My family and I just recently jumped into cycling. We bought two bikes for my wife and myself and a pull behind trailer for our 1.5 year old little girl. Problem is, my bike has a very small point where the hitch adapter can be mounted.

The stock adapter is shown here, the smaller part attaches to the rear axle:

Schwinn / Instep adapter

Where it should, but can't, be mounted on my bike (don't mind the tape measure starting at 2, that's a habit from contracting work, basing off the first visible inch as an offset):

Small mounting point on bike

I went to Home Depot hoping for a bracket that would allow me to offset the stock adapter, and found a gate hinge that actually worked, but the metal was too soft and bent. I drew up a representation of what I think I need to make this work, but I don't know what to call it in order to see if a part like this even exists anywhere.


Bracket concept

If I need to fabricate one, any tips? I don't have any metal working tools besides a drill.

UPDATE: The simplest solution was what worked. Performance Bike didn't have skewers that were any longer than my rear (120mm I think), and I even tried to rig something up on the rear eyelet (M5 0.8mm) but just couldn't get it to fit. Even if I had, I wouldn't have been very confident in it. This morning I was hooking the adapter up to my wife's hybrid, I pulled her QR skewer off and it looked longer than my 120mm - and it was. In fact, it fit perfectly on mine with the washers, and mine fit just fine on hers. I took it for 12 miles and it worked very well. I agree with @Móż that a solid spacer would be better than the washers, something I'll order soon. If I can find clamps like @Criggie suggested I think that will make the best long-term solution, but they were pretty difficult to track down.

stopgap skewer offset by washers

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    Out of the box question - does the trailer fit on the other bike any better ? – Criggie Jul 12 '16 at 20:54
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    @elBradford that strap is designed to drag the towing arm into your rear wheel so you stop. It's not designed to avoid further damage to the bike, and you could easily end up on the ground. Relying on it is unwise, and personally I would never use one. – Móż Jul 12 '16 at 21:38
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    @Criggie Yes, it fits perfectly., We did that for our first ride, but when I pull the trailer we're a better match and it's more enjoyable for both of us in terms of speed and stamina. – datu-puti Jul 13 '16 at 1:21
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    It might be useful to roll back to "what are you trying to do?" If you want to ride round a park or something on the weekend, there's not going to be a huge period between "baby in trailer" and "child on balance bike", so you may be better off waiting six months, then take up running after the child instead of cycling :) – Móż Jul 13 '16 at 1:49
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    @ChrisH yeah, but kids vary a whole heap. I prefer to err on the side of optimism :) The six month old in my LBS couldn't really walk when it started using a balance bike as a mobility aid (and travels every day in a load bike), but I've also seen much older kids struggle to use them at all. And I regularly see a child at least 7-8 years old riding with trainer wheels on my commute (I really want to stop and say to the parent "don't do that, it's wrong"... but I know better. It still grates) – Móż Jul 14 '16 at 22:01

I'm curious about why you bought a trailer without checking that it would attach to your bike. It would be better to return it, taking your bike(s) into the shop, and get them to find something that works. You're already suffering from the sunk cost fallacy (you bought something that doesn't work and your proposed solution is to spend more time and effort on it). Will a half-arse bodge job really be better than just buying the right tool for the job? You want a bike and trailer to tow your baby daughter. Try to work towards that, rather than getting caught up in "I have a banana, a bicycle and a trailer"... this isn't a logic puzzle.

If you can find a longer QR skewer you could put a spacer between the frame and trailer hitch. Longer skewers are made, the people who make BoB Trailers sell a setup to attach their trailers to QR bikes for example. At the very crudest level, a stack of 10mm or 12mm nuts will work, but a bike shop should have axle spacers that will work slightly less badly. You should keep the trailer hitch as close to the bike as possible, preferring more spacer on the outside of the hitch.

Since you don't own any relevant tools, I think designing or fabricating an adaptor would be a bad idea. You don't have the necessary skills. If nothing else, when it fails you will be left with two objects, each of which is easy to move, but moving both of them at the same time will be very difficult. How will you wheel the bike at the same time as dragging the trailer once the hitch breaks?

Too many comments, time to edit them in:

Expecting a racing bike to fit a child trailer is a bit like asking the same of your Ferrari. Don't buy a sports car then take it to the boat dealer and ask that a tow bar be fitted for the boat you want to buy. They have completely different purposes. At least with bikes you can buy a cheap second hand mountain bike to tow the kiddy trailer and you only have to spend $100-$200 (obviously you can spend more - but again, don't buy a $5000 racing MTB)

In chat someone pointed out that if you are new to cycling, towing a trailer is not ideal, and if you care about the contents it's a bad idea. Kids move round, even babies, and add to the number of things to need to concentrate on while riding... if you're not a confident rider you may be better off with a proper load/child carrying bike.

You'd be better off with a single part spacer than washers. They will work, just badly, they will slide on each other so there will be more slop. You're increasing the leverage, making it more likely you'll break the skewer. If you have the budget a proper cargo bike will work much better than any trailer, a "long john" style design is more likely to be available and they work really well for kids. Slightly more like a "normal bike" are the long-tail designs, but they're not great for babies (we have a pile of longtail "mummy bikes" locally, as you can carry two primary school children on one).

Also, buy at least two long skewers. They're fairly cheap, and very likely to break. Carry the spare, so when it breaks you can slot the replacement in and ride home. Assuming your bike hasn't been damaged, anyway.

A search like "carry baby" here will help you get ideas of what's possible. Several of the regulars in chat (link bottom left of every page) have kids of various ages and I expect they'd be willing to help. See also "touring with little kids" and search for "baby seat" (which mostly talks about 1 year olds and over, since that's when you can start to expect them to actually sit up in a seat and not break their necks)

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    @elbradford - Moz has built a number of bikes and trailers, he knows what he's talking about. Is it too late to return the red bike? Or the trailer? Choose a pair that go together better. – Criggie Jul 12 '16 at 22:12
  • @Móż To answer your curiosity, it was naivete mainly, I assumed bike trailers would be better engineered, or there would be adapters available. I'm new to the bike world so maybe this was unrealistic. At this point I'm more interested in the engineering challenge than trying to save a couple hundred dollars buying a new trailer. The BoB skewer wouldn't work for my hitch, afaik, but I'll check again. I tried the washer hack, but my skewer was too short to do that properly. In your opinion, are there any glaring dangers of getting a longer skewer and using washers? – datu-puti Jul 13 '16 at 1:28
  • Oh, and as a point of pride, I do have the necessary skills, just not the necessary tools. :) – datu-puti Jul 13 '16 at 1:33
  • @Móż - good point, and definitely something I've thought about. I am open minded to other solutions as well. Do you have any response to my follow-up question, "In your opinion, are there any glaring dangers of getting a longer skewer and using washers?" And I'd like to clarify, I am wondering if it would add risk beyond what I would see if I were using the trailer and hitch as designed. – datu-puti Jul 13 '16 at 1:56

Just because the trailer hitch is intended for an axle mount doesn't mean that's your only solution.

I'd consider a steel bracket that clamps around both the chain and seat stay, providing a flat area large enough to mount your black hitch permanently. Advantage is it leaves your dropout untouched.


  • The length of the draw bar may not be enough and this will hold the trailer 50-100mm closer to the back wheel.
  • Your frame paint might suffer from abrasion.
  • More weight to ride about with when not towing the trailer.

You'd be leaving this on the bike all the time, and get a second black hitch thingy for the other bike. I have three towballs on my bikes, and only one trailer.

Does that make sense, or would you like a sketch ?

Here's my previous hitch, which clamped to the chainstay. The safety strap is out of the way, but you can see that the jaws have slid back and are within 10mm of falling clear off. I would not recommend one like this for anything, and certainly not with kids hanging off it!

enter image description here

yes - fabbing up something like this would be ideal. Then you would bolt the black fitting permanently on. You should buy a second hitch fitting for the other bike too, for versatility.

enter image description here

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    Another option is to add a chainstay clamp to the trailer, instead of the default hitch. Personally this is a bad idea, because they're not very good - mine had one but fell off while riding. Also its an excellent way to strip paint from inside the clamp. – Criggie Jul 13 '16 at 2:09
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    That's a great thought, do you mean something like this? imgur.com/rF016zz – datu-puti Jul 13 '16 at 2:31
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    google.com.au/search?q=bike+trailer+frame+clamp+mount gives a bunch of ideas, the ones that clamp to a single tube are ok but much easier to find than the slightly less awful ones that clamp to both tubes. – Móż Jul 13 '16 at 2:36
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    @elBradford Yes - thats pretty much exactly right. You'll want it on the left side of the bike, and check that the trailer's draw bar is long enough to cope. Note also, this shouldn't spoil your trailer warranty. Dunno if it will upset your bike's warranty. – Criggie Jul 13 '16 at 2:55

Use a threaded stud instead of a cap screw type bolt on your bike. Thread the stud into the rear hub assembly and then use a nut to tighten the rear frame member to the axle. Then run on one or two more nuts to offset the attach point on the stud to be raised up outside the indented frame coupler member. This will allow you to attach the standard trailer hitch point bracket without making a special bracket.

BTW. The trailer hitch point wants to be as close to the center of action on the rear bike wheel as possible. The offset bracket that you proposed would not lend itself to optimal operation of the trailer connection.

  • Thanks for the tip. I use a quick release axle. I'm willing to swap it out for a traditional one, but I'm curious if there's a modified solution that would allow me to keep that? – datu-puti Jul 12 '16 at 11:38

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