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You may already have an electric bike or be thinking about buying one and like the idea of towing a trailer. Towing a trailer with an electric bike is 100% possible and enhances its capabilities. However, there are a few things that you need to know and consider before hitching a trailer for your electric bike.
In this post, we will go into all the details of towing a trailer with an electric bike. You will learn why they are perfect for the job, what bikes are best suited, and much more.
Why Electric Bikes Are Perfect for Towing A Trailer
Electric bikes are very practical, but when you add a trailer, their versatility increases dramatically. A trailer can turn an electric bike into a feasible way of transporting your family or running errands.
Of course, you can tow a trailer with a regular bike, but electric bikes are much more suitable. The assistance you get from the electric motor makes riding with the added weight of a trailer and its contents much easier. When you get to a steep hill, all you need to do is drop down a couple of gears and select a higher assistance mode. The extra torque will make riding up the hill a piece of cake.
Riding a regular bike with a trailer can be pretty tiring. But, an electric bike allows you to ride for much longer before you start to feel fatigued. Therefore, you will still be fresh when you get to your destination.
An electric bike fitted with a trailer is the perfect way to move cargo, kids, and pets around town. Many people are using this combination as low-cost transport as an alternative to driving their cars. The trailer enhances the sustainability of an electric bike by allowing you to use it for more things.
Types Of Trailers For Electric Bikes
You can buy trailers for different purposes, so you can get one that suits your needs best.
Seats for kids – These are great options for the toddlers in the family. They typically install on the bike frame or rear bike rack. They are compatible with the majority of electric bikes. The Dash bike seat is a great option. It will transform your electric bike into a fun machine for the whole family.
Trailers for kids – You will come across kids trailers with either one or two seats. There are many to choose from, but the Burley Bee is one of the best you can buy. It comes in both one, and two-seater versions and is comfortable and safe.
An alternative for older kids is a trailer bike, such as this one from Burley.
This type of trailer allows your child to pedal too, which keeps them active during your ride.
Trailers for Pets – Pet trailers are pretty similar to kids trailers. Their sides are enclosed and often have a hole, so your dog can poke their head out. The main differences are that they don’t come with a seat, and the bottom is more rigid to be able to withstand sharp claws. A great example of a pet trailer is this one from Schwinn. It is suitable for small and large dogs while being reasonably priced.
Trailers for cargo – There are many different cargo trailers on the market of all shapes and sizes. Which one you choose will depend on what you want to carry. It is worth noting that you can’t carry kids and pets in a cargo trailer safely due to their design.
You can buy cargo trailers with either one or two wheels. Two-wheeled trailers are more stable. So if you ride on bumpy roads or terrain, you would be better off with two wheels. However, they are less efficient, so you should expect your electric bike’s battery to deplete more quickly. The Schwinn Day-Tripper is an excellent example of a quality two-wheeled cargo trailer.
If you opt for a one-wheeled cargo trailer, your power usage will be a little more efficient, thanks to the lower rolling resistance. They also perform better in corners, making your journey easier than towing a two-wheeled trailer. However, loading it up will be a little more challenging and require more planning to get the balance right. A great single-wheel cargo bike trailer is the COHO.
Can You Tow Any Trailer With An Electric Bike?
In theory, you can tow trailers with most electric bikes. But, there are some things you need to know before you buy a trailer and electric bike combo.
There is no point in buying a trailer if you cannot attach it to your bike. Therefore you need to make sure that your trailer is compatible with your electric bike.
Most trailers attach to bikes with the axle. Some trailers come with a replacement axle. These axles are longer than the one you have on your bike, so you can hitch the trailer to it. Your new trailer may come with a selection of axles, so you can choose the one that fits. However, other trailers will require you to buy the axle separately.
You will also come across trailers that attach to the bike via the rear triangle or seat post. Therefore, you must make sure that the trailer you are thinking of buying is compatible with your electric bike.
There are a few other things you need to consider when it comes to towing a trailer with an electric bike. These are more to do with your bike’s specification, so you can have trouble-free and enjoyable riding.
Considerations For Choosing The Best Electric Bike For Towing A Trailer
Choosing an electric bike for towing a trailer can seem a bit daunting. However, with some background information, you will be able to pick one that suits your needs. Here are some things you need to consider:
Also known as “pedelec.” These electric bikes have motors that are only engaged while you are peddling. When you reach 20mph, the motor stops assisting. The motor will either uncouple itself from the drivetrain or resist your pedaling efforts. However, the bike will free-wheel over 20mph downhill without any problems.
These electric bikes have a throttle setting. Therefore, you can ride up to 20mph on the motor using a throttle without pedaling.
These electric bikes work in the same way as class one bikes. However, they have a limited assisted top speed of 28mph.
When shopping for an electric bike, you will find that class one bikes are more affordable. But, for towing a trailer, you should be looking at higher-powered class three bikes. But you need to be prepared to spend more money.
High Powered Motor
When you start looking at the electric bikes on the market, you will notice that they begin at 250W. This is how much power the motor has and is suitable for lighter riders. These bikes are also acceptable for riding in places that are not too hilly. But, when you start adding the weight of a trailer and its contents, you would benefit from buying a bike with a more powerful motor.
By choosing an electric bike with 500 to 750W, you will find it much easier to ride up hills and tow the extra weight. However, you need to ensure that your local electric bike laws permit you to ride high-powered electric bikes without a license.
Choose A Bike With A Mid-Drive Motor
Electric bike motors can be mounted in three places, on each wheel hub or between the cranks. A bike with the motor between the cranks is known as mid-drive. Mid-drive motors perform much better than hub-mounted motors, as they are connected directly to the bike’s drivetrain. The motor uses the bike’s gears, making the bike more efficient and better at climbing hills.
Another advantage of a mid-drive motor is that the bike corners much better. The central, low-down position balances the bike well, enhancing its corner-taking abilities and creating predictable handling.
Choose A Large Battery
Hauling more weight with a trailer makes your motor work harder. Therefore, it calls for more energy from the battery. A decent-sized battery will last much longer than one with a low capacity. A larger capacity battery will allow you to ride much further before it needs recharging.
To extend your bike’s range further, you can carry an extra battery with you. Once your first battery has died, you can swap it for your fully charged spare battery to double your range. However, if you carry your extra battery in a backpack, you may want to choose a smaller battery that is lighter. Alternatively, you can stash your spare battery in your trailer.
Buy An Electric Bike With Powerful Brakes
Most good electric bikes come with disc brakes. These are much more powerful than the traditional rim brakes you get on older bikes or non-electric road bikes.
Electric bikes need powerful brakes to cope with the extra weight and demands of riding with electric power. When you add a fully loaded trailer to your bike, you will want to have as much stopping power as possible, especially when your trailer has a child or pet in it.
For the best stopping power, choose an electric bike with hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes add much more safety to your electric bike/trailer combo. The brake levers give you lots of feels, so you can modulate them easily to stay in control. The extra braking performance hydraulic disc brakes give you also helps you cope with unexpected hazards during a ride.
Tips For Towing A Trailer With An Electric Bike
Making A Trailer Comfortable For Your Kids
As a parent, you will never know what it is like to sit in a trailer behind an electric bike. But you should do what you can to make sure your child’s experience is as comfortable as possible.
The first thing you need to do is make sure the trailer you buy is suitable for your child’s size and weight. Your trailer will perform at its best if you adhere to its weight restrictions. The manufacturer will state the trailer’s weight restrictions in its specification sheet.
To smooth out the ride, you can lower the trailer’s tire pressures. The extra squish will dampen some of the bumps and vibrations on the surface. But, don’t be tempted to go too low with the tire pressures, as the tires will be more susceptible to punctures.
It is also a good idea to provide support on either side of your child’s head. This will prevent their head from bobbing from side to side, especially when they are sleeping.
A kid’s trailer that mounts to your bike’s axle will be more stable than one that attaches to your seat post. Extra stability will create a much more comfortable ride.
Riding With A Trailer
As we have already discussed, a trailer adds weight to your electric bike. Therefore, you will need to adapt your riding technique slightly. The addition of a trailer makes your electric bike handle differently and makes it less responsive.
With this in mind, you need to plan a little more than when you are riding without a trailer. For example, keep looking ahead for large bumps, rocks, or sizable curbs. These obstacles will require you to make sudden movements or brake hard, causing your trailer to bounce or weave. But if you anticipate them, you can ride more smoothly without any drama.
You should also remember that your trailer is often much wider than your bike. Keeping this in mind will keep you and your child safe. The trailer’s extra width means will affect your bike’s turning circle. So, you need to make sure you keep plenty of distance between you and any obstacles.
Also, the extra width is something you need to remember when riding through gates, etc., so you don’t get stuck or crash.
If you are a nervous rider or have never towed a trailer before, it is worth practicing before heading out into traffic. Attach your trailer to your electric bike and ride around a wide-open area. Try to replicate the conditions you will be towing your trailers in, such as tight turns and narrow passages. It is best to put some weight in the trailer to know how it will handle when you place your child into it.
By doing all these, you will be able to get a feel of what it is like to tow a trailer on an electric bike in real-world situations.
A common mistake people make when towing a trailer with an electric bike is to overload the trailer. Too much weight can damage the trailer and its coupling to the bike. But, overloading the trailer will also reduce your assisted range. A trailer can already deplete your battery up to two-thirds faster than riding without one. So, keeping your trailer as light as possible will allow you to ride further before charging the battery or swapping it for a charged one.
Safety Checks You Need To Make
It is essential to make sure any bike is safe to ride. But when you add a trailer to an electric bike, you would be wise to pay more attention to safety, especially if you intend on carrying a child or pet in it.
There are some checks you can do to make sure your trailer and bike are as safe as they can be. Some checks can be carried out every month or so, but others should be done before every ride. When you first start using a bike and trailer, you need to be extra vigilant with safety checks. It takes a while for everything to “bed-in,” so you may find that things become loose more often in the early days.
Monthly Safety Checks
Every month, you should check the trailer’s hardware. For example, is the trailer hitch and drawbar in full working order? Also, inspect the flex connection and frame for any damage that could make your trailer unsafe.
During your monthly checks, ensure all the bolts are tight but not too tight. As you go around the trailer, you will be able to see any wear or cracks in the frame and wheels. This is also an excellent opportunity to examine the trailer’s fabric for damage or tears that may let in water.
Checks Before Each Ride
You don’t want your trailer to lose a wheel during a ride. Therefore, you should make sure that they are correctly attached. Likewise, you don’t want your trailer to become uncoupled from your bike. So, ensure that the drawbar is secure and the trailer is connected correctly.
The main priority for towing a trailer with kids is their safety and comfort. So one of your checks should be to ensure the tires have the correct pressure. But more importantly, they should be buckled in and wearing a helmet.
As the trailer is much lower down, it may not be visible to some pedestrians and drivers. Therefore, trailer manufacturers include a safety flag with their products. The flagsticks up high into the air alerting people to the trailer behind the bike. When they see the flag, they can give the trailer plenty of room on the roads and cycle paths.
If you have not ridden with the trailer for a while, your kids may be heavier since your last ride. If this is the case, you need to check that their weight is still within your trailer’s maximum payload.
The last thing to check before a ride is the condition of your electric bike. At the very least, you need to ensure that the brakes and tires are in good condition. But, you also need to fully charge your bike’s battery, as pedaling a dead electric bike with a trailer is exceptionally difficult.
Accessories For Towing A Trailer With An Electric Bike
Some trailers have a handle built-in. These are super useful, as you can use them as a stroller when you get to your destination. Also, some have various configuration options to make them more versatile.
But what about the bike? Electric bikes now come with a vast range of accessories. You can enhance your electric bike’s usefulness by fitting cargo racks for extra carrying capacity. This is especially useful for days out or even camping trips.
One accessory an electric bike should come with is an easy-to-read LCD screen. The screen will allow you to keep an eye on your battery status and how much range you have left. With this information, you can adjust your riding style and work out a strategy for getting to your destination before the battery dies.
Some electric bikes have a whole host of other features that are unlocked with a smartphone app. These electric bikes with wireless connectivity are worth checking out, as they enhance electric bike ownership dramatically.
For example, depending on the bike, you can use your phone to track your bike. The app will alert you if it has been stolen, and you can even turn it off remotely.
Also, some bikes have other built-in security features. These include a rear-wheel lock on the frame and a lock to prevent the battery from being removed.
If you use your electric bike for commuting, you need to make sure you are visible to other road users. Therefore, your electric bike needs to have good lights, front and rear. Often electric bikes come with bright LED lights, but if yours doesn’t, buy some.
Alternatives To Towing A Trailer With An Electric Bike
If you don’t like the idea of towing a trailer with an electric bike, there is an alternative in the form of a cargo bike. Cargo bikes are becoming increasingly popular with people living in the city. They are used to carry kids, adults, and cargo, depending on their configuration.
Cargo bikes are very practical, and manufacturers add all sorts of features to enhance their versatility. For example, they often come with foldable handlebars, so you can fit them in a car. Also, you can expect a whole host of accessories, such as additional seats and footplates, cargo racks, and paniers.
Cargo bikes generally come with powerful motors and high-capacity batteries. Therefore, you can be sure that they will be able to cope with the weight of the loads you want to carry. In addition to the extra power, cargo bikes have very strong brakes so that you can stay in control, even with the extra weight.
As you can see, there are many advantages of towing a trailer with an electric bike. As long as your bike and trailer are compatible and you look after them, you should have many fun and safe rides.