For those of you who don't know about the Singletrailer, prepare to be amazed. There is no trailer like it in the world. Tout Terrain has generously taken the time to put together a full-suspension trailer that allows you to bring your adventurous offspring into the wilderness in complete comfort. With an anticipated Great Divide tour for 2014, Neva and I were offered the chance to test out this niche product.
AT FIRST GLANCE
Whenever I get a trailer, I have two main steps that I go through :
1. I scrutinize the heck out of it.
The Singletrailer scored a GREAT! right out of the box. Every time I thought there might be a flaw, I would find a small detail which perfected it. The secret is really in it's simplistic yet quality design of the cab of the trailer, and detail in how a suspension trailer should follow a bicycle.
2. I attempt to put it together without the instructions.
All of the quick releases for the suspension and the hitch arm were attached to the trailer, and the corresponding notches were obvious, at that point, you're almost done with assembly. The most time consuming part was the hitch attachment, mostly because you want it in a good spot to accept the trailer and give you rack clearance. The seat belt also takes some time to adjust as it is similar to quality car seats (with the loop around the back adjustment); getting just the right fit for your child is important, so this step is understandable. That being said, the Singletrailer passed the no instructions test.
- Suspension - The suspension system is the biggest draw to the trailer. Tout Terrain doesn't skimp on quality, and there's a high price tag to prove it. The Singletrailer uses a bike-quality Rock Shox suspension. The savvy design allows you to adjust the position of the shock for road or less aggressive terrain for a shorter suspension travel of 16 cm or for super rocky single track, placing the shock in the longer position gives a full 20 cm (almost 8 inches) of travel. You can also adjust the air pressure to be suited to your child's weight.
- Hitch System - When pulling your child in a trailer you want to make sure they're double-y, triple-y, quadrupule-y secured. The hitch system may look scary at first glance, but that's because it was engineered to articulate in multiple directions to accommodate mountainous terrain. The hitch attaches at your seat post (make sure you order the correct size for your bike), and the hitch arm attaches to the hitch with a CNC ball bearing joint and is secured with a cotter pin, QR and safety rope. Add in the 5 point-harness system and the kiddo is quadruple secured.
- Light! (Seriously, this is amazing) - Yup, the Singletrailer blows away the other child trailers, weighing in at only 9.5 kg or just over 20 pounds. The Chariot CX1 which I used on the GDT has leaf spring suspension and weighs 35 pounds. Going up mountains will seem a little easier losing a whole 15 pounds in the rear.
- 3 Covers for Most Weather Conditions - First of all, the fabric is orange with reflective striping, so it matches my bike. It's also made of 1000D Cordura, so it's pretty much water proof (we will see!). The covers snap up when not in use, so you know they won't fall down, and snaps are also used to secure at 4 different points with an added Velcro secure point to keep the bottom flap closed. It's nice to see snaps over Velcro which can wear easily, or wrap style which can pop up when going over bumpy terrain.
- Mesh Cover
- Full Cover
- Sun Shade - This is super cool. Not only does it block the sun, but it's made out of Cordura so, it can act as a rain cover as well when coupled with the Full Cover.
- Single Wheel - This one is obvious, but should not be overlooked. Low rolling resistance, great turning radius, and single-track ready are all unique to this trailer. I also appreciated the included puncture protection of knobby, Kevlar belted Schwalbe Black Jack 20" tire which is almost the same width as my bike tires being 1.9" wide.
- Child Comfort and Safety - The whole point of this is to share our fun with the kiddos, so they need to be safe in a comfortable way. The padded 5-point harness with puzzle-piece buckle adjusts vertically for height and forward at the crotch buckle, just like a car seat to accommodate a big boy or a petite princess. The seat is simple but comfy, padded, and breathable with an adjustable back rest. There is no large cargo pouch, but there is space under the seat to put a few toys as well as two mesh pockets on the side for child Nalgene bottles. There is also a vent under the seat that doubles as a dirt drain for loose pebbles from tiny shoes. The windows have UV absorbing for added sun protection.
- Kickstand - The Kickstand is included with the trailer. It's a full bar that sits on the ground and acts as a double kickstand by lifting the wheel of the trailer. It will hold up both bike and trailer. I will have to see if this also works when I have loaded panniers on the bike.
- Isuro Pillow - The pillow is an add on. It's a super comfy bean bag feeling pillow that attaches to the side of the trailer so your child can lean on it when they get tired without having to slump. It appears that you have to buy 2 if you want one on each side.
- Mud Guard - Easy installation next to the shock mount, the fender has 2 holes so that it will work with either position you have your shock installed.
A QUICK RIDE
The trailer was all ready to go, except that I needed to mount it. This proved to be a little awkward. Single wheel trailers in general are awkward because you have to keep then steady while you mount it. I find the best way to steady the trailer is to straddle the hitch arm. Since I am short, I don't have much seat post to mount to, and I had to remove my rear rack in order to mount the trailer.
Once mounted, the Singletrailer feels like part of the bike. I went over all the curbs I could find, did tight circles and crossed grassy terrain (okay, not super hardcore, but pretty good for around the block). This is really where you can appreciate the intricacies of the hitch and articulation of the hitch arm. The shock takes the impact, but the hitch system allows the trailer to follow with finesse so there isn't extra lateral movement for your child. Tout Terrain still has a GREAT! score so far.
WHAT I MIGHT ADD
Every trailer has some little tweeks that could make it even better. Here are a few that I might find useful.
1. Compactability - It would be great if the Singletrailer could fold in half. The hitch arms fold into the trailer, and the shocks fold flat on the back, but if it could additionally fold in half, plane travel/train/car travel might be easier.
2. Stroller wheels and handlebar - So, this trailer is meant to be off-road, not to stroll through airports, BUT there might be a way to fold allow the hitch arm to fold backwards and act as a handlebar, and just add roller-blade-style stroller wheels onto the kickstand which folds up, and voila! You've got yourself a makeshift stroller to roll through security. (Can you see it? Just sayin'.)
3. Flag - You might go through towns sometimes, flags are good.
4. Added ventilation - With experience biking in hot weather, extra vents or zip out windows are helpful. I think a vent behind the head, and at the sides near the feet would be good, and full side zip out windows would be best.
The Tout Terrain Singletrailer isn't for everyone. It's meant for people who like to mountain bike alot, or live in a rural area where there are only wide expanses of trail for biking. If you love trail and so does your kiddo, this trailer is quality for everything you want to do. I'm interested to see how I can travel with it on a plane, how the fabric holds up in a rain storm, and Neva's review. More to come on our preparation for our next off-road adventure. Happy December everyone!