Looking to buy a trailer suitable for carrying a toddler around, behind either of our bikes individually, or behind the tandem. My thought is the kid would ride in the trailer until old enough to manage on a trail-a-bike (4ish, maybe?), by which point a younger sibling would probably need to occupy the freed-up trailer seat. I’m still waffling on whether I should choose a single-wide or double.
What are general opinions about design – one wheel or more, attachment style, must-have or to-be-avoided features? Is suspension worth it? We’re not likely to be off-road (when towing a kid, anyway). Is there a standard wheel size? Brands that are good/bad? (Burley seems to be the go-to from what I’ve seen?) Particular models? Any local suggestions that stand out as good/better?
What have you used, and how was your experience with it?
I’m not on a tight budget, so mostly looking for what’s durable and pleasant to use (for us, and kid), although it doesn’t make sense to spend lavishly on something that’s only going to get a few years of use.
PS Forums are back again; hurray! It’s been a long hiatus without a good venue for asking questions like this one.
I used an older Burley double with a hard bottom.
- It’s HEAVY. Like… I couldn’t bike up Tabor with it and a kid… no way.
- It was kind of unwieldly even collapsed.
- Holds 2 kids & groceries, or 1 kid and library and groceries, kid+balance bike, or any number of combinations. I often carried a full sized pump with me too because that is all we owned - came in handy when my bike got a flat while hauling kid.
- Never had a flat. Never got new tires. Like - I can only speak to the one I had, but it was bulletproof
- Easy to clean.
- I was 3rd owner I think? It was still in great shape although the elastic around the front flap was worn out.
- had clear window AND mesh window for nice day/rainy day options.
- It collapsed pretty flat, but didn’t go through smaller, non-standardized doorways, so check measurements.
- Still had parts on Burley for when I lost the second set of harness straps - easy to replace.
- Doubled as a jogger. This is great when you get to destination but want to keep kid in stroller set up/take in grocery hauler for easier transfer. While you may not be a runner, it’s good to have the jogger set just for this. also think farmer’s market. (now we don’t use a car, I’m actually sad I sold it. lol)
- easy to hitch/unhitch. we had an extra for 2nd bike too.
Years ago, we used a Burley for the same purpose. We used it with both our single bikes and our tandem. Ours had cloth bottom and sides, with a very sturdy aluminum frame. It was fairly light for what it was.
I recommend two wheels for stability. We could lay the bike over on its side and the trailer would stay upright.
Burleys (pre-2004) are amazing. Stout, well engineered and built right down the road in the USofA. I have no experience with the Asian Burleys made since 2004, but the old ones are indestructible (except the canvas eventually wears through). Kids, groceries, equipment, trees, anything, really. Cheap on Craigslist. Look for the round-tube models.
I will recommend you to get Burley D Lite(X). With double capacity, this queen of comfort comes standard with features like reclining seats, premium seat pads, adjustable suspension, full-length tinted windows, aggressive-tread 20″ tires, and easy-to-use quick receivers that make transitioning from trailer to stroller the easiest we’ve ever seen.
I had a Burley Encore. It can be setup for 1 or 2 kids. These trailers are great. Even took it to Sunday Parkways. The kiddo’s loved it. They require no maintenance other than topping up the tires every now and then and making sure your kids didn’t leave something to rot in there. There’s really no disadvantage except for the price.
Burley’s have gotten quite expensive. I think a new Encore is $500 and a D Lite someone mentioned is $800! When buying used on Craigslist, check for molding. It’s common for the canvas to mold here in the PNW. You don’t want your kiddo around that stuff and it’s quite difficult to get out. The upside of the up front expense however is that Burley’s hold their value. I basically sold mine for what I bought it for many years later when the kids grew out of it. A tip is to outfit your other bikes with a hitch too. This way you can switch the trailer quite quickly from bike to bike. This way, I didn’t have to mess with the bike to swap the trailer for say my wife’s bike back to mine.
Even if you have one child old enough to ride, it’s nice to have a double you can put both kids in if the rider gets tired. For long rides, my two kids would rotate around from the xtracycle bench, to riding their own bikes, to napping in the trailer. Options were the key to being able to keep rolling!
Burleys are great but the one that my kids begged to use and was easiest to pull was the WeeHoo. Ours is older and was already secondhand when we bought it but has held up admirably through our two kids. It’s most similar to this current model: WEEHOO TURBO BIKE TRAILER FOR KIDS — USA Weehoo Kid Bike Trailers | Trailer Bikes | Bicycle Trailers
We have the kind with pedals and the kids LOVED that, but you can also get ones with stationary pegs, as well as ones with an additional seat or room for cargo. They loved pedaling and they liked that they could look around more than other trailers. I towed it 35 miles to go bike camping when my youngest was almost 4 and it worked like a dream. She uses her own bike and a trail-a-bike now at 5, but I would still put her in the WeeHoo today for longer journeys where she might tire out.
Thanks for the tips and feedback. I may wait until things open up a little so I can rent one or two first, or at least try walking them around a store before committing. Weight does concern me a little. Nonetheless, I’ve come around to the utility of a double, plus probably better resale potential for those, too. I wasn’t really planning to use a bike trailer as a primary stroller, but that could make sense.
We started with a Chariot trailer, I think they are Thule now, but they are very nice and can be used for jogging, strollers, etc. Ours was the single, and I have nothing but praise for it other than price.
The next step up was a Weehoo. These are somewhere between a trail-a-bike and a trailer, in that the kid can get fully buckled in and sleep if they want, but they have the option to peddle also. We actually got two of them - we have 2 boys 2 years apart - and could convert it to a double trailer - so when attached to our tandem bike it became a 4 passenger (very heavy) vehicle. These trailers/bikes have a single wheel and as a two seater it is tandem rather than side by side.
The advantage of the Weehoo was it was very narrow which equals able to fit through narrow areas and taking less space in bike lanes or on trails. The downside is that it is not stable - getting the kids into it while holding the bike up could be challenging, and on the road the kids movements had much more impact on the bike handling. Rolling along at 25mph in traffic with your safety dependent upon the kids sitting still can be a problem. But it also accepted much bigger kids than a side by side/two wheel trailer would allow.
REI is having their 20% off Memorial Day sale for members right now - I got $80 off my Burley Tail Wagon during that sale some years ago. They’re still $$$, but getting 20% off helps a little. You get great quality for the money: I towed my 75-lb dog to work every weekday in mine for 3+ years and it’s still going strong.
That sounds fascinating. I was figuring for two kids we’d have to have separate bikes and put one kid behind each. How did it convert? Is that something the Weehoo supports out-of-the-box? In terms of riding experience, would you recommend a quad over 2x doubles?
Back when we bought the Weehoos they had a short single, a longer single, and a double available. If you bought two of the long singles, you could take the seat off one of them, add a footrest (which I had to order from Weehoo) and put it on the 2nd single to make it exactly the same as their double. I don’t remember what they actually named them, it wasn’t “long single”. It took someone who knows what an allen wrench is about 15 minutes to convert from single to double. We also had the hoods, which were nice for the singles but I didn’t like them on the double so much as it was just “more”.
Two adults with 2 Weehoo’s is nicer…the kids have more room and each can pedal, and it gets to be quite a train with a tandem/tandem setup that can be a chore for the captain to control. So casual riding we would normally do the 2 bikes, 2 trailers. When it was a more serious ride (longer, faster) we would use the tandem setup because my wife and I have a significant difference in riding speed and she likes being a stoker. It is also easier to transport the tandem setup. The best 4 person setup for us was when the kids were smaller and we could do a tandem + kiddie seat + Chariot single trailer.
Now the kids are just getting big enough to be stokers but we only have 1 tandem so it’s either a tandem + 2 bikes + fighting over who gets to be stoker or (most often) 4 bikes and go slower/shorter.
Gonna recommend this to a buddy of mine. Since his wife to stay at work in other state, he is considering a trailer for his son. I’ll come over to help him install the brake kit and atv shocks on his quad and I’ll mention that Burley lite.
What I’ve found so far is that they’re hard to find. Between supply disruptions with coronavirus and being right at the model year switchover, Burleys are a bit scarce. Things probably look better if you can wait until the end of summer.
I have a few spare Burley trailers.
If anyone is looking, feel free to send me a message through this platform, or to email@example.com
I can log back in again!
Just to update this thread, I got a steal of a deal on a 2008 Chariot Cougar 1 that needed a little cleaning. It’s not quite what I was originally looking for, but it’ll get through summer at least, and if something else catches my eye I’ll easily be able to sell this for more than I paid for it.
My observations on this model:
- The seat is more reclined than the kid would really like, so maybe there’s some value to adjustable-recline models.
- It has suspension, and it probably needs to be softened up a little. Even perfectly drivable roads that have cracking and tar-line patches applied are noticeably jarring for passenger.
- Something nobody mentioned – the kid can see really well out the sides on this model, and given how much time is spent doing just that, it seems a pretty important consideration.
- There’s not really a good place to clip a battery-operated fan, and that would be nice.
- The side pockets are just far enough forward to be out of the kid’s reach (at least, for now). I haven’t decided whether that’s a feature or a bug.