Trailers are the perfect option to get the family out and about on their bikes. Before you purchase a trailer, it’s important to consider how and when your family will use your trailer. From weather-tight, all-terrain trailers to basic day-trip trailers, there are plenty of options to meet every families needs.
The most common complaint about trailers involve their stroller attachments. If you plan to use your trailer as a stroller, be sure to purchase a trailer that converts to the type of stroller you desire. The simplest stroller attachments, a mere wheel on the end of the trailer arm, serve the purpose of a stroller, but receive the most complaints from parents. Jogging attachments are also common, but can be burdensome to turn when used for everyday outings. The higher-end trailers convert to a four-wheeled stroller, which receive the most praise. All Chariot models come standard as a four-wheeled stroller, except for the Chinook which comes as a three-wheeled stroller.
Beyond the use as a stroller, Chariot and Burley trailers offer additional conversion kit for the multi-sport family. More detailed differences between the Burley and Chariot trailers is outlined in Chariot vs. Burley Comparison Guide.
Size of Trailer
Beyond merely transporting one or two kids, the size and age of your kids should be a determining factor when purchasing a trailer. While many trailers come in single and double versions, the internal cubic dimension of the trailer (i.e. the amount of space your child has) varies greatly between the brands. Not surprisingly, the higher-end trailers tend to provide more space than lower-end trailers. Chariot trailers generally provide the most leg room, while Burley higher-end trailers (D’Lite, Solo and Cub) have bowed out sides that provides additional shoulder room.
**The Chariot Corsaire 2 has been discontinued. The widest trailer currently available is now the Croozer 2 with an internal width of 27.2″**
Weatherproof & Venting
While riding in the rain is rarely someone’s intentions, keeping your child dry and warm is of concern for many living in wet climates. The door panels of trailers very greatly and range from a simple mesh covering with elastic tie-downs to a thick waterproof covering attached with sealed zippers. All-weather covers with waterproof zippers are available on the Burley D’Lite, Solo and Cub. All Chariot models come with a weather cover, but a separate rain cover is available for heavier rains. During rain, or colder weather, trailers also tend to fog up due to lack of air circulation. To prevent fogging and to provide air flow, the side windows of the Thule Cougar’s and CX’s partially or completely open up.
While every trailer on the market provides storage, the amount of storage and its accessibility are key. Unfortunately, very few manufacturers provide the actual dimensions of the storage space available, so determining the size available can be challenging (Burley does have their cargo dimensions listed on the specification page for each trailer). If however, you are planning on using your trailer to haul goods during kid-free errands, then an upgrade to a Burley D’Lite, Solo, Cub or Encore is in your best interest. The 2013+ edition of these trailers have release buckles that allow their seats to lie flat, thereby providing additional storage space.
While all trailers fold down for easy storage, some fold down easier and smaller than others. If you have a small trunk, or limited space, be sure to check the dimensions of the folder trailer to ensure it will fit in the space you desire. Quick-release wheels is also essential feature if you plan on folding your trailer on a regular basis.
All trailers that are sold with an option for a stroller are required to include a brake. The types of brake range from a simple strap around a tire to a hand-activated drum brake. While brakes are of minimal concern when used as a trailer, as a stroller, a well-designed parking or hand-brake can make the world of a difference.
Bottom of Trailer
The material upon which your child puts his or her feet is perhaps the most telling feature of the quality of the trailer. Lower-end trailers, such as the InStep Sierra, use thin, essentially see through fabric, while higher-end Chariots use thicker versions of the same type of fabric. For increased durability, a stiff rubber bottom is available on the Via Velo Montalban while a hard-bottomed base is available on the Burley Cub.
If you plan on sticking to the pavement, a suspension system isn’t worth the extra money, but for those hitting the fire trails, it can mean the different between a blissfully happy ride and a whiney, “I want to go home!” ride.
Type of Seat
If you are hauling two kids, the strength of the seat is essential to prevent them from sliding into one another. Lower-end models create a seat using simple nylon straps, which loosen with time, causing two kids to be squished together. High-end models have a bench-style seat that prevent sagging.
Infant and Baby Inserts
While it is not recommend to haul kids less than a year old in a bike trailer, many trailers convert into excellent stroller and joggers. To provide additional support for infants and babies, Thule, Burley and Croozer offer various inserts for use in stroller mode. Lower-end trailers do not offer inserts and are not safe to use with infants and babies.
If you plan on using your trailer as a stroller shared by your spouse or partner, an adjustable handlebar is a must. Most trailers/strollers offer at least two handlebar heights, while the Burleys offer multiple heights.
Babies and toddlers almost always chew on the straps of trailers. Burley and Thule trailers claim use only non-toxic materials, but Croozer trailers are the only brand to be certified as non-toxic by an outside agency.
No one wants to be stuck with a lemon. If you are debating between two trailers, don’t forget to pay attention to the warranty offered by the manufacturer or the reseller.
Which trailer is best for you?
Now that you know what to look for, head over to our Bike Trailer Finder or our Bike Trailer Comparison Charts for help finding the trailer that best matches your desired features and your budget. Looking to buy a Burley or a Chariot? Be sure to read our Burley vs. Chariot Comparison Guide for a complete comparison of all available models.