.
Although on the higher end of the price spectrum, the Chariot Lite is actually a few hundred dollars cheaper than its older brother, the Thule Chariot Cross. For that reason, the Chariot Lite makes the list of exceptional trailers and I would recommend it to someone looking for a trailer that can take a beating.
But why would anyone swing for such a pricey bike trailer?
The Chariot Lite comes with suspension, which adds extra comfort to your child on rough terrain. If you plan on any gravel or mountain rides, then this trailer is ideal for your type of riding.
But if you’re just planning on recreational riding, then the Schwinn Joyrider does many of the same things for more than half the price.
- Highest-quality materials—Truly the best components on the market
- Suspension—Added comfort on rough terrain
- Double front wheels—Makes for an excellent stroller
- Lots of storage—It even comes with a pannier bag attached to the back
- Cost—It’s a top-of-the-line bike trailer and has suspension
- Complicated to assemble—It comes with a lot of attachments that are hard to understand at first
The Burley D’Lite X is a high-end bike trailer designed for all types of riding. From gravel riding to mountain riding to strolling, this trailer can do it all.
You can tell that Burley put a lot of thought into the comfort of this bike trailer, from the incredibly comfortable seat to the rare suspension for added comfort.
Both the single and double versions of the D’Lite X come with a sturdy bench-style seat that has an excellent five-point harness and headrest. It is rather rare to find a seat of this quality and comfort.
The D’Lite X seats also recline, which is a notable feature not found on cheaper trailers. However, the seats do not recline very far, so it’s a bit unfortunate.
Suspension for added comfort
Not many bike trailers come equipped with suspension. If you plan to do any type of gravel or mountain riding with your bike trailer, then a trailer with suspension is highly recommended. The suspension is located under the wheels to add comfort when riding over rough terrains.
- Stroller conversion—an excellent stroller with large wheels
- Comfortable seats—for added comfort
- Suspension—for an extra smooth ride
- Pricey—a high-end trailer
- Folding up is not easy—expected on a non-stroller trailer
- Seats do not recline much—a nice feature to have, but the seats do not go very far back
Wicycle has bike trailers designed with larger children in mind. Their Special Needs Bike Trailers can accommodate individuals up to 5 foot 4 inches and 125 lbs with their Large Bike Trailer, and put o 5 foot 10 inches and 150 lbs with their Extra Large Bike Trailer.
This bike trailer can accommodate children up to 64 inches tall (162 cm).
- Highest weight limit—most bike trailers can only hold up to 100 lbs max
- Highest height limit—it can hold someone over 5 feet tall!
- Expensive—it’s a high-quality trailer
- Cumbersome to purchase—for some people
Here’s a video of the Wike Special Needs trailer in use.
If you’ve ever felt the desire to take a loved one with special needs out on a bike ride, then a bike trailer is the way to go. They are very safe, super fun, and not as difficult to pull as one might think.
The only thing I would watch out for is to make sure your bike trailer can convert to a stroller, which will help you get from one place to the next. Also, be sure to check the trailer’s weight limit. Bike trailers are able to hold a surprising amount of weight, but it’s always good to make sure before making a purchase.
Nee help finding the right bike trailer?
If you need help finding the right bike trailer for you, 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.