Whenever I’m out cycling around Milton Keynes with the kids in the trailer, someone admires it and asks where it’s from. When we were deciding which one to buy, there was very little information on the internet, so I thought I’d post a little review of it. It’s a Thule Chariot CX2, which we bought online from Rose Bikes. It is quite expensive at nearly £900, but as you pay well over £1000 for a Bugaboo Donkey, and comparable amounts even for less aspirational double buggies, it seems to me like a bargain. If I cycle about 5 miles a day, I don’t need a gym membership, and I save about £4 on parking every time I go shopping.
The trailer comes in a 1-seater (CX1) or 2-seater (CX2) configuration. Out of the box it is supplied with the hitch arm and attachment – a kind of ball and socket mechanism that even I (pretty much a moron as far as anything mechanical is concerned) was easily able to attach it to the back of my bike. The hitch arm can be easily removed and stored in the side of the trailer. It has a roll-up/down sunshade, a fully waterproof cover and a very generous amount of storage in a trunk shape at the back. For ventilation on hot days, you can fully unzip the plastic covers on the mesh panels either side, and roll up the plastic cover at the front. Separately available accessory packs allow it to be used for running and/or as a general double buggy.
It has full suspension, which is also weight-adjustable.
The maximum weight per child is 24 kilos. 50 kilos is the maximum load capacity for the trailer, so if both your kids are that heavy, you can’t pack all your extras, bike locks etc. in the back. I’ll have to adjust to this eventually, as at the moment I stick my shopping, ipad, locks and anything else I fancy in the back.
If you want to transport a baby under 9 months, a separate infant sling is available for about £70. This worked well for us, although as our baby is on the 99th centile, he grew out of it by about 6 months, so I put him in the normal seat and crossed my fingers he wouldn’t flop about too much.
You can also get small stroller wheels that attach at the front for about £75. They are stored on top of the side “wings”, and when you arrive at your destination, you slot them in the other way around, and have a ready-made double buggy, with no faffing about moving the kids from car to buggy. As a result, they don’t even wake up. On one occasion, this has meant I’ve had a nice 45-minute bike ride with 2 sleeping children, and then a relaxing 45 minutes wandering around the shops, then back on the bike with the kids never even realising I’d left home.
If I ever get back into running, I will buy the separate running wheel that attaches at the front. I think it’s about £70. Running is when this trailer’s disc brakes probably come in handy. It also has a cord to attach to your wrist, to avoid becoming separated from the buggy if you trip (you’d just wrench your wrist as you fall instead).
There are also some fairly pointless attachments which provide extra storage – I’ve never quite figured out the point as their maximum load is 2 kgs.
Supposedly, the dimensions are LxWxH of 90x82x86 cms. However, I suspect these are measurements of the frame, not the frame with the wheels attached. I suspect it is almost a meter with the wheels on, and I have often struggled to fit through standard size doorways, which isn’t usually a problem in large shops that cater for disabled customers, but can mean that small independent shops and cafes with single doorways are a non-starter.
There are a few other Thule models. The CX model is supposed to be the “sporty” version, meaning it is slightly slimmer and more streamlined, and comes with an ergonomic handlebar for running. The Cougar is the basic model; if you’re only planning on occasional use and won’t be running much, you’d be better off getting this. Its only disadvantage is that the plastic covers on the sides don’t unzip, so it could get a bit hot.
The Chinook is the most expensive model in the range, and I must say I am often tempted. It comes with proper separate headrests for the kids, and the running wheel is included. Unlike the other models, the running wheel is not fixed in one dimension, but can turn. It is also slightly wider, and has a few more luggage compartments.