Gear Guy

T800 Touring Bike     Photo: courtesy, Cannondale

Q:

What type of bike should I use when pulling a child’s trailer?

I have the full suspension MTB. I have the carbon aluminum road bike. Now I need something to tow our 2.5-year-old's trailer (with a side hitch) on wide, groomed trails. She weighs about 30 pounds, and the Chariot trailer is about 25 pounds. Add in food, drinks, toys, etc., and I figure I’m towing about 70 lbs. What mid-performance bike do you recommend? Dave Cillus, New York

A:What you need is a touring bicycle. That’s because touring bikes have low centers of gravity, making them more stable. Their frames are a little beefier than a road bike. And they have gearing that’s like a mountain bike, so you can easily pull a big load up hill. The rear axle isn’t really an issue—a trailer of 70 pounds (trailer plus child plus accessories) probably has a tongue weight of only 30 or 35 pounds, and not much more than that when pulled up hill.

One classic example of this type of bike is the Cannondale T800 ($1,400; cannondale.com), which I sort of regard as mid-range, at least compared to some of the all-carbon road-rockets out there. It has an aluminum frame; a stable, relaxed geometry; lots of gears; sturdy 36-spoke Mavid rims; and tires that are plenty fat enough for even fairly rough trails (700X35 Continental Top Touring tires). This bike is designed to carry/pull a load, so the trailer should pose no problem.

Trek’s 520 ($1,240; trekbikes.com) is similar in all the important ways, save one: It has a steel frame. This makes for a slightly heavier bike, but one that’s probably going to ride more smoothly. And weight isn’t really an issue here—you’re already packing plenty, so another pound or so isn’t going to matter. It’s worth a look.

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