If you have a carbon fiber bike, then you’re probably wondering if pulling a bike trailer with a carbon bike will crack or damage the frame.
After all, a cracked carbon frame is not cheap to fix and very difficult to repair!
Should you risk damaging or cracking your carbon frame by attaching a bike trailer?
I also was concern about pulling a bike trailer with my carbon road bike, so I even asked Burley for their official recommendation on attaching a trailer to a carbon frame.
After pulling a bike trailer with two kids regularly for years with my carbon bike, there has been no damage to my frame.
The tension added by the bike trailer is not enough to crack or damage a carbon bike frame. According to Burley, a major bike trailer manufacturer, they state that they “have not had reports of damaging carbon fiber bike frames.” Carbon fiber bike frames are a lot stronger than is generally perceived.
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, keep reading!
Why it’s okay to pull a bike trailer with a carbon bike!
Carbon fiber frames are often seen as the gold standard for bike quality, especially for road bikes because of their lightweight material and sleek look.
But as a carbon frame owner, you will do everything you can to keep it from getting damaged or eventually cracked.
We’ve all heard stories of carbon frames cracking and being un-restorable.
Fortunately, carbon frames are a lot stronger than we think. In fact, they are stronger per pound than their aluminum counterparts.
I have personally been using my trusty Diamondback Podium carbon road bike as our go-to bike to pull my two kids in the bike trailer for the last 6+ years.
The axle of the rear wheel where the bike trailer arm attaches has absolutely no sign of damage or even coming close to cracking.
In fact, carbon road bikes are arguably the absolute best bike to use when pulling a bike trailer.
Why carbon bikes are actually the best bike to pull a bike trailer
Now that we’ve settled that it is in fact perfectly safe to pull a bike trailer with a carbon bike, now we’re going to delve into exactly why carbon road bikes are actually the best type of bike to pull a bike trailer.
I have used all sorts of bikes to pull my two kids around in bike trailers, from flimsy cruiser bikes, to hybrid bikes, to mountain bikes.
By far, the easiest and most comfortable bike to pull the bike trailer is my carbon road bike.
There are two reasons I choose to ride my carbon frame with the bike trailer. Both of these reasons have to do with the fact that pedaling with a bike trailer is a lot harder than just pedaling yourself. It’s not impossibly hard, but it will take some getting used to, which is exactly why a carbon road bike would be your best friend.
1. Carbon bikes are lightweight
Pulling a bike trailer with 40–100+ lbs of extra weight behind you is no small task. If you’re a roadie like me, then you’ll know that adding that much weight will require as much help from a lightweight bike that you can get.
Especially when climbing hills, a lightweight bike is ideal for getting to the top without your legs giving in. Seriously, pedaling a bike trailer full of two children and cargo up a hill will get your heart pumping!
The average weight of a carbon bike is under 15 lbs, which makes it easier to climb hills.
2. Road bikes transfer more power to your legs
The second reason carbon road bikes are the best type of bike for pulling a bike trailer actually has more to do with being a road bike than being a carbon bike.
The riding position that a road bike offers is better than other alternatives due to more power being transferred to the legs.
Because the saddle height is generally higher than alternative bike options (if your saddle is properly fitted), you are able to put down more power on the pedals while riding.
Have you ever seen people riding hybrid bikes or cruisers with their knees coming way up at the top of the pedal stroke? There’s so much energy being wasted! Simply because they are not able to put the entirety of their leg strength into each pedal stroke.
3. Carbon bikes are easier to handle
If you aren’t familiar with what it’s like to pull a bike trailer, trust me when I say that you will need a bike that handles well.
The added weight of the bike trailer behind you, as well as the complexity added when turning corners are two good reasons to use a carbon bike.
Of course, any road bike will do just fine, but a carbon bike frame adds additional stiffness to the handling that just makes it easier to get around corners, throw the bike around when you’re riding out of the saddle, and climb hills.
How to avoid cracking your carbon fiber bike
If you want to avoid cracking and tearing your carbon bike frame at all costs, then it’s important to know how carbon frames typically crack.
Yes, it’s true that carbon frames are designed to be very stiff and strong, while also maintaining the lightweight features that so many cyclists are after. However, the problem is that they’re designed for just that: riding well.
That means they are not designed to withstand a fatal crash.
If you do crash your carbon bike, there is a chance that the frame will crack somewhere on the frame. Since it’s pretty hard to notice a crack on a carbon frame, it’s important to do a proper inspection after crashing.
If the worst has indeed come to worse and you’ve identified a crack, you can expect that it will slowly get larger as you put pressure on it from riding. Over time, the crack can turn into a tear and then eventually the frame will snap.
It is crucial to address a cracked carbon frame as soon as possible to remedy the situation before it gets worse. You can compare a cracked carbon frame to a cavity in your tooth. Better to get it fixed before the root canal!
The good news is that the process of cracking, tearing, and snapping will occur gradually, so there is no need to worry about the frame breaking suddenly. You will have time to fix it.
Common issues with attaching a bike trailer to carbon bikes
The only issue that you may face when attaching any bike trailer to a carbon bike is if you have disc brakes.
Most bike trailers on the market are compatible with disc brake bikes right out of the box, unless you have a 12mm thru-axle. In that case, you will need to purchase an extra attachment in order to adapt the bike trailer hitch to work with a 12mm thru-axle.
If you have disc brakes, be sure to read the article on Bike Trailers & Disc Brakes.
Conclusion on Carbon Bikes
What started with a question about whether it’s possible to actually pull a bike trailer with a carbon bike, turned into an argumentative analysis stating that carbon road bikes are, in fact, the ideal type of bike to pull a bike trailer.
Need 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.