Product Reviews
Take Action
Back
SIGN THE PETITION

Fight for Fair Finance

Tell the administration and Congress to stand up for the consumer watchdog that protects you from financial fraud and abuse.
Take Action
Why Do We Have Campaigns?
We're fighting to ensure you and your family can get a fair deal in the marketplace, especially on the choices that matter most: health care, privacy, automobiles, food, finances and more. Join our campaigns and together, we'll hold corporations and lawmakers accountable.

Bicycle seats vs. bike trailers for children

Consumer Reports News: May 06, 2009 02:08 AM

Q: I’m in the market to buy a bicycle seat so I can ride my bike with my 1 year old. Which is safer—a bicycle-mounted seat or a bike trailer?

A: Both types of bicycle seats have their safety issues. Because of its low profile, a bicycle trailer, which attaches to the rear axle or frame of a bike and can transport one child age 1 to 6 or so, can be difficult for motorists to see, especially in limited light. (If you go this route, get a 31/2 -foot- to 7-foot-tall, high-visibility orange flag for it.) Trailers are also wider than the bike, so they take up more of the roadway. If you’re riding on the shoulder of a road, which we don’t recommend because we consider trailers “off-road” vehicles, the trailer can stick out into the road if you’re not careful. And trailers can tip over if you turn abruptly or turn when one wheel is going over a bump. As you speed up, braking becomes harder, especially on wet surfaces. Trailers can become snagged on bushes or other objects.

Despite these pitfalls, however, we recommend opting for a bicycle trailer over a bicycle-mounted seat. Here are three major reasons why:

--It’s lower to the ground. Trailers, which have two bicycle-type wheels and a long hitching arm that fastens to a bicycle from behind and ride low to the ground, are potentially safer in an accident. That’s because a child would fall about three feet from a mounted bike seat compared with a fall of about 6 inches from a trailer. A mounted bike seat, which can transport one child age 1 to 5, is positioned behind or in front of a cyclist’s seat. (In either case, your child faces forward.)

--A bicycle trailer may be easier to maneuver. With the added weight of a little passenger at the back or front, a bicycle with a mounted seat might be harder to handle, which can be unnerving or just annoying, depending on how experienced you are as a cyclist. Getting on and off a bike with a baby in a mounted seat can also be difficult.

--It’s less risky. A bicycle trailer provides some protection to passengers since kids are seated, strapped in, and usually enclosed in a zippered compartment. Trailers have a rigid frame enclosed in durable fabric, which offers some protection for young passengers if the unit rolls over. Some designs have a hitching arm that allows the bike to fall without tipping the trailer. But kids still must wear a bike helmet.

Although both types of bicycle carriers have safety issues, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that is preferable for a child to ride in a bicycle trailer rather than a front or rear-mounted bicycle seat because “a young passenger on an adult’s bike makes the bike unstable and increases braking time.” (See the AAP's tip sheet.) The AAP believes that a mishap at any speed on a bicycle-mounted seat could cause significant injury to a child.

See our full report on bicycle seats and trailers.


E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Babies & Kids News

Cars

Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more