Friday, October 1, 2010

Child Bicycle Trailer Comparison: Trek vs. In-Step

(I recommend looking at more detailed photos on my flickr page here.)

I recently bought a different trailer in which to pull my daughters.  I thought I would do a comparison of them, hoping it might be beneficial to someone who is considering buying one.

  The In-Step Quick N' EZ came first.  You can read reviews about this trailer here.  Here is another review and probably a great resource.  Here is insteps website.   I bought it I think in 2008 from a local connection I had in Charlottesville.  It was new, but it may have been made a year or two earlier.  I paid $60 for it, but if I had bought it in the store I would have paid at least $80-$120 or so.  It is okay for light trail riding and slow rides around town for short distances, which is what I used it for in Charlottesville.  The longest trail was only a couple of miles long, and we lived downtown where traffic was light.  I would do a regular loop of about 5 miles when we would do our errands.  The wheels are not secure enough on this one to ride safely over 10 mph.  They are basically pins that you push in and secure by a latching mechanism.  The seat canopy is not really that supportive, and is connected to the frame by a strap that is screwed into it on each side, so it is not really that strong.  The strap is mediocre, and in fact, I had to sew a new strap onto the front part of the seat canopy after the original one ripped.  I had to remember after each ride to loosen the front seat strap to keep it from being stressed when folded.  That is actually how it ripped.  I forgot to loosen the tension before folding it.  Also, there is no extra room for the child's helmet so they have to sit with their head a bit forward where the helmet pushes against the back of the canopy.  The straps that go around the child come over the shoulders from the back and hooks onto a D-ring at the bottom of the seat.  This pulls the lower strap up into the child's crotch.  The windows are not tinted, allowing full sunlight in, and there are no side vents to allow for more air flow when the front protective flap has to be down due to wind, cold, or rain.  Apart from one rear reflector, there is no additional reflectivity integrated into the sides or rear of the trailer.  I had to add my own reflective triangle on the back.  On the plus side, it is light, it folds up well enough without too much hassle, and the point where it connects to the bike was secure and flexible.  Like I said, it is best suited to slow riding of short distances, and light paved trail riding.  

The Trek Transit Deluxe
You can read a review about this trailer here.  This one I bought used from a local bike shop for $175.  New it cost between $400 and $500.  It is about 7-8 years old.  The previous owners took excellent care of it.  This model has been discontinued.  In fact, I don't think Trek makes trailers anymore.  I've learned that even though it was sold by trek at the time, it was made by Chariot who still makes them.  It is basically the same trailer as the current Chariot Corsaire XL.  If you are a serious cyclist who wants to get some distance in, but you have to take your child, then this is the type of trailer you need!  First of all, the wheels are attached by quick release, just like the wheels on the bike.  This increases security and speed capability.  The seat is very sturdy and padded, increasing the comfort level for the child.  Also, there is an offset area for the helmet so the child's head is not pushed forward.  There are velcro corner vent flaps on the inside that can increase air flow when the front protective flap has to be down.  The windows are tinted for sun protection.  There are bright integrated reflective strips on both sides and the rear for improved visibility.  The strap set up to secure the child in this one is different.  Since the seating is sturdier, it is not pulled up into the child's crotch.  A shoulder strap from one side comes through a loop on the seat and hooks in to a connector above the other shoulder.  There is also padding on the straps for comfort.  This is definitely a more secure, comfortable set up.  The folding mechanism is quicker and easier.  It is a bit lighter than the In-Step trailer.  I haven't found anything negative to say about this one.  Here in Pennsylvania, I have access to 50 plus miles of great trails, and hope to get out there and ride them.  I will have to take the kids, so I needed something more suitable for their comfort and protection.  I found it in the Trek transit deluxe.  This is good for long rides at regular speeds.  

Price is always an issue for us.  That is why I wasn't able to buy a great trailer to begin with.  But I was patient, and am grateful to have found such a great trailer for less than half of what it cost new.  Since I want to go on longer rides now that I live somewhere with great off-road paved trails I really needed to get something more suitable to the comfort and protection of the kids.  I was ready to spend what I needed to spend to achieve that.  For anyone wanting to ride far, I recommend spending more to get the features of the trek transit deluxe for the sake of the kids.  It will be worth it.  I haven't researched all the new trailer options from Burley, Chariot, and others too much, and they may have some more great features of which I am not aware.  

Good luck, and I hope this helped.  Let me know if it did!  Don't forget to click my flickr link for more detailed pictures.


thomas said...

That's probably the most detailed review for any bike part ever.

Matteo said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks! Very helpful!

Cheby said...

WOW! What a great review.
I was planning to get a second hand Trek bike trailer, but I wasn't sure if the price was appropriate. After reading your well detailed review about safety and comfort, including price, I'm sure that's the best option within my budget. Great stuff. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Such a helpful article! Couldn't find the thing I look for until read your review. Thank you so much!

Kyla Ames said...

Anyone know how to collapse the unit?

Matteo said...


Look for two linch pins that remove allowing the sides to fold in or push in something like that.