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Time to start pedalling

26 March, 2013

When it’s time for your youngster to start pulling their own weight, have a look at tag-alongs. Simon Vincett checked out five varieties.

Photo by PSD

Photo by PSD

At some point you realise that your child has enough energy to contribute to the pedalling and to help you with transporting their ever-increasing weight. Tag-alongs fill the space between using a child seat or trailer and when your pride and joy rides his/her own bike. This period may be a short or a long time – some tag-alongs suggest kids up to nine years old can use them. Later, they can also provide an option for riding in conditions where you’d prefer them not to ride solo – longer distances, steeper hills or in traffic. Maximum weight and height (given below) provide a more certain limit for each model. All models here have adjustable seat height and handlebar position.

A more frustrating restriction might be when a child can start riding a tag-along. This is mainly determined by their height, because the seat can only go down so far, depending on the model. Kids shorter than 110cm will not be able to reach the pedals at their lowest point on the conventional tag-alongs in this test. The Weehoo iGo, however, is great for little tackers because it can accommodate very short legs. The Trail Gator also works with smaller kids if they have a bike that fits them.

Kids also need to have enough balance and to realise that they can’t jump off or steer away towards something interesting. Five years old is usually old enough to start on a tag-along, though younger kids might be ready if they are tall enough and some kids might need a little longer. Wobbling from the tag-along can test the balance of the adult rider. You can try to explain that too much wobbling means you both will fall over but it’s best to always keep two hands on the handlebars and call out turns, bumps, stops and anything significant.

Kids really love doing their own pedalling and they feel energised by the exercise. Call out ‘turbo boost’ and they’ll pedal flat out to help get up a hill or catch up with friends. They chatter away and enjoy that you’re right in front of them to interact with. It’s best not to get too carried away though and ride so far that it stops being fun. Start with modest distances (5–10km) and you can work up to longer rides if you want to. Whenever possible try to have a bail-out option as well: perhaps a nice place to stop while one grown up fetches a car.

Most tag-alongs come with flags for visibility and, like any bike, there are options for attaching a rear light. Some people worry about their child being sufficiently visible but a tag-along actually positions them squarely within the main field of vision of car drivers (think of the height of car brake lights). As for trailing too far behind, most models sit only a metre behind the bike, which adds insignificant length to your bike when travelling at speed. In fact, if you travel at 15km/h you will only take a quarter of a second longer to get through a situation than without a tag-along.

Being a single wheel and not trailing too far back, tag-alongs track close to the line that you ride. It’s only for tight, slow-speed turns that they cut in significantly closer to a corner. Should it be required, they are light enough to pick up and re-align. Backing them is easier than backing a trailer, as is getting on and off trains, though assistance is helpful here.

When fitting, take note of the manufacturer’s specifications when applying the required torque to the mounts, as well as aligning them as accurately as possible.  Many of the tagalongs you have seen that look ‘sloppy’ are actually just not fitted properly.  Some may scratch your seatpost a little – but better that than flopping about all over the place. All five models tested fitted around my rack but some tag-alongs and existing racks are apparently incompatible. Carbon seat posts cannot take the clamp of a tag-along bracket or the associated twisting stress.

Extra hitches are usually sold separately for all the brands, meaning that parents can each connect the tag-along to their own bike. This helps with sharing kinder and school drop off and collection; the tag-along can spend the day in the bike shed. All models considered for this article folded or disconnected for easier storage and transportation by car.

I felt my son learned better balance from riding a tag-along. He also enjoyed mastering ringing his bell when passing pedestrians and calling out “bike up” when another rider approaches. Gears on a tag-along bike enables a child to start to get the hang of gears before they have them on their own bike. Being right behind you, tag-alongs provide an ideal way of modelling road sense and riding skills. Tag-alongs with gears allow practice with these before using them on an independent bike.

Best of all, tag-alongs mean more opportunity for family bike adventures and a sound night’s sleep for the young one.

Find answers to more tag-along FAQs in this excellent Bicycle Network article 

Thanks to Cory Boardman for additional information.

Trail Gator



3kg; connects to child’s bike

108cm long (telescopes shorter and stows on bike)

92%  Best value if child has own bike

  • Easy to use and compact to transport or stow
  • Child’s bike must have free-wheel (the rear wheel rolls without the pedals going around)
  • Kids can operate the brakes of their own bike when you don’t want them to
  • Will not fit on to all kid’s bikes and will result in gouges in the head tube.
  • Can be transferred to bigger bikes as the child grows
  • For kids up to 32kg
  • Dramatically increases your options for riding, as child can go from riding attached, to riding solo, and back again.

More info and to buy

Weehoo iGo

Weehoo iGo


19kg; single speed

212cm long; 130cm folded; 95cm across at widest when folded

92%  Best for little kids or kids with balance issues

  • Excellent weld-free hitch with easy, secure operation
  • Three-point harness and strapped in feet means they can have a sleep
  • Handy storage bags included
  • Canopy sold separately
  • For kids from 96cm up to 132cm tall and 27.2kg

More info and for dealers

WeeRide Pro-Pilot

WeeRide ProPilot


8kg; single-speed (six-speed available $299)

160cm long; 100cm long folded; 80cm across at widest when folded

86%  Best conventional tag-along

  • Functions very well; reliable construction
  • Very good value for money
  • Can be ordered direct; comes with tools for easy completion of assembly
  • For kids up to 45kg
  • Too big for kids under 110cm tall

More info and to buy

Burley Piccolo

BLXT-930201 piccolo_2


8kg; seven-speed twist shift (single-speed available $439)

145cm long; 90cm long folded; 80cm across at widest when folded

83%  Guaranteed to work with rack and panniers

  • High quality materials and construction
  • Rack mount eliminates uncertainty whether tag-along will fit with your rack
  • Complex but easy to use connection system
  • Disconnects rather than folds, which takes longer to use
  • Front half available to make it a bike for $170
  • For kids up to 38.5kg
  • Too big for kids under 110cm tall

More info

Call SCV Imports on (02) 4353 2633 for dealers

Pacific Trailer Bike

Trailbike 1


11kg; single speed

172cm long; 113cm long folded; 80cm across at widest when folded

68%  Reliable construction appropriate for most reasonable uses

  • Functions well
  • Suitable materials and components
  • Reasonable value for money
  • For kids up to 45kg
  • Too big for kids under 110cm tall

More info and dealers

Also available

Avanti Hang On 1 $250

Cheetah Caboose $239 1800 334 898 for retailers

Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.

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