Price: $224.99 – 359.99 depending on size and frame material; $179.95 – $228.30 on Amazon
Sizing and colors: Medium, red (up to 50lb) and Large, blue (up to 110lb)
When Solvit approached us about testing out one of their products, I was exploring options for biking with Robin. Schedule changes, being sick, and hot weather have kept us close to home and out of the mountains this summer, and I don’t run, so biking is a quick way to get Robin some exercise. However, the sidewalks immediately around our house are narrow and unsafe, traffic is fast, and he also tends to get bored quickly with straight running. The Hound About sounded like the perfect option to get us farther away from home where the streets are safer, and break up the monotony of running to squeeze out some more distance.
Note: People will be amused when they realize your trailer contains a dog and not a baby.
The Solvit Hound About Bike Trailer comes in a choice of aluminum frame (20lb for the medium size, 25lb for large) or steel frame (27lb for medium, 36lb for large) with a substantial polyester fabric enclosure and a stiff floor. Assembly took me about 20 minutes despite slightly obscure directions. It connects to the bike with an included mount that’s easily added to the rear wheel, and unobtrusive when not in use.
The cabin features two openings large enough for entry. There’s an official mesh door at the back, and a large sunroof at the top, which is Robin’s preferred entrance. (Note: Solvit specifies that only the rear door should be used as an entrance. Teach your dog not to jump out without permission, whether you use the top as an entrance or not.) The top doesn’t have a mesh screen or plastic window option, so it’s either open or closed. This isn’t a problem for us, since Robin doesn’t like to be enclosed and we don’t have a lot of bugs or debris on our roads, but I’d like to have the option of a screen inner door for containment without total enclosure. The cabin also has two fixed side mesh windows on each side for airflow, and a front window with three options – open, mesh, or plastic window. I generally keep the front screen zipped in case anything gets kicked back from the bike.
Inside is a polyester-type cushion and a safety leash. Before use, and based on some Amazon reviews, I thought the cushion would slip around, but it actually hasn’t been too bad. Robin’s comfortable enough to lay down when he wants to, and otherwise sits and stands without the cushion shifting. For long trips or a less calm dog, I’d probably put a towel inside for better grip. Solvit could make the trailer feel more luxe with a nicer fabric on the cushion (maybe a washable microfiber) and inside snaps to secure it in place.
To keep pets safe during the ride, the trailer features a safety leash (basic webbing, with a clip on each end) that can be secured on either the left or right of the trailer (or an additional leash could be added, if you’re carrying two pets). I keep it adjusted so that Robin can stand comfortably at the front of the trailer but there’s no slack for him to gather momentum to jump out. Safety tethers should be used with a harness, not a collar, to protect the neck. I was a little concerned about having Robin tethered, but the trailer is SUPER stable; I tried to tip it by going sideways off the curb and it just bumped down one wheel at a time with no problems. The big wheels and wide wheel base make that possible.
I wish the trailer was brighter in color for safety reasons. It shows up bright red in photos, but in dimmer light it looks dark. It does feature rear reflectors, but a traffic visibility color like yellow, orange, or fluorescent green would provide better all-around visibility. I’d also like to be able to install a safety flag, but due to the design of the wheels I haven’t figured out how. I’ll have to mount it to the trailer directly.
The trailer has three velcro-closure pockets – a long narrow one above the back door, which fits a row of objects the size of a poop bag holder or snack bar; a water bottle holder on the back right, and small rectangular pocket, about phone sized (although without a zip closure, I wasn’t comfortable leaving my phone in there on bumpier roads) on the back left. Other items like Robin’s bulky stretch leash and my GoPro didn’t fit, so I tossed them in the trailer with Robin. That works since he’s not a chewer, but I’d definitely get excited about bigger pockets.
I’d say the trailer is just right for dogs between about 15-40lb (Robin’s about 19lb) and I was surprised and pleased that it didn’t feel HUGE for Robin. He likes to stand, but a sitting dog would take up less room, and two Robin sized dogs fit with room to spare. A 15lb dog would likely be right at the minimum height for seeing out through the sunroof (smaller than that, a front bike basket would probably be the smartest option). I wouldn’t use this size trailer for a 50lb dog (the max); while the trailer is comfortably roomy for Robin, it’s not cavernous and I suspect the max weight is not a recommendation to use it for that size of dog.
The Hound About II exceeded my expectations. It’s been a great option to take Robin to the park and run around for a bit; between our house and the park there’s no sidewalk for a section so it’s totally unsafe for him to run next to me. The big wheels make for a smooth ride, even over the speed bumps in the park (see video above) and Robin’s chill about it, surprisingly so. Sometimes I even feel like he’s amused.
I’d never towed anything before, and anticipated complications like needing to take much wider turns, but really it didn’t change the way I rode (except for avoiding narrow spots) aside from the added weight, since the hitch is designed to flex quite a bit as you turn. The tow bar is designed with a spring in the system, so you can actually lay the bike down on its side while the trailer remains upright, which drastically reduces the chances of the trailer destabilizing the bike. Overall, I feel like it’s a very safe system.
I’m so glad we got the aluminum over the steel version- yet I still haven’t made it up any of the steep roads that lead to local mountain trails. Robin + trailer is almost 40lb extra to tow, and I can just imagine the drag of a heavier dog. However, it’s not because the trailer is overbuilt, it’s just the nature of the item, as most other trailers are heavier – and on flat and slight inclines, I don’t notice it at all – the big wheels and good design keep it from adding drag.
The Hound About II has great airflow, which I love – and Robin was fine with in the conditions we ride in. It hasn’t rained since we started using the trailer, and I didn’t feel that a hose test would be equivalent, but the shell fabric is lined with a waterproof coating and it looks like the trailer would be reasonably water resistant with the top and front openings zipped closed. The side and rear mesh windows would still be open, but since they’re vertical, I don’t think much rain would enter during the type of rainy conditions most people would be willing to ride in. I’m a fair weather rider (and we live in a drought stricken area) so full rainproofing isn’t much of a concern.
Detaching the trailer is quick and easy – it uses a nifty pin called a clevis pin that’s secure while in use, yet quick and easy to release. We haven’t collapsed the cabin down to take it anywhere yet (since the car is too small to carry a bike anyway) but it’s simple to do. The wheels are quickly and easily removed with a quick release button. The cabin also collapses flat for storage or transport, but while it’s easy (unscrewing two knobs and sliding out the top bracer bar) the very long threaded knobs make it take surprisingly long – a couple minutes. If I were planning to pack it up regularly, I’d switch out the knobs for another set with shorter threads from the hardware store, but since it sits fully assembled in the garage when not in use, it’s not a concern for us.
I did notice a small tear (about 1/8″) right where the inner frame of the trailer pulls on the fabric when it’s folded. However, since that spot is protected by the wheels I’m pretty sure it was a manufacturing/packing defect and not the result of our usage. Other than that, the whole thing looks brand new.
This is the only bike trailer we’ve tried, but we’re very impressed by it, and it rates highly in multiple online rankings. Depending on the size of the dog doing the testing, the Hound About II tends to come in either first or second (for small dogs like Robin, and dogs over the size limit of most trailers, Solvit appears to be the best option with two sizes). At retail price it’s not cheap, but you don’t want to trust your pet’s safety on the road to a cheap trailer anyway – and with Amazon pricing, it’s a GREAT deal. If traffic is busy where you are, pick up a flag (I’ll explain how I attach mine, when I figure it out) and maybe add some reflective tape to the sides for visibility.
We had a ton of fun testing the Hound About II and we’ve discovered a new activity to do together! I loved watching GoPro footage of Robin’s first trip out in the trailer, and was able to see him go from “WTF” to “hey, not bad” within the span of about 20 minutes. While I love wearing Robin out by having him run with the bike, it requires a LOT of concentration to keep us both safe and it’s a total relief to pop him in the trailer to give us both a break. Highly recommended if you like to bike!
Best for: biking with dogs from 15 – 40lb (medium) and guessing 40-100lb (large)
Not ideal for: extremely rainy places (consider a trailer, if it exists, that’s fully enclosed), carrying a lot of cargo (trailer roof racks exist, but I don’t think the Solvit is designed to carry extra weight there).