Tag along, trail gator... ?

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Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:48 pm

Hello

I ride my daughter to day-care in a children-trailer, she is five now and quite tall/big. She doesn't have a great balance, I mean she has no balance at all, she isn't able to lift one foot without holding something... (sorry for the possible mistakes, English is not my native language)
She has a child bike with training-wheels and I don't think we will ever be able to remove the training wheels (she will probably still have training wheels at 20). If only I had known about balance bike when she was little (but now I think it's too late)
Anyway, now she complains when I put her in the bike trailer. She says she is good enough to ride her own bike and she knows road safety etc (which is true). The ride is 9km long, there is no way she would be able to do it, especially because she is quite afraid of going downhill. She is really sad now in the trailer, she was crying this morning, it's hard for me to tell her that no she can't ride her own bike. I was thinking of buying one of these things (tag-along, trail gator, what-else...) which would allow her to ride a bit and be towed too. What do you think? Which one would be the best? She has no balance and I have read some bad reviews about the trail-gator (the hinge turning etc), but the idea of the trail-gator would make more sense to me, she would really be able to ride her bike on her own sometimes. But then she really has no balance, and I guess a tag-along bike would be less challenging in that regards (?). Also, we are on a budget ($100 maybe $200) and I wouldn't mind buying a second-hand or a cheap-low-quality thing. So yes, I just don't know what to do... Any advice?
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by BNA » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:39 pm

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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby jacks1071 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:39 pm

The kids don't need much balance for a traditional tag along but they do need to hold on and be confident enough that they will hold on at all cost, definitely these style of bikes rock around a little.

A Weehoo would be your best option, I've just bought one for my 3yo but havn't tested it yet. Its well built, the kid is strapped in so its ultra safe and due to the low centre of gravity I doubt you will get much if any rocking motion.

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http://www.weehoobicycletrailer.com/?q=bicycle-trailer

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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby nickdos » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:48 pm

My daughter started riding on our tag along at 4 1/2. I was a bit worried she might forget to hold on properly and fall off but it never happened - self preservation is a strong motivator. We got a cheap Progear model for less than $200 including delivery and it has been great. Still using it over a year later.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby mitzikatzi » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:54 pm

Xplora wrote: Do not get cheap SPDs, your body will hurt you.

trailgumby wrote:29ers are awesome.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:26 pm

Thanks a lot for your help! (I forgot to mention in my previous message that my bike is actually an electric bike, but I wouldn't go very very fast of course)

I have seen the Weehoo in real, and it sure looks great. But:
1/ my daughter wouldn't fit in it or not for long, she is already 5 and looks like 7,
2/ I am not sure I want something THAT confortable for her, I'd rather have something which gives her confidence and biking skills, not only sitting with zero risk and no improvement to her balance.

Thanks also for the link to the other thread. I have read it, but can't find any strong opinion for one option rather the other (trail-gator VS tag-along). I thought the trail-gator would be more wobbly but obviously there are as many wobbly tag-along bikes. So I think I should go for the trail-gator, if it isn't more challenging for her than a tag-along bike, because then I am sure she will love being able to truly ride her bike on her own. I don't know, still thinking...
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby jacks1071 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:47 pm

Weehoo recommend ages 2-9 - the seat goes back quite a long way.

I've got a couple of Adams Trailer Bikes, a single and a tandem. They are good however poorly assembled, factor pulling it down and re-assembling into the purchase decision or ask the bike shop to ensure thats done for you if you get it locally.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:12 am

Yes, I have seen the picture of your tandem tag-along. It looks great, I would love it. But most of the time I would use it with only one child, would that be OK? Because then I would also use it sometimes for two children (I have got three children from 1 to 5), so a tandem tag-along would be a great addition to our family for sure. On the other hand, 1/ I can't find any in Australia (lots of single adams tag-along, but can't find any tandem one...) And also 2/ I think maybe my daughter would rather have her own bike with a trail-gator thingy, so I could unplug our bikes sometimes and she would really ride her bike on her own, I think that's what she wants (that's what she told me: mum, I want to ride my bike, I know the rules etc etc). But maybe that's not the smartest thing to do... I don't know, I am a bit lost.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby sblack » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:20 am

I have been using a Weehoo for a while now so thought I'd give you some feedback.

Smurk wrote:Thanks a lot for your help! (I forgot to mention in my previous message that my bike is actually an electric bike, but I wouldn't go very very fast of course)

An electric bike should not be an issue, the limiting factor speed wise is having the brakes and distance to safely stop or avoid things.

Smurk wrote:I have seen the Weehoo in real, and it sure looks great. But:
1/ my daughter wouldn't fit in it or not for long, she is already 5 and looks like 7,

There is a lot of room to grow on the Weehoo, I suspect by the time someone outgrows it they would be getting to big for a standard tag-a-long as well. If your daughter currently fits into a child trailer properly then she should be nowhere near outgrowing them though. My son outgrew the trailer two years ago and still has room to grow on the Weehoo.

Smurk wrote:2/ I am not sure I want something THAT confortable for her, I'd rather have something which gives her confidence and biking skills, not only sitting with zero risk and no improvement to her balance.
I'm not sure how much any tag-a-long helps improves a childs balance. Since the rider of the bike has most of the control the effect of the childs movements is not going to be the same as riding their own bike anyway so I don't know how much they'd really be learning. If your daughter is too big for a balance bike you could always remove the cranks from her current bike to create your own balance bike. Scooters are another option for improving balance and confidence as well.

Smurk wrote:Thanks also for the link to the other thread. I have read it, but can't find any strong opinion for one option rather the other (trail-gator VS tag-along). I thought the trail-gator would be more wobbly but obviously there are as many wobbly tag-along bikes. So I think I should go for the trail-gator, if it isn't more challenging for her than a tag-along bike, because then I am sure she will love being able to truly ride her bike on her own. I don't know, still thinking...

I've seen several trail-gators in use and am yet to see one where the bike being towed is not leaning over while going straight.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:44 am

Thanks a lot.

Well, my daughter doesn't fit properly in the trailer. She can seat and I can plug the belts, but her head (with helmet) is too high for the rain-cover to fit properly. I added 10cm of outfoor fabric to allow more ease and now she can sit with her head up, otherwise she had to lean on the side. I have seen the Weehoo and talked to its owner, and seen him plugged his boy in it and everything. Maybe I should try one to make sure, but it really looks small for my daughter. I am afraid she would be all squeezed in there.

Re: improving the child balance, thanks. I agree that, while the bikes are plugged together (whether with a trail-gator or a tag-along bike), it won't improve her balance or riding skills. But with a trail-gator I would be able to let her ride alone for a bit every day, and probably longer and longer when she feels more confident. With a tag-along, she won't be able to ride alone at all. But then, you are probably right, the trail-gator isn't ideal and the child must be leaning all the time. That was my worry initially, but I read that other thread (link given above) and it looked like people were satisfied with the trail-gator and I guess their child wasn't leaning. So I don't know...

Yes, I was thinking about a scooter for my daughter's balance. She actually already has a scooter with three wheels, and I was thinking that maybe she would need a scooter with only two wheels? Would that be interesting or maybe too challenging for her? And also, my daughter has two bikes, one a bit smaller than the other (but she still uses both), maybe you are right, I should transform the smaller one in a balance bike and let her decide what she wants to do. Our neighbours' boy trained on a balance bike, he is 3 now and doing amazing things with his bike, that's so impressive. Maybe that would inspire her. But still, I want to find a solution for us to ride to day-care without having to break her heart every day...
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby laser » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:29 am

I got a tag-along a few weeks ago on eBay for less than $30 and finally got the time last weekend to fit it to my bike so Miss 6 (that can't balance and doesn't like going "too fast" on her bike with training wheels) can finally graduate to a proper bicycle (aka no training wheels).

Being a second-hand unit I didn't have all the proper parts to get it fixed to my bike, but solved the problem in the end and got everything going for a test ride. I should have thought of it before, but the extra weight was very interesting ... the tag-along isn't that light and then you have to add the passenger (who enjoyed sitting there absorbing the view much more than pedalling ;) ). But it was worth it, she did hold on at all times and now enjoys the feeling of going faster (which I think was part of the problem of getting on 2 wheels herself). Towards the end of her first ride she even started pedalling herself.

A few things I noticed :
- pedalling is optional for the passenger, so I had to check her shadow a lot to see if she was actually pedalling
- the hitch is a bit sloppy (I think it should be this way), which means that I get a small jolt every time her balance switches from one side to the other
- being a passenger, she was more inclined to look at the scenery and locating her older sister on her own bike, so the weight kept shifting left and right all the time.

The remedy to these problems are fairly simple with "keep pedalling" and "look straight ahead" being burned into my head very frequently !!!

I'm hoping she will move on to 2 wheels very soon, but the tag-along did work well and makes them realise how easy (& hard) it is to ride.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby jacks1071 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:41 am

Smurk wrote:Yes, I have seen the picture of your tandem tag-along. It looks great, I would love it. But most of the time I would use it with only one child, would that be OK? Because then I would also use it sometimes for two children (I have got three children from 1 to 5), so a tandem tag-along would be a great addition to our family for sure. On the other hand, 1/ I can't find any in Australia (lots of single adams tag-along, but can't find any tandem one...) And also 2/ I think maybe my daughter would rather have her own bike with a trail-gator thingy, so I could unplug our bikes sometimes and she would really ride her bike on her own, I think that's what she wants (that's what she told me: mum, I want to ride my bike, I know the rules etc etc). But maybe that's not the smartest thing to do... I don't know, I am a bit lost.


The Adams Tandem is very difficult to find in Australia, I was very lucky to be able to get mine.

I have seen them on Ebay USA - Freight will be expensive so depends how badly you want one.

You can run the tandem with just one kid, I've done it and its no problem although you might get passing people informing you that you've "lost a kid" :-)
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby RobertFrith » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:04 pm

Once my boy hit 20kg I found managing him on our tagalong difficult and dangerous. We ended up buying a secondhand hand tandem and fitting it with double drilled cranks for shorter legs. Discussed in a bit more detail back here
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:44 am

Thanks a lot for your help!

I have read other internet discussions about Tag-along VS trail-gator and now I think that:
- some people have problems with the trail-gator,
- people who don't have problems with trail-gator claim that problems come from bad installation of the stuff (not tight enough etc etc).

So I think I am going to try the trail-gator (I am logical) and see if my bike mecanic is smarter than everyone. ;)
(plus, it's not such a big expense, I can afford to go wrong with a trail-gator, not sure I would be so happy to go wrong with a good quality tag-along... my daughter IS heavy and not good with a bike, anything could go wrong, let's go for the cheapest option)

I keep somewhere in my head the idea of a double tag-along or a normal bike tandem modified for kids. These seem so good. I just need to check how much we would need such an expensive device. But if I could just buy whatever I want, I would definitely buy it, it looks so much fun.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:07 am

Also, I wanted to thank you all, because you suggested that it wasn't too late for my daughter to have a balance bike. All the balance bikes are too small for her now and I just never thought of removing the pedals of a normal bike. So yesterday I removed all the unnecessary bits and she now has a great balance bike. She loves it. I am so happy I did it.

Do you think it's OK to be pedalling on a towed normal bike (what she will do in a few days when we receive the trail-gator) and to have a balance bike the rest of the time (backyard, short trips etc)? I am afraid she could be disturbed now... I should have done that balance bike a long time ago.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby mitzikatzi » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:55 am

Just for interest. You might need to be a member to see the pictures.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:40 am

Thanks a lot! I don't have the skills or the time for something like that (and my daughter will probably be very happy with her simplified child bike). But that's an interesting project.
My skills are limited to using a basic toolbox, and I even managed to cut my hands yesterday with a pointy bit from my daughter's bike (I still do better than my husband... :p).
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:27 pm

My daughter loves her balance bike, and she is doing incredibly well on it. Thanks again!
(haven't received the trail-gator yet)
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Be very careful…

Postby Byke » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:38 am

From one Trail-Gator owner to another: be really careful about the interface between the Trail-Gator mounting bracket and your daughter's head stem.

The head tube on my son's Byk E-350 was almost destroyed after just one ride, which would have ruined his bike.

The Byk specifications only refer to 'alloy'. I presume this means aluminium rather than steel given it is relatively light for a kids bike. The Trail-Gator bracket almost sheared right through the wall of head tube. Perhaps a cheaper steel bike might have fared a bit better.

I got my brother to weld up a steel bracket to spread the load over almost the entire front half of the head tube. It's cut from a piece of steel pipe with a slightly wider diameter than the headtube, with a piece of innertube in between to protect the surfaces. We also extended the bracket along the top tube, which keeps my son's bike dead straight.

Now we use it every day, and love it. But without that bracket the Trail-Gator could have never been used again with his bike.
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Smurk » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:39 am

Hello again.

Thanks for the tips, Byke. I have read the same advices somewhere else, but I don't worry too much because my daughter's bike is a cheap heavy sturdy one (and I understood it would suffer less from that problem (?)).
After hoooooours of installing that thing, I have decided that, if it had to be done again, I wouldn't buy it again. Jeeez, that is so difficult to instal, with these silly padded nuts which take forever to tighten and so on. It's just too hard. Plus, the flip up training wheels are not good at all. The "flip up" idea is just silly, and they sell us the whole pack of wheels and everything, though the only difference with normal training wheels is that kind of big "easy" nut. Why don't they sell only these two nuts? All that for a clunky not-so-easy result... If I'd known before, I would have saved my money and ride with a spanner.
Anyway, I did it. And my daughter was really excited about it. But then we tried and she completely freaked out. She just wanted to go down, we haven't been able to ride one meter. So maybe that wasn't the smartest option for her. We will try again in a few months. Who knows? By then, maybe she will feel more confident with me controlling everything...

So back to the start again. Maybe I could get her to ride her balance bike a bit at the beginning of our long morning ride and then when she is tired, I would seat her in the child-trailer, and somehow pull the balance bike. Maybe I could organise something to carry the balance bike on the child trailer. I feel so tired now, having spent hours on installing this for nothing and eventually going back to child-trailer.

On another matter, do you think the knee protectors are any good? My daughter rides her balance bike very often, in the backyard, there is a path going slowly downhill. She can spend hours riding down that path. Sure, the knee protectors would protect her knees, but maybe that would slow her setting-up each time so she wouldn't ride her bike as much as before; what do you think?
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby Byke » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:56 pm

Smurk wrote:Anyway, I did it. And my daughter was really excited about it. But then we tried and she completely freaked out. She just wanted to go down, we haven't been able to ride one meter. So maybe that wasn't the smartest option for her. We will try again in a few months. Who knows? By then, maybe she will feel more confident with me controlling everything...


Sounds like my son. I have a 7yo who for a few months before his 2nd birthday loved riding his plastic tricycle everywhere. Loved it. When he was a bit older I got him a balance bike, expecting a quick progression. He refused to use it for more than a minute at a time, never got his balance, and five years later still can't ride a bike.

Which is a long way of saying… I'm the wrong person to ask!

But he does love the Trail-Gator. Have you tried riding it with nobody on the back in front of her? Or perhaps trying to find some lawn or artificial grass that doesnt look as scary? Perhaps letting her watch a braver friend of hers? As I say, I'm hardly the person to give advice. Perhaps others can chip in.

But it's great to be able to ride 'together', so persevere if you can. Good luck!
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Re: Tag along, trail gator... ?

Postby sblack » Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:27 pm

Byke wrote:Perhaps letting her watch a braver friend of hers?

Don't underestimate the power of this. Two weeks after my son had learnt to ride I took him and one of his friends down to a little bike park setup like roads with intersections, stop signs, roundabout etc we have near here. His friend was on training wheels and never tried riding without them or to my knowledge ever used a balance bike either. He had ridden a scooter though so that should have helped with balance. Anyway, after a bit of riding around they decided they wanted to swap bikes. My son's friend had just assumed that he could also ride a bike and I watched as my 4 year old taught another 4 year old how to ride. Sure, it was a wobbly start but within half an hour he was taking a couple of corners and riding 20 or so metres at a time. There was none of the fuss or fear that had to be overcome like when I taught my son.
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