Swapping out your car for a bike can work miracles. Not only will you watch money remain in your bank account, you’ll see pounds melt off your waistline. Becoming a serious bike commuter takes serious commitment, though. For inexperienced cyclists with destinations that lie beyond 10 miles away, it can be an intimidating chore. What about the heat, the rain and, worst of all, the hills?

Sometimes, we just need a little encouragement to push us in the right direction. That’s why Ridekick International, a Colorado-based company, created the Ridekick power trailer — the first commercially available electric-powered bicycle trailer.

Ridekick International was founded by Mark Wanger in 2009. Like the thousands of other cyclists in bike-friendly Fort Collins, Wanger loved not having to worry about finding a parking spot or paying for gas. Occasionally, his commute would cause him to cross paths with some pretty serious hills, and he hated showing up at work covered with sweat. So the retired Hewlett-Packard engineer headed to the garage to hack together a solution.

What he came up with looks like a bike trailer, and true to form, you can carry stuff in it. It’s main purpose isn’t to weigh you down, but to push you along the road even faster. The Ridekick features a 42-liter lockable storage compartment containing a 500 W electric brush traction motor and a 24V, 12 Ah sealed lead acid (SLA) battery. Using a linkage system that attaches to the rear wheel axle of virtually any bike in seconds, and a simple throttle that easily hooks onto your handlebars, the Ridekick allows you to ride at up to 19 mph without pedaling. Factory specs suggest you can coast this way 10-12 miles on a full charge, although it’s not clear how long it takes to achieve a full battery.

(A word of advice from a friend who uses one, however: Be sure to lay off the throttle when rounding a corner, at least when you’re still getting used to the Ridekick’s power. Too much juice can send you flying off the bike instead of flying around the apex).

The Ridekick’s $699 price tag may seem high for small bike trailer, but it’s important to remember what you’re paying for. Most electric bikes cost between $500 and $3,500, while bike trailers alone can set you back around $600. With the Ridekick you get the benefit of both without any irreversible modifications to your bike.

 Photo credit: Ridekick International