Using a Trail-gator or tag along on a long ride?

Nomad2 Posts: 15
edited December 2013 in Family & kids cycling forum

My wife and I had a crazy thought of doing the Great Victorian Bike Ride, a 9 day, 600km ride (which attracts up to 5,000 riders), with our 6 year old and 3 year old sons in early December. Our eldest is off his training wheels as of a month ago and has already done 7km solo though we have no intention for him to be riding anything of this event solo. We have a chariot trailer (double) which we would take the 3 year old in, but were wondering about using a trail-gator or other tag-along for the 6 year old. The trail-gator seems like a good idea for other times when we might want the flexibility to let him ride solo part of the way. But has anyone used one of them on a 80 - 100km day ride? Has anyone else out there done an event like this with kids of this age? are we mad? Any thoughts on any of this would be greatly appreciated!




  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    Sounds like a great challenge!

    I believe the downside of trailgators is that the child bike is tilted slightly, so the child isn't sitting completely flat on their saddle. Might become an issue if you are doing long distances. There is one type which keeps the bike on the ground - the Followme tandem

    I must admit we have a tag along and a tandem so haven't tried either of them. It's a basic tag along, but we've spent many happy miles using it, would definitely recommend (although the tandem is best)

    Sorry if I'm stating the obvious but probably worth getting some good quality shorts for the eldest and take many packs of jellybabies/haribo or similar.

    Good luck
  • baudman
    baudman Posts: 757
    marylogic wrote:
    I believe the downside of trailgators is that the child bike is tilted slightly, so the child isn't sitting completely flat on their saddle.

    In my experience, that's installation error. If you ensure the clamps are lined up dead straight, the angles are right and it stays upright. If they're off a bit (esp the one on the parent's seat post), then the trailgator and subsequently the kid's bike will always be on an angle. It does require some tweaking from time to time too, as it can creep with use (just like seatposts can also).

    Nomad2, a few questions. What will you be towing with, and how often do you think it'll be likely you'll have him riding solo? And what's his bike? Geared? Handbrakes? (There'll be some long descents, which could tire hands - but of course, could be attached for any tricksy bits).

    Trailgator with kid's bike attached weighs more than a standard tagalong. As marylogic experience shows - If you would be happy with him always being attached, I think it would be a much easier way to go. These two did the whole thing last year.
    Even easier, again as suggested by marylogic, a fully-fledged tandem, which can fit a child on the rear. Pegasus in Australia is a somewhat budget option. This BikeFriday last year could handle two (although I didn't manage to see it in action!

    Having said that, I was all set for my two to ride the last day of the Great Vic with Thing 1 (solo, 3spd) and Thing 2 on the trailgator. Alas, we didn't quite get started as early as we'd hoped, then also got a badly timed flat x 2, so we were too late for course support. Instead, we rode a more direct route of 24km instead of the whole 40. I towed with my CX which had a 50x36 - 11-28.
    I've since changed that to a Wigginsesque 11-34 on the rear (SLX derailleur) and I think that would be a LOT easier to pull her up some of the hills I rode this year. You're going to get some sizeable hills on some of the days on the whole route. (Nothing wrong with walking up some of them, or even taking the sag wagon should it come to it).
    Not sure if I'm going to be able to do any of it this year, with or without the family.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • flester
    flester Posts: 464
    "are we mad? "

    I'd say yes (you did ask!). How many hours will you have them in the saddle and in the trailer respectively? Maybe 3 to 5 hours if doing 80-100km per day?

    Now I don't know your kids, but this would be misery for any 3 to 6-year-olds that I know.

    'I do not believe in the three-speed gear at all', the sergeant was saying. 'It is a newfangled instrument, it crucificies the legs, the half of the accidents are due to it.' (From 'The Third Policeman')
  • Daz555
    Daz555 Posts: 3,976
    6 and 3 yr olds on a ride of 80-100km per day.

    I'm fairly sure they will be utterly miserable, and so will you. :mrgreen:

    My two would go insane with boredom.
    You only need two tools: WD40 and Duck Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.
  • htsw5
    htsw5 Posts: 72
    It is possible to do longer rides with little people on bikes.

    Here's someone taking a 2yo and a 5yo on a 6 week trip round Holland, Germany and Denmark.

    I also have heard of a couple taking 2 kids of about similar ages from Scotland to China overland (some trains), but can't seem to find a link to where I heard it.

    Both these trips used the Circe Helios compact tandem, which I also have and recommend.

    In my experience of riding up to 25 miles with 2 kids aboard it is the boredom and hunger factor you have to watch with the little ones. Having a supply of snacks in your pocket helps with the hunger and saves you having to stop to dig something out and the ability to make up silly games or songs helps with the boredom although this is harder to do when you yourself are getting tired.

    I'd also say it would be important to build up to doing large distances, for you, them and the bike set up.

    Before I got the tandem, my preference for longer rides was always the tag-a-long (over the trailgator) as it had a bigger wheel so was more steady to tow and more comfortable for the child.

    Good luck with whatever you decide
  • Nomad2
    Nomad2 Posts: 15
    Well, we did it in the end! We ended up buying a WeeHoo iGo for the 6 year old which I towed behind my mountain bike and we already had the Chariot Cougar 2 which my wife used to tow the 3 year old. The trip had it's challenges, particularly in the first 4 days when the number of stops and the duration of stops coupled with our inability to get on the road early enough led to us being late finishing. After the Port Campbell rest day things got better and time became less of an issue. Our 6 year old absolutely LOVED it. So much so he is pressuring us to commit to next year. He was happy to ride on even on the 107km day and was always on his seat ready to go when I came to clip him in. He particularly loved the descents... Our 3 year old was not quite as enthusiastic. Ho loved the camping, loved the atmoshpere of the event, but the riding part was a mixture of happy and not so happy moments plus a fair bit of sleep in between. We did some touristy stuff on the way which he loved like the Portland Cable Tram and the 12 Apostles and the Otway Fly. He got excited last week when he saw a picture of the 12 apostles in a travel shop window telling anyone who would listen that he's been there!
  • htsw5
    htsw5 Posts: 72
    Well done.

    I'm glad it went well.