Friday, June 10, 2011

Chariot Courgar

H and I wanted a way to take Bug biking with us, so we needed a baby carrier for our bikes. We both liked the idea of a trailer better than a child seat. The trailer seems safer because it is lower to the ground and has a built in roll cage. Having a child carrier on the back of a bike (I cannot even imagine that the front mounted seats are safe) changes the balance of the bike and means the baby falls the same distance to the ground.
I did a bunch of research to see if my bias was wrong. The bike mounted carriers are generally cost less than the trailers. It turns out that there are a lot of conflicting opinions, but no hard facts. There is no statistical evidence that either the trailer or the bike mounted carrier is safer. Carrier people like having the child close to them so they interact with the child and feel that the risk of a trailer getting hit by a car is worth the danger of the child falling. Trailer people think the trailers are safer because they are less likely to flip and the child is better protected in any accident.
Since there was no hard evidence, we decided to go with a trailer. Then we had to find the right trailer. There are a wide range of trailers on the market and a correspondingly wide range of prices. We quickly ruled out the low end trailers. Some just looked cheap others didn't get good reviews. Bug's safety and comfort is worth going up a notch.
The two big names in trailers are Burley and Chariot. I looked at both and read a ton of reviews. The prices were comparable as were most of the features. From my reading, the Chariot trailers seemed to be a notch better. The Chariot's also had a few spiffy features the Burley did not: adjustable spring suspension, easy store trailer arm, and a ton of conversion kits.
We opted to get the mid-level Chariot, the Cougar. It was not cheap, but it seems worth it so far. It is well constructed. The cockpit is well ventilated and the integrated screen and rain cover is easy to use. The strap system is well padded and easy to use. One nice feature is that the back has a pocket so that the back of the child's helmet doesn't push against the back panel.
The trailer also has a ton of storage. There is a good sized trunk and a big mesh pocket on the back.
We've taken it out once, and it performed admirably. The hitch is a simple ball hitch that hooks up without any trouble. When in motion it rolls along smoothly. You can tell there is some weight behind you, but it is not too bad. Getting used to the wider turn radius was a little difficult.
Bug seemed to enjoy the ride. She chatted away one the way out and fell asleep on the way home.
The best part was that we had a stroller to push around in between bike riding stints. We had ridden into Lexington to do a bit of shopping, so having a stroller was key.

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