Thule Chariot Cross 1

Bike Trailer Review

A top-notch stroller and trailer in one, and the ONLY trailer with real reclinable seats! Topped off with plush seat cushions, adjustable suspension, and a top view window.

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $900

Recommendation: Exceptional

Weight: 28 lb.

Tire Size: 20"

Suspension: Yes

Inside Height: 26.77"

Inside Width:

Stroller Kit: Included: Dual Swivel Wheels

Jogger Kit: Upgrade

Max-weight: 75 lb.

Trailer Type: Trailer Jogger Stroller

Capacity: single

Brakes: Parking BrakeOptional Hand Brake

UV Window: Yes

Upgrades Available:

Jogging Kit, Ski Kit, Infant Sling, and Hand Brake Kit

Review

If I had to sum up the Thule Chariot Cross is one word, it would be smart. Everything about this trailer has been well thought-through and designed with the user in mind. It’s fabulously simple and easy to use, in addition to being incredibly well-made. Most of the adjustable and assembly elements are colored blue, making it a cinch to see how to switch modes from trailer to stroller, make adjustments, and fold and store. Our favorite feature is that the Cross is the only bike trailer that we know of that has true reclinable seats. And with adjustable suspension to boot, the Cross earns our highest recommendation.

Trailer Type

The Thule Cross is a multi-sport trailer, available in single and double capacity.  It comes standard with a 4-wheeled stroller conversion kit and the bike trailer arm.  Conversion kits for jogging and skiing are also available.

Thule Cross as a trailer, a stroller, and a jogger. The Jogger is an upgrade, while the stroller attachment comes standard with the trailer.

Thule Cross vs. Lite

Like different models of the same car, the Thule Cross and Lite’s overall performance are the same, but with slight differences in functionality via features.

Trailer Interior

Size

The Thule Chariot Cross Single is an average sized single trailer – roomy for a 2-year-old and cozy for a 5-year-old. The biggest issue for taller kids is the leg room, as bigger kids will have to bend their knees to fit. At 43” tall, there was just enough headroom for our 5-year-old tester and his helmet.

Interior Space is Roomy for 2-Year-Old, Cozy for 5-Year-Old

Interior Dimensions of Thule Cross: 26" tall, 16" wide, 22" of leg space. Exterior Dimensions are: 33" tall and 24" wide.

Seats

Seat Style

The Cross has a supportive bench-style seat that truly reclines without any hassle. Simply push the reclining button on the exterior of the trailer and gently pull back. It reclines a full 7” and is the only trailer (that we know off) to offer a full recline system.   The seats on the Cross double recline independently of each other using the same system.  Reclinable seats is the major difference that sets the Thule Cross apart from the Lite.

Cross is the Only Trailer to Offer True Reclining Seats

Thule Cross fully upright, then fully reclined. Shows woman pushing button to recline seat.

Padding

The included dark gray seat cushion is soft, yet smooth so it is easy to wipe down.  It’s also removable for washing if need be, but should be left out to air dry.  For babies less than 12-months of age, Thule offers an infant sling and baby supporter for use in stroller or jogger modes.

Strapping System

The 5-point-harness in the Cross is very easy to adjust and buckle, and the strap pads stay put where they belong – protecting little necks. I’ve removed the pads on many trailers because they’re more of a pain than they’re worth, but in the Cross, the pads do their job without shifting around or getting in the way.

Strapping System and Seat Padding are Top Notch

Seat Straps length adjusters pull down to tighten. The buckle is latched by inserting two sides of the buckle individually into the lock. The bottom seat cushion is 1/2 inch thick.

Helmet Space

Many trailers have a cut-out or other space to allow kids to wear a helmet without pushing their head forward, but unfortunately the Cross does not provide helmet space.  To provide space for a helmet, Thule does offer additional padding that can be placed on the back of the seat to push the rider forward, thereby creating a small space for the helmet.  Purchasing a helmet with a flat back is also a good idea.

Ventilation

Another area where the Cross comes up short is in rear ventilation. There’s a small mesh area in the back of the seat, but airflow is limited by the trunk. Items in the mesh pocket behind the trailer seat will limit air circulation as well.  Flipping up the large black warning label, however, will provide much more ventilation for the trailer.  Unlike Thule’s discontinued Cougar and CX models, none of their current models have mesh panels in the front of the trailer for ventilation.  For the average user, who doesn’t plan on using the trailer in really hot or really cold conditions, the ventilation on the Cross shouldn’t be an issue.

Ventilation is Minimal in the Thule Cross

Collage of mesh back panel and top vent and viewing window on the Thule Cross.

Bottom of Trailer

The bottom of the trailer is made of the same thick nylon fabric as the sides.  It has a hole to allow water to easily pass through in the event of a spill.

Trailer Exterior

The Thule Chariot Cross is compact and lightweight, made of durable canvas and high-quality plastic and metal components.

External Covers

Mesh Door and Rain Cover

The Cross comes with a zip-up mesh door and a completely removable plastic rain cover. The mesh door zips down easily and snaps into place and can be rolled up out of the way when not in use. The rain guard is not permanently adhered to the trailer and attaches with elastic loops in 6 places.  Compared to the standard zip-down rain cover on most trailers, the Cross’ system is more challenging to put on. Also, because it’s removable, it could easily be lost or forgotten and may not be available if you need it unexpectedly.

Proper ventilation is also lacking with the rain cover on, which will likely result in the trailer fogging up on cold days. The benefit of the rain cover is that it is removable for those who don’t plan on using it much and it also covers the top of the trailer, not just the door, to provide real protection from rain for those who do need it.

Thule Cross Mesh Front Door and Rain Guard Attachments

Collage of mesh cover that attaches with zippers and the rain guard that attaches with elastic loops.

 

Sun Guard 

The sun guard easily snaps onto the frame and is fully adjustable – you can change its location and how much of the trailer it covers.  Essential for when you are traveling towards the sun, the sun guard on the Cross is our standout favorite sun guard on the market. The sun guard, however, does not cover the top viewing window of the trailer.  Considering the Cross is one of the only trailers to have a top viewing window, is not surprising that the sun guard doesn’t cover it.  To compensate, the viewing window is covered by two layers of mesh for added shade.  These mesh layers also create a pocket, which although designed to store the screen door when not in use, could easily hold a small towel or shirt for complete shade.

Sun Guard Placement and Coverage is Fully Adjustable

Collage of three images showing the low and high positions of the sun guard, and how the sun guard can be scrunched or extended for amount of coverage.

 

Storage

The Cross doesn’t have a large storage area, but it makes the most of the space it has. The main storage area is in the trunk which is separate from the body of the trailer.  The trunk has an elastic cover, and folds up flat when not in use and latches to the frame to stay closed, which provides more legroom for strolling.  The seats, however, cannot recline when the trunk is folded up.   With a 34″ inseam, my feet occasionally hit the trunk when walking with the stroller if it was not folded up, but it wasn’t a problem when running.

Main Storage Area is a Separate Trunk

Collage showing the separate trunk for storage on the back of the Thule Cross - open and folded flat.

Inside the trunk there is one large storage space, a smaller interior pocket, and two inside loops meant for holding the jogger wheel arms. On the back of the trailer itself there is also a mesh pocket that is big enough to hold diapers, wipes, jackets, etc.  Inside the chassis there are also small pockets on both sides for snacks, sippy cups, etc.

Storage also Includes Pockets on Inside and Back of Trailer

Back storage trunk is 14" wide, 14" tall, and 7.5" deep. Also shows interior and exterior mesh storage pockets.

Conversion Kit Storage

Another unique feature of the Cross (and Lite) is its onboard storage of its main conversion kits.  The stroller wheels and the trailer arm can all be stored in or on the trailer without taking up any storage areas.  The stroller wheels attach upside down on the front wheel guards and the trailer arm snaps into place on the side of the trailer.

The jogger arms and wheel can also be stored onboard.  The jogging arms are designed to be stored in loops found inside the trunk, while the wheel is strapped to the outside of the trunk. One of the jogger arms, however, doesn’t fit through the inside trunk loop as intended because of a blue wheel adjustment knob on the arm (see photos).  The arm, instead, can be stored in the main trunk space.

Conversion Kits Can All Be Stored Onboard the Trailer

Collage showing how all conversion kits can be stored on or in the trailer. Trailer arm snaps into frame, stroller wheels can be stored upside down in wheel guards, jogger arms in loops in storage trunk, and jogger wheel straps to the outside of the storage area.

Performance

As a Trailer

The Cross performs beautifully as a trailer, giving a smooth ride for adult and child alike.

Bike attached to the Thule Cross Single

Trailer Arm and Hitch

The feather-light, compact trailer arm slides easily into the wheel guard and locks in place. Thule makes my absolute favorite trailer hitch. The ball-and-socket design is easy to slide in at any angle and never makes any noise. The only downside is that the silicone tab of the hitch (shown in the middle picture below) does require some effort to stretch in order to lock the hitch in place.

Thule Chariot Cross Single Trailer Arm and Hitch

Collage showing releasing the lock and sliding the trailer arm into the body of the trailer. Also shows ball sliding into hitch socket.

Suspension

The suspension helps smooth the ride and is incredibly easy to adjust—simply slide the latch up or down based on the child’s weight.  Be sure to make note that the suspension needs to be adjusted on both sides of the trailer.

Cross is one of Few Trailers that Offer Adjustable Suspension

Collage of the adjustable suspension system. Latch slides easily to adjust for weight.

As a Stroller

The double stroller swivel-wheels come standard with the trailer and lock into the wheel guards in seconds without the need for pins. The stroller is easy to maneuver and doesn’t feel bulky.  Having owned more strollers than I care to count, the Thule is incredibly smooth and as easy to push as other high-end strollers.  The large back wheels allow for easy navigating over uneven surfaces and the front wheels (which are larger than on typical strollers) make for a better ride and rarely trip up on uneven patches of pavement or rocks.  The front tires are solid plastic, so no need to worry about them going flat, but flats can occur in the rear tires.  To prevent flats, we highly recommend using tire sealant.

Trailers that convert to strollers have the additional benefit of allowing you to completely zip your kids into the stroller.  With the mesh door down, your toddler can’t throw out their sippy cups, blankets can’t slide out, and overly friendly strangers can’t touch your kids :).  When more freedom is needed, the Cross (and Lite) has an upper pocket to store the rolled up mesh door.

Easy Stroller Conversions with the Thule Cross

Thule Cross as a stroller, and collage showing how to easily release the locking the wheel guard, insert stroller wheels, and replace the lock.

As a Jogger

Jogger wheel installation is a little more involved than the stroller, but not too complicated. You have to insert both jogger arms into the wheel guards on the body of the trailer, locking them in place. You then insert the wheel between them with a quick-release axle.  For easier stopping on the go, Thule also offers a rear hand brake as an upgrade, which activates both rear tires at the same time.  The brake easily integrates into the handlebar and is activated by twisting (as shown here). Thule’s system is unique as it is the only hand brake system to activate the rear tires versus the front tire, which provides much more stopping power. The jogger kit is an upgrade.

Thule Cross as Jogger. Shows how jogger arms insert into wheel guards and then wheel attaches with quick-release axle between wheel guards.

When in use, the jogger tracks beautifully from the get go and is easy to run with.  In the odd event that you’re having a problem with the trailer tracking straight, a small blue adjustment knob on the left jogging arm allows for easy adjustment of the alignment. Like all jogging strollers, the front wheel is stationary and you have to push down on the handlebar to turn the trailer with the back tires. The trailer also comes with the required safety jogging strap (so the trailer doesn’t get away from you on declines), but it was too short to use comfortably.

Stroller/Jogger Accessories

Parking Brakes

The single parking brake pedal easily engages the brakes on both wheels, and there is a handy red/green indicator to show whether the brakes are on or off. I did find that many times the brakes didn’t fully disengage when releasing the pedal, and I had to fiddle with it to get it to fully release.

Handlebar

The contoured handlebar is fully padded and adjusts from about 36” to 44” inches off the ground. It’s easy to adjust by pushing the blue button on either side. It also folds completely to the front to be out of the way for trailer use.  The raised (curved) portion of the contoured handle also makes pushing the stroller or jogger much more comfortable for my wrists as compared to the standard flat handlebar.

Cross Parking Brake & Handlebar

Red and green indicators show when parking brakes are engaged. Contoured handlebar adjusts by pushing a blue button in stroller and jogger mode.

Folding

In principle, folding the Cross is easy: push the blue buttons on either side, and while holding them in, push forward on the frame. In practice, the buttons felt stiff and I found it a bit tricky to get enough leverage to push both buttons while pushing the frame forward. Those with long arms will find this easier, but I wish the buttons compressed more smoothly. There is a nifty red/green indicator to show whether the frame is locked or ready to fold.

All the accessories and attachments fit inside the folded trailer, and then the trailer latches closed. This is a big asset, as it prevents the trailer from coming apart when transporting.  Thule’s smart folding design makes it much easier to transport as compared to other brands and greatly reduces the risk of misplacing any parts while on the go.  Weighing 32 lbs. as a double and 28 lbs. as single, the Cross is light for the features it offers, but not as light as many other trailers.  If you are concerned about weight, the Thule Lite is a better option with the double weighing 27.5 lbs. and the single weighing 25.8 lbs.

Folded Trailer Latches Closes, Making it Easy to Transport

Latch holds folded trailer closed. Folder dimensions are 34" by 15". To fold the trailer, you press a button while pushing the frame of the trailer forward.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re strolling, jogging, or going for a bike ride, everything about the Thule Chariot Cross will impress you. From its smooth ride, to its effortless design and high-quality components, we can’t praise this trailer enough! Its true reclinable seats (the Cross’ standout feature) is a first for trailers and greatly improves the overall functionality of the stroller mode as does its viewing window and wipe down seat cushions.  Its smooth ball hitch and adjustable suspension make the trailer mode smooth and easy for both child and adult rider and the ergonomic stroller handle and straight tracking make jogging a breeze.

This top-of-the-line trailer has been meticulously designed for performance and is a pleasure to use. So while there’s no perfect trailer, the Cross’ amazing performance features far outweigh its few minor design flaws.

 

 

 

MSRP: $900

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: March 1, 2017

FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. For many, but not all reviews, products are provided by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate the review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC and should not be used or replicated in any way. The majority of, but not all, links provided are affiliate links. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is an affiliate of Amazon.com, Backcountry.com, Chain Reaction Cycles.com, Cruzee.com, REI.com, bikeshophub.com, prioritybicycles.com, guardianbikes.com and weebikeshop.com.

  • Muhammad Arman

    Hi, Any ideas if the cross 1 is able to check in an airplane or is there any travel solution if I need to bring it along with me on holiday overseas?

    • Great question. The Thule Cross does pack up pretty small, but I would never fly with it without having it in a duffle bag. The plastic cover, which holds the wheels and other small parts would likely get torn or scratched even though it is very durable. Folded, it is too big for a carry on, so it would have to be checked. Thule doesn’t make a specific carrying case, but I assume you could find an extra-large duffle bag to put it in.

      • Muhammad Arman

        Thx for the advise.. I would try to search for somethin suitable in the market if thats the case..

  • Erik

    Do I understand correctly that you need to attach the raincover to get any waterproofing? So if you live in a rainy county (like I do), you have to install the raincover every time you close the trailer? (we now have a cougar 2, I only use the real raincover when it is pouring, most of the time the normal cover keeps out most of the water).

    • Yes, you are correct. The cover on the Cross is NOT permanently attached like it is on the Cougar as it is not sew into place, but rather it attaches with elastic straps, so it easily pops on and off. If you live in a really rainy area and plan on using the rain cover often, it may not be the best choice for you. The one benefit of the Cross’ rain cover is that it is a true rain cover and also covers the top of the trailer, so rain can’t seep in through the canvas on top. The lack of ventilation with the rain cover on in the Cross is also problematic.