Chariot Bike Trailer
Bike trailers are becoming an ever more popular way of getting about and avoiding the need for car use. Today’s review of the Chariot Bike Trailer comes from Chris who writes the blog Worrybomb – an amusing personal blog with fantastic pictures of his daughter: The Worrybomb.
There are several bicycle based alternatives for carrying children and assorted supplies around. The Worrybomb and I have a Chariot. We have been using it for around two years now, with our first outing on a very cold January morning. Since then its been used at least once a week in pretty much all weathers.
The Chariot CX1 is a bicycle trailer based child transport system, that uses a ball and socket joint that easily attaches to most adult bikes. It can convert into a number of different formats including stroller and jogging pram.
At first with Worrybomb being just one, we had the Baby Supporter kit in the large cockpit, this with the 5 point harness system helps helps to keep the head upright, away from any hard frame and also double as a nice pillow when Daddy slows down on the uphill bits. Its amazing how someone else peddling away can be so tiring! It also adds to the padding and warmth.
When I first got the trailer, I was amazed at the extras you could get, the extra wheels for shopping / jogging was great, it just hangs on to the rear of the chariot until you need it, same for the two caster type pushchair type wheels and to me the skis looked very cool option and as I have pulled pulks across Greenlands Ice cap, they suddenly opened up all sorts of adventurous ideas that were quickly squashed by more sensible members of the family, unfortunately in deepest Hampshire we don’t get much chance for cross country skiing and I wasn’t allowed to consider another Arctic trip with a one year old.
The whole thing is very well designed, it has some very obvious features and some so hidden they took a while for us to discover. The website will give you the full low down with trademarked names etc, but as far as we are concerned its got :
- Fully adjustable harness to keep one upright and comfortable.
- Padded / insulated seat.
- Metal tubed frame that surrounds the child completely, all kept well away from harnessed child.
- Pockets for children to put drinks, stones ( and for some reason known only to Worrybomb, spoons ) in.
- We also have the Baby Supporter kit that helps smaller children enjoy the ride comfortably and safely.
- Suspension ( variable depending on the child’s weight ) which is more rubbery and flexible that the normal pram buggy covers I have seen.
- Rain and wind covers ( that zip on and roll back over the mesh windows )
- Bug shields for bug and mud free ventilation
- Tinted windows that roll back when not required ( rock star anonymity assured )
- Storage that folds up when not in use ( big enough to carry a FirstBike or a baby supplies bag, drinks, spare clothing, first aid kit, puncture repair kit ( haven’t used this yet on the chariot ) and a teddy.
- Removable storage bag for smaller items ( cameras, drinks, keys etc )
- Parking break that can be locked on, the break is also used when its in jogger mode as a hand break
- Big orange flag to make you more visible to other road users
- Lots of reflectors and reflecting materials, on the front, sides and back
- parts of the fabric shell even glow in the dark we found!
- The whole thing folds down flattish like a buggy and the handles and wheels are easily removable for storage and transport in the car.
- Everything is easily cleanable and the outside is happily hosed and brushed down.
The only addition I have added to the Chariot is a bright Cateye LED light on the rear for evening rides. As the bikes rear lights are hidden from behind, with the odd evening outing I thought this was essential in making ourselves seen from a distance, when cars get closer, the flag, reflectors and reflecting materials help viability massively.
Using it is very straight forward, put on the special bracket to the bike, then clip it on and off we went. It doesn’t take long to get used to the extra length and weight, corners and kerbs are easy to cope with and the only real downside is that without a mirror you cant see how the child is doing when cocooned away behind you and at speed sometimes unless they shout you cant hear their demands typically along the lines of “faster Daddy, faster!”.
I was a reasonably fit rider, but in recent years I haven’t been out on my bike as much as I would have wanted. You don’t need to be a regular rider to cope with this by any means and we have done lots of 5 mile round trips to the nearby town, shops and library without the need for cycling shorts, special drinks and massages afterwards ( unless I asked nicely that is !) and some longer 10 mile trips to friends and other villages, although slower than normal I was easily able to keep up with other younger members of the family on their 5 and 10 gear bikes. I cant see any reason why longer trips of say 20 miles would not be easily possible with a little thought preparation and fitness.
Hills wise its not bad at all, it does slow you down, but on flat you don’t really notice when cruising, and on the hills it is just matter of using gears and spinning up them slowly. Down is of course easy, you need to keep your speed down by dragging the breaks, but its stable and solidly built.
The suspension and the tires take up a fair bit of the bumps, but for very young children I wouldn’t want to do much more than roads, paths and the occasional tow-path type ride anyway. Now she is 3 we go pretty much everywhere happily if not slowly, but only occasionally do I get heckles from the back thats its bumpy.
Its not cheap, but it is comfortable and has worn very well ( ideal for potential ebay selling ). Importantly Worrybomb enjoys her outings and it always draws a smile from passers-by and other road users. The only downsides are its big to store ( unless you collapse it down), and not very easy to lock up unless you have some long wire cables or the spare wheel/s to take it with you when you arrive at your destination.
Has it saved money? With out parking or petrol costs etc it all helps, and it keeps me fitter. I think it will go on doing so for a few years more yet as now, even though we have just started using it as a back up for when Worrybomb gets tired on her little run-along balance bike, she still likes to get in and we strap her bike to the rear of the chariot and carry on.
Would I recommend it? Yes its great, other cheaper carriers may well be as good as well, and we generally love the concept of a bike powered carrier, but the Chariot is wonderfully designed and has some very clever features that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
Available from bike shops in the UK at approx. £745. For more information see the Chariot website.
Thank you Chris (and Worrybomb) for sharing this review!