Wondering how to attach your bicycle trailer to your electric bicycle? We've got tips, information, and more in this post to get you and your trailer rolling.
Can you take your kids in a trailer with an electric bicycle?
With e-bikes becoming more and more popular, I’ve been getting a ton of questions about whether our trailers work with electric bicycles. If you’re wondering if your bike can have a trailer, how to attach your trailer to your e-bike, or looking for some general best-practices, stick around and find out since I will be covering all of that in this post. The information in this article applies to both child bike trailers, cargo bike trailers, and special needs/adult bicycle trailers on the market.
If you don't have a trailer, or are looking for more information about bicycle trailers, we've got a few more articles that will probably help you out:
Can an electric bike pull a bicycle trailer?
Can you attach a trailer to an e-bike? The answer is yes, mostly, but here are some things to watch out for:
- Your rear axle’s dropout should be flat. This will provide the best mounting surface for the bike hitch, and will allow the hitch to sit level and straight. If you have a hooded dropout, a spacer will be necessary in order to even out the surface.
- Some newer electric bicycles will have extra mounting hardware near the dropout for cargo racks or other accessories. You will want to ensure that there are no bolts or protrusions that will get in the way of the hitch.
- Check with the manufacturer or your local bike shop to find out which type of axle your bike has. If your bike has a Quick-Release or Bolt style axle, you should have few issues given the above two points are satisfied. If you have a thru-axle, then you will need to source an externally threaded adapter, or a high-quality replacement thru-axle for use with a bicycle trailer, such as that from The Robert Axle Project.
If you’re not sure about these points, reach out to our customer service team for assistance; they will be able to help you find this information.
Which type of motor should my e-bike have in order to pull a trailer?
E-bikes these days have a few styles of motor you will encounter. The main types are hub motors and mid-drive motors.
Hub motors are located within your front or back wheel. Typically, you will find the hub motor in the rear as this is ideal for better traction and control over a front hub motor. Hub motors work harder to propel you, and typically have a limiter as to how fast you can go. Front hub motors are popular for retrofitting a non-electric bike.
Mid-drive motors are located within your pedal crank. This style of motor is ideal for people who have never ridden an e-bike, as there is less of a ‘pulling’ sensation as the motor kicks in, due to the lower centre of gravity as well as the pedaling action. This style of motor will offer you the best control and power when pulling a trailer.
I’ve had many customers tell me: “my bike shop told me I can’t EVER pull my bike trailer with a hub motor e-bike”. This is not entirely true. Many bike mechanics will say that the bike trailer will add unnecessary torque to the motor, and while there is the potential, it is usually not an issue.
From a mechanics point of view, their main train of thought is based in maintaining your bicycle and ensuring you get the best performance out of your motor. If you are using your bicycle trailer and bike properly and safely, the wear and tear on your motor should be negligible, if at all, affected. A well-built, reliable hub motor will have a component included in the assembly to prevent that torque from transferring from the hitch to the axle.
Now if you are riding like a maniac at 30+ km/h, taking sharp turns, or routinely overloading your trailer, you’re going to have a bad time, regardless of which style of motor you have. Your bike mechanic will be able to figure out what you’ve been up to when you inevitably must pay them another (sooner) visit. Nobody is immune to wear and tear, accidents, or mechanical failures, even in the best of circumstances.
Safety Measures to Consider when Pulling a Trailer with an E-Bike
E-bike are a lot of fun, but they can be dangerous since they can go much faster than a regular pedal bike (in most cases). If you are a new e-bike owner, you should get very comfortable riding your new bike first. E-bikes can go faster, lurch forward upon startup, and can generally handle much differently than a regular bicycle. All these factors can cause an injury if you are not careful.
Before you attach your bike trailer to your e-bike, ensure that you are comfortable with the full capabilities and quirks of your electric bicycle. This should go without saying, but you should be wearing a helmet 100% of the time when you are on a bicycle. Again, nobody is immune from accidents.
You will also need to be confident in your brakes. If you’ve got disc brakes, ensure they’re well-maintained. If you’ve got caliper brakes, ensure that they are dust-free and your rims are clean to prevent your brakes from fading.
Consider the fact that you will have a certain amount of cargo with you on your bike – can you stop safely? If you cannot answer this question confidently, it would be a good idea to do some maintenance, or do a little bit more practicing to get a better feel.
The main thing to remember is that you should be able to control and stop your fully loaded bicycle trailer. Whether you have a mountain bike, a cruiser, a fixie, or a cargo bicycle, there are lots of models available to suit every type of rider.
E-Bikes and Bike Trailers are the Future of Active Transportation
Imagine the possibilities once you get your e-bike and trailer all set up and ready to go. Suddenly, you can head out to the grocery store in half the time it would have taken you to regular-cycle, and still within the same amount of time it would have probably taken you to drive. Incorporating an electric bicycle and trailer into your life shouldn’t be hard or scary, it should be fun!
While change can be scary for many, consider: you can load up your bike trailer for kids and head to the park or beach with minimal effort, or maybe plan a bikepacking trip that is entirely zero-emission and as silent as your tires on the road?
Whatever you’re into, an electric bike and bicycle trailer make a great addition to wherever you may be heading, just make sure you've got the best bike trailer for the job. Let the WIKE team help you find the perfect trailer for your lifestyle, we’ve got your back.