Burley D’Lite

Bike Trailer Review

Easy to use and easy to love, the Burley D'Lite is lightweight, comfortable for kids, and overall an amazing trailer for parents on the go.

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $689

Recommendation: Exceptional

Weight: 27 lb.

Tire Size: 20"

Suspension: Yes

Inside Height: 25.5"

Inside Width: 22.5"

Stroller Kit: Upgrade: Dual Swivel Wheels

Jogger Kit: Upgrade

Max-weight: 100 lb.

Trailer Type: Trailer Jogger Stroller

Capacity: double

Brakes: Parking Brake

UV Window: Yes

Upgrades Available:

4-Wheel Stroller, Trailer Arm Stroller Wheel, Handlebar Console, Jogging Wheel, Baby Snuggler, 16″ Knobby Tires, Bunting Bag and Skis Attachment.

Review

Comparison of Burley D’Lite and Thule Chariot Cougar 2

Both the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 and the Burley D’lite are high-end bike trailers at a similar price points. Both have the option of converting to a basic two-wheeled stroller or a jogging stroller, and both have cross-country ski kits available to purchase. At $750, the Cougar comes as a stroller with two wheels and a handlebar; the tow arm and hitch cost an additional $80. At $629, the D’lite comes as a trailer with the tow arm, hitch, and roll bar/handlebar; the two additional stroller wheels cost $89. A single-wheel stroller kit is also available for the D’lite for $69.

**This review of the 2015 Burley D’lite.  Small changed have been made to the current model.  The center buckle is no longer available and the seats now come with Burley’s unique S.I.T. (Spring Integrated Technology) seats which allow the should strap to stay up and out of the way when loaded children in the trailer.  The Thule Cougar has also been discontinued, the new Thule Cross is its replacement.

Overall Design

The Cougar and D’lite are very different shapes. The Cougar is angled and more aerodynamic; the D’lite more round and roomy-feeling. The benefits of the Cougar’s aerodynamic design were noticeable at faster speeds, but only by a slight reduction in commute time. We didn’t discern any noticeable drag difference between the two.

D'lite vs. Cougar

*Cougar 2 now retails for $789 and the D’lite for $689

D'lite vs. Cougar 1

The trailers’ shape difference was also a factor in how easily kids could climb in and out of the trailer on their own. The Cougar, whose opening is lower to the ground, is easier for a smaller child to navigate without help. Smaller children needed more help climbing into the D’lite.

Interior Space

Both trailers are cozy for two larger children and spacious for one. Because of its more angled shape, the seats on the Cougar are more reclined, while in the D’lite kids sit more upright. Because of its more round shape, the D’lite offers more room for children to move around inside, and their heads don’t touch the cover if they lean forward.

D'lite vs. Cougar 2

Harness system

Both trailers have two five-point harness buckles with pads and no longer DO NOT offer the center position for the rider.

D'Lite vs. Cougar 3
**PRODUCT UPDATE: The Burley D’lite no longer offers the center buckle, single riders must sit on the left side of the trailer when in bike use.

The harness and seat pads on the D’lite are attached to the seat with Velcro, which makes them easily removable for older children who may find sitting on them uncomfortable, or for pulling cargo. The Cougar’s pads are sewn in.

The D’lite also has an option to unbuckle the seat apparatus entirely and lay it flat for easy transport of cargo. (See photos in “storage compartment” section)

Folding

Both the Cougar and the D’lite fold quickly and easily. Each can fit both wheels and the trailer arm inside while folded, making transporting them a breeze. When folded, the Cougar is 5” longer but 1.5” slimmer, while the D’lite is shorter and a bit wider.
D'lite vs. Cougar 5

Mesh Cup/Snack Holder

Due to its elongated shape and reclined seat position, the Cougar’s mesh pockets for cups and snacks on either side are located toward the trailer opening. This would be out of reach for a smaller child buckled into the harness. For older/larger children, it is still a stretch to reach while buckled. The mesh pockets on the D’lite, however, are right next to the seat and easily accessible. The D’lite’s pockets are sewn in half (presumably for two cups), which can make it hard to get larger things in and out.

D'lite vs. Cougar 4

Storage Compartment & Rear Venting

The D’lite has an easily accessible storage area behind the seating apparatus. It is spacious with a flat bottom, facilitating carrying just about anything that will fit (our tester once transported a Rubbermaid container full of spaghetti sauce). It is also accessible from the front of the trailer by reaching behind the seat support. Our 4-yr-old tester appreciated being able to toss things into the storage area that were bothering her (snack wrappers, an unneeded jacket, etc.). The storage compartment cover has a small mesh area for rear venting.

D'lite vs. Cougar 6

The Cougar has a large, triangular-shaped snap-down storage compartment. This has the benefit of being able to snap it out of the way when not in use. However, its triangular shape limits the kinds of things that can be carried in it, and while the width and depth of the storage areas are similar on both trailers, the D’lite has a much larger and more flexible space. The Cougar also has a large mesh pocket on the rear of the trailer, which doubles as venting through the back.

D'lite vs. Cougar 7The Cougar also has side vents that can be opened or closed (not pictured), a feature not available in the D’lite. However, even at temperatures as low as 45° F, we didn’t have a fogging problem with two kids in the D’lite.

Exterior Covers and SunShade

Both trailers feature a mesh cover with a zip-down, water-resistant vinyl cover. Both vinyl covers roll up when not in use. When rolled, the cover on the Cougar is difficult to access as it goes under the bar where the stroller handle attaches. However, this bar can be removed if the stroller arm is not going to be attached.

One major difference on the D’lite is that its stroller handle quickly and easily rotates forward when in use as a trailer to serve as a safety roll bar. This bar can be annoying, however, as it makes the functional opening of the trailer smaller and makes it a little more difficult for bigger kids to get in and out by themselves. Unlike on the Cougar, the stroller bar is not easily removable without tools.

D'lite vs. Cougar 8The sunshade on the D’lite is easily adjustable, going from the top of the mesh opening to the bottom. The sunshade on the Cougar can only be moved to cover the top half of the mesh opening, limiting its range and potentially blocking the view of bigger riders. Also, the sunshade on the Cougar is underneath the mesh cover, while on the D’lite it is attached on top. This makes it very easy to adjust the shade on the D’lite without having to remove the cover.

Cover attachment

The Cougar and the D’lite feature very different cover attachment designs. The Cougar has a C-shaped plastic lip at the bottom of the cover that attaches to a narrow bar at the base of the trailer. This gave us some problems, as one side of the cover popped off a few times during our first ride. But we found that if we took care to make sure the cover is completely centered when attaching (which is kind of pain), we didn’t have that issue. On another ride, however, we learned that it is very easy for a larger child to kick off the cover from the inside.

The Cougar’s attachment style also makes it hard to quickly pop up one side of the cover to reach into the trailer (to hand something to or take something from a kid). It was also more difficult than the D’lite to ensure that the cover is stretched over the frame while attaching—the cover has to be laterally pulled taut or else it falls inside the frame.

The D’lite has an O-shaped buckle attached to a strap on either side of the trailer that slips over a lip on the side of the frame. This was very easy to attach and detach quickly. Because it attaches on the side of the frame, it didn’t have the same issue as the Cougar with being difficult to stretch over the outer part of the frame. It’s also very easy to remove only one side to get into the trailer to help a child without removing the whole cover.

Dlite vs. Cougar 8

Hitch Style

Both the Cougar and D’lite hitch into a socket that attaches to the rear axle of the adult bike. The Cougar has a ball joint, secured by a pin and a strip of flexible silicone that is a breeze to insert and remove from the socket. The D’lite has a cylindrical joint with a pin that goes through it and is then secured at the bottom of the socket.

The Cougar’s ball joint was easy to get in and out of the socket regardless of the angle of the adult bike. This is important because the adult bike is usually leaning against something while the trailer is being hitched. Unfortunately, the cylindrical joint on the D’lite was much more difficult to insert into the socket. Because of its more rectangular size, the adult bike had to be nearly upright in order to receive the joint from the D’lite trailer—when it was leaning too much, the hitch was very hard to get into the socket.

If you plan to frequently remove and attach the trailer to the adult bike, the Cougar does so much more quickly and easily.

Dlite vs. Cougar 8

Hitch Performance

Both trailers’ hitch joints offer enough flex to lay the adult bike on the ground on either side (or, heaven forbid, in a crash) without tipping the trailer. However, while riding, the Cougar’s hitch again out-performed the D’lite’s. While both trailers handle corners very well with no noticeable difference in turning radius, the Cougar’s hitch was silent on the whole ride. The D’lite’s hitch squeaked or rubbed going up or down hills and over bumps, which was very annoying.

Tow Arm

Both trailers’ tow arms attach easily to the trailer. There is a big difference, however, in the shape of the tow arm. The D’lite has an L-shaped tow arm, while the Cougar has a C-shaped tow arm. Because of its C-shape, the Cougar is centered behind the adult bike. Instead of being centered on the bike, the D’lite is centered on the hitch, making it slightly off to the left of the bike. Burley’s offset design is intentional as to allow the trailer to be centered on hitch.

Dlite vs. Cougar 9

While riding on residential roads or wide trails, this doesn’t really matter. However, when riding alongside traffic or through narrow gate openings (such as those keeping motor vehicles off of bike trails), the adult rider has to be conscious that the D’lite is “hanging out” more to the left than to the right. In our testing, this also made another adult rider nervous to ride on the left of the adult towing the D’lite, worried that he would crash into the trailer.

Suspension

Both trailers feature an adjustable suspension based on the weight of the riders. The D’lite has five options, while the Cougar has a sliding scale based on the children’s weight. The suspension on the D’lite was easier to adjust than the Cougar’s. At the lowest setting, we were able to compress the Cougar’s suspension by 2”, while the D’lite’s only compressed 1”. This is in part due to the design of the frame, which limits the amount of compression available on the D’lite. *Remember to adjust the suspension on both wheels, not just one!

dlite vs, Cougar 11

As the towing adult, there was no noticeable difference in the suspension types. Both trailers seemed to handle bumps equally smoothly, even at higher (15 mph) speeds, and our kid testers didn’t complain about bumps in either trailer.

Noise Issues

We had some issues with the D’lite making a rattling noise at higher speeds and going over bumps. We traced the main issue to the brake lever, and this was easily remedied by sticking some foam under it so it wouldn’t jiggle over bumps. (UPDATE: Burley contacted us to let us know that the brake should not rattle and exchanged our trailer for a new trailer.  So far, we have had no issues with the brake on the replacement rattling and will report back after some additional rides.)

dlite vs. Cougar 10

Conclusion

Bottom line: Both the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 and the Burley D’lite are excellent, high-quality trailers. Both are lightweight and comfortable for kids. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages:

Areas where the Cougar outperforms the D’lite as a trailer:

  • Tow-arm design
  • Hitch design
  • Venting

Areas where the D’lite outperforms the Cougar as a trailer:

  • Storage space
  • Kids’ mesh snack pocket access
  • Exterior cover design: sunshade, rain cover, and cover attachment

Related Reviews:

MSRP: $689

By: Carrie Wren

Last Updated: March 7, 2017

FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. Burley provided products to Two Wheeling Tots LLC at a discounted rate to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC and should not be used or replicated in any way. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is not an affiliate of Burley, but is an affiliate of Amazon.com.

  • Craig

    I just bought a D-lite (April 2017 from REI) and unfortunately it does not offer the single seat as you suggested in this article. I could reconfigure the 5-way harness’s sides and tops, but the bottom straps are only on the sides so a center option is not possible. Even the product manual says to seat a single ride on one side, not in the middle.

    Also I’m quite concerned that the two back poles will start rubbing through the canvas in a short amount of time. My trailer looks identical to the other pics posted below. Time will tell, thank goodness for REI’s return policy. I would have expecte a premium product to not have such a glaring oversight as this bad design.

    That being said, I also tried the Thule in REI and I couldn’t get the front flat to stay latched with the junky plastic hook/catches at the bottom of the rain guard… what a terrible design… and that was only walking around REI with no children inside. For that reason alone, I would not even consider the Thule.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e7232050372dab91f5cf5d94c4d79d5544880a93fee77ca72e7cb997694f429.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63990830371ab02b3d2fbe0360369ddf6ab799340e5cc6962d6166102f99efa8.jpg

    • Thanks for bringing the seating issue to my attention. This review is of a 2015 model which did offer the center seat, the current model does not and I have made note in this review. As for the rubbing issues, I agree that it is problematic, but since you purchased it at REI, it shouldn’t be on concern. Burley would also take care of you if there was an issue. We have had ours for a couple years and haven’t noticed an issue yet.

      Lastly, I agree that the new rain cover on the Thule Cross is a pain. We are currently reviewing it and that was the first issue we came across. Once I figured it out, it was fine, but it I lived in a colder/wet climate in which I plan on using the rain cover often, I would stay clear of the Cross as well. Plus, the cover doesn’t allow you to provide any air flow through the trailer with it on. On the Burley you can at least unzip the bottom of the cover a little.

    • I forgot to mention that there is a third potential option, the Hamax Outback. It doesn’t have the center seat (none of the trailer do due to CPSC regulations for strollers), but it does have adjustable suspension, a zip down rain cover and no major issue with rubbing. We are also testing it right now and so far it has been great and is pretty roomy inside! http://amzn.to/2p67Pbe

      • Winkle Manzano

        i wanted to ask how your testing with the hamax went? do you think it’s a better option than the d’lite? thanks!