Figuring out what type of bicycle to pull your bike trailer with can be confusing, with all the different types of bikes and ways that bike trailers can attach.
What about road bikes? Is it a good idea to pull a bike trailer with a road bike?
In this article, we’ll outline exactly what you can expect when attaching a bike trailer to your road bike, as well as some helpful tips to make it enjoyable.
Can you pull a bike trailer with a road bike?
A road bike is perfectly suitable to attach and pull a bike trailer. A road bike is even preferable to pull a bike trailer due to the lightweight frame, aerodynamic riding position, and added power transferred to the legs. Road bikes with disc brakes may require an adapter in order to attach the trailer.
To find out why pulling a bike trailer with a road bike is a good idea and how to do it effectively, keep reading!
4 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. Don’t pull with a carbon frame
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.
In most cases, carbon fiber is a great option for a road bike, but pulling a bike trailer with one might not be a good idea. The added tension that is hitched to the bike trailer may cause the frame to crack at the axle of a carbon fiber bike. And when carbon frames crack, they are very difficult and expensive to repair.
So if you have a carbon frame that you don’t mind risking a crack, then by all means try it out! Otherwise, I would steer clear of risking an expensive carbon frame cracking and being ruined for good.
4. 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.
Should you wear cycling shoes (clipless pedals) while pulling a bike trailer?
If you’re not entirely comfortable using clipless pedals (for cycling shoes), then I would not recommend using them when riding with a bike trailer.
Dismounting the bike with clipless pedals can lead to falling over if you are new to using them. The benefits of using cycling-specific shoes on a road bike are not very significant when pulling 40+ extra pounds of weight behind you.
Conclusion on Road Bikes
If you can get your hands on a solid road bike (that isn’t carbon fiber) to pull your bike trailer, then I absolutely recommend it. Just be sure that you are comfortable with riding a road bike around your area.
Take a few days to get used to riding before taking out the trailer and precious cargo. Keep in mind that the riding position and the handlebar steering will be very different from other types of bikes. In the unlikely event that you do fall over or crash on your road bike while pulling the bike trailer, it will probably not have much of an impact on the trailer or child inside.
At the end of the day, whatever is safe and enjoyable for you is probably the best option for you. If you’re not comfortable on a road bike, then don’t sweat it! Getting outdoors safely with a bike and the kids is by far more important than anything else.
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.