The InStep Take 2 is an affordable bike trailer that will get you out on the road without draining the bank account. It has an impressively large interior space for both passengers and cargo, but overall it doesn't provide a very comfortable or enjoyable experience for passengers or bikers compared to the other products we tested. For the same retail price, our Top Pick for an Ultra-low Budget, the Schwinn Echo, offers a better biker experience and better components.For another affordable option that we think offers a fantastic value, check out our Best Bang for the Buck award winner, the Burley Bee. Parents looking for the ultimate in child towing should look into our Editors' Choice, the Burley D'Lite X.
InStep Take 2 Review
Cons: Small plastic wheels, saggy fabric, not weather-resistant
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Take 2 meets all ASTM safety standards. Like most of our test group, it has a five-point harness, which we thought secured passengers better than the three-point plus lap belt systems in the Allen Sports Steel and the Thule Cadence.
The Take 2's roll cage is relatively minimal, with one extra frame bar on top that is held in place with a clip that doesn't feel very sturdy. It is evident upon examination of the frame, and overall build of the Take 2 that its quality is not up to the same standards as industry leaders like Burley and Thule. The welds on the frame are not the cleanest we have seen, and even after light use, we noticed immediate wear on some of the components, like one of the pull tabs on the front cover that immediately started unraveling. For anything other than occasional around-town use, we'd be concerned about the Take 2's ability to hold up.
The Take 2 is well-ventilated, with a mesh-covered window in the back to encourage airflow. But it performed relatively poorly in our rain test, with significant amounts of water pooling on the floor of the trailer and in the cargo space. After five minutes of soaking under a sprinkler, the passenger seats were still dry, but the fabric on top of the trailer was just about saturated so that they wouldn't have remained dry for long. For families who will be riding in inclement weather, the Burley Bee and the Thule Cadence both did better than the InStep Take 2 at keeping rain out. The Take 2 doesn't do much to cushion rougher roads since it doesn't have any suspension.
The passenger experience in the Take 2 is a mixed bag that did not score well. On the plus side, it has one of the widest seats out of our test group, so passengers have plenty of lateral room. The harness is five-point and easily adjustable so that kids will be strapped in snugly. Unfortunately, the harness and suspended seat are almost entirely unpadded, and with 16" wheels, it seemed like passengers felt every bump in the road, especially on uneven terrain. The fabric throughout the Take 2 seemed ill-fitted and saggy, including the fabric making up the trailer's floor. This made it difficult for passengers to find their footing as they climbed in and out of the trailer.
The Take 2 doesn't provide the best experience for the person towing the trailer. The cover is not stretched tightly over the frame, allowing it to catch a lot of headwinds and crosswinds, and it's noisy due to the flapping cover and other rattling components. On smooth roads, the smaller 16" wheels feel similar to the 20" wheels of most of the other trailers we tested, but when used off road or on bumpy surfaces, the Take 2 is noticeably harder to tow, with more pronounced feedback and vibrations. The Schwinn Echo has larger wheels and a slimmer overall frame, so it's easier to tow than the Take 2.
Ease of Use
Compared to the other trailers we tested, the Take 2 is not easy to set up, attach to the bike, and break down, so it earned a low score in this category. Like the Schwinn Echo, the cover of the Take 2 is secured all the way across the front and back with long strips of Velcro that have snap buttons at the end, and lining up the Velcro well enough to do up both snaps was time-consuming and annoying. We much preferred the trailers that do away with Velcro in favor of secure fasteners on either side of the front flap, like the Burley Bee.
Attaching the Take 2 to the bike is not as easy as most of the other trailers in our test because it's hard to line up the tow arm properly with the hitch adaptor. The D-clips that secure the cotter pins in place in this trailer are extremely stiff, which made us curse the setup process on cold mornings. At an average of 1:06 minutes to go from stowed to attached to the bike, this is one of the slowest trailers to set up — the fastest trailer we tested, the Thule Chariot Cross, took less than half that time.
Most of the other trailers we tested have a maximum capacity of 100 pounds, but the Take 2 can only carry up to 80 pounds, limiting the number of years you'll be able to tow your kids before they grow out of it. The Schwinn Echo also has an 80-pound limit. The Take 2 is a single-function trailer with no stroller, jogger, or cross country ski kits available, though InStep does produce other multifunction models. This model rides low to the ground and initially looks smaller than the other products we tested, so we were surprised to find that it has a large cargo space, with a 23" x 11" cargo area footprint. In previous iterations of the Take 2, the seats could unclip from the top frame to lie flat, which was one of our favorite features because it opened up lots of hauling options. But InStep seems to have done away with this handy feature in 2019. If this feature is important to you, check out our Editors' Choice, the Burley D'Lite X, or our Top Pick for a Comfy Ride, the Hamax Outback.
Unfortunately, the Take 2's wheels are a limiting factor when it comes to versatility. They are small at just 16", and they are the only plastic wheels we tested. We'd love to use a trailer with this much interior space as a vehicle for bikepacking but those wheels just wouldn't be able to hack it off-road.
The Take 2 is best suited to occasional use and short trips on paved roads. The seat is not as comfortable as some of the other trailers we tested, it's a pain to set up and attach, and the cover does not provide good protection in inclement weather, so daily users will likely find themselves frustrated. Those looking for the most affordable option and who will only use the trailer occasionally will likely find their needs met by the Take 2.
The Take 2 is the one of the least expensive trailers we tested with an MSRP of $140. Those who are looking for an introduction to towing kids and who want to spend as little as possible will find that this trailer gets the job done, so we can't say it's a waste of money. However, for the same price, the Schwinn Echo is easier to tow and has sturdy 20" wheels that are much more durable than the plastic wheels of the Take 2. Moving up the price scale to the level of the Burley Bee, which retails for $300, will provide users with a much better experience in terms of safety, ease of use, and overall enjoyment for biker and passenger alike. You will get what you pay for with the Take 2; we feel you'll get far more than you pay for with a refined product like the Burley Bee.
The InStep Take 2 is an affordable bike trailer that offers a surprisingly large passenger and cargo space to its users. The quality of construction and design in this trailer can't compete with high-end models like the Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariot Cross, but if you're just looking to dip your toes into kid towing, the Take 2 might be worth a look.
— Joanna Trieger