Safety of bike trailer for children

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

Safety of bike trailer for children

Postby loz » Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:45 pm

Hi everyone,

This is my first time posting here, and I apologise if I have posted this question in the wrong section - please point me in the right direction.

I’ve been using a Repco Sport bike trailer for my son, which works well. But now his head (with helmet on) goes above the line marked “Maximum Height. Top of head (with helmet) must not exceed this line”. In fact, his head (with helmet on) is about 4-5 cm above that line!

However, he still fits comfortably in the trailer, and his helmet is not touching the top of the trailer when the flap is closed.

My question is: How seriously should I take this manufacturer warning? How dangerous is it to use a child trailer when they exceed the specified height limit? It is clearly not a weight issue because the maximum weight for the trailer is 45 kgs (it is a two child trailer).

I just can’t see why it would be more dangerous to continue using this trailer, as compared to using a tag-along or a sit down trailer without any frame around it (eg http://www.twowheelingtots.com/weehoo-i ... ler-cycle/ ). The alternative for us is to get a tag-along, as larger trailers are too expensive.

Any thoughts much appreciated on whether it would be safer to get a tag-along or continue using our existing trailer!

Thanks very much,
Loz
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by BNA » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:53 pm

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Re: Safety of bike trailer for children

Postby trailgumby » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:53 pm

Rollover risk.

If the trailer turns turtle - as they can if you corner too fast - I presume being past the designated line puts your youngster at significantly elevated risk of head and spinal injury.

That said, all rather pointless without a seat belt to stop him falling down onto the inside roof when the trailer is upside down.

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Re: Safety of bike trailer for children

Postby bychosis » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:28 pm

I've got a Repco trailer too (it has a five pt harness). My kids have only worn a helmet in it a few times early on, it pushed their heads to far forward and was also pushed down over their eyes making it hard to see. Sans helmet now. I don't have any major concerns doing this because of the roll cage and only riding with it on quiet streets or the footpath. Keep the speed down on the corners and the rollover risk goes away?

As for when they are too big, I'd say if the kid is big enough for a tag a long go for that. The pedal is assist is sooo much better than the trailer, but then, a trailer is more versatile if you are picking up the groceries too.
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Re: Safety of bike trailer for children

Postby loz » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:40 pm

Thanks for your replies, trailgumby and bychosis. My son always wears seatbelt and helmet in the trailer. I understand the rollover risk - but again, wouldn't a tagalong have the same risk? And presumably if a tagalong was to tip over, the injury to my son would be much greater than if he was to tip over in the trailer? Even though his head goes above the designated line in the trailer, his head is still within the trailer itself - whereas on a tagalong, he has no external protection at all! Or am I missing something which makes a tagalong safer than a trailer which has been outgrown?
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Re: Safety of bike trailer for children

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:18 pm

Tagalongs are supposed to be fixed in the same plane as the tow bike, so they can only fall over if the tow bike does. Trailers have to be able to twist relative to the tow bike, because they can't lean into the corners. Rollovers can happen at quite low speeds in the right circumstances, such as a the inside wheel hitting a bump in a tight corner. It's not actually a big deal as the wheels of the trailer take the bulk of the load when it is sliding. (yes I've done it with two kids in the trailer :oops: ) The kids were a bit surprised, but there was no harm, and they still got into the trailer at the end of the day to ride home. :) A total rollover is possible, but I wouldn't be worried about that. I'd suggest a tagalong anyway, because they are more fun for the kids, they see more, do more, can talk to you, and don't cop a faceful of mud when you go through a puddle (mudguards are still useful, but no mudguards I've seen will stop a trailer getting splashed, and having the front cover down all the time is annoying.

It would be highly unusual for a rider towing a tagalong to fall, depending on how enthusiastically you ride. However the greater potential for injury only extends to grazes. If you're not worried for yourself when you're riding, then there is no reason to be worried for him.

Cheers,

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Re: Safety of bike trailer for children

Postby il padrone » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:02 am

Depending on the age of your child (I am assuming about 4yo) he/she will be much happier on a tagalong generally. Out in the open air they have a bicycle expereince, rather than the restriction of a 'car seat' ride. The child on a tagalong is able to put in to the ride, although do not be at all surprised that they are back-pedalling often. The risk of a fall is mainly down to your skill as a safe rider. I have seen a child fool about and fall off (luckily at about 10-15kmh), and our daughter actually fell asleep while riding the tagalong, but managed to stay aboard. These are very much the exception however.

BTW, a tandem with kiddie-cranks is even better than a tagalong, and useful for a much longer time span.

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