Trail Angels

deadfall Posts: 32
Has anyone got any experience with Trail Angels? They seem a bit more secure (heavy and expensive) than trail gators and I'm wondering which would be best. I can't stretch to a followme tandem, especially when I'm not sure how we'll get on with tandems.


  • I want something that allows my boy to ride his bike independently of me, I think I'll try to get a gator bar of ebay and see if I can rig something up to protect the paintwork using something like neoprene.
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    deadfall wrote:
    I want something that allows my boy to ride his bike independently of me, I think I'll try to get a gator bar of ebay and see if I can rig something up to protect the paintwork using something like neoprene.

    You want the bracket on your child's bike to be as firm as it possibly can be. It's not something you want any movement in at all. If you are concerned about scratching the paintwork (actually, you'll end up with some small marks in the head tube), then a trailgator is not for you. This is on an aluminium frame. I think this pic is indicative - scratches are significant, but really not quite up to a 'gouge' status.
    I didn't hesitate mounting it on Thing1's brand new Santa-supplied bike, after seeing the damage caused to her previous one (above). Small price to pay, and in reality, some kid's bikes end up with far worse on other parts of the bike just from regular use.

    First I've seen of TrailAngels. I'm not convinced, but I'd like to see one in the flesh. The video certainly doesn't paint it as something I'd pick over a TrailGator. Reading the website, it's obvious they've looked at some of their competition (TrailGator, but perhaps a few others) and targeted their perceived deficiencies. Not something I've really has much trouble with.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • I'm starting to think that it's more hassle than it's worth to get a tow bar solution There's 2-3 good off road cycle paths within 5 minutes of where I live and wide quite pavements, or riding through the park outside my door is all that's required to get to them. I'll probably get a trailer bike instead for the bigger rides.
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    I think it depends upon your intended use. For us, it's (largely local) transport primarily, and then recreational use occasionally (and/or transport to it)- so it makes a lot of sense for us.

    If they can make their own way for occasional recreational rides, there's certainly less need.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • I love the pearls of wisdom on here even though none of the respondents has actually had a go with a trail angel.

    Has anyone actually tried one of these yet?

    I notice that the Edinburgh Bike Coop are selling them and I'm pretty keen on the idea - it seems likely that the extra fitting on the child's front skewer would give more stability than the trailgator* - so perhaps I'll come back and let everyone know how it goes if I get one.

    * Notably this has the effect of locking the child's steering.
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    The TrailGator has a bar that clips on to sort of lock the steering, although after a few years of use, mine is a little on the loose side and can unclip.

    If you take the plunge, I'd really be interested to hear your experiences with it. It's the concept of being able to tow a whole bike and attach/detach quickly and easily that makes me such an advocate of the TrailGator... not so much that it's the be all and end all - but the 'better than the competitors' sort of sentiment on the website does make me smirk.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • I just bought a trail angel for my daughter she is 5 and rides about 3mph. I'll post pics and results after the weekend.
  • macbikes
    macbikes Posts: 58
    I gave up using a trailgator by the time my son was 3. Much easier to just push up the hills (either riding or pushing bikes) . Mind you we don't ride for much longer than 5 or 6 miles.
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    edited May 2014
    Just an update...

    I did end up replacing the QR on the kid's bike end of my TrailGator. I've had it for about four years now, and it's had plenty of use (onto its second kid).

    I think both of these products are great for the versatility they provide. Mine currently gets used 2/3 times a week - with the 5yo attached about 3/4 of the time. I expect the usage to go up, but the ratio attached to go down over the next couple of years. :D
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • No pics yet, but I tried the trail angel last night and it was as good as I hoped. It was mentioned that trail angel addressed the perceived issues of competitors products. The only reason I did not purchase the trail gator was that in the pictures it looked like it held the front tire very high on a 12" bike. I was able to adjust the height as advertised. It held the child's bike very rigid and securely in line with my bike. I was also pleased with the securing mechanism on the child's bike. All this being said I am only riding on paved roads. I would not want to attempt more difficult trails with this rig. I hope to post pics tomorrow.
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    The only reason I did not purchase the trail gator was that in the pictures it looked like it held the front tire very high on a 12" bike.
    Yeah- it does. There are shims so you can adjust the height, but a 12" bike will be up there no matter what.

    Having said that... I don't really see that as all that much of a problem - but at that aged kid, I'd only be riding short distances. For longer distances, I would look at alternatives.

    Looking fwd to your pix.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • This is my "train". I am happy with the trail angel so far. I was a little upset when I saw my daughter in sandals in the pictures. I told her to get shoes on and just assumed she did. I'll just have to pay more attention the next time. Anyway, we had a good time.
  • Just an update. We have gone on many rides with the trail angel. For the most part I am pleased. The biggest problem I have with it is that for storage (when the child's bike is not attached) they give you zip ties to use to tie the thing to the frame of the adult bike. I saw that and my first thought was "are you serious?"
    When we arrive at a destination I just take the whole thing off rather than zip tie it to the frame. I know I am being picky, but when I spend upwards of $100.00 on something like this I expect it to be a little more well thought out than just using zip ties to hold it on.
    Sorry this was a bit of a rant and possibly obnoxious to many readers. My over all impression of the trail angel is positive I was just somewhat appalled by this one feature of the product.
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    Yeah - I agree, that's pretty poor. :(

    As an alternative - double-sided Velcro style tape - often used for network cables or power leads, could be a solution.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • macbikes
    macbikes Posts: 58
    Great photo :)
  • Hi , Jim here from the distributor of Trail Angels in Australia.
    The manufacture has now superceded the 'Zip Ties' storage system for stowing the Trail Angel while not towing your child. All Trail Angels now shipped include the upgrade to the storage system.

    We can ship the upgrade to past buyers at very low cost just contact us via our website for details.

    Trail Angel Australia
  • So I wrote a slightly more in depth "review" of the Trail Angel a while back. I was holding off on posting until I took a couple of photos, but I haven't got round to that, and since, despite being a few years old, this thread still seems to be one of the primary online reference sources regarding the Trail Angel (oddly), here it is in case it's useful to anyone.

    I'll just paste it in as originally written. Notably Aussie Jim seems to have covered the stowing angle, but I would still recommend a rack and a bungy cord. Not least because for short rides (eg the half mile school run) my daughter just perches on the rack, which avoids getting the Trail Angel out and fitting it. For longer leisure rides, I would still recommend it.


    Firstly, I'm going to explain why I bought it - ie why I preferred it over other similar options I considered.

    - Trailer-bike/Tag-along.
    I wanted something that would allow the child's bike to be disconnected and used independently. Plus my daughter already has a decent bike, so a one-wheeled trailer just seemed like one more piece of kit to take up space or to transport around. Hence the trailer-bike didn't really fit the bill.

    - TrailGator
    This is probably the best known tow-bar option. It also folds up, but I just feel slightly uncomfortable looking at it and thinking about the forces. It seems to me that the cross-bracing of the Trail Angel's attachment to the child's bike's wheel-nuts makes it more sturdy. The child's bike and trail angel are very rigidly connected to each other, and that system then *leans* against the seat post (using the hinge).

    - Follow-me
    This is another rather sophisticated (and rather expensive) towing device. I was very tempted, especially after seeing rave reviews in the CTC magazine. But not only was it twice the price of the Trail Angel, but I read accounts which led me to belive the attachment might be tricky with my disc brakes.

    I should be clear that I've never used a trailer-bike, trailgator or follow-me. So I'm certainly not an expert.

    Having seen the Trail Angel in the Edinburgh Bike Co-op, I bought it online from a company called Y Frame Discounts, which had a slightly confusing Trail Angel dedicated website.

    The service was pretty decent, although I would say the assembly instructions weren't brilliant, so I might not recommend this to anyone who's not comfortable with a socket-set and spanners. After all, you want to be confident it's not going to fall apart at 15mph. Since I bought it I noticed a new YouTube video demonstrating the construction.

    Once attached, the handling was a little unfamiliar at first and I did feel a very slight twisting motion, but after some use I'd say I got used to it, and I haven't had any problems with instability. Certainly I assume it was nothing worse than you'd get with any trailer option (such as a TrailGator). Of course you have to be conscious of it when turning, as with any trailer, but we manage to navigate through anti-motorbike barriers without too many handlebar scuffs. The instructions advise against towing a riderless bike, but I've done so with no problems. Similarly it's quite possible to walk the bikes with the rider on the back, but it feels much steadier when everyone's on-board and riding, so maybe better for the adult to get on first.

    At first I found the main pivot bolt was coming loose during rides which was disconcerting. On reflection I guess I hadn't done it up tight enough - perhaps I felt there should be some slack in it to allow for turning. But I emailed the retailer who quickly advised me to do it up tighter, so I did, and it's been fine ever since.


    Overall I'm pretty happy with the kit for the price. It feels quite sturdy after getting used to the feel of riding with it. I often use it in combination with the weeride seat up front for the one-year-old, although I wouldn't do so on a fast/busy road with motor vehicles (Dutch style car-free infrastucture ASAP please). The Trail Angel folds up quite well, although it's not light.

    I should definitely mention that my daughter loves it. She likes to ride her own bike, but knows she can tire on longer distances so this gives her more enthusiasm and means we can do some towing and some independent riding. We're lucky to live quite near a park and an old converted loop-line so this is a handy fun way to get across town. People - including other kids - comment on it admiringly, so my daughter knows it's cool, and a few times at the park I've ended up giving all her friends rides around the park (which gets tiring after a bit!).


    - Initial set up was a bit fiddly, since it came half assembled.

    - Attaching and detaching are a little more fiddly than I would like. It does get easier and quicker with practice and the demo videos on Youtube are probably realistic indications of how long it takes if you know what you're doing. But it certainly isn't clip-on/clip-off. In particular, I would remark on the quick-release bolt which connects it to the towing bike. While it has a q-r lever, it isn't really "quick-release", because unlike a wheel skewer the nut has to be completely removed to attach or detach the fitting from the bracket. It's not hard, but it does lead to the very real possibility of the small curved q-r washer (or the nut) falling off and getting lost, which could really scupper you. Also, the bolt for the quick release has a separate locknut, which I assume is in case the main nut comes undone(!). However this means you need to carry a spanner to get the locknut on and off, so I've just stopped using the extra locknut.

    - The "stowed" position on the towing bike is a bit of a bodge. As far as I can tell from the instructions it involves using cable ties to attach the Trail Angel to the rear wheel stays. This kind of works, but the cable ties came a bit loose once (and the Trail Angel ended up rubbing on the tyre) and it does mean you get through cable ties, and you have to make sure you have some on you, as well as remembering to take knife and scissors if you want to unstow it and reconnect the bike. Notably, not only does the Trail Angel work fine with a rack on the towing bike - there's plenty of clearance - but it's easier to stow the Trail Angel by using a bungy cord to lash it to the rack, and this means you can attach/detach the towed bike as often as you like without cable-ties or extra tools.


    It seems to work pretty well for us on short to medium off-road leisure rides, so I'd certainly recommend it for that purpose. In the longer term I'm looking at longtail cargo bikes (or maybe a Circe Helios - drool!) to carry the family but there's the expense, and the extra storage. Also that would mean taking the child's bike would be harder, and a tandem wouldn't bend through anti-motorbike barriers, so in a way it could be less flexible.
  • sstanley61
    sstanley61 Posts: 1
    Hey thanks for the comments on the Trail Angels. I bought one about 4 months ago and am not too happy with it. One needs to realise that it does not fit any quick release front wheels given the enlarged quick release lugnuts. But the axel can be replaced with ordinary lugnuts, which is what I did. I also found the quality of the nuts and bolts somewhat underwhelming. The nuts need to be really forced down over the bolts and I wonder if this is due to a lack of quality of precision machining or on purpose to reduce risk of nuts slipping off. I don't get this on other products. But my biggest issue is with the stability of the system and perhaps I have something wrong here. The kid's bike does not seem to want to stay straight up and that is a problem. I've had to lower the bar so that the front wheel just sits on the ground but that is not how it should be operated. The other issue I have is that it does not seem so good for a longer bike-ride so I feel now that I should have a real tag-along with a single wheel so we can go for miles without worries.