At our 200 Foot Garden work day last weekend, I happened to mention to our neighbor, Alexis, that I'd been thinking about getting a trailer to use with our bikes. It would make getting groceries and supplies (including garden supplies) a lot easier. "Oh," she said, "We have one you could use. We haven't had it out for a while."
After a tiny bit more conversation, we worked it out and they dropped it off on our doorstep yesterday, just in time for our weekly grocery run. This particular trailer is from Bike Friday, and is a BicycleR Evolutions "Shopper" Trailer and is basically a large 24 gallon Rubbermaid container bolted to a frame with wheels.
The hitch hooked up to my bike with no problem, and once it was on, it was smooth riding. Supposedly it can hold up to 100 pounds, which would make it very helpful for getting pet and garden supplies. I gave it a ride to Stop & Shop and came home with 68 pounds of groceries (including a 20 lb can of kitty litter). When empty, it drove with no problem whatsoever--I hardly even knew it was behind me. The universal joint on the hitch rotates in all directions, so it doesn't exert any unusual force on the back wheel.
On the way home, fully loaded, it still pulled smoothly, though with almost 7o pounds in the trunk (plus 17 lbs for the trailer), I definitely knew it was there. I'm used to riding with a lot of weight in my basket and backpack, but this was a different experience. With the basket and backpack, the weight is a lot more uneven and the balance is thrown off a bit on the bike. With the trailer, the balance stays the same, but I just had to get used to this pull from behind me--uphill was a bit more work, and downhill required a little vigilance to modify the extra momentum. Keeping up a steady pace makes the ride a lot more pleasant, so you just have to shift your gears a lot more actively and consciously.
Overall, pulling the trailer is a little more work for the legs, but clearly much easier on the body overall, and definitely a lot simpler to handle loads with volume, extra weight, or large objects. I couldn't have carried this whole load home with just my side basket and backpack.
One of the coolest parts of this particular trailer is how easily it can be stored. We can just stick it on its end in our bike room, and you hardly know it's there (it's very lightweight), which is a big plus because the small bike room in our condo building sometimes has as many as 11 bikes in it.
It was also just fun to pull the trailer--it make me feel like a serious biker. I'm looking forward to many more trips with it behind me.