An Expert Guide to Thule Bike Trailers
Looking to take your child on a bike ride or run? Baby & Toddler expert Alex K. guides you through the best Thule bike trailers that will keep your child safe.
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If you’re a gear geek like most of us here at Curated, and you spend an inordinate amount of time and money on stuff that makes you happy—like bikes, skis, snowboards, and all types of outdoor gear—you’re probably invested in the rack systems that carry your gear, too. After all, what good is fancy equipment if you can’t go anywhere with it? You also want complete peace of mind that your gear isn’t going anywhere while en route.
That’s the mindset the Swedish company Thule (pronounced “Too La”) has thrived on for the better part of the last 80 years. Their tagline is “Bring your life,” and their products are incredibly diverse, catering to avid adventurers and commuters alike. Thule is known for its high-quality bike racks, winter and water-sport racks, roof racks, and cargo carriers, as well as rooftop tents, luggage, backpacks, and laptop bags.
Just over a decade ago, Thule ventured into the “Active with Kids” product category after acquiring Canadian Chariot Carriers and its multifunctional child carriers in 2011. This kicked off the company’s kids’ line, and it began manufacturing strollers and bike seats in 2014. For Thule child carriers, “Bring your life” became more specifically “Bring your family everywhere,” which resonates with parents who want to maintain an active lifestyle with their kids in tow.
While the market is saturated with kids’ products and lots of bike trailers, few are as high-end, safe, and smartly designed as Thule’s. In a related article, An Expert Guide to Thule Strollers, we delved into the company’s stroller offerings, and the following is a guide to Thule bike trailers.
Don’t be fooled by the words “bike” or “trailer,” as most of these are multifunctional carriers that can be used for various activities, including biking, running, strolling, and cross-country skiing. They all function as pull-behind bike trailers, but most are multi-sport child carriers that can also be pushed or pulled differently, depending on the activity.
What Makes Thule Bike Carriers Unique?
Versatility is hands down the most attractive feature of most Thule bike trailers. Five of its six currently offered bike trailers are multi-sport trailers capable of biking, strolling, or more (with jogging and ski kits sold separately). The exception is the Thule Cadence, a two-seat bike trailer that does not convert into a stroller or anything else.
The option to take your kids with you during a variety of year-round activities (even fat biking!) on all types of terrain (on or off-road) makes Thule a favorite of active families who value performance in their gear. Like most Thule products, these trailers are built to last and can be passed down for generations. They’re recognized for their comfort, highly adjustable ventilation (with large UV-blocking windows and mesh panels), and ease of use. They’re also backed by the Thule Guarantee and manufactured responsibility to reduce the impact on the climate and environment.
In terms of weight capacity, a Thule double bike trailer can support two kids with a combined weight of 100lbs (or 49lbs each). A Thule single bike trailer maxes out at 75lbs—which could serve a single child from birth until about 10 years!
When Can I Put My Baby in a Bike Trailer?
For safety reasons, a child shouldn’t be pulled in a bike trailer before they’re one year old. Once old enough (check with their pediatrician first), we highly recommend taking them on bike paths or roads with little traffic, installing a tall safety flag on the trailer (included with Thule bike trailers), and using a rear safety light (included on Thule Chariots).
In stroller mode, a Thule multi-sport trailer can be used with infants, even babies as young as six weeks old, with a baby insert: the Thule Infant Sling. For babies six to 18 months, a Thule Baby Supporter can be used to support their head and neck in the stroller.
Should I Buy a Single or Double?
If you’re planning on having two children relatively close together, you may want to opt for a two-seat (aka double) trailer. If one is enough or your kids are more than a few years apart in age, a one-seat (single) trailer will be slimmer, lighter, and easier to pull or push.
How Do You Attach a Bike Trailer?
Attaching a bicycle trailer to the bike’s rear axle is a relatively straightforward process, but depending on the complexity of your bike and its axle width, you may need an axle adapter. Thule bike trailers can work with any bike, including single-speed cruisers, hybrid, mountain, road, and disc-brake bikes. Road bikes are usually preferable for the smoothest, most efficient ride while towing one or two kids, but gravel bikes with comparable gearing are also a lot of fun.
A Thule bike trailer attaches to a bike by removing the bike’s rear axle, which is easiest with a 5mm quick-release skewer (often found in bikes without gears). If your bike has a quick-release axle, follow the instructions that come with the bike kit. The axle slides out while the wheel stays put. The hitch opening at the end of the tow arm is then lined up with the axle, which is put back in place to secure the hitch. You can do this without help by placing the bike on the ground. The trailer will remain upright, which makes for easy, secure, and worry-free installation.
If your bike has a 12mm rear thru-axle (generally found on newer bikes with disc brakes, including road bikes, gravel bikes, and mountain bikes), internal gear hubs, or a frame shape that makes it difficult to fit a standard hitch cup, an adapter is required to attach a Thule bike trailer. For specific bike compatibility, refer to Thule’s fitting compatibility guide.
Even with an adapter, properly attaching a Thule bike trailer to a bike is relatively quick and painless. It’s worth noting that while many bike trailers have a standard hitch, Thule is one of the premier brands that have a unique hitch design for a smooth ride with less give and pull from the trailer.
Types of Thule Bike Trailers
Below are Thule’s six multi-sport trailers, listed from most to least expensive (according to their two-seat version MSRP). The Chariot models all have single or double options. The Courier, Coaster XT, and Cadence are double-occupancy child carriers (but can also carry one child), and the Courier can safely hold pets! All except the Cadence convert from a bike trailer to a stroller (or more, depending on the model).
Chariot Sport: Multi-Sport Trailer for Runners
If running is your main hobby, but you also want the option to walk, bike, or cross-country ski with one or two kids, you should seriously consider the Chariot Sport 1 or Sport 2. This 35lb multi-sport bike trailer is designed for athletes and superior to the other Chariots when used as a jogging stroller (jogging kit sold separately). It comes with a twist, disc-activating handbrake to slow the trailer, which comes in handy on steep downhills. Like all Thule Chariots, the handlebar easily adjusts to different heights.
While the Sport is the heaviest and most expensive of the Chariot trailers, it’s worth it if you’re an avid jogger or runner. Its seats are fully padded, recline individually, and can be removed for easy cleaning, and the windows and side panels are removable for a well-ventilated cockpit. The Sport also includes a rain cover, a multi-position sunshade, and a large cargo trunk that doesn’t impede the child’s space or runner’s stride.
If you plan to ski with this trailer, purchase the Thule Chariot Cross-Country Skiing Kit. For more on this multi-sport trailer, see the description in this related article.
Chariot Cross: Multi-Sport Trailer for Everyone Else
For about $100 less than the Sport, the Chariot Cross is also designed for active parents who enjoy various sports: biking, running, walking, and cross-country skiing. It has the same adjustable suspension as the Sport, which is suitable for families who plan to use it on dirt, gravel, or bumpy streets. It also has removable, reclinable seats, a rain cover, a sunshade, and a mesh top for visibility of the child inside.
The main difference is that the Cross does not have a disc handbrake nor removable windows/side panels. It has the same maximum weight and folded dimensions as the Sport (34.2 x 31.5 x 14.7in for the double; 34.2 x 25.5 x 14.7in for the single) but is about five pounds lighter at 30.4lbs.
Chariot Lite: Slightly Stripped Multi-Sport Trailer
If you’re looking to save a couple of hundred dollars, the Thule Chariot Lite 1 and Lite 2 is an even lighter multi-sport bike trailer (27.5lbs) capable of biking, running, strolling, and skiing. Its trailer top is solid rather than see-through mesh, making it better suited for families who plan to use it primarily as a bike or ski trailer.
Just like the other Chariots, the Lite comes with a rain cover, sunshade, and shock-absorbing suspension, but its suspension doesn’t adjust, which makes for a bumpier ride, even on groomed trails. The seat doesn’t recline, making it better for toddlers who don't nap. The seat pad is thickly padded but not removable, and the seat back is unpadded (padding can be purchased separately). The Lite has a larger back pocket than the Cross but doesn’t have an additional rear storage trunk.
Courier: Multi-Sport + Cargo Trailer
With the ability to hold up to two kids, cargo, or a beloved pet up to 100 lbs, the Thule Courier is a versatile trailer that can be used as a stroller, bike trailer, or dog carrier (Dog Trailer Kit sold separately). It weighs 35lbs and folds to 38.9 x 29.1 x 12.5in. The trailer easily converts from a child carrier (with one or two 5-point harnesses) into a flat cargo trailer, and the Dog Trailer Kit turns it into a pet carrier with a removable, padded bed so you can walk or bike with your pooch. It has an adjustable handlebar, roll-up mesh window, and rain and mesh cover.
Coaster XT: Bike Trailer + Stroller
A mid-priced, high-quality bike trailer that converts into a stroller, the Coaster XT is designed for families looking to tow up to two kids behind a bike safely. The trailer weighs 26.5lbs and has an adjustable handlebar and extra storage space for cargo.
It’s an effective bike trailer for getting from Point A to Point B, and once there, it can be used as a simple stroller with a smaller, fold-down front wheel. The Coaster XT attaches to bikes using the Thule ezHitch axle mount (which allows for easy attaching/detaching of the stroller) and folds to 37.8 x 30.7 x 11.8in.
Cadence: Bike Trailer
The least expensive bike trailer of the bunch, the Cadence is described by Thule as “the basic, capable bike trailer,” which doesn’t overstate its capabilities, but it’s limited to biking. Unlike the Coaster XT, it doesn’t have a third wheel to use as a stroller (it also doesn’t have a handlebar).
Like all Thule bike trailers, the Cadence has a simple compact fold (this one measures 37 x 30 x 9in when folded). It mounts with Thule’s axle mount ezHitch system, has two seats, weighs just 22lbs, and has extra storage space for cargo.
No matter which Thule bike trailer you choose, you can be assured that it meets international safety standards to keep your precious cargo safe and happy wherever you venture.
From its hitches to its frames and carrier construction, Thule makes high-end trailers built for years of hard use in all types of weather. These trailers are designed to keep children comfortable and protected from the elements, with waterproof, easy-to-clean fabric and tons of ventilation. Thule’s advanced suspension and large, air-filled wheels smooth out rough, uneven surfaces for less jostling and a comfortable ride that leads to pure joy. Believe us when we say your kids will never want to get out, and you’ll want to crawl in with them!
For help finding the perfect Thule bike or multi-sport trailer to match your family’s needs or budget, reach out to a Curated Baby & Toddler Expert today! We can work within your price point to find you the best bike trailer and any desired accessories!