As far as a trustworthy, no fuss travel companion goes there is none better than the Tout Terrain Mule single wheel cycle trailer.
Hardworking, tough, lightweight, easy to use and just plain reliable are all accurate descriptions of how the e-Bike Cycle Tourists’ have found the performance of their Tout Terrain trailers after 12,000-plus kilometres of cycling as we head towards setting a new world e-bike long distance record.
With the use of traditional front wheel panniers very quickly ruled out during the planning stage of our record attempt for a plethora of reasons, including our need to carry more, heavier and bulkier equipment than can be carried in front and rear panniers only and not wanting to load up the front fork of our Haibike xDuro RX Trekking e-bikes to ensure better performance and weight distribution, the hunt was on for a suitable cycle trailer that could last the distance over 20,000-plus kilometres.
After reading about the problems associated with using two wheel cycle trailers off-road and the difficulty of manoeuvring them through barrier gates, the search for a suitable trailer was very quickly reduced to single wheel trailers.
From there the search basically became easy, with all roads very quickly pointing to the top-of-the-range Tout Terrain Mule as the workhorse we were looking for.
Weighing Just 6.7kgs and Suitable for On and Off-Road Use the Tout Terrain Mule Ticks all the Boxes
With a sprung suspension, light 6.7 kilogram weight, suitability for both on and off-road usage, a 45 kilogram load rating, a coupling point that attaches to the seat post of a bike and the ability to carry a roomy 90litre Ortlieb waterproof bag, the Mule certainly seemed to tick all of our boxes.
But while the statistics looked good on paper, no-one that we were aware of had ever towed a Mule trailer over the distances we were planning, so it was impossible to get any first hand “real life” feedback. In fact, all of the reviews we read were basically written after just a few days of use or excursions of two or three weeks at the most – nothing like the arduous 18 month expedition we were planning over all sorts of terrain and over so many kilometres.
And given we had never previously toured with a cycle trailer, we had no personal experience of any potential problems that may be encountered along the way it … very much a case of ignorance is bliss if ever there was one!
As a result we had a long list of nagging questions that we realised only time would answer. Would towing a trailer heavily loaded with gear become a burden? Would it be too difficult to manoeuvre on tight off-road trails? Would the trailers deplete our e-bike batteries too quickly? How easy would it be to transport the trailers on ferries, cars, trains and buses, if required, during the record attempt? Would having the Mule’s coupling attached to the bike’s seat post cause problems when having to turn tight corners? Would the fully loaded weight of the trailers stop us from being able to tackle steep hills – even with the assistance of electric assist? Questions, questions, questions!
12,000 kilometres down the track and we now know that we need not have worried. Not only have our Mule trailers answered all of the above questions in the affirmative, but they have performed so much better than we ever envisaged on so many fronts.
The Haibike – Mule Combination is a Real Head-Turner
We have also discovered that they are real head-turners, with the Haibike – Mule trailer combination guaranteed to catch the eye and the imagination of people no matter where we are cycling. So much so, that at times we have had a queue of people waiting to talk to us about our trip, our e-bikes, our trailers and more … definitely an ice-breaker if ever there was one – as long as you don’t mind having the same conversation again and again.
So what have we discovered? Despite towing a load of well in excess of 35 kilograms each (we haven’t weighed and don’t want to know the exact weight of what we are towing) we hardly know the trailers are there. In fact, we have both made the same observation at different times that we have had to “turn around to check that the trailer is still there” such is its ease of towing. It is as though you are being followed by a lightweight shadow.
After Learning to Turn Corners the Mule is a Cinch to Tow
Also, far from being difficult to manoeuvre, the Mule is a cinch to tow – after a bit of practice at turning corners, that is.
We have now weaved our way through the tightest of gates, over the roughest of off-road trails and in and out of the heaviest of traffic and have never had a problem.
Having the coupling point on the seat post in the middle of the bike also means that you have a much tighter turning circle than on trailers that are coupled on the back wheel – a big consideration when having to make tight turns and U-turns in difficult situations.
As to the question of battery usage, yes our Haibike e-bike batteries do discharge quicker when towing a trailer compared to when we cycle without the trailers, but no more so than if we were using fully loaded front and rear panniers.
On the numerous occasions we have made ocean and river crossings with our e-bike – trailer combination on ferries there has never been a problem and when we have had to load all of our gear into a car all we have had to do is remove the towing arm of the trailer to get them to fit.
Finally, would the fully loaded weight of the trailers stop us from being able to tackle steep hills – not a problem!! So far after more than 12,000 kilometres there has not been one hill that has defeated either of us while towing our fully laden Mule trailers … testament indeed to the fact that they are in no way a hindrance to performance.
The Only “Issues” with the Tout Terrain Mule Single Wheel Cycle Trailer have Been the Quick Release Coupling System and Split Mudguards
Given all of the above, as with any piece of equipment that you use day in, day out you inevitably discover “issues” that you believe can be improved upon and such is the case with our Tout Terrain Mule trailers.
Probably the most annoying has been the quick release coupling arrangement that joins the Mule to the bike seat posts. Given the heavy load we are towing, it didn’t take long to discover that it was virtually impossible to secure the coupling tight enough to ensure the trailer tracked straight behind our bicycles.
After struggling with the problem for some time, we eventually did away with the quick release arrangement in favour of a conventional nut and bolt that seems to have fixed the problem, although this has created another problem when we have to quickly remove the trailers from the bikes at ferry crossings etc.
The other problem has been the attachment setup of the trailer mudguard to the frame of the trailer which results in the mudguard splitting after continual use over rough roads and off-road trails. We have so far used three mudguards and all three have split in the same way.
Also, there is no provision for a rear illuminated light on the trailers, something that should be mandatory for a road legal trailer. Our solution has been a fluorescent sticker on the mudguard.
That said the problems mentioned have only been minor nuisances, with our Tout Terrain Mule trailers performing brilliantly so far.
They are, without a shadow of a doubt, a well-made and reliable cycle touring companion that we would recommend to anyone planning a long distance cycle tour.