Child bike seat vs trailer

We would like to share with you by our 14 years experience of using child bike seats and trailers for our three children.

child bike seat vs trailer
1998, Russian Siberia. It was the beginning. At that time we had not any special thing for carrying kids. We modified a backpack for carrying our first son. Don’t do it.

Safety

I think at the first we should speak about the safety. Who knows may be you are professional and never fall. But anyway we must remember about this situation.

With trailer bicyclist will fall “alone”. If we imagine the worst situation for example – flipping the trailer over. In this case there is frame around a kid which will defense. During the flipping a child will be in the center of a trailer because he/she was buckled up.

In case of using a child bike seat the fall of cyclist is extremely dangerous for the kid. At the first the fall goes from higher point in compare with the trailer where it could just flip over. So force of hit can be much greater. There is risk of possibility of direct impact by head to an object or surface (ground or road etc).

You know that kids like extend their hands during moving to reach and touch something like branches of trees or foliage. This is possible only with using the child bike seat because in trailer there is “closed windows” or transparent films on both sides.

Some health questions and comfort

During a bike trip our kid will expose to wind, rain, sun… With child bike seat this exposition will be direct. So here the trailer is winner again without any doubts. In short – a kid has greatest risk to get cold or otitis media etc with use bike seat in cold day. In hot day the trailer has enough ventilation capacity and will work as shelter against the sun.

Bike trailer and rain
It is raining but inside the trailer is dry and the kid sleep in warm

When you cycling quite long time your child can fell asleep. We were in this situation many times when we used the child seat as well as the trailer. With the trailer you have possibility put to sleep across two seats places and even continue cycling if your kid is belted.

Child can safely sleep in the bike trailer
We don’t worry when our child sleeps in the bike trailer

And little addition – I could say that trailer is some kind of child’s room. A kid can play with his/her toys during moving without risk to drop and loose something. At the end of this section into the trailer can be put two children. They can speak with each other or play…

Driving, maneuverability and terrain crossing capacity

In two previous sections the trailer was the winner. And now it is the turn of child bike seat… Did you see how a long track turns 90 degree on a crossroad? Well a bicycle with the trailer turns same way but in miniature. The bike trailer does not repeat the bicycle turning’s path! The trailer goes on a smaller radius during the turn.

The trailer has smaller radius of turn in compare with a bicycle. You can see it on this simple animation.

A bicyclist must remember this exotic behavior of the trailer.

In case of using the child bike seat there is also an interesting thing… The center of gravity moves upward and the child bike seat is fixed to the bike. At first time when you try to turn with the child bike seat and with a kid in it you’ll feel something strange. Usually your bike leans during turning without any problem but with the child in seat your bike “doesn’t want to leans” this leads to increasing of turning radius especially on high speed. But you will get used to this over time.

Do you want to ride on narrow path in the forest with your kid? Forget about the trailer 🙂 You can use exclusively only the child bike seat. Trailers are also wider than the bike, so they take up more of the roadway

Use a child bike seat in the woods
We used the child bike seat many years when went in the forest

Weight capacity

The child bike seat usually limited by weight of a child up to 18 kg (40 lbs). Usually bike trailer’s maximum weight capacity for one child is 22.5 kg (50 lbs), for two children – 45 kg (100 lbs).

Handling, storage and other

Many people think that there is problem with storage of bike trailer – it will keep lot of space. It is not true. At present time almost all bicycle trailers are foldable. I’d say I did not see a bike trailer which can not be folded. Logically there will not any problems with entering any door with it in your apartments. Of course the child bike seat will not take lot of space too.

Bike trailer storage in an appartment
You can see how I store the trailer -it is placed behind the bike.

Is is nice when you have your home and keep the bike trailer always assembled (or unfolded) in your garage. But when you keep your bike and trailer in your apartment on second floor or above… “life is not always good!” 🙂 Especially if you decided to go with your kid and nobody can help you at this moment:

  1. bring your bike from your floor
  2. bring the bike trailer…
  3. assemble the trailer
  4. pick the trailer to your bike
  5. don’t forget your kid and you must see after him/her during this operation.

When you will back you repeat this all but in reverse order… In case of using the child bike seat “starting procedure” is much much easier. So for example if you want to carry your kid everyday to the kindergarten – child bike seat is best choice.

Finally I would like to say about one useful feature of the trailer. You can put in the trailer additionally some things like a tent, sleeping pads etc within reasonable bounds of course. The bicycle trailer even can be used sometimes as a mini-cargo.

use of a bicycle trailer to transport cargo
Look… we put in the trailer two sleeping pads, a cloth, tent (green in the back section, so you can see only piece of it) .

Final comparison child bike seat vs trailer

 

Child Seat

Trailer

Safety

 –

 +

Some health questions (exposition a child on rain, sun, wind etc.)

+

Comfort for a child

+

Driving, maneuverability, terrain crossing capacity

 +


Weight capacity


+

Complexity of the using like assembling / disassembling

+

Sign “+” means an advantage.

Comments are welcome.

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