When traveling by bike, the space in the pannier bag quickly becomes tight. Trailers offer more space and payload. We tested five models that are also suitable for long distances.
Travel trailers have to do one thing above all else: run after the bike as simply and easily as possible. Anyone who covers many kilometers a day will soon curse every kilo too much, every stiff bike and every superfluous drag. Therefore, shopping trailers, dogs and child trailers are only suitable for long tours to a limited extent. We tested five trailers that specialize in travel.
Four of the models tested are single-track trailers. This means that they only have one wheel and that the lateral stability is created by a torsion-resistant attachment to the towing bicycle. Anyone who is skeptical about such a concept will notice when driving that it works well in principle. At least as long as the center of gravity is low and the overall load is not that high. The forces that occur in an inclined position not only act on the trailer, but also on the bike.
It looks different with a two-track trailer. Like trailers for cars, they have two wheels. If you pack the weight in such a way that it mainly acts above the axis of the trailer, it hardly affects the riding dynamics of the bike. Only the weight on the drawbar plays a role. Therefore, luggage should always be distributed in such a way that only three to ten kilograms press on the drawbar.
The tested trailers can transport between 28 and 45 kilograms. That should be enough in any case, because at the latest on the first incline, a bike tour ceases to be fun when you have to pull such large loads upwards. The test shows that more than 20 kilograms of luggage have a negative impact on the driving dynamics of the single-track trailers. If you want to transport 30 kilograms or more, you should choose a two-track trailer for safety reasons.
How easy it is to get around tight bends or through the notorious revolving barriers depends on two factors: the width of the trailer and its length from the joint. The latter factor influences the inner radius in a curve: a long trailer runs much narrower (in relation to the towing bike) through a curve than a short trailer. Models that have the joint behind the rear wheel of the towing bike show their advantage. The joint directly on the rear axle is not quite as cheap, the attachment to the seat post is even less favorable.
Some trailers have suspension. It has advantages and disadvantages. The running smoothness is much better, especially on humping stretches the trailer no longer jerks the bike; in fact, the effort required is less when sprung on rough terrain. On the other hand, there is the higher weight of such constructions. If it is longer on smooth asphalt, the unsprung models have an advantage.
The trailer is usually attached to the rear axle of the bicycle. Only the Tout-Terrain trailer is attached to the bike via the seat post. The principle is always the same: On the wheel side, the coupling is attached once with a little effort, then the hanger can be quickly attached or detached using an individually designed mechanism.
When attaching the seat post to the seat post, there may be problems with the suspension posts and the retractable dropper posts on some mountain bikes. The attachment to the axle is almost always problem-free if the bike has a quick release. Bicycles with a fixed axle, on the other hand, are slowly dying out – here you need new axle nuts from the trailer supplier to hold the trailer.
If you have a bike with one of the new quick-release axles, first go through the hell of quick-release axles – because the bicycle manufacturers have not agreed on a standard for quick-release axles, but rely on individual concepts. There are three thread pitches on thru axles alone. The simplest thing is to delegate the topic of “quick release axles for the trailer” to the bicycle dealer. But the dispatchers also know the topic and advise customers on the selection of a suitable axle.
The FollowMe Cargo is a kind of secondary recycling of the well-known FollowMe tandem coupling for children’s bicycles – a system with which the children’s bicycle can be coupled to the parent’s bicycle. The Potsdam-based manufacturer simply provided a single 20-inch bike with a luggage rack and a weaker (and therefore lighter version) of its clutch. The FollowMe Cargo therefore only carries things that can be attached to luggage racks. So panniers, for example. Our Ortlieb classics fit right away.
The small hanger only makes sense if there is no or not enough luggage rack space on the towing bike. On racing bikes and mountain bikes, for example, on tandems or on bikes with a child seat at the back blocking the luggage rack.
FollowMe has specialized in the needs of this rather special target group and offers the Cargo in a variant with narrow tires especially for racing cyclists who drive on asphalt anyway and value low rolling resistance. For long-term travelers there is a version with an integrated hub dynamo that can charge smartphones or power banks while driving. Large, extra-long pannier bags, which, due to their length, would block the pedals on the bike rack, are available as accessories.
Up to 28 kilograms can be loaded. Like all single-track trailers, the overall system becomes wobbly at some point when it is heavily loaded. But the bags can be attached to a second, deeper cross member just above the floor, which helps to provide more stability with a lot of weight. Due to the pivoting behind the rear wheel, the shortest of the tested trailers runs through tight curves almost directly behind the bike and hardly takes up any space of its own.
The trailer itself weighs just under 3.8 kilograms and is therefore very light. Without a load it jumps on bumps, even with a small load it runs smoothly.
A quick release axle for replacing the original on the bike is included. If you have a thru axle, you have to purchase it separately at a price of around 50 euros. Coupling and uncoupling is a matter of a minute: The hanger holder is pushed into the mounting on the left and right and secured with two wing nuts plus a split pin.
It’s easy to transport, it also fits in the trunk of a Golf – the mounting arm is a bit annoying in the way because it can only be rotated up to approx. 90 degrees.
These are the advantages: The FollowMe Cargo can be stored in the apartment to save space, is easy and uncomplicated and is not a fun spoiler even in the low mountain range.
These are the disadvantages: The trailer is hardly usable without good panniers – this should be considered when calculating the purchase price. The profit is manageable on bicycles with their own luggage rack. And ultimately the trailer transports less than all competing products.
Does he sometimes carry a case of beer? Rather not.
Who is the trailer suitable for? For racing cyclists: inside who finally want to go on a trip, for tandem riders: inside with too little storage space and for parents who have blocked their luggage rack with the child seat.