TowWhee strap

TowWhee review: makes kids better bikers

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Having the TowWhee means that kids can pretty much do the same sort of routes that adults do. It’s very liberating and exciting for everyone involved.

  • Price: £49.99 inc. carabiner and quick-loop (Singletrack members get FREE UK postage and a discount)
  • From: STW Shop
TowWhee strap
Take it anywhere. Even the beach! (Although this is just my front yard)

I’ve owned a TowWhee for four or five years now. My kids are now six and nine years old. I use the TowWhee for both of them. I use it with the nine year old when it’s just me and them out on a ride. I use it with the six year old when we’re all out on a (slightly less full-on) ride.

Yes, it is expensive. That is often literally the price you pay when something is very much a tool for the job. A relatively specific job.

Yes, you can do a similar thing with a bit of climbing rope or even a dog lead. And it works to a degree. But the TowWhee is better. For two reasons.

It’s very stretchy. And it’s very quick to use.

TowWhee quick-loop on the kid’s bike
TowWhee strap on the adult’s saddle
Quick carabiner joins everything up

It’s very elastic. At rest it’s 56 inches long. At full extension it’s 180 inches long. This stretchy nature reduces the jerkiness (for both the adult tower and the child towee).

This means younger kids don’t panic or get frightened so much. And the adult has a gentler/easier start when setting off.

The lack of jerking also means that it’s much more viable to do actual off-road ascents with it. This is a tow rope that works on rough climbs. The child is not forced to ride at the pace of the adult, and vice-versa. Either of the riders can go slow for second (or put a quick pedal spurt on) and it doesn’t mess up the other rider’s handling.

The impressive stretchiness, combined with the tough canvassy outer material, means there’s not much chance of the TowWhee getting snagged in the adult’s rear wheel. It’s never happened to me. Occasionally you can hear the TowWhee buzz on the rear tyre but nothing untoward happens.

TowWhee promo vid

The carabiner and quick-loop make life a lot less faffy too. Loop the quick-loop around the kid’s headtube and then, once riding, all you have to do is operate the carabiner to attach-remove the TowWhee. The other end of the TowWhee slips over the nose of the adult’s saddle, in case you were wondering.

What to do with the TowWhee when riding but not in use can be an issue. You can keep stashing/removing it from a backpack/hip-pack (getting the child to help is the answer here). Or, you can do what I do, and wear the TowWhee like a scarf, tucking it inside your jersey/jacket.

A surprising thing about the TowWhee is that it has actually improved my kids’ climbing abilities. Particularly, off-road. Having some assistance affords the child the chance to learn how to deal with technical terrain without being totally overwhelmed by dang physics.

They also get fitter. Like with e-bikes, the kids are still pedalling back there. They can’t help it. It’s easier to balance – and more involving for them – if they pedal whilst being towed.

My kids are fitter and better at mountain biking because of the TowWhee.

Climbing off-road is hard. Very hard. With kids or beginner riders, the first climb can often kill the whole ride. Especially if you live somewhere with significant hills.

Having the TowWhee means that kids can pretty much do the same sort of routes that adults do. It’s very liberating and exciting for everyone involved.

The TowWhee is right up there with the best things I’ve ever bought for biking.

Also read: 6 Ways to Help Your Kids Love Cycling

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)
  • TowWhee review: makes kids better bikers
  • thegeneralist
    Free Member

    I’m flabbergasted. It’s weird enough that people are willing to cough up 50 quid for this when a bit of string works almost as well, but to discover that the £50 Towee doesn’t even have a instant release at the kid’s end… and hence in one key way is worse than a piece of string.

    That’s quite an oversight.

    But I totally agree that tow ropes are awesome. Amazing way of aligning everyone’s wishes aims and fitness on a family ride 🙂

    Full Member

    Agree with all above (Bens article that is not the above 50 quid comment (sorry)!), it seriously increases the scope of things the kids can/will cycle up and the extra weigh pulling them up the worst bits decreases the range I can go so that we’re all ready to head for home at the same time!! I find the best way to store it is to loop it around one shoulder and close it with the carabiner as if you holding a load ofclimbing rope.

    Full Member

    I’ve seen things like this being used by Ebikers towing there acoustic mates and have often thought it was a neat trick. Applying it to use with your kids hadn’t occurred to my dim self but I have to say it does make a lot of sense. Clever thinking TowWhee.

    Full Member

    pmurden, it’s a kids thing adapted for adults rather than the other way around.

    Can’t forgive the use of “acoustic” though 😉

    Full Member

    Apologies @mashr it just makes me chuckle every time I say it.

    Full Member

    2 inner tubes linked together works really well and is way cheaper than £50 notes! We all have spare tubes kicking about.

    Full Member

    I agree with the article, the TowWhee has beeen fantastic for us with our wee ones. Really opens up riding options beyond what the kids can do solely under their own steam. We use a bit of climbing rope as a fast stem hook like this, which at least gives a chance of popping off in the event of a fall.

    Really disagree that

    a bit of string works almost as well

    An adult towing a 18kg 4yo it really helps not yank them off the bike having a nice forgiving amount of stretch that doesn’t recoil quickly.

    Full Member

    I had forgotten that the Towhee doesn’t come with a wee loop to drop over the stem. Interestingly the Shotgun version definitely does, and it works really well. I just hand the loop to my 4 y/o and he hooks on, then just chucks it away again when at the top

    Free Member

    I bought a TowWhee 4 years ago (had to import direct). Used it almost daily for the school-run until little legs were strong enough to get up the hill by themselves, still take it our on family rides “just in case” any of the kids get tired out. Its fantastic. I know of at least 5 other families who bought one after seeing mine.
    Yes, you could use a pair of inner tubes, or a climbing rope or webbing strap, but the combined design features make it work so much better. And yes it is £50 but its a niche product, they’re not going to sell millions so need to price it accordingly. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it and listen to kids moaning about riding up hills, or complaining when the old inner tube suddenly snaps in their faces, or the the rope gets snagged in their front wheels. See where I’m going here?

    As for storage, it either gets strapped to a pannier rack, shoved in a bag or just looped around my waist. The kids know how to clip it onto the carabiner, and in the situations where we don’t have one (is other kids bikes) its not exactly a challenge to loop it around the bars and through itself.

    Full Member

    I have to admit to being sceptical, tried the inner tube method and various old bits of stretchy climbing rope but they never worked effectively and usually resulted in a terrified 3 year old. Bought a TowWhee (£30 when I got mine….inflation?) and from the first try we were off without an issue. I love how it has allowed progression of my daughters riding far more and far quicker than any other bike-related piece of kit.

    I use an old bit of 5mm dyneema cord as the kids bike attachment point as it goes stiff when under tension so is easy to clip. I also use a cheap bar end mirror to keep an eye out in case of falls, etc.

    Superb bit of kit, even at the new price I would say that it is great value in terms of the experiences that it has allowed “us” to have as a family or just the two of us.

    Free Member

    I use a trax which isn’t stretchy but works well for us.

    I can pull my 7 year old round routes nice and easy and it also works on an ebike with my 12 year old when we’re shuttling up and down various places. Saves us paying for an uplift as well.

    Full Member

    How does it work with dropper posts? Can you still use the dropper?
    I’d be nervous of damaging it with the strain.

    Free Member

    I towed my then-3 year old around the Glentress blue and green trails – the smiles and whoops of delight on the downhills were worth the price tag alone 😀

    Full Member

    …if anybody has a used one to sell me drop me a message.

    Full Member

    my son now views ours as the towrope of shame. but I’m not sure I’m ready to sell it yet…

    Free Member

    The linked article “Also read: 6 Ways to Help Your Kids Love Cycling” is wonderfully hilarious!

    Free Member

    My 12 year old is also now embarrassed by the tow rope, thank god. But it has been absolutely great, well worth the cash. As Ben notes in the review, you can do technical climbs with it with a bit of communication – we had a lot of fun up cafell with it, timing accelerations to not pull the other rider off the bike etc.

    Free Member

    £50 for a towrop that looks exactly that those expandable hose pipes for £7 on eBay/Amazon. make me think on another DIY.
    I never used a towrop for my son during his 4 years first years of mtb, he is 9 now and strong enough to climb long routes, also thanks to a really light/capable bike. But for my daughter I had tried different hacks to pull her up on all climbs but she is 5 now and still scared for the Downhills.

    Full Member

    For those indignant that a well made product with a small market costs £50, where’s the indignation about a metre of accessory cord with a knot in being charged at £7.99!

    Though tbh, the TowWhee *really* should have one included at that price.

    Free Member

    Hi all, Mark here from Gone Biking Mad, the UK importer for TowWhee. I just wanted to clarify the price as £50 keeps getting banded around as the price for the bungee, the TowWhee bungee is actually £39.99 and has been for as long as I have been bringing them in. Originally TowWhee made one attachment device in the form of the Quick loop with carabiner, a £9.99 accessory and one so popular many stockists did it as a bundle hence £49.99. TowWhee now makes 3 different attachments including a Fast stem hook, or a bit of strong climbing rope if you wish, that sells for £7.99 but there is naturally nothing to stop you from making your own if you are so inclined.

    The TowWhee is a very well made rope, made by hand in the USA using a specially designed shock cord that is very different in feel to innertubes, rope, car towing ropes, dog leashes and a new one on me garden hose?.

    I would also like to add one further thing regarding cheap copies being sold on Amazon and eBay, the pictures they use are TowWhee images with the logo photoshopped out, so don’t expect to get something that behaves like a TowWhee or is as strong, at the end of the day if you like the idea and not the price and feel confident in making your own creation then that’s up to you, but for other people wanting something proven to work safely you can’t go wrong with a genuine TowWhee bungee.

    Full Member

    Used mine properly for the first time today. Junior’s (age 4) last words to me at bedtime tonight were ‘my favourite thing today was riding connected to your bike then zooming down the hill’. One of the best bike upgrades ever.

Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)

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