Buying a bike trailer can be overwhelming. With all the options, attachments, price ranges, and features, it’s hard to know where to start—I know, I’ve been there!
Here’s everything you need to know before buying a bike trailer, as well as my top 5 recommended bike trailers for different situations.
The best bike trailer for most people will cost $300–$500, have a weight capacity of at least 75 lbs (34 kg), and have 20-inch wheels. Bike trailers range in price from $100 to $1000, but the sweet spot is around $300–$500 for the best bang-for-buck trailer.
Here are five critical things to look for when purchasing a bike trailer:
1. Cost & Affordability: $300–$500
Cost is the most important factor for many people. Bike trailers can cost from $100 to $1,000, and everywhere in between, which is rather confusing at first.
Aren’t all bike trailers the same more or less? Nope, not all trailers are created equal.
The cost of a bike trailer varies depending on several factors, including safety features, frame materials, seat capacity (single or double), and stroller conversion capabilities.
If you’re new to bike trailers and just want to get started, it might be tempting to go for a $100 budget bike trailer. And that might be the best option for you, but your budget and how you plan to use the trailer will benefit more by spending $300–$490 for an entry-level bike trailer. My favorite trailer to recommend is the Schwinn Joyrider (full review here).
As you climb the price ladder, you get better features and quality.
For a budget trailer, you typically won’t get a stroller conversion kit, and you get lower-quality covers that are cumbersome to remove, as well as smaller wheels.
For an entry-level trailer, you’ll find stroller conversion and a canopy cover with better safety features.
For a mid-range trailer, you start to see very high-quality materials and durability for an affordable price, as well as stroller conversion and solid safety features.
And at the highest-end, you get the bells and whistles, with suspension on the trailer for rough terrains, ultimate comfort, and unparalleled quality.
2. Weight Limit: At least 75 lbs (34 kg)
Bike trailers can hold an impressive amount of weight, which makes them one of the most desirable ways to get around with a child or pet. Especially when riding with a child in a bike trailer, it is crucial that the bike trailer has a weight capacity high enough to safely hold the child.
Depending on the durability and brand of the bike trailer, they can hold from 40 lbs on the lower end to 150 lbs on the highest end. Double-seated bike trailers are designed to carry more weight, so they may be preferable for growing families.
For a child to ride in a bike trailer pulled by an adult, the industry-wide recommendation is to wait until the child is at least one year old.
Although every child develops at a different rate, it is recommended that a child be able to sit upright on their own while wearing a bicycle helmet. This ensures that the child has enough body strength to enjoy a ride in the bike trailer without bouncing back and forth too much.
Regardless, it is generally recommended to not ride aggressively on rough roads or at speeds above 10 mph (or 16 kph).
With that said, there are some cyclists who start bringing their child along for the ride at around 6 months old or earlier! Depending on their physical development, this is entirely plausible. Ride at your own risk!
For a detailed explanation about age limits for bike trailers, read: How Old Should a Child Be to Ride in a Bike Trailer?
To learn how to ride safely with an infant, read: Can an Infant Ride in a Bike Trailer? Top 5 Bike Trailers for Infants
3. Safety Features: Five-point harness
There are two primary safety features that are important to look for in a bike trailer: (1) the hardness and (2) the cover.
A five-point harness is a standard safety feature of almost all bike trailers, even the cheapest trailers. It’s just important to make sure that the harness will fit your child by checking the weight limit of the trailer (which is typically 40 lbs per child).
If your child is under the weight limit and under 6 years of age, the harness should fit comfortably without a problem.
The second safety feature to look for in a bike trailer is the cover. On the lower end of bike trailers, it is common to have a mesh/plastic cover that just flaps over the front of the trailer to enclose the child. These canopy-style covers are not ideal for safety reasons, particularly in the event of an incident. However, they are more lightweight and usually offer better airflow through the trailer. They are also a bit more tedious to attach and detach when a child is mounting the bike trailer.
On mid to high-end bike trailers, the covers offer more protection and usability. The covers are more like cages and can easily be pulled up or down to allow for a child to mount the trailer.
A final note regarding safety features: bike trailer manufactures make it a priority to make their products safe. As long as you are following basic safety precautions, then you will rarely have safety concerns. Ride on sidewalks and paths, ride at speeds under 10 mph, and put on some flashing lights.
4. Wheels: 20 inches (not 16 inches)
Bike trailer wheels typically come in two sizes: 16 inches and 20 inches.
The gold standard for bike trailer wheels is 20 inches, which offers smoother rolling over bumps and rough terrain. 20-inch wheels also make for an excellent stroller experience.
You will typically find 20-inch wheels on mid-range bike trailers and up, but don’t be surprised if you find them on an entry-level trailer like the Schwinn Joyrider. If you can, aim to find a bike trailer that has 20-inch spoke wheels.
On the lower end of wheel quality, you will find 16-inch wheels that are sometimes plastic, like with the Instep bike trailers. But the incredible affordability of that particular trailer (just around $120) may be enough to make you want that model if you’re just looking for an occasional rider.
Making sure that your bike is compatible with a bike trailer is one of the first considerations to make when shopping for a trailer to pull your precious cargo. Most bikes are compatible with all major bike trailers for kids.
Bike trailers either attach to the axle of the rear wheel or to your bike’s seat post.
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 bike.
Some types of bikes, however, may require a simple adapter in order to attach the trailer. Typically, disc brake bikes that have 12mm thru-axle wheels or hooded-style dropouts may require an adapter.
If you have disc brakes on your bike, be sure to read my guide on attaching a bike trailer to disc brakes.
If you’re not sure about how a bike trailer might attach to your bike, I’ve created a helpful guide, which you can check out here.
What other owners say you should look for in a bike trailer
According to polls I’ve done in online forums, there are a few important things that they say you should look for when choosing a bike trailer:
Top 5 best bike trailers for kids
|TRAILER NAME||BEST TRAILER FOR||PRICE||BEST FOR PARENTS LOOKING FOR||SEATS||MAIN PRO||MAIN CON|
|1. Schwinn Joyrider||Best affordable double-seat trailer & stroller||$490 (check on Amazon)||A good-quality double-seat trailer/stroller on a budget||Double||Affordable and converts to an excellent stroller||Large frame|
|2. Thule Chariot Lite||Best overall||$900–$1,000 (check on Amazon)||The overall best double or single-seat bike trailer for quality and usability||Double or Single||Everything: Usability, convenience, and quality||High ticket price|
|3. Burley Bee||Best minimalist trailer-only||$300 (check on Amazon)||A high-quality trailer for frequent use for a good price||Double or Single||High-quality lightweight double-seater for a killer price||Doesn’t convert to stroller|
|4. Schwinn Trailblazer||Best budget trailer||$130–$230 (check on Amazon)||An entry-level trailer for occasional use that gets the job done||Double or Single||Affordable||Quality is not the best for the price point|
|5. Burley Minnow||Best single trailer||$280 (check on Amazon)||An affordable single-seat trailer-only with high-quality materials||Single||Affordable single-seat trailer||Does not confer to stroller|
This list of is based on years of experience using many different bike trailers and teaching others how to get started riding with trailers.
Here are the best bang-for-buck bike trailers on the market for different situations. Be sure to also check out the Ultimate Guide to Buying a Bike Trailer.
1. Schwinn Joyrider
Best affordable double-seat trailer & stroller
Price: Around $490 (check on Amazon)
Stroller Conversion: Yes
Weight Limit: 100 lbs (43 kg)
Best for: Parents looking for a good-quality double-seat trailer/stroller on a budget.
The Schwinn Joyrider is a steal of a deal at only around $490 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 $490!
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.
Best Features: The protective cage, smooth stroller, and durability for a good price.
Not only does the cage look like something out of a sci-fi movie, it actually functions as a very sturdy protective cage. In the unlikely event that you crash or the trailer falls over, you can be comforted to know that the cage will help protect your precious cargo.
- 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)
Schwinn Joyrider Summary
The Schwinn Joyrider is the trailer we usually grab when heading out the door, simply because of its large interior and sturdiness. It’s comfortable for the kids and it’s a breeze to pull.
The only drawback to consider is that it’s a bit heavier than the other trailers on this list (40 lbs), so you’ll just have to ride around and get used to it.
2. Thule Chariot Lite
Best overall bike trailer & stroller
Best for: Parents looking for the overall best double or single-seat bike trailer for quality and usability.
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 Lite. 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.
Stroller Conversion: Smoothest stroller on the market
The Chariot Lite is known for its excellent handling as the all-around best stroller/trailer/jogger hybrid machine. As a stroller, this trailer has the added benefit of not being super wide, so it’s much more manageable to push indoors, as well as outdoors.
It even has an option to convert to jogger or skier (if you’re in that), but those conversion kits are sold separately.
Best Features: This thing is made for rough terrain!
The suspension on the Chariot Lite really stands out above the rest. With suspensions that can actually be adjusted to make the ride smoother on rough roads or while hitting the mountains.
Also, the Chariot Lite has reclinable seats. Not many bike trailers have seats that recline for extra comfort for children. Don’t be surprised if your kids get too comfy and fall asleep every time you go out 🙂
- 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
Thule Chariot Lite Summary
If you have the budget to swing for the best of the best in comfort, usability, and versatility, then you will LOVE the Thule Chariot Lite. Parents who are a bit experienced in using bike trailers and prefer to have a trailer that can handle mountainous terrains tend to enjoy the Chariot Lite the most.
3. Burley Bee
Best Minimalist Trailer
- No stroller conversion—It’s a minimalist, lightweight trailer
Burley Bee Summary
If you’re looking for a trailer for an entry-level price for semi-frequent use, then I would recommend the Burley Bee above other budget trailers. The quality of the Bee stands out above other budget trailers in its price range that just don’t deliver the smoothness and durability of this trailer.
4. Schwinn Trailblazer
Best budget trailer
Best for: Parents looking for an entry-level trailer for occasional use that gets the job done.
For budget-minded families that also want a bike trailer with great reviews, the Schwinn Trailblazer is hard to beat at under $150! There are two other noteworthy trailers that are in the same price range as the Trailblazer: the Instep and the Allen Sports Deluxe.
The reason I would recommend the Schwinn Trailblazer over those two options is simply because of the quality. They just don’t have the same level of durability and safety features that the Trailblazer offers.
Stroller Conversion: Yes and No
It’s a bit confusing, but the Schwinn Trailblazer actually comes in two different models: the single-seat trailer does not convert to a stroller, whereas the double-seat trailer does convert to a stroller.
However, the double-seat trailer seems to fluctuate in price drastically and is sometimes way more expensive than the single-seat trailer. If the price for the double-seater is too high, then it does not justify the quality of the trailer. I would instead go for a better double-seater, like the Schwinn Joyrider.
For that reason, if you are looking for a double-seat budget trailer in a similar price range, then I would recommend the Instep Sync (Double). There are some cons to the Instep Sync, but it’s a functioning bike trailer and gets the job done at a very affordable price!
Best Features: A decent-quality, nice-looking bike trailer for a killer price.
- Acceptable quality—for a budget trailer
- Double and single seats available—few trailers give both options
- Stroller conversion available—only on the double version
- Lower quality materials—budget trailer
- No stroller conversion—on the single-seater
Schwinn Trailblazer Summary
I fully understand the need to have a budget, and buying a bike trailer can be quite an investment. That’s why I would recommend this trailer to budget-minded families.
You don’t really need the high-end models to have an enjoyable and healthy outing with the family. All you need is a bike trailer that gets the job done, and the Schwinn Trailblazer does just that.
5. Burley Minnow
Best Single Trailer
Price: Around $280 (check on Amazon)
Stroller Conversion: No
Weight Limit: 75 lbs (34 kg)
Best for: Parents looking for an affordable single-seat trailer with high-quality materials
A high-quality single-seat trailer at an affordable price, the Burley Minnow is recommended if you aren’t looking for a trailer that converts to a stroller.
Why get a single-seater?
You might be wondering why someone would want a single-seat trailer as opposed to a double-seater. Apart from the obvious reason that some families will only be carrying 1 child, the reason a single-seater is a good choice is simply because of weight. The weight of a bike trailer can make or break your riding experience.
For example, if you’re going on a longer ride or climbing lots of hills, then the Burley Minnow will really come in handy. Also, having a single child sit alone in a double-seater is not as comfortable due to the weight distribution.
Best Features: Lightweight (22 lbs), and best quality-for-price single bike trailer on the market.
- Affordable—A low price point for a high-quality Burley trailer
- Lightweight—Weighs just 22 lbs, which is half the weight of some trailers
- No stroller conversion—It’s a minimalist, lightweight trailer
Burley Minnow Summary
You might be wondering why someone would want a single-seat trailer as opposed to a double-seater. Apart from the obvious reason that some families will only be carrying 1 child, the reason a single-seater is a good choice is simply because of weight.
The weight of a bike trailer can make or break your riding experience. For example, if you’re going on a longer ride or climbing lots of hills, then the Burley Minnow will really come in handy. Also, having a single child sit alone in a double-seater is not as comfortable due to the weight distribution.
My Overall Recommendation
Every family is different, which calls for a different bike trailer. But in most cases, I would recommend the Schwinn Joyrider for most families. For the price, quality, safety features, protective cage, usability, and stroller-conversion, I would highly recommend it as a safe go-to option.
The only drawback I have experienced is the size and weight of the trailer itself, but you will quickly get used to it and won’t even notice the extra weight. After all, pulling a bike trailer is an investment in your health, as well as your kids.
I hope this guide will help you make the right decision for your family.
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.