Q:

Do I need a hardtail bike to haul a baby trailer?

I have a road bike but I'm looking for something to haul a baby trailer. I used to have a hardtail MTB, so should I look for another? How about a hybrid/commuter bike? How does the Trek SU200 look? Greg Van Nuys, California

Jan 12, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine

T800

A: Nah, if you're going to pull that trailer with a bike, then you don't really want a mountain bike. The reasons? One, all mountain bikes these days come with front suspension, most with dual, and that extra weight does you no good on the road. Two, the fat, knobby tires (although they can be replaced) add too much weight and friction. Three, the limited hand position and upright seating of a mountain bike reduces comfort and adds drag on longer rides.

To some extent, the same all holds true for a hybrid bike such as the Trek SU200 ($490; www.trekbikes.com), which basically is a de-tuned mountain bike, with no suspension but a mountain bike's stiff frame and 26-inch tires. It'll really boil down to what kind of riding you plan on doing. Short rides around the neighborhood, maybe 30 minutes a pop? If so, then the Trek, or something like it, would be fine.

But I'd rather see you on a touring bike—a road-style bike with lots of gears and a comfortable yet versatile frame. Cannondale's T800 is an excellent choice here—light aluminum frame, lots of gears, comfortable (but aerodynamic) riding position, easily adapted to towing trailers or other tasks. At $1,200, price may be an issue (www.cannondale.com), so a good, cheaper alternative is REI's Novara Randonee ($949; www.rei.com).

If you can, try to take several of these bikes for a test ride. You'll get a good sense of how they feel on the road, and what seems comfortable to you. The main thing is to feel happy with what you're buying, and have fun while riding it.

For a catalog of more top-rated road rigs, check out Outside Online's Road Bikes Buying Guide.

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