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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Review: Biking Buddy MTB Tow Rope

We've been mountain biking with the kids consistently every weekend, with me wearing running shoes and walking down and pushing the kids up the hill. I kept wondering if there was a better way, and then one day I saw a parent at Russian Ridge with towing his kid up.  This led me to search for a MTB tow rope on Amazon, and the cheapest option that looked safe was the Biking Buddy Tow Rope. (A google search will show you all sorts of tow ropes that aren't rated for a decent amount of weight!)

I bought one and took the kids over to the Soquel Demonstration forest after replacing my flat pedals with my beloved SPD clipless pedals. OMG riding with SPD pedals is so much easier than with flat pedals, and with the increased efficiency I could tow each kid up the mountain separately, not as easily as a tandem would have been, but the whole point of MTB riding is to get used to doing your own risk assessment and learn bike handling skills, and a tandem would have negated that.

The rope does have limits --- if the kid eases off, you'll find that your bike might not have traction and you'll be subject to the indignity of walking. If both of you pedal, however, you can pretty much make it up anything that you're strong enough to do, and get a better workout to boot.

The biggest weakness of the product is that there's no easy way to stow it on the bike. I made the mistake of sticking it in a pocket and a key piece of the rope fell off and I had to go back for it. I learned to clip the towing section to the carabiner and then clip the carabiner to my backpack so I can't lose it and that helped. When descending I tuck the whole thing into the outside pocket of my Matador Beast, and secure the carabiner to one of the external loops, and the whole thing works fine.

When driving to destinations I often point out little details about other cyclists to my kids. For instance, a sure sign of a newish cyclist is the lack of step-in pedals --- they're usually the last thing a cyclist buys. But every time I've gotten to switch from flat pedals back to the step-ins, it's always been a revelation --- nothing beats the extra power and security you get from them. I can easily do bunny hops on them, but can never do them on the flat pedals. Just for giving me back my clipless pedals on my MTB alone the price of the tow rope's $34 would be worth it.

Or, you can compare the $34 tow rope to a $50 per person ski lift ticket you'd have to pay for at many of the public parks and you'll realize it's well worth the money. Recommended.

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