Cargo bike or bicycle trailer: what are the pros and cons?

One thing you know for sure: you would like to transport your children in a different way than in a child seat. You are still in doubt: should you choose a cargo bike or a bicycle trailer? A bike trailer is cheaper, but also less safe. With a cargo bike you always have your children in front of you, but a bicycle trailer has the advantage that you can detach it. How to decide? We have listed the pros and cons of cargo bikes and bicycle trailers for you.

Cargo bike or bicycle trailer: what is the difference?

No doubt you are familiar with a cargo bike. It is a bicycle with a cargo box and built-in benches. This allows you to easily take your children (and/or your dog) to all sorts of places. With a cargo bike, your children sit in front of you in a sturdy container made of plastic or wood. You have a good view of them while cycling. Your children also have plenty of space and a nice view.

A bicycle trailer, on the other hand, hangs behind your bike. You can attach it to a regular or electric bike and also detach it. It is a small cart that sits low to the ground. You cannot see the children while cycling. However, you can also use the cart for other things, such as as a trolley in the supermarket or as an alternative to a baby carriage.

The main difference between a cargo bike and and bicycle trailer are:

  • With a cargo bike, the children sit in front of you. With a bicycle trailer you transport the children behind your bike.
  • In a cargo bike you can see your children; in a bicycle trailer you cannot.
  • A bicycle trailer can often carry a maximum of 2 small children. A cargo bike can carry children until they are older and often holds 3 or even 4 children.
  • In a cargo bike the children have a better view of the surroundings; in a bicycle trailer they have less view.
  • A bicycle trailer is lower on the ground. This means a slightly higher risk of collisions.
  • You will pay more for a cargo bike then a bicycle trailer, but you will enjoy it longer.

Well, for a better choice between a cargo bike and a bicycle trailer, let’s dive more extensively into the pros and cons of both.

What are advantages and disadvantages of a cargo bike?

Compared to a bicyckle trailer, a cargo bike (electric or otherwise) has several important advantages:

  • The children are always in front of you. This gives you a good view of the children and you can talk to each other.
  • A cargo bike is safer bacause the cargo box is part of the bike. You can see exactly what is happening.
  • A cargo bike is more robust and more stable because the cargo box is integrated into the bike.
  • The children can look around more because the box is open.
  • You can buy a raincover seperately, which you can use during raining days. When the weather is sunny, you take the raincover off and the children have a nice view.
  • You can keep a close eye on how your children are doing. This way you can calm them if needed or notice when your child is not feeling well. In a bicycle trailer you have less visibility.
  • You can also transport a baby in a cargo bike. You can easily combine a cargo bike with a Maxi Cosi if you buy a special bracket for it.
  • A cargo bike offers a lot of space. You can, for example, use the cargo bike for a dog (even large dogs) or transport groceries in a cargo bike.

Disadvantages of a cargo bike compared to a bicycle trailer are:

  • A cargo bike is more expensive. On the other hand, you buy a complete bike instead of an accessory for a bike.
  • You cannot detach the cargo box from the bicycle. If you take a bicycle trailer, you can detach the cart. Then you have a normal bike.
  • The cargo bike box cannot be used as a baby carrier or stroller.
  • A cargo bike takes up more space when storing or parking. By the way, you can als park our tricycle cargo bike on the nose and save space.!

What are the pros and cons of a bicycle trailer?

Beside the cargo bike, you can choose a bicycle trailer that you attach to your existing bike. What are the advantages of a bicycle trailer over a cargo bike?

  • The bicycle trailer takes up less space when you store or park it because you can detache it from your bike.
  • A bicycle trailer is always closed. This is handy in bad weather; the kids will always be dry. In hot weather it may not be as nice.
  • You can also use the bike without the trailer, which is convenient if you want to cycle without your children.
  • A bicycle trailer is cheaper than a cargo bike. Keep in mind that you have to buy another bike with it and spend money on that as well.
  • You can also use a bicycle trailer for a smaller dog. The dog will not be able to look around.

There are also some disadvantages to a bicycle trailer:

  • The main disadvantage, in our opinion, is that a bicycle trailer is less safe. You cannot see the trailer behind you. Therefore, you run a greater risk of not seeing it if a vehicle threatens to crash into the trailer.
  • A bicycle trailer is only suitable for children up to 6 years. It also only fits a maximum of 2 children. That is less than a cargo bike.
  • You have no contact with the children when cycling. If you children have a fight or if a child is not feeling well, you cannot notice.
  • A bicycle trailer is not suited for a baby. It is dangerous to put your baby in the trailer behind you unsupervised. For babies, we always recommend a cargo bike with a Maxi Cosi.
  • You can not transport larger dogs in a bicycle trailer. The trailer is too small for that.
  • The children have little view. That makes a bicycle trailer less fun than sitting in a cargo bike.

So: do you choose a cargo bike or a bicycle trailer?

We definitely recommend parents of young children to buy a cargo bike. A cargo bike is safer than a bicycle trailer, because the children are in sight and a cargo bike is more stable. The cargo box in which your children sit is attached to the bike. You do pay more for a cargo bike than a bicycle trailer. It also takes up more space in the shed when parked. But in return your children can use it longer. There is also room for groceries or a dog in the cargo box. Furthermore, you can put more children in the cargo bike. (3 children in a two-wheeler and up to 4 children in a tricycle). You have more contact with your children while cycling and they have a nice view.

If you already have a good bike, a bicycle trailer might be an option. You will pay less than for a cargo bike. Keep in mind the safety issue of a bicycle trailer and realize that your children can only sit in it until the age of around 6.

So you choose a regular or an electric cargo bike?

Once you have made your choice for a cargo bike or bicycle trailer, there is the other dilemma: do you go for a regular or an electric cargo bike? With an electric cargo bike you go faster, you pedal less and you can cover long distances more easily. Even if you go out with 3-4 kids and a dog! Of course, an electric cargo bike is a bit more expensive.

Want help choosing one? We have written two handy blogs to help you out:

Try our electric carg bikes on a free test ride.

Want to discover for yourself if an electric cargo bike is for you? At our dealers you can take a free test ride to experience how it rides. Find a Royal Family dealer near you and go for a free test ride. Then you can decide for yourself: will you go for a bike trailer or a cargo bike?

If you have a question, please contact us

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