We started our 2011 trip using the Extrawheel Voyager trailer. This is, as the name suggests, an extra wheel. It’s the same size as your bike’s rear wheel and attaches by a simple frame to the rear axle of your bike. You then hang another set of panniers on the frame and off you go.
The particular appeal of this set up was the fact that as the extra wheel is the same size as our tandem’s rear wheel we could poach the tyre, rim and spokes from it to repair the tandem’s wheel if needed (the rear wheel is the achilles heel of a loaded touring tandem). It’s also very lightweight and packs down flat for transportation on planes and trains.
Despite reading some really great reviews of this trailer, it sadly did not live up to expectations. No matter how carefully we loaded it, after the first couple of hundred kilometres it developed an increasingly vigorous wagging motion. Strangely, the wagging only occurred on tarmac and the oscillations would increase in strength until the tandem was also being jolted from side to side and we’d have to stop. On dirt trails the trailer tracked perfectly without any fuss or bother.
At first we blamed each other for not pedalling smoothly, but nothing we did could curb the wagging. We cursed our way through the UK and Ireland trying a variety of trailer-packing strategies and pedalling styles. When we got to France the drop-out sheared off the frame. We thought it had been an unlucky ‘bad batch’ and were actually relieved to have discovered the cause of the wagging, but when Extrawheel sent us a replacement, the new trailer soon developed exactly the same problem. Almost immediately we became aware of an intermittent wiggle and within a few days the trailer was wagging like an over-enthusiastic labrador. The drop-out sheared off again, this time in Germany, and Extrawheel sent us our third trailer. Within a few hundred kilometres the wagging began yet again. We gave up on the Extrawheel in Poland and bought a Bob Yak.
We shipped the Extrawheel home and one day might try it with a solo bike because it seems odd that so many other cyclists have reported no problems with it. Could it be something to do with using it in conjuction with a tandem that causes the wagging?