How to Attach a Bike Trailer – Step by Step Guide

Just when you thought the bicycle was the best invention ever made, this vehicle becomes even more useful when you have a bike trailer. Whether you use a bicycle for recreation or a means of transportation, you know that it has its own drawbacks—a major one is lack of storage. That’s where the bike trailer comes in and you can choose from a wide range of bike cargo trailers.

Now, the next thing you need to know is how to attach a bike trailer. Don’t be intimidated with all the gears and the tools, it’s not as hard as it looks and you can pretty much do it yourself.


Before Starting on How to Attach a Bike Trailer

You might think that there’s a universal attachment and a bike trailer hook up is pretty much the same for all bicycle models but that’s not always the case. Consider the following factors before you connect a trailer to your bike:

Bike Trailer Attachment

There are two main ways on how to attach a bike trailer to a bicycle and they can be easily distinguished by the angle of the arm of the trailer.

1.    Axle

The axle of the rear tire of your bicycle is the most common part where a trailer attaches. If the arm of the bike trailer extends horizontally, then it is most likely an axle hitch attachment. You might need a special adapter, depending on your bike model (discussed below) for this type of bike trailer.

2.    Seat

Another place where a trailer can be attached is right below your seat. A trailer with a seat hitch attachment usually has an arm that extends diagonally so as to reach the seat post.

Bike Model

As mentioned above, the axle bike trailer attachment is the most common one but may not be instantly compatible with your bicycle. It depends mainly on the type of axle your bike may have, which could be either of the two:

1.    Standard Quick-Release

If you have an older bike model, chances are you have a quick-release axle, which will make things easier for you and you can go straight to the step-by-step guide.

However, there are standard quick-release bikes that have hooded dropouts, which means there’s a bit covering the axle hole. You might start wondering how to attach the bike trailer coupler? You won’t be able to do it unless you get spacers.

2.    Disk Brake

Newer and larger bike models, such as mountain and road bicycles, usually have a disk brake. Unlike, a quick-release bike, models with disk brakes have a thru-axle, which is quite larger than a coupler, making it hard to hook the bike trailer to the bike.

The solution for this is to get a thru-axle adapter. Once you have your adapter, you can now proceed to the step-by-step guide. Take note, there are some trailer models, like Schwinn bike trailers, where how to hook up won’t be a problem as a thru-axle adapter is no longer needed.

Two kids in a bike trailer

A Step by Step Guide on How to Attach a Bike Trailer

For Axle Attachments

1.    Attach the Coupler

Using a wrench, loosen the nut of your rear tire and remove the axle rod. Place the coupler’s receiver and washer on either side of the axle then return the rod to its original slot. Make sure that it goes through the coupler’s washer and receiver, then lock them in place.

2.    Extend the Bike Trailer’s Arm

Grab the tow arm from underneath the bike trailer. Once it is fully extended, make sure to lock it using the attached retaining pin.

3.    Attach the Arm to the Coupler

There’s a hole on the coupler and the arm of the bike trailer. Align these two holes and then insert the retaining pin through them. There is a clasp underneath the pin that you will use to secure the connection. For added security, wrap the strap of the bike trailer’s arm around your bike’s frame then clip it to the D-ring on the arm. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, you can watch this step-by-step guide on how to attach a bike trailer instead.

For Seat Post Attachments

1.    Install the Receiver

Remove the seat post and then slide on the receiver. Return the seat post and make sure to adjust the actual seat accordingly.

2.    Attach the Trailer Hitch

Once the receiver is in place, you can now install the trailer hitch onto it. Align the holes on the trailer hitch and the receiver, then insert the bolt through them. Adjust the washer and the nut until the hitch is firmly secured. 

3.    Use the Safety Strap (if it’s available)

Some models of bike trailer hookups come with a safety strap. You can wrap it around your bike frame and then clip on securely onto the trailer’s arm.

Final Notes

Once you know how to attach a bike trailer properly, you can go about with your cycling adventures or daily chores. However, it’s important to know that even if you connect the trailer to your bike correctly but you are not using compatible models, your ride may not go smoothly. Make sure that the bike trailer you have has the right capacity or weight for you and your bike.

  • Category: FAQ