Mountain biking with your kids is a blast, but it comes with a unique set of challenges. The TowWhee bike tow rope is an essential tool in any mountain biking parent’s arsenal. It’s a fun and easy way to give your little mountain biking buddy a boost of confidence up a hill, or in the event of “I’m too tired!”, a full ride up to the top!
With multiple ways to attach the rope the the child’s bike, the TowWhee excels at being versatile for all skill levels. The rope can be attached in a way that it won’t accidentally fall of the kid’s bike, but it can also be attached so the child can release it from the bike whenever they choose!
Having tested out several other tow ropes (the TRAXmtb and the Bicycle Bungee) we can confidently say that the TowWhee is the best bike tow rope for beginning mountain bike riders. (It’s also an excellent choice for advanced riders!) Read our full review below to find out why!
BEST FOR: Beginning mountain bike riders who need a little help keeping up on longer rides.
MOUNT LOCATION: On lead rider’s saddle
MAX TOW WEIGHT: 500 lb
MAX TOW SPEED: 8 mph
ROPE LENGTH: 4.6 ft – 15 ft
PRODUCT WEIGHT: 5 oz.
- Small and compact, can easily be stored for use on the go
- Various accessories available to attach rope to the bike being pulled in several ways
- Quick-release adapter allows child rider to release the rope from the bike at any time (if they get scared or simply want to tackle the mountain on their own)
- Elastic rope allows for a gradual “pull” when getting started versus a strong “tug”
- Keeps even tension when in use
- Lead rider must stop to put away rope once the top of the hill is reached
TowWhee Review: Why It’s the BEST Bike Tow Rope for Kids
What’s a TowWhee Bike Tow Rope?
The TowWhee is a bike tow rope that attaches two bikes together so that the lead bike can pull the trailing bike up hills. While most often used for kids, the TowWhee can actually be used with anyone needing a lift.
As kids get old enough and skilled enough to ride single-track mountain bike trails or even longer paved biking trails with the family, they often don’t have the endurance to tackle longer, or repeated uphill sections of trails on their own. Whether they need a full ride to the top, or a lift up the last incline, the TowWhee is the perfect solution.
TwoWhee offers several different models for a variety of uses. All models have the same weight limit of 500 lb. and a max speed of 8 mph (the TowWhee should only be used to tow UPHILL) but vary in length and temperature rating.
The Original red-colored rope we tested maxes out at 170″ and is not suitable for use under 10 degrees F. The blue Winter/4 Season rope is the shortest at 144″ max length and is the only rope rated for lower temperatures. TowWhee’s green rope provides more length for towing adults and maxes out at 180″.
Lastly, the MoTowWhee is designed for e-bikes and motorcycles and is the longest at 192″. All models of the ropes, however, have the same functionality and can all be used to tow kids on bikes, but based on our experience the length of the red Original tow rope is ideal for kids.
How does the TowWhee work?
TowWhee bike tow ropes are composed of a military grade bungee cord inside a durable webbing, which provides them an amazing 500 lb. weight capacity! The red Original TowWhee used in this review can stretch from 56″ to 170″ when under tension and is and small and compact, weighing only 5 oz.
To use the TowWhee, the strap is simply placed around the adult rider’s saddle and the headset of the child’s bike. The TowWhee then stretches slowly to keep the proper tension and distance between the adult and child rider. The length of the TowWhee has been customized to stay taut so that any extra slack won’t get caught up in the adult’s wheel.
Can the TowWhee be used while going downhill or on flat areas of the trail?
Like all tow ropes, to ensure the safety of the child and the adult, the TowWhee should only be used to tow uphill. While towing on a flat portion is certainly possible, it is not recommended as it greatly increases the odds of the trailing bike running into the lead bike. In addition, remember that the max speed of the tow rope is only 8 mph!
The main concern is that without the pull of gravity pulling the trailing bike away from the lead bike, the trailing bike can run into the lead bike if the trailing bike rider doesn’t quickly react to any changes of speed or stopping by the lead bike.
Forgetting to unhook the rope before heading downhill is even more dangerous as the higher speeds greatly increases the odds of a crash. While hooking up your child’s bike to ride straight downhill is just nuts, trails with rolling up and down sections are also problematic. While it may seem easier to keep the rope on during the brief downhill section, it is ALWAYS best to remove the TowWhee before headed downhill.
Attaching the TowWhee
The TowWhee attaches to the lead bike via a simple loop that is hooked over the saddle. The hook portion of the loop does not have the elastic inside the nylon strapping, so it’s pretty thin and you can’t feel the strap on the seat as you ride.
There are four different ways to attach the TowWhee tow rope to the trailing bike (the kid’s bike). The basic original method does not require the purchase of any additional accessories, but the other methods do. The main difference between the four methods is the ease and speed at which the tow rope can be attached and detached from the trailing bike.
(1) Basic Original Method: As a standalone unit, the TowWhee attaches to the trailing bike below the headset by simply threading the tow rope through the loop at the end of the rope. The other end of the rope can then be attached to the lead bike’s saddle.
This method is great as it doesn’t require any added accessories, but it does take the longest to attach and detach compared to the other methods. While threading and unthreading the tow rope through the loop in the rope takes less than a minute, the attachment accessories allow you to reduce attaching and detaching to mere seconds.
(2) Quick Loop w/ Small Carabiner: TowWhee’s most recommended accessory, the Quick Loop consists of a nylon strap with a loop on both ends, as well as a small carabiner. The main benefit of the Quick Loop method is that it allows you to quickly attach and detach the trailing bike. But unlike the other mounting accessories (covered below) it CANNOT accidentally or intentionally come off mid-ride.
The Quick Loop strap wraps around the head tube of the bike being towed, and can be attached before the ride begins. That way, when it’s tow time, you simply connect the TowWhee to the Quick Loop with the carabiner. When not in use, the quick loop strap stays behind on the trailing bike.
(3) Fast Stem Hook: An 8″ loop of high-end cord, the fast stem loop is the fastest way to attach the trailing bike. Once the cord is looped through the end of the tow rope, the cord simply hooks onto the headset of the trailing bike.
Compared to the Quick Loop above, the Fast Stem hook is slightly faster, but has the added benefit of allowing the child rider to detach the loop mid-ride if they get scared or simply decide to tackle a hill on their own. The Fast Stem Hook is released mid-ride by simply pulling up on the rope to detach it from the headset.
Releasing the hook, however, can be tricky for some kids as it does require them to take one hand completely off the handlebar grip. As a result, TowWhee offers a third option, the Quick Release (explained below), that allows kids to release the tow rope without letting go of the handlebar.
4. Quick Release: The quick release accessory is unique from the other methods beause it allows the trailing rider to detach the tow rope mid-ride without taking a hand off the handlebar. This option is best for young, ambitious riders who may still need a bit of help getting up the hill, but have the drive to power their way up the last part of the hill on their own.
The Quick Release is not for more timid or beginning trail riders because it’s really easy for the tow rope to accidentally fly off the child’s bike. Unlike the other methods, the Quick Release is not “securely” attached the trailing bike, but rather held in place via tension between the strap and the child’s hand on the grip.
Consisting of a long nylon strap with a loop on one end, the Quick Release is simple, yet complex. To connect to the tow rope, the loop portion of the strap gets threaded around the tow rope, leaving the straight nylon strap at the end. This long section of strapping is then wrapped around the trailing bike (just under the headset), over the handlebars, and is then placed over the grip.
The child then squeezes the strap between their hand and the handlebar grip to keep it in place. Due to the tension between the strap and the bike, there is minimal pull on the strap, so the child doesn’t have to grip the strap excessively. To release the tow rope, the child simply loosens their grip.
TowWhee recommends wrapping the strap around the headtube and then up above the handlebars. This method ensures the rope is pulling the bike evenly on the trailing bike and not pulling on one side of the handlebars.
During our test rides, however, we found that the strap would get stuck on one of the bolts of the bike’s headset and not properly release when our rider loosened his grip. As a result, we simplified it by wrapping the strap over and around the handlebar. While not ideal (as the strap slightly pulled on one side of the handlebar) it worked for us and quickly released without any problems.
All in all, the quick release is an amazing featured that we loved! In addition to allowing the trailing rider to control when they wanted to stop (without relying on the lead rider hearing them), it allowed the trailer rider to release the tow rope mid-way up the hill without stopping, and power up the rest on their own. The lead rider, however, does need to pull over to remove the tow rope to prevent it from dragging.
TowWhee in Action: The Best Bike Tow Rope for Beginning Trail Riders (but also great for Intermediate and Advanced Riders)
Over the past couple years we have tested out the TowWhee with several different parent/child combinations. From beginning trail riders with intermediate parents to advanced child and adult riders, we’ve all agreed that the TowWhee is an amazing, must-have accessory for any mountain biking family. Compared to other tow ropes, it stands out for being better suited for beginners riders than other tow ropes.
While all three of the bike tow ropes we have tested (including the TowWhee) worked great for more advanced riders, the TowWhee’s gradual elastic pull makes it ideal for younger and beginner riders. While the other tow ropes come to an abrupt end when the end of the rope reached, the TowWhee’s pull is gradual and smooth. As a result, the trailing rider doesn’t experience a brief jolt that quickly pulls them forward when the end is reached, but rather just an increase in tension on the tow rope.
The quick jolt by other bike tow ropes does require the trailing rider to quickly react and re-center their bike, whereas the TowWhee does not. While short-lived, the quick jolt can be pretty surprising for new riders, which is why the TowWhee is our favorite tow rope for less experienced riders.
While riding, the TowWhee does a great job at keeping even tension on the rope. The rope does NOT bounce around while riding. As a lead rider, you hardly notice any pull from the rope. Even when the trailer rider takes a break from pedaling, you feel very little drag.
Riders tackling more technical trails are certainly going to feel more pull from the rope as more technical sections lead to a change in your pace. But all-in-all, bringing your little one along for the ride compensates for the very minor added drive you’ll need to exert to get to the top.
Tips for Using the TowWhee
1. Make sure your trailing rider is ready!: With less than 5 feet of tow rope before the rope engages, the trailer rider has little to no time to react to their bike starting to move. It is essential that you check and double check to make sure they are ready to ride before you take off.
2. Don’t use with basic inexperienced riders: The TowWhee works great with established riders who are just getting started on the trail, but not inexperienced riders who are just learning to ride. While being pulled, the rider is still 100% in control of their steering and braking. If the child is not able to confidentially maneuver their bike around various obstacles while also keeping the bike balanced AND reacting to a quick stop by the lead rider, a tow rope is not for them. A trailer cycle would be a much better option.
3. Remind the trailing rider NOT to brake unless necessary: Unnecessary and unexpected braking by the trailing rider can certainly make the ride much trickier for the lead rider. Hard braking can also potentially lead to a crash. Instructing the trailing rider to alert the lead rider when they are going to brake certainly helps.
4. Try not to stop in really steep sections: If you stop in a really steep section, be prepared to place your feet on the ground very quickly. The steeper the hill, the higher potential tension the TowWhee will have on it. If you stop while there is a lot of tension on the rope, the pull on the TowWhee will cause the front tire of the lead bike to pop up off the ground!
5. Bring a Hydration Pack: You’ll need a place to store the TowWhee when not in use. A hydration packs works great. If you prefer not to bring a pack, you can loop the strap between the seat tube and the headset of the lead bike.
6. Do NOT use on flat or downhill sections: Although tempting to keep up the pace of the ride, be sure to detach the rope on flat or downhill sections of the trail. Very short flat or downhill sections are fine, but the rope should be removed for any extended period.
The perfect solution for helping get your little groms out on the trail, the TowWhee bike tow rope gives them the independence they need and crave, while still allowing Mom or Dad to give them a boost when things get tricky.