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What's your experience biking with child trailer during winter in the city?

I live in Cracow, Poland. Recent winters were almost snow-less, but it's <0°C cold and slippery anyway.

I am used to biking alone but never hauled 60kg behind me on a slippery road. Here are few things I am interested in:

  1. Tires on bike and trailer. I have Croozer 2 seater with whatever funky tires it came with. My bike is a folding electric city bike with nice Schwalbe Big Apple 20" tires.

  2. Mud/dirt. My Croozer came without any fenders. It get's dirty even during summer.

  3. Kids' clothes. It was 15°C recently and I closed the translucent "window" in the front of the trailer. When I put my hand inside after few minutes of biking it was really nice inside. Boys confirmed but they have a history of lying.

  4. (bonus) Electric 20" wheel in the back. This will be interesting :)

Updated with bike details. It’s chinesium bike branded EcoBike in Poland. They probably sell under a different brand in other countries.

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    Perhaps you could tell us what bike you've got. My answer doesn't assume anything about it but there might be some specifics to take into account – Chris H Oct 2 '17 at 11:11
  • 15°C is 60°F, not quite tee-shirt weather but not icy or cold. Did you mean 15°F (-9°C) or -15°C (5°F) ? – Criggie Oct 2 '17 at 23:29
  • @Criggie according to meteo.pl/um/php/… it was 15°C. -9°C or -15°C dosen't happen very often in Poland in September. It is not Siberia :) – krzyski Oct 3 '17 at 8:13
  • @Criggie what do you mean not T-shirt weather? It's above 10°C so T-shirt and shorts for riding. – Chris H Oct 3 '17 at 9:21
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I strongly suggest you put a studded tyre on the bike (ideally 2, but certainly the back in your case). I run Schwalbe winters for occasional icy patches (overkill round here, except when they aren't). This will be important for stopping as well as going. Spinning the back wheel with a trailer is no fun. The trailer tyres don't matter nearly so much. They don't really need traction (though side-slipping isn't good). You can get marathon winter tyres in 20×1.6" which will fit both your bike and your trailer.

The trailer will get cold inside in sub-zero temperatures. But it will do a good job of keeping the wind off, so your kids should be fine wrapped up warm. Makes sure the to start with short journeys, as you won't be able to hear the kids easily (especially if you fit studded tyres) and you want to know before too long if they get cold. I know on a rear seat even above 0°C kids can get quite cold despite gloves and warm clothes, but that's only sheltered by my body. Some form of hat or even a (thin) balaclava under their helmets would be a good idea. Lining the seat with a blanket you can tuck round them might also be good if you've got room.

Visibility is important, including visual signs of the width of the trailer. Drivers need all the help they can get to see your trailer in dirty, dark conditions. Little blinking LEDs as wide as possible on the trailer frame show up well. I've got 2 of those plus a big steady rear light, as well as extra reflectors and lights on the wheels. And that's just on the trailer.

Bikes and accessories get dirty in winter. Mudguards won't help much on somethign so low to the ground, and every trailer is different when it comes to fitting accessories (as I found when fitting parking brakes to mine). Folding makes accessories really tricky. Overall you'd almost certainly have to make mudguard brackets of some sort, and remove them for folding. A rear mudguard on the bike would be a very good idea though, and one with a low, soft mudflap on the bottom.

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    I ran several winters with children in a trailer in interior Alaska. Stop every 15 minutes or so and check your kids. Check hands and feet and noses. Keep in mind you can do a lot with blankets/sleeping bags as well. I used to carry disposable heat packs in case they got cold out somewhere and we were awhile from getting back. They are essentially sitting doing nothing, so they need far more warmth than you do on the bike. Children will also lose heat faster just because they are smaller. – Deleted User Oct 2 '17 at 13:55
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    Studded tires (if you can find them) are nice on the trailer. It's all well and good to stop your bike with studs, but when you trailer jackknifes and starts to go around, you will go with it. Studs will help prevent side slides with the trailer. – Deleted User Oct 2 '17 at 13:56
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    @DeletedUser your experience makes an answer well worth having. When I've had to rely on my studs I haven't exactly been stopping hard (and havent had the trailer). Between the marathon winter and the winter tyre I use you can cover most wheel sizes from 16" to 700c (with the execption of 650b) so it should be possible to find something for the trailer – Chris H Oct 2 '17 at 14:45
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    @DeletedUser comments about repeatedly checking is bang on. As someone who has dragged a chariot behind me while skate skiing for many years, I can attest to how critical this is. Our oldest daughter had a poor sense of internal temp when she was young so you could never rely on her to tell you she was cold. Plus kids often fall asleep (as long as you don't crash - joking!) so they can get very quickly get cold without warning. You have to physically check their extremities and have an action plan for what to do if they have gotten too cold. Down sleeping bags are also great insulators. – Rider_X Oct 2 '17 at 20:35
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    I rode for several years with my kids in the back. I live in Northern Finland, near the Artic circle. Temperatures drop to around -30C with proper clothing it should be no problem. I used winter tyres, they really help. – user1876942 Oct 3 '17 at 18:41
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Sounds like fun - I'd start by riding on quiet roads, and I'd fit studded tyres to all four wheels. You can swap back to non-studded come summer.

Look if your ebike function has a limiter function. You don't want full power else wheel slip.

My trailer always gets a skunk stripe on the front, from the rooster tail of the rear wheel. BUT its got a "full" mudguard. If you want to avoid throwing mud and roadwater at your kid's faces, look for a rear mudguard that goes a long way around the wheel, and hang a leather dangler/mudflap on the end. These are more often used on the front wheel, but when towing will keep the trailer cleaner.

Comms - I have a bunch of handheld radios, and use them for all sorts of weird things (eg dog training) It would be hard to talk to the load when riding, so you could hook a radio inside for them and one on your collar. The inside one may work with Vox mode (transmit on voice) so you can hear their chatter :)

Most important will be braking - your method may need to change, and if that's not enough you may need to fit your trailer with a brake.

  • Brake 80% with the rear brake, and only in a straight line else trailer will want to come around you. If the trailer does come around, you need room to stop braking and apply pedal power to get back in line, which needs road room.

  • Brake early when you need to stop.

  • If this doesn't help your braking you need to make the trailer brake the bike through the hitch, using some kind of brake on the trailer's wheels.


If you get a lot of snow, then you could fit skis. Either change both the trailer's wheels and the bike's front wheel for short skis or somehow strap skis to the bottom of the wheel and let the length of ski prevent rotation. For drive, fit a chain to the bike's rear wheel. This would be a significant amount of work and only useful on snow/ice.

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    I wondered about giving the kids a whistle. But they'd just blow it all the time. The radios sound better – Chris H Oct 2 '17 at 20:56
  • @ChrisH that's a good idea - this is the "PLEASE STOP NOW!!!!" whistle plus whistles are cheap and small. – Criggie Oct 2 '17 at 23:25
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If you are going to ride main streets, you should not worry about the tires. At least in Warsaw most streets are salted such strongly, that they are white from salt, dry and clean. -10 is not a problem for "summer" bicycle tire on dry road. But if there are bicycle paths, even along those neatly cleaned streets, keep in mind that it may be icy and slippery the whole winter.

Be careful during thaw. Give up commuting with trailer when bicycle paths are covered with thin ice surface.

Make sure, that trailer hook is safe in every possible fall over scenario of your bicycle (turns, etc.) and it will not pull the trailer and make it fall over also.

Keep in mind, that your pedaling helps you keep warm. Your sons should be dressed even warmer than for winter walk. Try work out some mini-excercises for them to make their muscles work, but will not affect trailer stability.

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