But my sweet son wanted to ride tandem with his parent last year. So we opted for the Trail-Gator instead of the trail-a-bike or Burley's Piccolo. Towing his bike, allowing him to choose whether or not to ride attached, really appealed to us. Of course, I'm sure we will have our share of disagreements as to when is a good time to ride solo, but that's the user-fee we'll pay.
Don't ask me why, but I bought the Trail-Gator three days before Jose's bike was available to be attached. Those were the longest three days of my life. I seemed like every hour on the hour JahJ would ask me to hook up his bike to his father's. To understate, this was frustrating. Tuesday did arrive! We got the wrenches, looked over the instructions and began putting it all together. An hour later, we set out for our maiden voyage. JahJ was on cloud nine! He chatted interminably while smiling ear to ear. He was on his dad's team, providing "boosters on" up the hills, coasting on the way down, sometimes taking a break from pedaling on the flat. Jose notes that JahJ does in fact hold his own, and can even move the two of them forward for some distance.
The Trail-Gator is very sturdy. It lifts the kid's front wheel off the ground by 3 to 5 inches and holds it there. Science, I guess. Jose does need to take his turns more widely than when biking alone as the tow bar does swivel laterally. We managed to get a bike rack on the adult bike that doesn't interfere with the Trail-Gator. Jose's panniers are high, so the TG doesn't clear them. We are going to rig something up so he can carry his panniers at will.
Since the TG doesn't come off as quickly as I expected, it wouldn't be something I'd do more than once per ride. There are two quick-releases with some nut-turning which amounts to two minutes. There is an attachment to prevent the kid bike from turning the handles, which pops on and off when intentional pressure is applied. Jose chose not to have the TG fold to attach to his bike to lug around, as proposed by the manufacturer. We think that it would be as cumbersome as other reviewers have attested. As of yet, we haven't had the need to detach the TG from the kid bike to let him roam. We heard a creaking sound when Jose rode with the kid bike without a kid on it. We don't know what that's about.
I appreciate that JahJ can pedal and can keep up the pace we set when we bike with a destination in mind. We are looking for ways to make his world bigger, biking on his own definitely helps. He is learning to signal to indicate where he intends to turn, right and left are becoming less abstract and he recognizes the roads and paths we use. He enjoys being part of the pedaling power and doesn't complain about the angle of his seat. It's been a week and the novelty hasn't worn off. We hope he can pedal on bike camping trips this summer - maybe we can have him haul some gear!