The Shotgun Bike Tow Rope, like most bike tow ropes, is designed for mountain biking and I’ll admit we’re not big mountain bikers, but I’ve long seen the benefits of have a means for towing kids uphill, paved or not. Despite intuiting how useful a tow rope could be, I hadn’t used one (a “real” one, that is) prior to the Shotgun since I didn’t see a way to tow the two kiddos at once. Having kids close enough and size and ability that I could carry them together on my bike was wonderful when they were little, but having them always wanting to be doing the same thing at the same time made towing unworkable. Back in the day I toyed with the idea of getting two tow ropes and trying to tow the kids side by side, but was told it’d probably only work to tow inline with me towing one kid who then towed the other and I knew they wouldn’t be amenable to that.
Attaching the Shotgun Bike Tow Rope
My Big Dummy is a foot longer than a regular bike so rather than lasso the rope over my saddle as designed I looped it through the hole at the back of my Xtracycle FlightDeck. It seems very versatile in terms of attaching to various parts of your rig if the back of your bike has a lot going on that might get in the way of the traditional saddle lassoing method. That said, I also did some towing with a regular bike to confirm it didn’t feel weird to sit on the strap and it was perfectly comfortable. I assumed this product designed for mountain bikers in two-part baggy mtb shorts over padded liners might not feel the same with unpadded mom jeans so I’m happy to report I was wrong. As for the trailing end of the rope, I towed the kids attaching it to their bikes using both methods–quickly slung over the stem and carefully clipped under the stem (see the video at the bottom of the page for details). Both felt secure.
Towing both kids around the park (and then towing one home while waving a big stick around and not pedaling whatsoever) was a lot of fun, but wasn’t the hardiest test of what the Shotgun Bike Tow Rope can do. Enter a long ride to the pumpkin farm. Into a headwind.
First I should note that I’ve done my fair share of DIY towing using long non-stretchy cargo straps, dragging the kids around on their bikes, skateboards, longboards, and snowboards. The kids love it and I find it fun for the novelty, but it’s a heck of a lot of work! I’m glad to have had all this DIY towing experience because it’s made me uniquely qualified to say the Shotgun Bike Tow Rope is AMAZING! My 14-year old has a creative pedaling cadence that makes riding a tandem together or towing with a non-stretchy cargo strap very unpleasant for me, but the Shotgun completely dampens any jerkiness happening behind me! We linked up for three miles in the middle of our 16-mile journey to the pumpkin farm on a very slight uphill and into a headwind and while it was tiring, the stop-and-go pedaling happening behind was impossible to detect. I could tell when there was absolutely no pedaling happening for long stretches of coasting because I had to work harder, but the pedal-pedal-coast……pedal-pedal-coast…… typical of my co-tester didn’t register.
DIY towing three years ago:
Proper towing with the Shotgun Bike Tow Rope this year:
As noted above you can purchase the tow rope à la carte, but the hip pack is adorable. I love that the waist strap adjusts big enough to fit on me so I’ve claimed the hip pack as mine. But I also love that it’s designed to be worn by the kiddo. Having the towed kid in charge of bringing the tow rope and tasked with carrying it is just brilliant. The pack is covered with cute animals riding bikes (whom you can find in the book “Shred Til Bed – The MTB Animal Alphabet”, available on the Kids Ride Shotgun website) and it comes with cute stickers, too.
We all have 26-inch wheels these days and the tow rope works for all sizes of bikes. The website FAQ states the tow rope is designed for kids, but works for adults, too (it’s rated to 500lb). When I posted one of our test runs on my Instagram, BikePOC PNW adventurers commented that they bring theirs on all BikePOC PNW group rides in case of “catastrophic mechanicals.” I don’t know if this means they often haul adults with broken chains 50 miles up gravel mountains, but that’s certainly what I’m picturing.
The tow rope ships free to the US from New Zealand (free US shipping on all orders over $39). If you’re in Portland, like me, you can find them at REI and The Outer Rim–check the find a stockist page for other retailers in any area.