Towing an adult on their own bike?

Discussion in 'General Cycling' started by Tim Downie, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. Tim Downie

    Tim Downie Guest

    Yesterday I found myself in the situation of riding with a much weaker rider
    who was seriously struggling even on gentle hills (after having been dragged
    over the String road on Arran into a strong headwind).

    I had energy to spare and if I could have rigged up a tow-rope I would have
    seriously considered it as we ended up walking all the remaining hills over
    the Ross road.

    Is there a safe(ish) method of towing another bike? I have heard of it
    being done on team adventure races using a bungy cord but I suspect these
    were not on public roads.

    Here's the route for those interested. I was a bit late turning my
    garmin on hence the gap.

    Tim Downie, Sep 29, 2011
    1. Advertisements

  2. Tim Downie

    Phil Cook Guest

    Probably not.

    I have helped riders up hills with a hand on their back where it is
    possible to ride two abreast. It is suprising how hard it becomes when
    the rider really is shattered.

    A clubmate once broke a chain and there was nobody with a chaintool in
    the group so he got a tow back to civilisation from the strongest rider
    by hanging onto his jersey pocket.

    Both these options demand reasonable bike handling skills from both riders.
    Phil Cook, Sep 29, 2011
    1. Advertisements

  3. Tim Downie

    Ian Jackson Guest

    I have sometimes given someone I was riding with a push, or towed them
    a bit by holding hands, but this is a tricky technique and not really
    an answer to your question.
    Ian Jackson, Sep 29, 2011
  4. Tim Downie

    Ian Smith Guest

    They look like those extendable dog leashes. Though I've never used one,
    could be handy for long trips when riders' fitness levels are seriously
    mismatched. But that rope could snap at the most inopportune moment.
    Ian Smith, Sep 29, 2011
  5. I've pushed youngish children up hills. Little skill is required by
    the person being pushed.

    To overcome Clare's weakness on hills we got a tandem. I'm still
    staggered that she has the spare energy to chat enthusiastically about
    the veiws while I'm straining and sodden with sweat as we creak up a 1
    in 4. But fresh-faced at the summit she innocently tells me that she
    found it a struggle too!
    Bertie Wooster, Sep 29, 2011
  6. Tim Downie

    Phil W Lee Guest

    A wire from the back of the towing bike fastened to a cork which the
    towed rider bites has a long and rather dubious history, although the
    towing vehicle has previously been a car (see early TdF history for

    It would be fairly light to carry "just in case", and can be quickly
    released in the event of an emergency (or if a race official sees it).
    Phil W Lee, Sep 29, 2011
  7. Tim Downie

    Paul Cummins Guest

    We were about to embark at Dover, when
    (Tim Downie) came up to me and whispered:
    On Motorbikes, the recommended technique is a tow-rope round the rear
    rack of the leading bike, and held on the handlebars by the towee.

    Tow rope round the saddle stay and the handlebars seems sensible.
    Paul Cummins, Sep 29, 2011
  8. Tim Downie

    Simon Mason Guest

    I was out in deepest Lincolnshire on a training ride one winter night
    when my chain snapped and got lost in the dark.
    I had 4 other riders with me who pushed me along, one on either side
    of me with a hand on each shoulder. After freewheeling downhill they
    then rotated the task when one got tired. I was pushed all the way
    home over the Humber Bridge by this method.

    I bought them all bottles of whisky and crates of beer as per their
    Simon Mason, Sep 30, 2011
  9. Tim Downie

    bugbear Guest

    Agreed. The person being pushed needs enough confidence to allow
    the pusher to be (rather) close, and mustn't swerve around too much.
    Not a "high bar" to clear.

    The pusher needs to steer (quite strongly) to conterract the turning
    moment generated by a force at arms length, which
    is substantial. Bit of a shock if you're not expecting

    I've done this on "mixed ability" rides.

    bugbear, Sep 30, 2011
  10. Tim Downie

    Peter Clinch Guest

    Find similar with the triplet up steep stuff (basically any trip, as we
    live on a reasonably steep hill). Current approach is a quick chorus of
    Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation" which seems to result in an increase
    in effort. It's either that or listen to Dad trying to sing...

    Peter Clinch, Sep 30, 2011
  11. I done it once on the Isle of Man to get my mate to the top, as his chain
    had broken. I guess we used a bungy. It was a long time and many beers ago.
    It went surprisingly smoothly, once the initial pull was got over.

    There wasn't any traffic IIRC.
    Esra Sdrawkcab, Sep 30, 2011
  12. Tim Downie

    Rob Morley Guest

    Pushing better than pulling, as it has less effect on the victim's
    steering and he's not so easily going to run into you, so if you can get
    a hand on his seatpost or rack that should do the job. Obviously
    that leaves you at a disadvantage, having only one hand to control your
    own bike, but as you'll be doing it slowly and uphill you only really
    need to worry about steering. I'd put my free hand on the drops for
    better purchase if on a road bike, or near the stem for greater steering
    stability with flat bars.
    If you do decide to go the towing route make sure the (longish,
    slightly stretchy) rope can't get tangled in your back wheel, and the
    person being towed can release it at any time (usually it's wrapped a
    couple of times around the middle of the bars and the free end held, so
    letting go allows the rope to slip free). I've towed motorcycles like
    this, and found that you shouldn't let someone else do the attaching in
    the dark, as the rope wrapped around the axle and locked the wheel. The
    person being towed let go and happily freewheeled past me. :)
    Rob Morley, Sep 30, 2011
  13. Tim Downie

    Tim Downie Guest

    Hmmm, getting out of the saddle and ridiing one-handed isn't a skill I've
    acquired yet.
    It seems that retractable dog leads are the way to go. Not sure about quick
    release but I'm sure I could cobble something together.

    Tim Downie, Sep 30, 2011
  14. Tim Downie

    thirty-six Guest

    The safest method is to use your hand on the assisted rider's
    backside. This means they can stand to climb and still have normal
    control of their bike.
    thirty-six, Oct 1, 2011
  15. Tim Downie

    thirty-six Guest

    Any strong string or line will do, metal wires are not required for a
    tow from another cyclist. The loads a rider is able to endure in
    addition to his own propulsion are generally quite small.
    thirty-six, Oct 1, 2011
  16. Tim Downie

    thirty-six Guest

    At around 4lb of pulling force? You really have no idea.
    thirty-six, Oct 1, 2011
  17. Paul Cummins twisted the electrons to say:
    You've reminded me of some towing I was involved with as a teenager.
    Cyclist + skateboarder, and the seatpost was noticably bent (albeit just)
    for the rest of it's natural life!
    Alistair Gunn, Oct 1, 2011
  18. Tim Downie

    Rob Morley Guest

    I don't think I've ever tried it (although I may have to now) I usually
    have things called "low gears" (not yesterday when a bolt came undone
    on the front mech, and left me with a sporty 22-44).
    Seems like a waste of a plastic handle and an extra possible point of
    failure. What's wrong with a bit of paracord wrapped around the
    Rob Morley, Oct 1, 2011
  19. Tim Downie

    thirty-six Guest

    It's what happens when the cord/string/tape is let go, it will
    normally fall onto the rear wheel of the front cycle with a risk of
    entanglement before the rider can recover the string. Tying to the
    rear of a rack prevent the occurance, but makes it difficult to
    recover the string on the move.
    thirty-six, Oct 1, 2011
  20. Tim Downie

    Ian Smith Guest

    They mentioned 4lbs(1.8kg)? I didn't notice, but obviously way too low.
    Frankly it doesn't matter, since I warned it could snap, so that's me
    covered, eh?

    One might fabricate a beefed-up version, if one were sufficiently
    motivated. Doesn't seem like rocket science. :)
    Ian Smith, Oct 1, 2011
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.