Trailer cycles, also called trailer bikes, trail-a-bikes, tag along bikes, or trainer bikes, are a great option for kids who have moved beyond the bike trailer or child bike seat, but who aren’t quite ready to ride solo all the time. Add tow ropes and tow bars to that list, and you’ve got plenty of unique bike attachments for kids!
Whether you want to bring the smallest of pedalers along for a long ride, or give your 8-year-old an extra boost of confidence up a steep trail, we’ll cover all the ways you can tow your kids by bike.
Our Favorite Bike Attachments for Kids
|Bike Attachment Type||Our Top Pick||Budget Pick|
|Tag Along Bike||Burley Kazoo||Weeride Co-Pilot|
|Recumbent Trailer Cycle||Weehoo Turbo||Weehoo Blast|
|Tow Bar||FollowMe Tandem||Trail Gator|
What bike attachment you need may change over time as kids get older or your family riding style changes. We currently use a recumbent trailer cycle for our 3-year-old, but also use a tow bar when we want her to be able to ride her own bike. With our older kids, tow ropes are a huge help when tackling longer or steeper mountain bike trails. Bike attachments for kids have helped our families create some of our happiest biking memories, so we encourage you to explore your options and try a few!
This article is designed to help you determine which bike attachment is best for your child and riding style. For specific recommendations, rankings and comparisons of the various types of bike attachments for kids see our 8 Best Tag Along Bikes and Bike Attachments page.
1. Types of Bike Attachments for Kids
Each of these attachments serves a different purpose and works best with different age and different terrains. Determining which of these styles best suits you as the adult rider, and your child as the passenger is the first step in finding the solution for your family.
TAG ALONG BIKES
What is a Tag Along Bike?
Tag along bikes are bike attachments that turn the adult bike into a tandem bike for use with a child. These “half” bikes consist of a handlebar, pedals and a rear tire along with a frame that attaches to the rear of the adult bike.
What Type of Terrain are Tag Along Bikes Best For?
Tag along bikes allow kids to actively participate in the ride, while still having the option to have mom or dad do all the pedaling! From long families rides on paved trails to a quick run to school, trailer cycles are usually best for pavement, but could also handle occasional packed dirt trails.
What’s the Best Age for a Tag Along Bike?
In order to safely ride a tag along bike, children need to be able to reach the pedals. From our testing, we’ve found that the best age range is from about 4 to 8. Unlike a regular bike, it’s okay if your child can’t reach the ground while sitting on the seat of a trailer bike. As the adult rider, you’ll provide the balance needed when mounting, starting, stopping, and dismounting, but they may need a little help getting on and off.
The seat height of a tag along bike can be raise or lowered like a traditional bike. Additionally, the handlebars on some tag along bikes can be adjusted to better fit kids as they grow.
For safety and enjoyability reasons, make sure your child is mature enough to sit stably on a bike seat, without making sudden movements or attempting to dismount abruptly. As children get older and heavier, they are not only harder to pull, but also contribute more to the “wobble effect”, which we discuss next.
What Else Do I Need to Know about Tag Along Bikes?
As a downside, tag along bikes often suffer from what we like to call the “wobble effect”. Some are better than others, but the tandem portion of the bike can wobble during the ride, which is certainly felt by the adult rider. While not a deal breaker, it is something to keep in mind when choosing the best bike attachment for your family.
RECUMBENT TRAILER CYCLES
What is a Recumbent Trailer Cycle?
While still technically a tag along bike, the Weehoo brand of recumbent trailer cycles certainly are unique. They place the child in a recumbent position (sitting slightly leaned back), with their body placed much lower to the ground and with the pedals out in front of them instead of underneath them. They also have a harness like a standard bike trailer.
What’s the Best Terrain for Riding in a Recumbent Trailer Cycle?
The lower position of the child rider allows Weehoo trailer cycles to be much more nimble and are by far the best option for families who want to hit single-track with young kids. With a single wheel in back, versus two with a traditional bike trailer, the Weehoos handle rough terrain much better. That said, they’re excellent for use on on paved trails as well.
What’s the Best Age for a Recumbent Trailer Cycle?
With a high-back seat and a 3-point shoulder harness, the Weehoos also keep littles one nice and secure, even if they fall asleep! We’ve used the Wehoo Turbo with our 2 year old!
With a weight capacity of 80 lbs, some models are also great alternative for slightly older special needs kids who would benefit from the added security of high-back seat and harness.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Recumbent Trailer Cycles?
As the icing on the cake, riding with the Weehoo trailer cycles are significantly smoother than with a standard tag along bike – they have little to no effect on the adult’s balance. Out of all the bike attachments for kids, the Weehoo is the best option for mountain biking with little toddlers.
What is a Bike Tow Bar?
Tow bars allow you to fix your child’s bike to your bike through either a bar or a sturdy coupler. These kits essentially turn the child’s bike into a tag along bike, keeping the child’s bike upright and at a set distance from the adult.
But unlike a tag along bike, tow bars allow kids to ride their own bike during family rides, and then if the child gets tired, simply hook them up and tow them home! You could also choose to tow a child for an entire ride.
Tow bars are stored securely on the adult bike so that you can choose at any time during a ride to use it.
What’s the Best Terrain for Riding with a Tow Bar?
This answer really depends on the quality of the Tow Bar. The Trail Gator should only be used on paved roads. The higher-end FollowMe Tandem could certainly be used on dirt trails, although we would not use it for legitimate mountain biking.
What’s the Best Age for a Tow Bar?
We’ve found tow bars to be best for young riders on 12” to 16” bikes, especially for those kids who are just getting started on pedals. However, they can also be used with 20” bikes. They cannot be used with 24″ bikes or adult bikes.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Tow Bars?
Like tag along bikes, tow bars can definitely be wobbly, although the high-end FollowMe Tandem is a very stable and smooth ride.
What is a Tow Rope?
Tow ropes connect the adult bike to the headset of the child’s bike via a thin line or bungee. The ropes are primarily designed to tow less-confident or tired riders up steeper sections of trail, not for long distances or flat trails.
What is the Best Terrain for Riding with a Tow Rope?
Tow ropes were designed primarily for mountain bike use, however they certainly could be used for long climbs on road rides as well.
What is the Best Age for a Tow Rope?
Unlike trailer cycles and tow bars, tow ropes require the child rider to be in complete control of their bike while being towed, including being able to maneuver their bikes around obstacles, and brake to prevent running into the adult rider. So while a tow rope can technically be used with a child of any age (or adults!) on pedal bikes, it’s more about ability that actual age.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Tow Ropes?
The maximum speed on tow ropes is much less than other bike attachments and maxes out at around 8 miles per hour. They are not meant to tow anyone for an entire ride, but rather for short bursts of difficult uphill sections. Tow ropes are also not ideal for flat sections of trail as it is very easy for the bike being pulled to run into the lead bike when the lead bike comes to a stop or slows down.
2. Adult Bike Compatibility
Tag Along Bikes and Recumbent Trailer Cycles
Most trailer cycles attach to the seat post of the adult bike. This means that they’re likely compatible with most adult bikes, as long as you have about 2″ of exposed seat post between your seat tube and your seat. The WeeRide Co-Pilot and the Weehoo Turbo attach to the seat post.
If your seat post is unusually thick or thin, you should check to ensure that the hitch on your trailer cycle of choice will fit. Non-round seat posts or seat posts made out of materials other than aluminum or steel (e.g. carbon fiber) are generally incompatible.
Some trailer cycles attach to a cargo rack on the rear of the adult bike, rather than to the seat post. These racks require bike rack eyelet mounts on the frame of your bike. Many commonly used bikes — particularly road bikes and full suspension mountain bikes — don’t have these mounts, so check carefully before buying. The Burley Kazoo and Piccolo both attach via a specialty rack that comes with the trailer cycle.
Tow bars attach to both the adult and child bikes, so you’ll need to make sure that both bikes are compatible with the attachment. More details can be found in our full reviews for the Trail Gator Tow Bar and the FollowMe Tandem.
The Trail Gator attaches to the adult bike’s seat post and the child bikes’ headset. The FollowMe Tandem attaches to the rear axle of the adult bike, and the front axle of the child’s bike.
Top ropes attach to the headset of a child’s bike and the saddle or seat post of the adult bike. There are usually no compatibility issues with tow ropes.
3. Disconnecting the Bike Attachment and Transportation
Tag Along Bikes
If you plan to frequently switch between towing the trailer cycle and riding child-free, you’ll want to pay attention to the way that the trailer cycle removes from the adult bike. Seat-post-mounted trailer cycles generally have a quick release, which allows you to quickly install or remove the trailer cycle without any tools, while leaving the hitch attached to the seat post.
Rack mounted trailer cycles remove even more easily from the rack. The rack itself requires tools to uninstall, so it’s not something you’ll do regularly, but the rack can be used to mount panniers/saddle bags and other gear when you’re riding on your own.
Some tag along bikes have a joint in the middle of the frame that allow them to fold for more compact storage and transportation. Our favorite tag along bike, the Burley Kazoo, does not, but we can still fit it in the trunk of our Honda Co-Pilot.
Recumbent Trailer Cycles
Weehoo trailer cycles attach to a hitch on the adult bike seat post and are secured with a quick release pin. It can be attached or detached in seconds.
The tow arm can be removed for easier transportation and storage. The entire Wehoo Turbo and disconnected arm can fit in the back of our Honda Pilot.
The Trail Gator tow bar attaches to a hitch on the adult bike’s seat post. It can be removed in seconds using the quick release. It can also be collapsed to half its size and stored right on the adult bike!
The FollowMe Tandem collapses when not in use and is stored on the adult bike by hanging a rope and carabiner from the adult bike’s seat rails or a rear rack.
Designed for spur of the moment needs, tow ropes are the easiest of all the kids bike attachments to take on and off a bike. The TowWhee stores in a saddle bag or backpack while the TraxMTB retracts and stores in its housing attached to the adult bike seat post.
4. Using with Multiple Kids or Kids Bikes
Tag Along Bikes
One huge advantage of tag along bikes is that you they can easily be adjusted for use with bike riders of differing heights. Just be sure to look for a model that has a quick release on the seat post. Otherwise, you’ll need to carry an Allen wrench for any mid-trip rider switches (or swap out the stock seat post collar for a quick release version).
Recumbent Trailer Cycles
The seat of the Weehoo trailer cycles slides along the base track. This allows you to adjust a child’s proximity to the pedals. Adjustments are made via a knob, and no tools are necessary.
If you want to tow different kids on different bikes, a tag along bike might be a better bet. Mounting hardware is needed for every bike you’ll be towing with a tow bar. In the case of the FollowMe Tandem, the adult bike attachment may also need to be adjusted if you are swapping between kids bikes.
100% versatile with use on any bikes of any size. No special accommodations are needed.
5. Gears on Bike Attachments for Kids – Are They Necessary?
This one is really just for tag along bikes. While most are single speed, some, like the Burley Piccolo do have gears, typically 6 or 7 on a rear derailleur. While we generally prefer non-geared trailer cycles for their simplicity and lower price, gears do give kids a great opportunity to experiment with shifting while still under the control of an adult bike.
Most geared trailer cycles have grip shifters while others have thumb shifters. If at all possible, have your kids test ride a geared trailer cycle before purchasing to ensure they’re physically able to operate the shifter.
Gears don’t make much of a difference in the ease of pedaling for the adult rider. Trailer cycles with gears are also more expensive than their single-speed equivalents, and require more maintenance due to the rear derailleur. It’s up to you to decide whether the extra price is worth the extra money and hassle.
Geared Trailer Cycles Allow Kids to Shift
6. Rear Rack Compatibility
Many kids bike attachments cannot be installed on a bike that already has a rear rack due to clearance issues. The exception to this would be the FollowMe Tandem, which can actually be used not only with a rack on the bike, but with a child bike seat on that rack! If you already have a rear cargo rack on your bike (or want to install one), you’ll need to ensure it’s compatible with the trailer cycle you choose.
7. Transporting other children
If you have a younger child who you want to transport along with your trailer cycle rider, the best option is a front-mounted child seat, as this doesn’t interfere with the trailer cycle in any way. Trailer cycles are generally incompatible with rear-mounted child seats, as the child seat interferes with the trailer cycle arm.
You may be able to hook up a bicycle trailer to the back of the trailer cycle. The resulting “road train” is quite long and more difficult to maneuver, so you’ll need to ride very cautiously and stick to bike trails and other spots with less traffic and less required maneuvering. Be sure to double check your trailer cycle’s manual first, as some explicitly state that they should not be used with bike trailers.
The FollowMe Tandem is unique because it’s the only child bike attachment that allows you to ride with a child in a rear child bike seat while also towing your child on a pedal bike. This is because it mounts to the rear axle of the adult bike, rather than the seat post or a rear rack.
If you want to transport two older children on a trailer cycle, consider a two-seater trailer cycle, such as the Weehoo Turbo.
Which bike attachment for kids is best for you?
Now that you know what to look for, check our Kids Bike Attachments Comparison Chart for help finding the best trailer cycle or towing option for you and your child.
Or for a quick list of our favorite picks, see our 8 Best Trailer Cycles and Towing Options
If you have younger kids and are also interested in options like bike trailers, child bike seats, and cargo bikes, check out our list of Best Bike Carriers for Kids and Babies.
Other Bike Attachment for Kids Resources
International Bike Fund – Child Bike Seats vs. Trailers for Infants: For an interesting discussion on the safety merits of child bike seats vs. trailers and trailer cycles by a non-profit international biking group.