According to the AA*, the marginal cost of a mile driven in Edinburgh is 22.8p, meaning that after somewhat less than 750 miles, I will have spent as much driving around town as I would have buying a Carry Freedom Y-frame trailer.
Needless to say, this is convenient as I’ve done just that, and already ridden it 25 miles that I would otherwise have driven! (So it’s 3.3% paid for itself in the first day…)
Quite apart from that, the trailer also offsets the purchase of a pannier rack and panniers, which I otherwise wouldn’t use (except for touring, but we do plan to go touring).
The cheapest imaginable pannier rack and panniers cost £80 from the LBS, about half the cost of the trailer – but you can’t easily carry random bike frames, boxes, or the recycling on a pannier rack, and the rack is always on the bike (unless you have a lot of free time on your hands).
On the other hand, we already have good-quality drybags and other luggage that will fit right on the trailer.
FYI, Chain Reaction Cycles are selling both large and small Y-Frame trailers at a large discount. This is how I bought mine, and I can only recommend it (get it delivered to the office, put it together and tow the empty box home!)
What’s great about the Carry Freedom?
From the first moment I hitched it to my bike, I knew this was one purchase I wouldn’t have many second thoughts about:
- it doesn’t feel like you’re pulling anything 99% of the time
- you can still go up hills just as slowly as before (as demonstrated on the ‘Hilly Tuesday’ group ride last night!)
- because you can’t ride in the gutter, you don’t. While I ignore dangerous or inconvenient cycle facilities as a matter of routine, the nice thing about the trailer is that it’s easy for drivers to understand why you’re not riding 5cm from the kerb.
- when they do eventually overtake, everybody gives you a wide berth, perhaps rightly afraid of having the side of their car torn apart. No taxi is going to try skimming past in the bus lane with this on the back – it’s almost like having a recumbent.
- you can still filter on occasion (route dependent) because it’s only a little wider than your handlebars. Mine is 70cm wide. Sure, you can’t skim down tiny gaps, but it’s surprising how little it holds me up in central Edinburgh.
- it packs completely flat for easy storage in the smallest of bike cupboards. Not only that, it packs flat in literally ten seconds – that is GREAT.
- You can still steer at full lock in both directions thanks to the flexible hitch. If the bike falls over, nothing gets damaged hitch-wise. I have tested this already!
- you end up with a ~100g connector on your QR, but otherwise after taking 10 seconds to unhitch, your bike is just as fast/slow as it was before you bought a trailer.
What’s annoying about the Carry Freedom?
- Although it comes with two reflectors, these hit the ground when the trailer is unhitched, and I don’t think they’ll last long.
- There’s no obvious place to put the legally-required tail light, although a number of bodges suggest themselves.
- Sometimes you want to fly between stationary vehicles like the urban transport ninja you are. Having a trailer definitely makes you more vehicular.
- The trailer rattles like a demented castanet player on the cobbles. Who cares in town, but before going on tour you’d want to fix this.
- I didn’t buy one earlier, it would have paid for itself ten times over by now!
So far I haven’t had anything remotely heavy on it, but the trailer is rated up to 90kg (or more precisely, safe braking on the tractor unit is the limiting factor here. Jack-knifed bikes holding up traffic in town would get the Evening News frothing!
I’ll post an update on how I’m getting on in due course, and pictures/video of course. Update: see my growing collection of trailer adventures elsewhere on the site.
* for us. Assumptions available on request.