Tout Terrain Streamliner Review: the tagalong of tagalongs
In the world of family cycling, there are tagalongs… and there are tagalongs. A far cry from the cheap lookalikes unearthed on Craigslist, Tout Terrain’s Streamliner is a super high end, suspended trailer bike complete with a 160mm air shock, a 1×9 SRAM drivetrain, a light tubeset, and a whole list of quality components. Cass Gilbert takes one bikepacking with his family and finds out if it’s money well spent…
Last year, my family was introduced to the merits of a tagalong bike for bikepacking; see our Burley Picollo review and the story of what we got up to in Sedona, Arizona. If you’re bikepacker who aspires to bring your little ‘un along on your adventures, tagalongs are great options for the ‘in-between’ age: when your child is getting to grips with cycling and ready to get out of a ‘cargo-style’ two wheel trailer, but can’t yet handle the rigours of riding solo. Tagalongs, also known as a trailercycles or trailerbikes (amongst other variations), are ideal for when you need to cover more ground than you might be able to otherwise. And, they’re great for unladen trails rides, or even school runs through cities, especially if you have to contend with traffic.
Tout Terrain’s Streamliner, however, is unlike any other tagalong. Like the company’s other specialist single wheel trailers – the Mule and the Singletrailer – its eyebrow-raising price tag reflects the a no holds barred approach to bike accessories. Simply put, build quality is superlative and there are no corners cut when it comes to components, materials, and important details like bearings. By way of example, I’ve owned the Mule for over seven years. I’ve taken it on multiple adventures, shared it amongst friends for cargo hauling duties at home… and almost completely neglected to maintain it during the time I’ve owned it. After all this, it’s still running almost as smoothly as the day I bought it.
All three of Tout Terrain’s trailers share several key components, including the air shock, the hitch system, and the seatpost mount design. We took our Mule and the Streamliner to tackle the Cape Loop in Baja California – as seen in Nancy’s Rider and Rig post – regularly swapping between our two bikes, so our son Sage, then aged 5, could enjoy time with each of us. If you just want to move one trailer between two bikes, you can also buy a second seat post mount suited to the diameter of your seatpost.
So what does a $1400/€1190 price tag (yes, it really is that much) get you? For a start, the CNC-produced hitching system is bulletproof, using industrial bearings that are completely play-free. There’s an air shock with 160mm of travel, tunable to your child’s weight. Components are branded and child-friendly in size. This includes the shape and width of the handlebars, the diameter of the grips, and the lightness of the SRAM shifter, which Sage found easy operate (though I should add that Sage is pretty big for his age). The Streamliner’s hub is dependable Shimano Deore in grade and there’s a SRAM 1×9 speed drivetrain, with a sensible spread of gears. The tire is by Schwalbe, a 1.75in Black Jack – though I swapped ours out for a 2.1in Maxxis, given our adventures around sandy Baja California, filling it with sealant too. The Streamliner also includes a rim brake to help scrub speed and reduce the ‘shunting’ effect of a trailer; thankfully the lightweight 20in wheel has proved itself amply up to trail abuse, so it’s never been knocked out of true. Clearances are generous for the stock wheel, though it’s a shame you can’t squeeze in a mid-fat tire. Note too that whilst the Tout Terrain bikes and trailers are made in Taiwan, they’re quality checked, painted, and assembled in Freiburg, Germany.
The suggested age bracket for the Streamliner is between 4 and 7 – or as young as your child can pedal – with a 35kg (75lb) weight maximum. It’s compatible with 29ers and wheels of a similar diameter; 27.5+ works fine though I expect 29+ rubber may create some riding limitations, as you’ll read about below. The tagalong can also be broken down easily for travel, fitting it into a standard size kids bike box or smaller. We didn’t need the mudguard that comes provided, but you’d definitely want it for muddy conditions, to avoid splattering your child with road spray.
As mentioned, this is not my first time with a Tout Terrain product and the Streamliner is just what I’d expect from this German company that builds niche family products unlike anything else on the market. It’s perfectly put together in just about every way. My only gripe is with the hitch. Not it’s quality – the pivot articulates with polished precision and the whole system is incredibly smooth and well made – but more with its fiddliness in actually connecting the trailer to your bike. The safety grenade-style pin is tiny and sometimes tricky to remove and install in the cold or in low light. I also found it necessary to clamp down the quick release extremely tightly to prevent the trailer from slipping slightly to one side or the other; torquing it down then makes lifting the sharp-edged lever awkward.
Like most tagalongs, the hitch is mounted to the seatpost. Despite the industrial-sized bearings, there’s still some ‘waggle’ transmitted from the Streamliner to the leading bike, as you’d expect with any single wheel design. I notice it most when Sage’s pedalling is out of kilter with my own, when he leans to one side, or when he looks back behind him. However, it’s easy enough to get used to and it’s never thrown me dangerously off my line. When Sage pedals in a gear that jives with my own, I can feel a noticeable and very welcome turbo boost!
A seatpost mount, rather than the Burley Picollo’s specialist rear rack, also means you can use it with almost any bike, including a full susser. As the point of articulation is very close to the seat, be aware that the Streamliner has a tendency to ‘shortcut’ turns. This isn’t an issue for the dirt roads we ride most of the time – like those throughout Baja, for instance. It did, however, have an impact on tight singletrack and, in our case during a recent visit to Tuscon, trails that wend through alleyways of barb-ended cholla cacti. Take care and plan your turns accordingly, or you’ll have a very unhappy child!
Similarly, you might also need to adjust the hitch height in relation to your seatpost, depending on the style of riding you’re planning. Again, this is isn’t an issue for standard dirt roads, when the hitch can be placed relatively low; for larger bikes, there’s even room for a rear rack too. However, if you prefer technical terrain or your trails feature steep dips, you’ll likely need to raise it, to reduce the chance of the arm of the trailer rubbing on the rear tire. This could be an issue for smaller bikes, depending on the diameter of the wheels you’re running. While I never found it a major hindrance (I ride an L or XL frame), it’s certainly something to be aware of if you aspire to hooning down technical trails, child in tow! In terms of what you can ride, I felt comfortable tackling the vast majority of our local Santa Fean mid-level trails, throwing in the odd more techy hurdle or just walking anything that felt too precarious. I’ve not tried the Streamliner on a full suspension rig, so I can’t share any experiences with how it dives and what this does to the ensuing tire clearances. Nor does my bikepacking bike have a dropper seatpost, which will limit how high you can position the clamp (if black diamond-grade trails are your preference, check out this dad’s review).
Thanks to its suspended design, the Streamliner climbs really well too, as we discovered on a recent overnight campout in El Paso’s Franklin Mountains, mined as it is with various rocky steps and slabs. In fact, we were surprised by how much we were able to clean, with some well-timed bursts of communal effort.
Comfort-wise, Sage had no complaints; this is the trailer’s forte. Even though the Streamliner only sports a 20in wheel, the high pivot design does a great job at smoothing out bumps, allowing him to sit back and enjoy the ride, which is especially useful as he can’t see the trail ahead and adjust his body accordingly. Occasionally I yell “level your feet!” to minimise the chance of a pedal grabbing a rock, but aside from this (and as long as Sage is holding on tight), I feel confident enough not to baby the trailer too much. I’d add that active suspension definitely helps protect your child’s delicate back. Within the city, I can hop up and down curbs without bucking him off!
Only the final (million dollar) question remains… is it money well spent? If you have the budget, your predominant use for the Streamliner will be dirt roads and trails, and you love bikepacking with your family… then yes, I really think it is. Despite the law of diminishing returns with expensive, niche gear, it’s a premium product and definitely the best tagalong on the market. I’ve no doubt the Streamliner will give you years of service for both long distance bikepacking and day to day trail riding. It’s hardy enough to be passed from one sibling to the next and in all likelihood, the resale value should be pretty high too. Price-wise, you could also compare it to investing in a tandem, except it’s easier to travel with. If you don’t own a cargo bike and aspire to taking your kid to school on two (or rather three) wheels, then you can expect daily use from it too.
Do you really need to spend $1400 on a kid’s tagalong? Given how much we plough into our personal bikes and camping gear, I’m not going to argue the relative merits of more affordable alternatives, given that this applies to everything in bikepacking and gear consumption in general (and yes, you’ll have lots of fun with a cheaper trailer bike too). But I will say that the suspension linkage elevates the Streamliner considerably, encouraging you to tackle more interesting rides, and most importantly, allowing your child to ride more safely and comfortably.
- Superb comfort over the roughstuff.
- Excellent quality components and general build quality.
- Light given the suspension system.
- Works with most bikes, at least up to 29ers.
- Compatible with other trailers from Tout Terrain.
- Several times more expensive than its priciest competitor.
- Hitch position means it cuts corners through tight singletrack.
- Trailer arm can get in the way on steep descents, especially with larger wheel diameters or smaller bikes.
- Hitch is a bit fiddly; take care not to lose the pin!
- Limited hitch positions with a dropper post.
- ModelTout Terrain Streamliner
- Weight 8.9kg
- Place of Manufacture Taiwan (painted and assembled in Germany)
- Price $1400/€1190
- Manufacturer’s Details Tout Terrain
As a largely car-light family, we have various bicycles and associated devices at our disposal, including a cargo bike, a tagalong, and Sage’s own steed. Each has its uses and I value the ability to swap between them as the situation demands, or simply for variety and Sage’s enjoyment.
At six years old, my son is at the point where I prefer him to be on his solo bike where possible, to help develop his riding confidence and skills. He generally defaults to his own bike too, given the choice. However, a tagalong is still the best option when we need to cover longer distances, the times we’re planning a more trail-oriented day out, or for riding busy roads on the school run. And, it’s a whole lot of fun. On the Tout Terrain Streamliner, we can really rip down our rough, New Mexican dirt roads at speeds that are impossible with any other tagalong we’ve tried (“Hang on, Sage,” I yell into the wind,” “Ok!” he cackles back in complete delight). Knowing that his young body isn’t being thrown around like a rag doll is obviously very reassuring too…
More generally, the Streamliner has extended our scope for bikepacking trips, helping us tackle rides we just wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Yes, a more affordable tagalong (like Burley’s perfectly capable Picollo) will do the same, not to mention the very basic options that will at least get you riding with your child. But if you have the cash to hand, you can rest assured that the Streamliner is definitely the tagalong of choice. In terms of riding more technical or tight singletrack, you’ll need to take into account the way it shortcuts corners. Even so, there’s nothing to match it for both performance and comfort. The Streamliner smooths over the roughest terrain I’d consider riding with my child and most importantly, makes a real difference to his enjoyment of our backcountry adventures. Which, ultimately, is what it’s all about with family rides.