Bike Trailers in Ireland – An Opinioned Guide

By Eoin on 7 May 2017.

Waiting for bike trailer

Human child waiting for bike trailer assembly.

Let’s start upfront and go from there:

Can I transport my Christmas tree in the trailer instead of my kids?

Christmas tree in bike trailer

Yes, you can.

Can I do my weekly shop with the trailer?

Yes.

Should I transport my kids in a bike trailer in Limerick city?

Yes. Do that instead of taking a car.

Won’t this endanger my kids?

Back at you:

  • Do you drive your kids on the motorway at 120kph? (immediate danger)
  • Do you feed them bread and corn flakes? (chronic danger)

Won’t people stare at me?

Yes.

Won’t people think they have right of way because they’re driving their car through the city at 50-60kph?

Yes.

So you want to buy a bike trailer in Ireland

Where can I buy a bike trailer?

We got our Thule Chariot from Tri Bikes in Raheen, Limerick. It was on offer at the time, an ex-display model.

Thule are a big brand with bike trailers. So try to find a dealer in Ireland. The list looks very small, so you might well want to buy online.

What kind of bike trailer should I buy?

Walking with bike trailer

Thule Chariot with its small front stroller wheels attached for… strolling.

We got a Thule Chariot Cougar 2. It takes two kids. The 2 means two kids.

It doesn’t have suspension, and don’t bother with suspension – the cost will skyrocket.

It came with removable front wheels to let you use it as a stroller, so you can look like a hippy doing your Milk Market shopping with two kids in it.

What kind of bike do I need?

We’ve used it on two bikes: a hybrid city bike and a lady’s upright bike. You need to screw an attachment to the bike’s rear axel. Easy with a quick-release axel, and needs a spanner or two for an axel with bolts.

As for road racing bikes, I’ve no idea if they connect.

What equipment do I need?

  • Your bike
  • The trailer. Keep it simple. Don’t splash out on the suspension models.
  • A helmet for the kids.
  • For added attention-grabbing, I got a couple of kids bike ribbons in Dealz discount shop. They velcro around poles, and they make the trailer be seen a bit better.
  • Taped-on extra reflector tape. (Thanks Dave.) Get in a motor factors.
  • Rear red light, for any low-light cycling.
  • Reflectors that clip on to the spokes.

Tips for riding your bike trailer through Limerick / Galway / Cork / Dublin

Take small roads

I was amazed at how many non-main roads I could find to get to my regular destination across Limerick. There are also lanes and cul-de-sacs you’ll find you can navigate by bike but not by car.

  • Take it as an adventure.
  • Don’t do it under time pressure when you’re starting.
  • Study the map to see how you can do better.

Take space like car drivers do when needed

If the road isn’t wide enough, don’t pull into the gutter to show you’re trying. Move out into the lane to ensure the driver doesn’t try to overtake. When it’s safe again, do make space.

Make eye contact with people who are driving

Actively seek out eye contact. The brain doesn’t go into such auto-drive mode when it sees a face. I’ve gone so far as to use gestures sometimes (such as “hold on a moment there, dear driver, you’re coming too close at me while trying to avoid the obstacle in your own lane”.)

Collection of quotes

Here’s the reaction of some people we’ve heard on the streets of Limerick.

  • “Isn’t that the best buggy, the two of them in it”
  • “Look, there’s two babies in the back!” (I should shout this and point at him when he drives past with his kids in his car 😉 )
  • “That’s some machine”
  • “Oh, that’s handy”
  • “That’s a fantastic buggy”
  • “That goes on the bike as well” (said to his wife)
  • “Where did you buy that?”
  • “That’s a great idea. Look, there’s kids inside. That’s a great idea.”

Issues and Challenges

Attracts quiet disapproval

People generally think that the paved ways between one place to another is reserved for trucks and cars. They think that the faster you are, the more you have right of way.

They think that they should not have this cyclist in front of them IN THEIR CITY, when they are sitting in THEIR CAR that the bank owns, and they’ve paid for MOTOR TAX (so did I), and what’s he doing ENDANGERING his kids on the road anyway, I might hit them.

Ill-fitting cycle tracks, although we’re lucky with our Limerick cycle tracks

I’ve come across two cycle paths or paths so far where bollards are there to protect the cycle track from “unwanted” traffic (whatever that traffic is). That means you, the cyclist, won’t be able to get onto that cycle track. But hopefully you’ll figure out an alternative route that suits you.

In Limerick, although the city is being dragged into times with a large cycling population kicking and screaming, we’re very lucky to have cycle paths along water ways. It means that large lengths of the city are accessible via bike track, and it can only improve over time.

Rain

Meh. Get a rain jacket and rain pants.

Attracts attention

I don’t like being the centre of attention. I suppose many people don’t, which explains why they wear their underpants strictly on the inside 😉

In other words, you won’t look normal. But realise this: people invest huge amounts of on-going energy to be normal. Normal is fat. Normal is driving your car on a loan. Normal is ensuring your kids end up with chronic illnesses.

This really isn’t so much about bike trailers, is it? Nope.

Thanks to Colman and Lena

In Freiburg, Germany (a real hippy town), they showed us it can be normal to use a bike trailer. I was in awe, and doubted that it was possible to use in Limerick. I had already been introduced to the idea of a bike trailer by blogger Mr Money Mustache. My wife saw the trailer on sale, we got it, and I can say it was a worth-while life-improving purchase. I hope I’ve encouraged you to do the same.

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