To Tagalong...or not?!

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Jet, 30 Mar 2008.

  1. Jet

    Jet Über Member

    So the story is .... my 5 year old is getting a bit big for me to tow in the bike trailer and I was thinking of getting a tagalong/trailer bike. He can't ride his bike without stabilisers yet but I'm itching to go further afield with him (I soooo miss proper MTB riding!) and this seems like the only option until hes able to get around under his own steam.

    Has anyone got an opinion/advice on whether these are a good idea and if so which would you recommend? I've done a little research and see that they seem to be around £100 for a standard gearless model. Is this good value or do kids tend to outgrow these quite quickly? Is a geared model worth getting? Is the towalong sensation of a trailer bike the same as the trailer or can I expect a lot more instability? All advice/comments/guidance gratefully received. Thanks.
  2. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Welcome Jet

    No experience of Tag-a-longs so you'll have to wait for somebody who does but I used to use something called a Trail-Gator

    The advantage is you can use his own bike, so when he feels like cycling he can. You can get flip-up stabilisers but I just used to carry a spanner and whip them on and off.

    The caveat is it depends on the bike as to how well they fit and you have to fit them properly to work. Get it wrong and the towed bike 'leans'. Having said that I used them on both kids bikes, with the longest journey about 17 miles.
  3. ufkacbln

    ufkacbln Guest

    The trailer bike itself is not a problem. Most have a a variable seat height and the handlebars will either rotate or move to allow growth of the rider.

    The other thing to consider is the towing bike which should be robust and MUST have good brakes as you are now stopping a lot more weight and momentum.

    Handling is sluggish as you are pulling extra weight, but as the child starts to contribute this lessens, however a tired child will always coast and be dead weight.

    One snag you need to get used to though is that as the child moves there is a "Flick" transmitted to the lead bike. Manageable but unexpected.

    I used a cheap "Adams Trail-a-bike" and a Cresswell U+2
  4. Both my boys (8 & 5) still use a tag-along, in turn. They also ride their own bikes. The tag-along helps us go further and longer. It gets used on trails, road and NCN routes. The kids love it, and it means Mrs Stig lets me get out for some longer (slower) rides without kicking up too much.

    They like using the gears on it and they like going over obstacles on the MTB trails too, giving them more confidence when they are by themselves.
  5. Maggot

    Maggot Star of BBC 5Lives Ballot Box Brigade

    Around and about
    I would echo what Cunobelin said. The only downside I have found is that if we are cycling as a family and my son on his own bike calls out to our daughter on the tag-along, when she turns around it can unexpectedly cause quite a "whip" to be transmitted to my bike. It's not a major problem most of the time, but if you are concentrating on a junction or roundabout in can be a little off-putting!!

    Otherwise they are great, we have been on much longer rides since we have had ours, and it's great for keeping us all together. We have some friends who bought a bar which is permanatly on the towing bike, but unclips from the childs bike so they can be towed when tired and cycle on their own otherwise. I have not used it, but whenever they tow their daughters bike it is always at some crazy angle, and must be horrible to be on for her, I'd not suggest one of those.
  6. tdr1nka

    tdr1nka Taking the biscuit

    I can echo Cunobelin on all fronts.
    I take Ms tdr1nka(6)to school with a tag-a-long and she loves it!

    The best way to deal with your child moving around and effecting your balance is to ride as if in blustery wind and just be ready for any unanticipated twitches or 'extra' steering.
    If you have ever ridden motorbikes it is very like having a very fidgety pillion passenger.

    Have fun!

  7. Bollo

    Bollo Failed Tech Bro

    And another thing....

    Have a look for tag-alongs that have a rear-rack type connection, rather than attach to the seatpost. The seatpost connecting ones tend to tilt the tagalong towards the outside of a turn, which can feel a bit disconcerting.

    The alternative is to try and find a cheap second hand tandem and fit some kiddycranks. You get much better control, but the nipper might be higher-up than you'd like.

    For a very expensive alternative, have a look at a kiddyback tandem. Thorn do a derallieur and a Rohloff option, but there are one or two other makes if you look on the interbob.

    I sold a kidney and got a Thorn Discovery kiddyback last year for me and Bolletta (now 6) and I've not regretted it, despite the constant fear of the good Mrs Dr Bollo finding out how much it really cost.
  8. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    I don't know where you are based, but do you have a country park or similar nearby that hires this sort of thing out for the day? I would certainly suggest trying a few alternatives (tagalong vs tailgator vs tandem if you can try one) before investing. And get the best you can afford - perhaps second hand? Like bollo says, a rack fixer, like the Burley Picolo, or an Islabike is much better than a seatpost mounted one. And because kids grow out of them, you can get something decent second hand - try looking in CTC small ads, (do C+still do small ads?) or online small ads like Velo Vision, or once ridden...
  9. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Sounds like a tag-a-long and as I warned you have to set it up correctly but if it is it's great. Here's a vid of ours (a few years back now)

    Can someone let me know if the vid works as I've not used Google before?
  10. It works for me, our IT admin haven't blocked it yet!
  11. tdr1nka

    tdr1nka Taking the biscuit

    Vid plays fine on my browser Crackle!

    Going to look into the tail gator as Ms Tdr1nka is growing like a Midwhich Cuckoo and won't be comfy for much longer on the tagalong.
    Other Parents I have spoken to about tagalongs that attach at your seat post find they have a tendency to lean, this can be exacerbated on taking corners or by your child leaning into turns.
  12. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    They do if you don't set them up right or the adaptor kit doesn't fit the bike properly - can't stress that enough.

    When Son No.1 finally got a bigger bike, we had to abandon the Gator because it didn't fit his bike properly. Likewise I gave one to a friend and gave him specific instruction on fitting. He fitted it and it didn't work, so I got it back.


    If they do fit they're fantastic and as I say we had two, did lots of cycling with them, including using trains, try that with a tag-a-long.

    I think I have one going spare actually, maybe two. I'll look in the shed.
  13. tdr1nka

    tdr1nka Taking the biscuit

    Crackle, can I get some advice please?

    I got an 'Alley Cat Mongoose' second hand and it came with two different mountings for my seat post, one had a vertical pivot but the pin looked quite corroded(it had lived by the sea before me)so I have used the fixed mounting.
    Unless there is twist in either the mounting or the tandem connector I'm utterly stumped as to how I can rectify the 'lean'.

    Having looked at reviews etc. I'm going to get a tail gator, Ms. tdr1nka is on her first 'proper' bike now(just an old Universal girls MTB but it'll do for school runs and her learning to ride)and I'm certain she is getting too big for the Alley Cat.

    Cheers T:biggrin:
  14. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Not sure about the lean on your tag-a-long. I would've thought it's got to be the mount. Have you tried shimming it with some washers? Also is the bike straight?

    Lean on the Gator was generally down to fitting the bike adaptor kit straight or not as the case may be. I have limited (none) experience with tag-a-longs.
  15. tdr1nka

    tdr1nka Taking the biscuit

    I think it's a tagalong thing and I'm now wondering about the bike being straight, a closer inspection should show any twist in the boom. TBH it's not the best coupling I've seen but it does suffice and teaches Ms tdr1nka the thrills of counter balance!?!

    TY again Crackle!
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