If you have an electric bike or are thinking about purchasing one in the near future, you may wonder if an electric bike (also called an E-bike) can pull a trailer. The answer is yes, with some caveats. You need to find the right size electric motor for boosting your bike’s towing power over the long haul.
Can an electric bike pull a trailer? Yes an electric bicycle can pull a trailer, but make sure you do your research and know the capacity of your e-bike. Depending on the motor of the e-bike you’re using will depend how easy or difficult it will be to pedal with a trailer.
There is a lot to think about in buying an electric bike, let alone adding to its frame. I consulted with some E-bike lovers and experts to get better insights, which were incredibly helpful. Here’s what I learned.
What to Know Before Buying an Electric Bike
Electric Bicycles represent a great addition to many people’s lives. While you won’t get to your destination as fast as a car (unless you live in a city with LOTS of traffic), you will save money. Electric bikes by themselves go about 20 mph, slower if carrying a fully-laden trailer (unless the bike has a 750w motor or higher). In terms of cost, it’s only about 15 cents a mile to keep your battery charged properly.
An electric bike with a trailer is ideal for making quick trips to the grocery store or anytime you need to carry something. You can travel minimally 15 miles on one charge if your trailer is heavy. Batteries with lighter loads can go as far as 60 miles. So keep your goals in mind here (in other words: location, location, location!).
How to Use an Electric Bike the Right Way
So how might you use this trending transportation system? You can commute to school or work with your books and papers secured behind you. Take the kids to school! Go grocery shopping and put all your bags in back. Really, the options are endless with a little imagination.
By the way, if you don’t mind getting wet, your electric bike trailer combination works perfectly fine in the rain. The manufacturers of E-bikes take weather to heart, waterproofing all necessary parts. You can also use it in winter provided you have a warm space for charging your battery before use.
Oh, and there are ways of taking your present bike and making it into an electric bike with a trailer. You need to add a motor to the front or back wheel, which is the easiest way of converting it. The process can be a bit tricky because of having to rebuild the wheels.
Thankfully for those of us less technically minded, manufacturers now offer all-in-one products with a rim, hub, spokes, and battery all ready to go. You still must buy a trailer separately, though.
Buying an Electric Bike for Use with a Trailer
Shopping for an E-bike suitable for a trailer may seem daunting. If you look for one with a little information in your back pocket, you’ll be happy with the results.
Electric bikes have three basic classifications. Knowing about these before you shop is helpful.
- Class One has a motor that only runs while you are peddling. When you reach 20mph, the motor stops assisting.
- Class Two bikes work similarly with the addition of a throttle power setting.
- Finally, Class Three is like Class One, but the motor keeps helping up to 28mph.
Class One is the most affordable and favored by new riders. Class Three has more power and will let you carry heavier loads on your trailer. Generally speaking, most of the time a class three electric bike is more expensive than the other two, but it will give you more power!
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” ―Arthur Conan Doyle (see other great cycling quotes here)
The Best Features in an Electric Bike for Pulling a Trailer.
We know that an electric bike can pull a trailer, but the next question is what kind of features do you need in an electric bike that best suits pulling a trailer with good results?
Today’s mantra: Sometimes bigger really is better.
If you get an Electric Bike with a high power motor, you can carry more and make getting up hills far easier. The average E-Bike has a 250w motor. Look to something around 750w.
If you still feel that’s not enough power, check local ordinances. You don’t need a license for your electric bike, but there are rules to follow and there may also be regulations on how much wattage your bike can have from region to region.
Your choice of a motor can go in one of three places, each of which has drawbacks and benefits:
- Front Motor: Distributes weight evenly between the motor and the drive train and gives front-wheel traction, but puts a strain on the fork.
- Mid-Bike: Affords flexibility in your choice of the drive train and provides easier acceleration. It may, however, require a non-standard frame or replacement parts that are difficult to find.
Another feature that’s very helpful is an electric bike with a good-sized battery and/or an extra battery. You are towing the weight of the trailer and all its goods. Higher capacity batteries go further, lasting longer. And, should that run out of energy, you just swap out!
In terms of safety, you want an electric bike with solid braking power. Sometimes the weather gets nasty. Sometimes the road isn’t smooth. Look for an E-Bike with disc breaks for the best performance under unexpected circumstances.
And then there are the fun stuff-accessories! Electric bikes have come a long way and now include all manner of accessories. Want one with lighting or racks that give you even more, cargo space? You can do that. What about an LCD display on your handlebar? This will help you monitor your battery.
Some E-bikes have a wireless capacity for smartphone use. Others still have rear wheel locks and another lock on the battery for security. The nice thing about most of these accessories is that they don’t add a lot of weight to your design.
Types of Trailers your Electric Bike can Tow:
Now that you’ve settled on the perfect electric bike, you can pick out your trailer. There are many trailers on the market designed for specific purposes. Here are just a few for your consideration:
- Cargo Trailers: Cargo trailers come in many sizes suitable for carrying heavy gear over long distances. You can get a one-wheeled style or two-wheel, with the two-wheel offering greater stability and loading ease. Note, however, that the two-wheel version takes more effort and/or energy.
The folding cargo trailer (see on Amazon) above is a great option for your electric bike. It’s able to fold up the sides if you need to carry something extra large. It also comes with a hitch to attach to your e-bike. It’s a sturdy option that can carry up to 110 lbs of material.
A one-wheel trailer works great if you’re taking narrow paths and has easier turning. It’s just harder to balance your load correctly.
- Children’s Trailers: These have 1-2 seat options. Some include pedals attached to these seats so that the children can pedal with you. You can certainly add some play stations for the kids on the inside.
One of the most popular children’s bike trailers is the Instep Tow Trailer for children. It’s widely reviewed and is a safe and fun way to take your child with you on a bike ride. It comes with a bug and weather shield to keep insects or the rain off your kid. In addition, it’s easy to attach so you can hit the bike path quickly! This would be a great kid’s trailer for your electric bike. You can buy it at Amazon here.
- Pet Trailers: The pet trailer can get more elaborate. They include sides and solid flooring to keep the animal safely inside the electric bike trailer. You can add padding and other fun features for your furry traveler.
I’ve never had a pet as an adult, and so have never ridden my bike with an animal in tow. But if you’ve got a small dog, cat, or large tortoise (haha) than you should check out Schwinn’s pet trailer for bicyclists. You can attach this to your electric bike, and bring your favorite little furry pal for a bike ride with you.
It comes with a safety flag and lots of ventilation for your pet. In addition, there’s a leash that you can use that will attach to the inside of the trailer to prevent your pet from leaping out. See this trailer on Amazon.
- Powered Trailers: As the name implies these trailers drive themselves! They come with a built-in battery so you don’t drain the one in your electric bike.
The question, can an Electric Bike pull a trailer has a lot of variables involved. So long as you shop smart when you get your E-bike and trailer, you’ll do just fine.
Remember too – an electric bike doesn’t mean that you won’t need to pedal. The more weight your electric bike is riding with the more energy it will need to move forward. This energy will need to come from your pedaling power or the battery! If you lean too much in using your e-bike battery it’ll drain faster. Happy pedaling!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the local bike shop or look to online enthusiasts. Bike people love to share their experiences with others. It’s a great way to find options you may not have considered, and even perhaps make some cycling friends for your electric bike adventures.