#TECHTATA: With a child on a bicycle, or a car seat versus a trailer - what to choose, what is better?

Wanting to ride with a child on a bicycle I purchased a car seat. I chose the best (the most expensive) I found - Hamax Siesta. A moment later, I received the Thule Chariot Cross trailer for testing. I decided to use both bicycle accessories to change to choose the best solution.

Note: # TECHTATA is a new series of entries on Spider's Web. I intend to share opinions and thoughts about hardware and tech gadgets and applications for parents in it. I test all the devices together with my son, Filip (2 years).

Thule trailers are a lot. I had the opportunity to test the Thule Chariot Cross model for one child. The offer also includes a Chariot Cross 2, which has the same functions, but has space for two children. The official price of the tested model is PLN 3959. Hammax seats are also several to choose from. I bet on the Hamax Siesta model, which, as the name suggests, allows the child to lie in a more lying position than sitting. The official price of the tested model is PLN 339.

Since we already know the players, we can start a duel.

Round # 1: preparation for driving

Before the first ride with the Thule Chariot Cross, we must assemble it. In the box the frame is separate, the wheels separately, the headband separately, etc. I definitely recommend to look into the instruction manual - we finally put together a device whose action we entrust to the health and life of our child.

If you put your Chariot Cross trailer in your hands once, you will do it with your eyes closed for the second time. The construction is simple, the elements are well fitted, and the folding and unfolding is very intuitive.

Before we attach the trailer to the bike, we have to remove the rear axle from the rear wheel and replace it with the Thule axle, which can be found in the set with the trailer. This axis has a special handle that allows you to connect the rollbar.

When attaching a rollbar to the trailer and a bicycle bail, we should remember about additional security - the trailer has emergency fixing systems that will work when other solutions fail. During my tests, emergency systems were not useful anymore, but I felt good knowing they were there. I had a sense of security because I knew that even if I made a mistake during assembly, the additional mechanisms would ensure that I did not lose the trailer with the child halfway.

That's it when it comes to advantages. The disadvantage of the trailer is that it is large. If you live in a block of flats and hold a trailer in the basement or on the first floor, it takes some time to prepare it for driving. You have to endure it, spread it out, connect it with the bike, check all the key elements for safety.

There are fewer problems with the Hamax seat. If you mount the bracket once, which involves screwing four screws, then you just use it. In principle, you do not have to remove the seat yourself from the bicycle - it can be mounted and stored in the same position as it is used while driving.

The trailer is very capacious. In the middle will not only fit the child, but also his toys and books. In the bag on the back of the trailer can fit even more toys or food, diapers or some handy bicycle tools. Taking a Chariot Cross trailer in your route you do not have to take a backpack or bicycle bag anymore.

The seat is not capacious. In principle, apart from the child, nothing can fit in there. At most, we can attach a small toy to the armrests so that the child can take care of something if it starts to get bored. The supply of food, diapers and toys must be carried in a backpack and / or a bicycle bag.

Round # 2: ride

Driving with a trailer requires a habit. You have to learn that you are going not only on the track that marks the front wheel. The wheels of the Chariot Cross trailer are spaced quite broadly, which of course ensures its adequate stability, but also makes driving around uneven or curbstones require a lot of attention.

There are generally problems with curbs. If the curb is lowered, it is easy to jump on it when riding a bicycle, even if you do not drive straight ahead and do it at a sharp angle. The situation becomes more complicated when we pull the trailer behind us. You need to aim precisely in place of the lowered curb. However, approaching a high curb is almost impossible.

Riding while with the seat the situation looks almost the same as if we were riding alone on a bicycle. You can easily attack lowered curbs at an acute angle. The approach to the high curb requires rather stopping and pushing back with the legs pulling the back of the bike into an obstacle. Approaching the same curb with a trailer is an even greater challenge.

You can jump on the bicycle (front and rear wheels) with an obstacle, but it is no longer possible to continue driving. The wheels of the trailer are definitely smaller than the wheels of the bike and do not want to drive under the curbs. In such situations, the trailer must be pulled onto the curb while securing the position of the bicycle. However, I did it a few times, because later I just picked the route to avoid the need to get curb peaks.

When driving with a trailer, you should not only remember about its size, but also about the weight. Chariot Cross weighs almost 14 kg. In addition, the weight of the child and the weight of the luggage in the bag may occur. The effect is such that by going down such a set from the hill, our braking distance significantly increases. You must be aware that the bike will not stop as fast as if you were riding alone or with a child in a lightweight seat.

Round # 3: the child's eye

For a child, the trailer is clearly better. The trailer may have worse visibility, but it has better conditions to play, it can also conveniently browse books or even sleep - the position of the backrest can be adjusted in the Chariot Cross. And sleeping in a trailer is not different from sleeping in a pram.

You can also buy numerous accessories for Chariot Cross. I pay particular attention to inserts for babies (from the first month) and small children - they ensure the right position of the child and protect the spine. The Hamax Siesta seat also has a position adjustment and allows a slope of up to 20 degrees. The reclining position is more comfortable for the child (and recommended in the instruction manual), but not suitable for sleeping. If a child falls asleep in a car seat, then a break must be made.

When my son fell asleep in Hamaks for the first time, I noticed that his head began to fall sideways in an uncontrolled way. Lack of support meant that further driving was dangerous. I took the bike to the nearest bench in the park, supported it, secured it against tipping over and waited several dozen minutes for the child to take a nap. It was only later that we could continue the route.

The trailer is definitely more suitable for longer trips - the child can sleep, can also take more toys, and the parent more food, etc.

Round # 4: the parent's eye

As for a child, a trailer will be better in the longer route, so not necessarily for the parent.

I live in Bielsko-Biała, i.e. at the foot of the mountains. In which direction I would not go, I always have downhill or uphill. When I'm uphill, I get tired. And when down the hill, I know I will get tired when I come back.

Riding a car seat around my area I could easily make routes 50 km or more. This result was impossible to replicate with the trailer. Its mass on the routes of my region gave way and I was already a wreck of a man after 30 km driving with a trailer. After 30 km with the seat I knew that I was ready at least so much.

Round # 5: price and summary

The Chariot Cross trailer, which is not the most expensive trailer in the Thule offer, costs PLN 3959, which is equal to ... more than 11 Hamax Siesta car seats (PLN 339). This difference in price is not only important when buying. It also has in use.

Imagine that you leave the bike under the shop. You pin it with the right clasp and go shopping. A car seat? And the car seat is so cheap that you do not care about it.

However, leaving a set of bike + Thule trailer under the shop, it is difficult to forget about the fact that we leave items worth several (thousands) zlotys there. It is therefore necessary to ensure that not only the bicycle, but also the trailer is attached. For this purpose, it is worth to take two fasteners or buy a special Thule lock in the trailer, which locks securely to the Chariot Cross with the bike.

It is difficult to indicate what is better - a trailer or a car seat. Of course, the best solution is to buy both devices and use them depending on the situation.

The trailer will be comfortable for the child during longer trips. If you do not live in a mountainous area, then it will be ok for you - a parent. The need to take a backpack disappears, and the child can have many toys on hand. The seat is a cheap solution and fast. It is quickly assembled, it is quickly ready to use, it quickly moves with it, it quickly drives with it, quickly brakes, and quickly approaches the curbs.

After testing, I sent Thule Chariot Cross to the manufacturer. If I lived in a slightly less demanding condition, I would probably buy Chariot Cross. However, an expense of PLN 4,000 for a bicycle accessory that nearly halves my range on a bike does not make much sense. However, I am considering buying a cheaper Thule trailer - some models are already for 1,400 PLN. A certain solution is also ... the purchase of a bicycle with electric assistance.

PS Always ride in helmets. You and your child too.

#TECHTATA: With a child on a bicycle, or a car seat versus a trailer - what to choose, what is better?


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