Everyone knows that it can be really tough to find time to get out and exercise once you have kids, especially when they’re too young to have their own bikes or to be left at home. The solution? For me, it was the Schwinn Echo double bicycle trailer. It took me about a year to start looking for a bike trailer after my first son was born, and my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. I’ve always loved bike riding, and it’s one of the top choices for low-impact exercise to get rid of all that baby weight. The other low-impact choice is swimming, which can be truly problematic with small children.
Young parents tend to be short on funds, and I was certainly no exception. My first priority for a bike trailer was something that can run on a variety of terrains since I have to negotiate gravel roads from time to time. The second priority – and, truth be told, the most important for actually acquiring a bike trailer – was the cost. Some of those bike trailers easily run over $300, and that’s just not an option in my world.
Despite a small handful of mediocre reviews, I finally settled on the Schwinn Echo double bicycle trailer off of Amazon, where it runs about $120 including shipping. Obviously, as with any Amazon prices, that can fluctuate a bit depending on which suppliers currently have a bike trailer available. Big plus points: It has big, strong wheels, not those flimsy little plastic things you see on so many lower-cost trailers.
The Schwinn Echo double bicycle trailer has 20-inch wheels that are identical to the wheels you’ll find on a standard 20-inch bike, and are just as sturdy and useful. This trailer can be used with road bikes and mountain bikes, and can be either a cargo trailer or a trailer for children to ride in. It can carry up to two children that are up to 40 pounds each or 80 pounds total. The trailer includes a four-point harness for each child, but children must still wear a helmet while riding for maximum safety.
The initial trailer setup can be a little bit time-consuming, and it can be a pain in the butt if you have a standard fixed bike tire on the back of the bike you want to use with the trailer. My bike has a quick-release on the wheels, so it was pretty easy to put the coupler attachment on the bike. This is the attachment that stays on the bike at all times. Once it’s in place, just slide the handle of the bike trailer into the coupler attachment and you’re ready to go. I do have a cargo rack on my bike as well, so that did add a little complexity – the coupler almost bulked it up to a point that the quick release wouldn’t go back into place.
The trailer collapses completely for easy storage. The initial assembly took about 20 minutes, and then re-sets up in a matter of about 3 to 5 minutes. To set it up for riding, pull the sides out and then bolt the crossbar into place. If you’re using the trailer for children, slide the top crossbar through the top of the seats before putting it into place. For cargo, leave the seats flat. The bolt has a plastic handle attachment so it’s very easy to take on and off without any tools. Next, remove the safety pin that holds the coupler bar in place, pull it out straight and put the safety pin back. Take the safety pins off of the axles and put the wheels on, and then replace the safety pins. It’s as easy as that. There are no tools required after the initial setup. Slide the bar into the coupler attachment and you’re ready to go.
Bear in mind that this bike trailer is only intended for children that already have good head control and can safely ride sitting in an upright position. The bike trailer is fairly low to the ground, so it can be kind of difficult to get a child in if they’re not old enough to climb in and get in the seat themselves. The seat is only a couple of inches from the bottom of the trailer, so kids have to stick their feet straight out. The seat level does make it very easy for younger, shorter children to ride in it.
I now have three kids, and all three love this bike trailer. The 40-pound weight limit per child was perfect to transport my first son until he was old enough to ride a bike on his own. I do confess that I’ve pushed the limit a bit with my now 53-pound daughter, who can ride her own bike but still hasn’t figured out the brakes. The trailer bogs down horribly if she’s on the side away from the coupler bar, but glides smoothly if she sits on the side right above that bar. Obviously, I don’t suggest or condone using a product in a way that the manufacturer doesn’t recommend, but just so you know it won’t crumble into a useless heap if your kid tips the scale a bit.
The only real complaint I have about the trailer is that the waterproof flap across the front, which can be rolled back in dry, warm weather or can be fastened with Velcro across the screen in front of the bike trailer to block wind and moisture. The problem with this particular trailer is that the Velcro tabs do not match up for the waterproof flap and for the door flap on the bike trailer. I honestly don’t know if this is a manufacturer issue, or if I just happened to acquire a faulty cover. This isn’t a huge issue since it does still hold the flap in place, it just doesn’t look as nice and lets a little wind in around the sides of the screen. This is a minor issue, and easy to overlook at this price point.
The Schwinn Echo double bike trailer provides a clear view of both the front and sides, which my kids absolutely love because they can see town at their own level. Wipe off any mud splatters with a damp rag. I’ve used this bike for hauling kids, grocery shopping, transporting supplies when I did housekeeping and office cleaning, and even for taking a large-ish dog to the vet on a rainy day when I didn’t want to make him run.
Today, my bike trailer is actually edging on 8 years old and is still in great shape with just some sun bleaching on the cover to show for its age. I’ve used my bike trailer on paved city sidewalks and streets as well as dirt roads, including gravel or wash boarding roads, and it has always offered a smooth ride. The bike trailer does not add a lot of extra weight to the bike, so it doesn’t add much extra effort even with my mountain bike that really wasn’t intended to pull anything. After these long years of use, I’d buy the same bike trailer again in a heartbeat.