Trail Gator

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Trail Gator

Postby tomj » 15 Nov 2010, 5:39pm

I have just purchased a Tag-along type (half) bike for my five year old daughter.

Is it just me or is towing this type of thing a nightmare?

What can I expect when she gets used to it and starts to shuffle about on the move?

All very disconcerting after the excellent burley d'lite trailer.

Has anyone any experience of the trail gator?



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Re: Trail Gator

Postby gaz » 15 Nov 2010, 6:18pm

I think the nightmare aspect depends a little upon the attachment method to the lead bike and the quality of the trailer-bike. To varying degrees these all have a tail-wags-the-dog effect.

Islabikes and Burley Picollo are generally considered to be "Top of the league". Both attach to a dedicated rack with the pivot point above the rear wheel. They have minimal effect on the handling of the leadbike.

The majority of other designs attach to the seatpost and either use that as a pivot or have a pivot immediately behind it.

My own trailer bike is a Trek mountain train. It attaches to the seatpost and uses it as it's pivot. Personally I've had few problems. It helps enormously if your child will sit still and look forward. Unfortunately they'll want to look around and they shift their weight all over the place to do so. That's when it gets a little unsteady. The Trek has taken mini-me from four and a bit through to eight and a bit. Handling has improved with age as he became steadier and less easily distracted. However it got a little harder to counteract the extra weight as he got older.

It certainly wasn't as steady as pulling the Burley Solo trailer and I limited my speed much more with the trailer-bike in tow.

The actual design of the hitch is important. My trailer bike stays upright. I've seen others where the trailer-bike has had a marked list either to port or starboard and I imagine that these are a nightmare.

From what I've read about trailgators they are amongst the worst of the bunch but some people seem happy enough with them. Certainly the flexibility of towing juniors bike to the park and then letting them "ride free" would be of benefit. There is a much better design along the lines of the trail-gator, the follow me.
He's got Bette Davis knees.

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby mill4six » 15 Nov 2010, 6:22pm

You won't like this but yes I have and it was the worst trailer bike I've ever used. The Universal joint has too much play and the rod that keeps the child's handlebars straight broke immediately. It flip flops all over the place to the extent that it never made it off our driveway. I now have a Tag-Along which is another matter. Expensive by comparison but it works. It can still be alarming if your child insists on yanking the bars from side to side but at least you can keep the Universal joint good and tight to minimise wobble. Ultimately there are better (more expensive) ways to transport the little ones but a good tag along is satisfactory, a bad one is a total nightmare! I saw the Follow me in France, passing the other way, it looked very very good. I never knew what it was till I saw the post above

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby 531colin » 15 Nov 2010, 11:40pm

My kids were on the back of the tandem using kiddie cranks at about 5 years old.
When they are small like that they have very little effect on the handling of a tandem, however much they move about.
It cost me practically nothing, it was a family bike, and as I quite enjoy fettling, I made up all the bits. Doubly lucky, really.
Neither of them took it up and became a real cyclist, but we have some great memories!

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby james01 » 16 Nov 2010, 4:53pm

The Trailgator can seem a bit scary at first, but you do get used to it. Try to make the child realise that wriggling around is not a good idea! It's not as stable a good Tagalong, but I found that the ability to detach on safe bits so the child can cycle independently made it worthwhile.

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby tomj » 17 Nov 2010, 9:09am

The following comment made me smile, if only it was that easy.
“Try to make the child realise that wriggling around is not a good idea!”

We too saw the follow-me on holiday in France last year, looks rather “busy” but the Dutch owner reported it as being very stable.
I will persevere with the Tag-along, hopefully she will learn to sit still and who knows if I'm ever flush with cash investigate the follow-me or similar. The trailer (bought second hand a few years ago) may look a bit “tired” but tows really well and may get to go away next year. Not only is this great for days out with Daughter, dollies and all her other bits and pieces it very useful for carrying the shopping.

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby tenalpder » 29 Nov 2011, 3:59pm

I know this is an old thread, but Trail Gator are still around and you the reader may be thinking of buying one.

We've had one for 5 years. It's done light service, most of it on traffic-free trail-ways and gravel tracks, and it has outlasted my son's three bikes as he has grown. He's 7 now and it still works fine. Nothing has broken or worn out. We've never had an accident but perhaps our stability is helped by me being 15 stone.

It's true that the Trail Gator has a lot of joints, so you do get more cant on the following bike than with a dedicated trailer-bike. But the Trail Gator wins hands down if you have independent-minded kids. It allows them the freedom to bike on their own, which they love. The Trail Gator keeps them safe on short road sections between trails, and is especially useful as an emergency solution when your kid's legs suddenly tire out when you're miles from home.

If you only want to tow your kids, then get a dedicated trailer-bike or consider the Follow-Me. But for occasional use, the Trail Gator is ideal. You do have to take very great care when fitting it, and you do have to maintain it to make sure the joints are tight to reduce the wobble. So if you are not handy with spanners, get something else.

And most certainly, do not use a Trail Gator on the road until you have had a lot of practice on safe traffic-free trail-ways.

The Follow-Me appears to be a much better engineered solution. But look at the price!

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby karlt » 29 Nov 2011, 4:22pm

It works; I've got one. I do find you have to tighten the bolts holding the kid's bike quite tight, or it'll jacknife if the kid leans a bit. You also have to train them not to let their feet trail.

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby GeoffL » 30 Nov 2011, 1:34pm

I'd advise caution if you have an aly seatpost. I met with one guy at the Padstow end of the Camel Trail a few years ago who'd had an unhappy incident when his seatpost sheared under the additional stresses the Trailgator put onto it. I'm not saying that this is commonplace or that a regular close inspection wouldn't have shown something was wrong before ultimate failure; I'm just urging a little caution.

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Re: Trail Gator

Postby PW » 30 Nov 2011, 2:08pm

I took the granddaughter on a hired one on the Monsal Trail. The wife couldn't handle it and she's not a bad rider. Karl's comment about making sure everything's tight may be appropriate but this thing would have been downright dangerous on a highway with traffic. If you have the option of a tandem with kiddicranks then take it.
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Re: Trail Gator

Postby galavanter » 30 Nov 2011, 6:33pm

I bought a trailgator which did not fit the front of kids bike as it was an oversized frame so bought a Tag along which was great fun it did take a bit of getting used to though I made a mistake one day when my grandson was in a hypermode and wanted to get going, doing things in a hurry the bit that fits around myseatpost has a square nut inside a tube the. male part that fits in has a hole for a locking pin to go through I actually managed to get the pin to go through the male side and lock it down thought it was okay and took off cycled past the front of the house and then parted company with grandson shouting for his mummy got the fright of my life .It certainly was a learning curve just make sure that it is shoved right in and pin actually goes through inner hole as well fortunatley he was wanting to go out again but we both check now before going Grandad was a pillock,