The best of what might be considered “budget” trailers, the lightweight Burley Bee bike trailer is no frills, but fantastic quality. Read the review below to see why we love it!
Burley Bee Trailer Review
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Budget-minded families looking for an easy-to-use bike trailer for frequent use.
TRAILER CAPACITY: Double
TRAILER ARM: Included
JOGGER KIT: Not available
STROLLER KIT: Not available
- High-quality components and durable build
- Exceptionally smooth ride
- Easy-to-use harness system
- UV Windows and rain cover
- Lots of storage space
- Easy initial assembly and folding for transport
- Top-notch safety features
- Front canvas bottom will wear down if dragged on the ground
Burley Bee Bike Trailer Review – Results of our Test Rides
The Burley Bee has been a best-selling bike trailer for years and is Burley’s most basic double trailer. It could be considered Burley’s “budget” trailer, but still boasts the incredible quality and durability that Burley prides itself on. One solid workhorse of a basic trailer, we got rough and muddy with the Bee while our toddler squealed with glee.
Burley Bee vs. Other Burley Models
The Burley Bee is one of only two trailers offered by Burley that is a trailer ONLY. This means that it can’t convert to a stroller or a jogger. (The other is the Minnow, which is the single version of the double Bee.) The Honey Bee is the same as the Bee, except that it converts to a stroller as well.
If you know you’re only ever going to want to use your trailer to pull behind your bike, the Bee makes sense for a lower price tag because you’re not paying for extra bells and whistles you don’t want.
Keep in mind that Burley, like all trailer companies, offers better comfort and more features as you upgrade to a higher model. For Burley, those higher models come standard with a single swivel stroller wheel and also allow you to purchase conversion kits for a 4-wheel stroller or a jogging wheel.
The nicer the model, you’ll get upgrades like a bench seat, premium padded seating, more interior space, suspension, and reclinability. If you want the nicest trailer money can buy, you’ll want to upgrade to the Encore or D’Lite, which both come standard as a stroller.
So whether or not you want to use your trailer as a stroller, if you want the best trailer, you’re going to be paying for a stroller anyways. (For $200+ additional cost.)
Burley Bee, Encore X, and D’Lite X
If you’re looking for a trailer ONLY, the Bee is phenomenal compared to other brands. With all the quality, durability, and design-focus that characterizes every Burley trailer, you can rest easy that your $350 investment will last for many years and keep your little ones safe and comfy.
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers
With a price tag of $350, what’s the benefit of Burley’s “budget” trailer over a true budget trailer like Allen, Schwinn, or InStep that only costs $100 – $200? Is it worth the extra money? Short answer – YES. We’ve tested them all, and we break it all down below.
Overall Quality and Performance
The great thing about Burley is that it doesn’t make a crappy trailer. Every trailer Burley makes is precision-designed and of the highest quality. Burley trailers look gorgeous, pull super smooth, are incredibly easy to use, and feel solid and safe for literally your most precious cargo.
The only complaint (haha, you can’t even call it that!) about Burley trailers is that they’re so quiet and pull so smoothly over paved trails that every once in a while I had to nervously look back to make sure the Bee was still connected to my bike!
At just 20 lbs, the Bee is Burley’s lightest double trailer. It’s 10 lbs. lighter than the 30 lb. D’Lite X because it doesn’t have any extra bells and whistles – no suspension, no stroller wheel, no reclining seats, no premium seat pads, etc.
While those extra features can be really nice, 10 extra pounds can also really take a toll during long rides when you’re pulling two passengers. If you don’t need all the extras, the Bee is a great option.
One of our test rides was at a local nature park that features everything from paved trails to grass trails, dirt trails, sand trails, pot-hole-filled roads, and root-strewn trails. While the Bee certainly wasn’t designed to regularly tackle those rough terrains, it did phenomenally well.
Its lack of suspension was noticeable for the adult and child rider, but our 18-month-old was actually cooing with glee the entire time. She thought the bumps were fun!
Even without suspension, the Bee is generally a smooth ride. Suspension adds $$$ to the price tag and weight to the trailer. But it also adds a lot of comfort for the rider if you’re planning on going off-road or on uneven surfaces regularly. If you do plan on riding on trails or uneven terrain, you should definitely look into upgrading to the Burley Encore or D’Lite.
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: I would not have attempted the terrain I did in a true budget trailer like those by Allen or Schwinn. While those trailers certainly serve a purpose, the Burley Bee is vastly superior in overall quality, durability, and safety.
Interior Space and Weight Capacity
A 100 lb. weight capacity is pretty standard in the double trailer category. Burley trailers break that down to mean 80 lbs. of child and 20 lbs. of cargo.
In the left image below, we have an 18-month-old who weighs 27 lbs., and a 2.5-year-old who weighs 32 lbs. With a combined weight of just 59 lbs., they were still quite snug in the Bee. The Bee features 22″ of interior shoulder width, which is pretty standard for both budget and mid-range trailers.
The image on the right shows the same 18-month-old with a 5-year-old tester, who together max out the 80 lb. weight limit.
In our experience, towing two kids in a bike trailer is just a snug experience. Your toddlers are going to have to be cool with snuggling up to their siblings, and probably getting a little tight and smooshed as they grow older. This goes for almost ALL trailers, not just the Burley Bee.
We’ve also found that many parents buy a double trailer and end up using it as a single because the reality of towing two kids can be a beast. A double can come in handy though for family bike rides with a small child on a balance bike. When they tire out, you can just stick them in the trailer with a younger sibling.
The Burley Bee offers lots of headroom – almost 3″ more than Burley’s other models. At double capacity this won’t matter because you’re probably never going to fit a child that tall into the trailer with another child. However, if you’re only towing one older child in the Bee, they’d definitely have much more room to grow.
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: The Burley Bee offers about the same amount of interior seat and elbow room as the Allen S2. The Schwinn Trailblazer and the Instep Take 2 actually have about 25″ of interior space which offers significantly more room. Unfortunately, those trailers’ other shortcomings deter us from recommending them in any way over the Bee.
Seats and Trailer Bottom
The Burley Bee has a hammock-style seat, which is standard at this price point and is featured in almost all budget trailers. Hammock seats are a thick piece of fabric stretched between the sides of the trailer.
Because there’s no hard bottom, the seat tends to sag in the middle. This also causes two riders to converge in the middle of the seat, and makes it more difficult to get your child in and out of the harness.
That said, the Bee’s hammock-style seat is pulled very taut and sags, but minimally. It’s also placed sufficiently higher than the bottom of the trailer. As far as a hammock-style seat goes, it’s one of the best. Bench-style seats are more comfortable and easier for parents to use, but are much more expensive, like those found in the Burley Encore and D’Lite.
Burley Bee Hammock Seat vs. Higher-End Bench Seat
In the image below you can see how the InStep Take 2‘s hammock style seat sags significantly. Additionally, because the seat essentially sits directly on the bottom of the trailer, those sagging bums actually sag beneath the chassis of the trailer. This could definitely be a problem if you encountered any obstacles in the road. It also doesn’t allow any vertical space for kids to extend their legs.
The Bee also sags slightly due to the hammock-style seat, but it’s very minimal as seen in the image on the bottom.
InStep Seat and Trailer Bottom Sag Significantly
The trailer bottom of the Bee is a thick layer of canvas, equivalent to that found on the Allen S2, but better-quality than the InStep and Schwinn Trailblazer.
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: Burley’s hammock style seat is far superior to the hammock seat found on lower-end trailers like the InStep Take 2. The Allen S2 trailer has a seat similar to Burley’s but also has a thick layer of breathable padding. The Schwinn Trailblazer has a hybrid bench/hammock seat the prevents sagging but the cushioning is low-quality and a bit hard.
The height of the shoulder straps is continuously adjustable for maximum comfort and safety in the Bee. Many budget trailers, like the InStep and the Schwinns, have just three shoulder height settings.
Continuously Adjustable Shoulder Straps on Burley Bee vs. Schwinn
The 5-point harness system on the Burley Bee is high-quality and easy to use. The buckle works smoothly and the harness straps tighten or loosen to dial in the perfect fit for your child. While the Bee doesn’t have padding on the harness straps, we really don’t mind. Padding on budget trailers is rare, and if it happens, it’s cheap and comes off easily which just ends up being a hassle.
Burley Bee vs. Allen S2 Harness System
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: The Bee and the Allen S2 have nearly identical harness systems, both of which are vastly superior to the InStep and Schwinn systems. The latter are not continuously height adjustable and are difficult to adjust overall. Additionally, the buckle system is stiff and feels cheap.
Mesh Helmet Pocket
Believe me when I say that a helmet pocket is a make or break for a trailer. What’s a helmet pocket? Well, your child will be wearing a helmet in the trailer, right? The back of that helmet can be bulky. Against the back of the trailer seat, your child’s head will get pushed awkwardly forward.
My toddler recently had the non-pleasure of riding in a trailer with a solid canvas back. NO. HELMET. POCKET. She was ticked the whole time and I felt awful. I actually cut our ride short because she was so miserable.
The top of the seat of the Bee is a loose mesh layer that allows kids to sit up straight because the back of their helmet recesses into the back of the seat.
Most trailers have this, however, we discovered that on many budget trailers, they are placed too high to really be helpful.
On the Bee (and the Allen S2), the mesh layer starts 10.5″ above the seat bottom, as indicated by the yellow arrow. The Trailblazer’s starts 15″ above the seat bottom, and the Instep Take 2 starts 15.5″ from the seat bottom!
As you can see in the image below, our 18-month-old (verrrry tall) toddler’s head doesn’t even reach the mesh pocket on the Instep, rendering it effectively useless.
Helmet Recess on Bee vs. InStep
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: The Bee and the Allen S2 have nearly identical mesh pocket systems. The Schwinn and InStep’s are too high to be useful for younger riders.
This is one feature that really sets the Burley Bee apart from the rest of the budget trailers. The cover of the Bee is thick, high-quality, water-resistant 600D polyester. It looks and feels incredibly durable. You’d have to puncture it with a knife to tear it.
Pretty much every other budget trailer is covered with a thin vinyl that does not instill confidence in durability. It could easily get torn, or just wear down naturally because it’s so thin. Additionally, the stitching is often visibly stretched – also not good for long-term wear and tear. If you’re looking for a durable trailer, the Bee wins hands down.
We also prefer how the front cover of the Bee secures to the trailer with a velcro and hook system that actually stays in place. The Allen S2 secures with a Velcro system which isn’t too bad but can get a little messy and isn’t always entirely secure with little legs kicking at the front cover.
Schwinn Trailblazer Snap and Velcro System
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: The Bee’s outer covering is far superior in quality and durability to the Allen, Schwinn, and InStep trailers.
The rain cover of the Burley Bee is a permanent fixture on the trailer. When not in use, it’s rolled up and secured at the top of the trailer front door with elastic loops. When needed, you unroll the cover and attach it in place with Velcro.
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: Most budget trailers have a weather cover that functions decently. Although in true Burley form, the Bee’s in much more durable and easier to use than the true budget trailers.
There are no budget trailers that have a sunshade for the front cover. Depending on how hot and sunny it is where you live, this could be another make or break for you. If you don’t want to hassle with sunblock every time you go out for a ride, you should invest in a trailer with a sunshade. Of course, those trailers are hundreds of dollars more.
While the Bee doesn’t have a sunshade for the front, it does have tinted UV windows on the sides. There are no true budget trailers with tinted UV windows. For me, living in Texas, UV windows are a must-have and absolutely worth the $350 price tag of the Bee over a cheaper budget trailer.
Burley Bee’s UV Windows vs. Allen S2
Burley vs. Other Budget Trailers: The Bee offers UV side windows, while the Allen S2, Schwinn trailers, and InStep trailers do not.
The Bee folds down very compactly and is done quickly and easily by unhooking one of the two frame tubes from the pair of red release latches and collapsing the trailer in on itself.
You have to remove the wheels to fold the Bee down, but the wheels come off just by pushing in on the center button in the middle of the axle. At just 35.5 x 29.25 x 11.25″ and 20 lbs., it’s very easy to transport.
Burley vs. Budget Trailers: The Bee is much easier to fold than budget trailers, which makes a huge difference if you’re going to transport the trailer often. The wheels also come off slightly easier, but not significantly.
The Bee has an easily accessible storage area behind the seats. It’s very deep and spacious with a flat bottom and can carry pretty much anything you’d need to bring along for the ride. There’s also a small mesh pocket that lays flat against the inside and is perfect for carrying a phone and keys.
Burley vs. Budget Trailers: Not only is the Bee’s storage area larger than the other budget trailers, but its solid high back ensures that nothing is going to accidentally fall out through a velcro opening.
With the Bee we’d be confident to store things of value in the back, while with all the other budget trailers, their less-than-durable construction, as well as shorter compartments, would make it much more possible for something to accidentally fall out.
Short Storage Compartment on the Schwinn Trailblazer
Wheels and tires are another area where budget trailers can either shine or fail. The Burley Bee shines with its solid-quality 1.75 x 20″ wheels that have metal rims and quick release center buttons for easy removal. The tread is pretty standard and is the same tire found on Burley’s Encore trailers which are a step up from the Bee.
Many budget trailers have low-quality 16″ tires on plastic rims. 16″ tires, in general, are a disadvantage because safety precautions recommend a maximum of just 10 MPH. 20″ wheels, on the other hand, usually have a recommended maximum of 15 MPH. If you want to ride fast or cover long distances, 16″ wheels are not your best bet.
Burley Bee 20″ Wheels vs. InStep 16″ Wheels
Additionally, plastic rims are incredibly common on low-budget trailers. Plastic rims are far less durable and much more likely to warp. We don’t recommend any trailer that has plastic rims, such as the InStep Take 2.
The Bee’s 20 x 1.75″ tires have a mild tread that is best for paved surfaces or occasionally packed dirt trails. If you’re going to tackle serious all-terrain, snow, sand, or gravel on the regular, Burley does offer 16″ fat tires as an upgrade.
Burley Bee vs. Budget Trailers: The Bee’s wheels and tires are seemingly identical to the Allen S2’s, with the exception of the quick release mechanism. They both feature wheel guards that protect the trailer from potential small obstacles. (You can see the wheel guard directly in front of the tire on the Burley Bee above.)
The Schwinn Trailblazer’s 20″ wheels are good quality, but lack a wheel guard. The InStep Take 2’s 16″ tires on plastic rims are a no-go for us, and also don’t have a wheel guard.
Mesh Cup Holders
Seemingly minor detail, but whether or not your kid can access their sippy cup can make a huge difference in everyone’s enjoyment of the ride. The mesh side pockets in the Burley Bee are perfectly placed and easy for young toddlers to access.
It’s a little bit shocking how meh some side pockets are in budget trailers. Take a look at the side pockets of the InStep below, compared to the Burley’s. The pocket is pretty shallow and very tight – a young child would not be able to remove or insert that green sippy cup you see.
Burley vs. Budget Trailers: The Bee’s mesh pockets are big enough to hold sippy cups and snack and are easy to reach. The Allen S2’s are very similar. Unfortunately, the snack/sippy cup pockets in the Schwinn trailers are smaller and tighter and difficult for young kids to use on their own.
Burley Bee Cup Holder vs. InStep
The Bee has the same hitch system as every other Burley trailer. It hitches into a socket that attaches to the rear axle of the adult bike. It has a cylindrical joint with a pin that goes through it and is then secured with a retaining pin at the bottom of the socket. For additional safety, you wrap the nylon strap around the frame of your bike and secure it to the tow arm by attaching it to the D-ring.
Burley vs. Budget Trailers: Every budget trailer we’ve tried has a hitch system somewhat similar to the Bee. The Burley system is clean and precise and clearly precision-built. While the budget trailers’ hitch systems aren’t as high of quality, they aren’t terrible either.
I’ve assembled three different models of Burley trailers and they are all soooo incredibly easy. They basically come assembled right out of the box and you just have to open it up, attach wheel guards, and the wheels.
Schwinn and InStep are also super easy to assemble, similar to the Bee. While the Allen S2 is our favorite true budget trailer, it was definitely the most time-consuming to assemble. It also has quick release pins holding everything together which need to be checked regularly for safety.
Comparison: Burley Bee vs. Allen S2 vs. Schwinn Trailblazer vs. InStep Take 2
From a “budget” trailer comparison, the Burley Bee blows all the other trailers out of the water. To be fair though, it’s also at $150 – $250 more. So while we would always recommend the Burley Bee over these other trailers, we also understand not everyone wants to spend that amount of money.
Areas where we prefer the Burley Bee over the Allen S2, which is our favorite true budget trailer:
- Overall design and components are much higher-quality and more durable
- Pulls smoother and quieter
- Trailer cover is thicker, better-quality fabric
- UV windows
- More storage space, which is also more secure
- Much easier to fold down for transportation and storage
- Quick release button for removing wheels
- Side battens prevent passengers from pushing against the trailer and hitting the wheels
- Easier initial assembly
In addition to everything above, more reasons why we prefer the Burley Bee over the Schwinn Trailblazer
- Better quality and more comfortable seat bottom
- Harness system is easier to adjust and use
- Buckle is smoother and easier to use
- Mesh helmet pocket is low enough for young riders to use
- Protection from rain – Schwinn’s rain cover is fine, but gaps on the side of the trailer cover will let rain in
- Wheels have wheel guards to protect from obstacles on the ground
- Side pockets for snacks are easy for young kids to use
- Hook system keeps cover in place, vs. cheap snap system
In addition to everything above, more reasons why we prefer the Burley Bee over the InStep Take 2
- 16″ plastic rims are low-quality and not recommended
- Bottom of trailer sags close to the ground beneath
The Burley Bee is vastly superior to any truly budget trailer out there. While about $150 – $200 more than cheaper trailers, its durability, ease-of-use, and safety features make it a clear winner. Especially for families that will be riding at least semi-regularly, the Bee’s higher-end design and features will make a huge difference in both parent and passenger enjoyment.
Click here for a full list of Burley accessories.