Electric bikes offer an efficient ride until you carry many items and do not know where to put them. E-bikes have limited space, so cyclists must put all their belongings in a bag and take them on their backs. However, this method only applies to small and not-too-heavy items.
People with conventional bikes use a trailer to carry heavy items during their ride. But can an electric bike pull a trailer?
This article will discuss the following:
- Whether or not an electric bike can pull a trailer
- How much weight different e-bike motor powers can pull
- What happens if you overload an e-bike
- Is a child trailer compatible with an e-bike?
- How to attach a trailer to an e-bike
- How difficult is it to maneuver an e-bike with a trailer
An electric bike can pull a trailer if its motor power is compatible with the cargo’s weight. Loading an e-bike beyond capacity can damage its components. Pulling an appropriately loaded trailer is easier using an e-bike than a conventional bike.
If you are new to using e-bikes and trailers, we’ve got you covered! This article will discuss everything you need to know about electric bikes and trailers, so you know how you can use them efficiently.
Can an electric bike pull a trailer? You may often see standard bikes installed with a trailer filled with heavy items. Conventional bike owners can easily install a trailer to their bikes as it does not have any electrical parts.
Meanwhile, electric bike owners hesitate to do the same thing as their bikes consist of delicate parts. The reason is that e-bikes have delicate parts, which can acquire damage if you overload the bike with heavy items.
You can use an electric bike to pull a trailer. It is much easier to tow a trailer filled with heavy items when using an e-bike. Whether it is a pet, child, or cargo trailer, the durable design of electric bikes allows them to pull one.
When pulling a trailer using a conventional bike, you must exert much effort when propelling the pedals. The extra weight increases the bike’s drag, causing it to require more power to drive forward.
On the other hand, it is much easier to pull a heavy trailer when you are using an e-bike. The motor’s extra power makes the pedal easier to propel regardless of the drag. For this reason, you do not need to exert as much power to maneuver the e-bike as you do when riding a standard bike installed with a trailer.
True enough, electric bikes are powerful enough to tow trailers. However, this does not mean you can simply get a trailer, fill it with heavy items, and let your e-bike do the job. Instead, there are a few considerations you need to take.
- E-bike Capacity – before installing a trailer to your e-bike, you need to check how much power its motor has. The trailer weight should match the motor’s power to ensure your electric bike can support the extra weight.
- Battery – According to a bachelor thesis by Blekinge Institute of Technology students, an e-bike’s battery depends on the rider and cargo weight, among other things. The heavier an e-bike’s load is, the more power it requires from the battery. Therefore, your e-bike’s battery will drain faster, which is a problem if you need to travel long distances. So, getting an extra battery pack when traveling with a heavy trailer is ideal.
- Motor Type – According to a study conducted at the University of Padova, electric bike motors are divided into three categories: front wheel hub, mid-drive, and rear wheel hub motors. Out of these three motor types, the mid-drive motor is the best choice for pulling heavily loaded trailers, as its location on the e-bike ensures excellent balance.
- Brake Efficiency – Besides speed, braking slows down when your electric bike tows a heavy load. For this reason, you must ensure that your e-bike brakes can perform efficiently despite the additional weight it needs to support. The trick is to use a longer braking distance to adapt to the slow braking caused by the trailer.
As mentioned, the amount of load you can tow using an electric bike depends on its motor. However, you also need to consider the bike’s motor wattage and the capacity it can carry.
|Electric Bike Motor Power
|Trailer Weight Limit (excluding the bike and rider weight)
The average weight limit of electric bikes is 200 to 300 lbs. However, newer models have a design that allows them to tow more load. The larger an e-bike’s motor power, the more weight you can load and carry into its trailer.
When using an electric bike while towing a heavy trailer, the trailer’s weight mustn’t exceed the bike’s power and weight limit. The rule of thumb is to increase the motor’s power rating a step higher than the e-bike’s total capacity and the terrain’s power requirement.
It is also worth noting that the rider’s and e-bike’s weights are part of the motor’s cargo capacity. Suppose the bike weighs 48 lbs. (approximately 22 kilograms), and you weigh 110 lbs (about 50 kilograms). You only have a cargo weight capacity of 92 lbs. ( about 42 kilograms).
Suppose you plan to increase your e-bike’s motor to carry heavier loads. In that case, checking your local laws and regulations is crucial. According to the Federal Register, the motor power of electric bikes in the United States should not exceed 750 watts.
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Keeping your electric bike’s capacity within the weight limit is crucial. Failing to keep your bike load’s weight within its capacity can put two things at risk:
- the e-bike’s performance
- your safety
E-bikes have components especially made to offer an optimal riding experience. However, you can only experience a good bike ride if you follow your electric bike’s weight limit.
Loading an e-bike beyond what it can carry will reduce its speed and range, as the heavy load will drain the battery faster. It will also strain the pedals, frame, and tires, as they need to hold too much weight.
Overloading an e-bike can result in both repairable and irreparable damage.
As mentioned, adding excess weight to your e-bike will slow down its speed. You will not be able to accelerate, turn, and brake instantly. This fact increases your risk of colliding with other vehicles or crashing, as your e-bike cannot respond as fast as it should. A study published in the International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health proved that overloading is one of the primary causes of electric bike-related accidents apart from overspeeding.
Child trailers are compatible with electric bikes. These trailers usually come with two or three wheels, making them easy to balance once you maneuver the e-bike. Some child trailers even allow you to carry two kids as you ride.
When attaching a child trailer to your electric bike, it is essential to consider the child’s comfort and safety. Many child trailers have a canopy to protect kids from different weather conditions. You may opt for one with a suspension system so that the trailer will easily roll over gravel, sand, and rough roads.
You must also consider your electric bike’s motor capacity and ensure it can support the child’s weight.
Moreover, some hesitate to tow a child trailer due to safety concerns. However, there will be no complications if you install the trailer securely.
Electric bike trailers come with attachment systems, making them relatively easy to install. Almost all trailers on the market are compatible with any e-bike, so choosing which one to use is also easy. Still, double-checking the e-bike and trailer compatibility is essential.
If your bike has a quick-release skewer, you can install the trailer right out of the box. You will only need a coupler hitch attachment, which is usually included when purchasing the trailer.
But a coupler hitch attachment is not a compatible attachment tool if your electric bike has bolted axle, thru-axle wheels, or hooded-style dropouts. Instead, purchase an adapter compatible with your e-bike’s rear wheel. Once you have the said attachment, you can easily install the trailer to your electric bike.
Installing a trailer filled with heavy loads to your e-bike makes it less maneuverable due to the extra weight the bike needs to carry. The pedals will feel heavier to propel, making your ride slower than your usual speed when you ride without any load. Cornering and cycling uphill also become more challenging.
However, towing a trailer using an electric bike is much easier than a regular bike. An e-bike has a motor that assists you in propelling the bike forward, unlike conventional bikes, where you need to do all the maneuvering work.
Once you are used to the weight of the trailer your electric bike is towing, you will not feel its drag too much. However, it would be best if you rode slowly to ensure safety.
When you ride an e-bike with a trailer attachment too fast, there is a chance for the trailer to tip over. You can opt not to use the motor’s maximum support to guarantee that you are not going too fast. This option will also allow you to conserve your battery, which is helpful if you are in for a long ride.
Most electric bikes and trailers are compatible with trailers. All you need for installation is a coupler hitch attachment or an adapter depending on your e-bike’s rear wheel. Once you have your trailer and the required attachment tool, the installation will be seamless.
Electric bikes can easily tow a trailer, thanks to their motor, which assists you in pulling your extra load. However, your trailer’s load must be compatible with your electric bike’s motor power to prevent safety risks and e-bike damage.
- Contò, Chiara, and Nicola Bianchi. “E-Bike Motor Drive: A Review of Configurations and Capabilities.” Energies 16, no. 1 (2022). https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/16/1/160. Accessed February 21, 2023.
- Upadhya, Bhanu, Rasha Altoumaimi, and Thelal Altoumaimi. “Characteristics and Control of the Motor System in E-bikes.” (2014). http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:829771/FULLTEXT01.pdf. Accessed February 21, 2023.
- Authenticated US Government Information. Federal Register: Vol. 85, No. 212. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-11-02/pdf/2020-22239.pdf. Accessed February 21, 2023.
- Ma, Changxi, Dong Yang, Jibiao Zhou, Zhongxiang Feng, and Quan Yuan. “Risk Riding Behaviors Of Urban E-Bikes: A Literature Review.” International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health 16, No. 13 (2019). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16132308. Accessed February 21, 2023.