19 Dec 17

Over the years a lot of people have asked this question and I am sure many many more have thought the same but said nothing.

Strange thing is we used to use trailers in the past, but long ago decided for our unique system of keeping the bikes protected in the van. Now as everyone knows, there is no perfect system. Every manner of hauling bikes around can carry risks like shuttle burn, stone chips or like with trailers – bikes falling off! I often listen to the woes of riders who having got their trusty steed off a trailer their brakes don’t work due to some pesky air bubble shifting whilst the bike was in an upright position. So if no system is perfect, then why are we possibly the only holiday company out there that doesn’t use trailers?

For starters life would be a heck of a lot easier for us if we did. Poor Luki the driver and others wouldn’t have to load the bikes into the back of the van, trailers leave this to the owners. Likewise we wouldn’t have to spend a fortune on extra large sized vans that leave space for 9 people plus 8 bikes – these are expensive I can tell you! Also the vans would remain cleaner leaving muddy bikes outside. Also, there is a perception held by riders that trailers are somehow more professional than packing them into a van. And I suppose lastly the simple point that – ‘well everyone does it so it must be right’  logic.

But are trailers better or are we all mistaken? I mean I am a dog owner and I can certainly tell you that I would not carry my dog in a trailer behind the car but inside safe and snug. Aren’t our bikes a bit like that? Out on the trailer they are exposed to every element be it rain, grit, rocks, wind, being shaken to bits, exhaust, and the odd flying wheel nut from the lorry in front looking to pierce carbon, aluminium and everything in its path.

Then there’s theft. Over the past 17 years of running Switchbacks the number of bikes stolen stories I have heard would astound. Then add to this, stories of whole trailers worth of bikes disappearing. Certainly a trailer with 50k worth of bikes on it does catch the eye more than a discrete tinted van driving by – and asks for trouble.

Also what about lunch stops when the trailer is left unattended? Or turning radius’ or driving over a broken shuttle road? Or possibly the worse when the trailer gets a flat tyre and at 100km/h flips over taking every bike with it. Or what if the trailer loosens itself from the vehicle?

By contrast the only potential harm that a bike can experience in the back of a locked van is shuttle burn. Thats it, nothing else.

So in the end no system is perfect. Vans can cause shuttle burn but trailers have 10s of limitations and dangers. But despite the much long list of trailer negatives listed, the rest of the mtb community out there seems to disagree with us.

Maybe however, it doesn’t really matter how we get our bikes up the hill – trailer or van. Maybe we should just put up with the fact that if we aren’t prepared to climb up and are going to trust our steeds to the technologies out there – that shit can happen.

Or perhaps the solution to this little debate – we should all ride uphill on ebikes and then we could do away with vans and trailers.

Happy trails.