We put the newly updated Burley Encore X bike trailer to the test to see how it stacks up to the lower-end Burley Bee and the top of the line D’lite X. As the perfect Goldilocks middle-child, the Encore X exceeded our expectations and offers a smooth and luxurious ride for child and adult riders… at a “just right” price.
For families who want upgraded features like bench-style seats and suspension but don’t want to pay top dollar, the Encore X should be high on your list. Read the review below for all the reasons we love it!
Burley Encore X Bike Trailer
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Frequently active families who want the best of jogging, strolling and biking, but don’t want to pay extra for additional bells & whistles.
TRAILER CAPACITY: Double
WHAT’S INCLUDED: Tow arm, single stroller wheel
UPGRADE KITS: Jogger, 2-wheel stroller
WEIGHT: 24.7 lb.
INSIDE HEIGHT: 26″
INSIDE WIDTH: 22.5″
UV WINDOWS: Yes
SUSPENSION: Yes, not adjustable
- Exceptionally smooth ride for biking, jogging, and strolling
- Padded seats and harness for extra comfort
- Bench-style seats don’t sag
- Super easy to swap between trailer/stroller/jogger functions
- Sunshade and rain cover come standard
- Lots of storage space
- 55% of soft goods (fabrics) are made from recycled material (mostly water bottles!)
- Suspension can’t be adjusted for weight load
- Trailer cover can’t be pulled taut for a sleek look
Burley Encore X Video Review
Burley Encore X Review – Results of our Test Rides
The Burley Encore X is Burley’s 2019 update on the Burley Encore and offers suspension and the ability to convert to a cargo trailer. The Encore X now comes standard with a smooth-rolling single stroller wheel and is still compatible with all of Burley’s conversion kits.
Burley trailers come in three quality tiers – Recreation (Good), Sport (Better), and Performance (Best). The Encore X is Burley’s mid-tier, or Sport trailer. Having just reviewed the new 2019 Burley D’Lite X (Performance), and the perennial favorite Bee (Recreation), the mid-tier Encore X was our chance to test Burley’s Sport tier of trailers.
With a unique opportunity to test and compare all three trailers side by side, we wanted to answer the questions: What’s the real difference between all these trailers? Do those differences really matter or is it just marketing-speak? Is it worth the jump in cost to upgrade to the next level or not??
Hoes the Burley Encore X perform in real life?
The single stroller wheel effortlessly raises and lowers to transition between trailer and stroller mode. Pushing the Encore X in stroller or jogger mode seems oddly like pushing something resting on a cloud. And pulling the Encore X as a trailer? Well, smooth sailing to the point that you can almost forget you’re even pulling anything.
The Encore’s high-quality and durable components make the trailer a cinch for parents to use, and create a super comfy atmosphere for the passengers. With a bench seat and a high-quality harness system, it was a breeze to get kids in and out of the trailer. UV windows and a sunshade protect sensitive skin from the glaring sun. A perfectly designed mesh cup holder allows little ones to easily access sippy cups and snacks. All the little details done right make for an exceptional trailer.
But how much better is the Encore X than the Bee? And is the D’Lite X worth an additional $300? In every section below we’ll detail how the three levels of trailers are different, and how much those differences mattered to us in the real world. Read on to find out!
Performance as a Trailer
Whether riding to pick the kids up from school or navigating all-terrain trails, the Burley Encore X performed like a champ. With standard tires I was surprised to find how well the tread provided traction on gravel, dirt trails, and mud. Over uneven roads and root-covered trails, the suspension didn’t eliminate the bumpy ride, but certainly made it smoother.
On one of our test rides we unexpectedly found ourselves in wet sand and also mud on portions of the trail. While the Encore X managed it surprisingly well, if this were going to be a regular part of our rides, I would definitely upgrade to the D’Lite.
The D’Lite features wider tires with a more aggressive tread that would have increased traction and also softened some of the bumps in the road. Its adjustable suspension would also have come in handy if I had known ahead of time that the terrain was going to be so uneven.
Encore X vs. Bee: With no suspension, the Bee is better suited for families who will be sticking to paved trails.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite’s wider tires with more aggressive tread, and adjustable suspension make it better suited for families who will frequently be tackling all-terrain trails.
Do you need suspension? Depends on where you’re riding. A suspension system does add more weight (in this case only about 1.5 lbs.), so if you don’t need it, there’s no reason to be pulling the extra weight. Trailers with suspension are also more expensive.
If you are only ever going to be riding paved trails, you can live without suspension. But if you’re going to travel over uneven, bumpy, or rocky terrain regularly, suspension will be a huge benefit for your riders’ comfort.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee does not have suspension.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite X has five different suspension settings to better accommodate different weight loads. You can easily switch it up by turning a knob if you regularly swap between one or two kids or cargo.
Attaching the Burley hitch to your bike
All Burley bike trailers have the same hitch set-up. It’s smooth and simple and only takes about a minute to install.
The Encore hitch 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. The nylon strap wraps around the frame of your bike for added safety, and secures to the tow arm by attaching it to the D-ring.
The Encore X features a tow arm that easily attaches and detaches to quickly convert from trailer to stroller or jogger without having to remove kids from the trailer.
Performance as a Stroller
A few months back I tested out the Burley D’Lite X and was kinda blown away at how incredibly smooth it rolled as a stroller. Despite that experience, I was again taken aback by the Encore X’s same smooth roll because it’s so smooth it almost seems unnatural (in the best way!). I’m not an engineer and I have no idea how you get a stroller to roll like you’re pushing it on clouds, but seriously, it’s impressively smooth.
Interested in using the Encore X in stroller mode with an infant? You’ll need a Burley Baby Snuggler, which allows you to use the stroller with a baby as young as 3 months.
1-Wheel or 2-Wheel Options
The Encore X comes standard as a 3-wheel stroller and can easily be upgraded to 4-wheel stroller mode. The advantage of the 3-wheel stroller mode is that the wheel is permanently attached to the tow arm and you just pull the wheel down and engage it for use. You don’t have to swap out any conversion kits. SO. EASY.
The advantage of the 4-wheel stroller mode is that the stroller wheels connect directly to the body of the trailer. This allows the stroller to be much more compact than in 3-wheel mode where the wheel is hanging out way at the end of the tow arm. Even though attaching the two wheels does require you to remove the tow arm, the process is E.A.S.Y.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee is trailer-only. Cannot convert to stroller or jogger.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: This is one area where the D’Lite X is a pretty sweet upgrade from the Encore. In 3-wheel stroller mode, the D’Lite’s tow arm can be adjusted so that tucks in closer to the body of the trailer. As a result, the single swivel wheel doesn’t hang out so far in front. It feels less bulky and you feel more in control.
With the D’Lite X, I felt that the 3-wheel and 4-wheel strollers performed pretty on par. But with the Encore X, I definitely preferred the 4-wheel mode because it felt significantly more compact.
If you’re looking for a mid-priced, 3-wheel stroller with the front wheel tucked under the body of the trailer, check out the Qeridoo Sportrex.
The Encore’s handlebar is continuously adjustable, so whether you’re short or tall, or somewhere in the middle, you’ll be able to find a comfortable position.
In trailer mode, the handlebar should be rotated forward to serve as an additional roll-bar in the event of a serious crash (the chassis already has a roll bar included). In “roll-bar mode”, the handlebar should sit a few inches above the front of the trailer body, so that the end of the handlebar is about parallel with the ground.
Performance as a Jogger
The jogger rolls and tracks as smooth as the stroller. The first time I took the jogger out, it was pulling to the left, which can get tiresome very quickly, but as explained below, it was an easy fix. This is common with jogger/trailers and each brand has a different system for fixing tracking problems.
Like everything Burley designs, the jogging wheel is made for ease-of-use. The fix for tracking straight is simply to loosen the quick-release on the jogging wheel and turn the yellow knob on the side the jogger is pulling towards. So if the jogger is veering to the left, you tighten the knob on the left. The process takes 10 seconds and fixed the issue immediately.
One minor annoyance with trailers that convert to joggers is that you generally need to align the tracking each time you transition to jogging mode. If you do this frequently, it could get frustrating, but you also have the benefit of having a trailer and jogger in one!
If you’re going to be running frequently, the jogging wheel it probably a must-have accessory. I will say, however, that it does add a more bulky, heavy feeling to the trailer as compared to use as a stroller. I often walk and run with the stroller attachments because I prefer how lightweight and effortless they feel.
Another mom tester that took out the trailer as a jogger loved the jogging wheel. Her personal jogger is a double B.O.B. which is 7″ wider than the Encore X. SEVEN INCHES! So for parents who are used to running with traditional joggers, the Burley Encore X’s more narrow body may be a welcome relief. This mom said that the Encore X was so much more narrow than her personal jogger that she felt like she was going from a double to a single jogger!
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee is only a trailer and cannot convert to a jogger.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: Both trailers use the same jogging wheel attachment. The D’Lite X is 5 lbs. heavier than the Encore X, which you will feel on a long run.
Interior Features of the Encore X
Interior Space & Weight Capacity
Weight capacity is a funny thing. While it seems great in theory to be able to carry 100 lbs. in a trailer, that’s a difficult reality. Do you really want to pull 100 lbs in a trailer??? All Burley trailers have a 100 lb. weight capacity. 80 lbs. of that is kids, 20 lbs. is cargo.
In the Encore X, 22.5″ of seat width and 21.5″ of shoulder width allow two toddlers with a combined weight of 65 lbs. to fit snugly but comfortably (image on the left below).
To show you what maxing out the weight capacity in the Encore X would look like, we put our 5-year-old 53 lb. tester and 18-month-old 27 lb. tester together. (Image on the right.) With a total combined weight of 80 lbs., they are pretty tight. It can be done, but it’s not a great long-term solution.
18-Month-Old with 3-Year-Old vs. 5-Year-Old
Just note that this “snug” fit with two kids in the trailer is very standard in the trailer industry, even among the high-end trailers on our 10 Best Bike Trailers list. All Burley trailers offers ample head and leg room for young and older riders as compared to the standard trailer. If you plan on carrying older or larger kids, the D’Lite X has bowed out sides to allow for more shoulder space for both riders. (See below.)
Encore X vs. Bee: Pretty much the same amount of interior space, but the Bee’s hammock-style seating can make kids slide to the middle a bit and feel more cramped.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The sides of the D’Lite trailers bow out to provide more shoulder room for older riders. With 26″ of shoulder space vs. just 21.5″ with the Encore, this can make a big difference in the comfort level of older riders. In the image below you can see how this additional shoulder space allows the older rider to lean away from the younger rider.
Interior Space of Burley Bee vs. Encore X vs. D’Lite X
Seats and Trailer Bottom
The Encore X comes with a cushioned bench seat that makes loading and unloading kids easy peasy. The back of the top of the seat is flexible mesh that allows kids in helmets to sit up straight while their helmet recesses into that pocket. The trailer bottom is thick canvas, which is standard for Burley and other high-end trailers.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Encore’s system is definitely a step up from the Bee, which features a hammock-style seat that sags a bit when a child is placed in the seat. The sag in the seat makes loading and unloading kids more difficult and is also less comfortable for the rider. Hammock-style seats are standard on lower-cost trailers.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite models have what Burley brands as “Premium Padded Seats”. The design is slightly different, but functionally, the real difference is that the D’Lite’s seats also have an adjustable headrest.
We ended up taking the headrests out of our D’Lite X because in trailer mode they blocked the mesh helmet recess and ended up pushing our riders’ heads forward uncomfortably. In the end, we didn’t like the D’Lite’s seat cushions any better than the Encore’s.
Where we do think the D’Lite X is a worthy upgrade is the trailer bottom. It comes standard with a removable rubber floor mat that makes keeping your trailer clean soooo much easier. If you’ve ever left a bag of Goldfish in the trailer with your child, you’ll understand. Any of the Burley trailers can be upgraded to include the mat for $49 though.
While D’Lite X trailers (single and double) have reclining seats, the Encore X’s seat does not recline. This may be a big deal to some, but it’s not a feature I personally use regularly, even though my personal trailer reclines!
5-Point Harness System
The 5-point harness system on the Burley Encore X is high-quality and easy to use. Like the D’Lite X, it has added padding for extra comfort. The Bee does not have extra padding. Those pads aren’t entirely necessary but can be nice when little ones are wearing tank tops or short shorts.
Mesh Cup Holders
The mesh cup and snack holders in all Burley trailers are perfectly placed for easy access. They’re also perfectly sized for sippy cups and a small snack.
Many trailers have small pockets that would only really hold a granola bar, or are placed a little too far forward for younger riders to access easily. You’ll see below how even the luxurious Thule Cross’ mesh cup holders are a little bit out of easy reach for a young toddler.
Exterior Features of the Encore X
The cover of the Encore X is high-quality and durable water resistant 600D polyester with a mesh front. The entire front of the trailer is lifted up to get kids in and out of the trailer. All Burley trailers work like this.
The rain cover on the Burley Encore X 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 simply zip down.
The Encore also has a rear rain cover that covers the mesh rear window. This rain cover is fixed and cannot be rolled up, but is open on the bottom to allow for air to move through the trailer. This window is really just used for ventilation as the angle of the seats prevents you from seeing your kids through it while pushing the trailer in stroller mode.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee does not have a rear window.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: While the front rain cover works exactly the same on the D’Lite X, the D’Lite X is upgraded with rainproof zippers as an added barrier from rain leaking into the trailer. The rear rain cover on the D’Lite X can also be rolled up when not in use. This makes for much better ventilation and also makes it easier to talk to your kids in stroller mode.
Small Sun Shade Isn’t Very Helpful
Sunshades are only ever found on higher-end trailers. The Encore’s sunshade is fixed at the top of the trailer front and cannot be moved to adjust for the angle of the sun. It can, however, be folded and tucked up under the trailer’s top panel.
Because it is fixed, it may or may not be really useful to you, depending on the time of day you ride and how tall your riders are.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee does not have a sunshade.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite also has a sunshade, but it can be adjusted up or down the front cover to account for the angle of the sun or the height of the rider. While everyone has different priorities, an adjustable sunshade is one of those features that I use all the time and that I legit would pay an additional $200 for. The sun is brutal here in Texas!
Burley Encore vs. D’Lite Sunshades
Folding is Easy!
The Encore X folds down very compactly and is done quickly and easily by unhooking one of the two frame tubes from the pair of yellow release latches and collapsing the trailer in on itself. You have to remove the wheels to fold it down, but the wheels come off just by pushing in on the yellow button in the middle of the axle.
With toddlers and kids in tow, the amount of time it takes to load and unload for riding can be a serious pain point. The Encore’s process is completely painless and is a huuuuge benefit for families with small children. The whole process of unloading and setting up the trailer takes about 2 minutes max.
At just 36 x 31 x 12″ and 24.7 lbs, it’s easy to move in and out of the car for transport.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee folds down in a very similar way. Its folded dimensions are slightly smaller – 35.5 x 29.25 x 11.25″. It also only weighs 20 lbs, which makes it a bit easier to transport.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite’s folding system is identical to the Encore’s, but has slightly larger folded dimensions – 37 x 31.3 x 14.3″. It also weighs 29.3 lbs, making it the heaviest of the three trailers.
|Burley Bee||35.5 x 29.25 x 11.25″||20 lb.|
|Burley Encore X||36 x 31 x 12″||24.7 lb.|
|Burley D’Lite X||37 x 31.3 x 14.3″||29.3 lb.|
Burley’s UV Windows
Ahhhhhh! UV windows are the best! All Burley trailers feature “panoramic” UV windows that provide great views as well as protection from the sun.
Storage Compartment & Rear Venting
The Encore has an easily accessible storage area behind the seats. It’s very spacious with a flat bottom and will hold pretty much whatever you could possibly need to bring along.
It’s primarily accessed from the back of the trailer, but it’s also accessible from the front of the trailer by reaching around the side of the seat support. There’s a small mesh pocket that lays flat against the inside of the larger storage compartment that is perfect for keys and a phone.
The back of the trailer does have a mesh opening for airflow, but it’s covered by a plastic rain cover that limits its ability to keep the trailer cool.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee has cargo space of 44 liters, the smallest of the three trailers, although still much larger and sturdier than cheaper trailers. It doesn’t have any rear venting.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite X has 50 liters of cargo space vs. the Encore’s 60 liters. They’re both huge though. On the D’Lite X, the independently reclining seats require a metal support bar to divide the top of the storage space. The cargo space is still 50 liters, but that bar limits your ability to place a single large object inside, including the jogging wheel conversion kit.
The D’Lite’s rear rain cover can be rolled up to fully expose the mesh layer and provide excellent air flow through the trailer.
20″ Wheels and Air Tires
All of the Burley bike trailers below the D’Lite X models feature standard, mild tread 20 x 1.75″ wheels. They are excellent quality and will serve you well on paved and occasional 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.
Encore X vs. Bee: Same wheels!
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: The D’Lite X’s 20″ x 2.125″ premium wheels have a more aggressive tire tread, offering better traction on dirt trails. The wider tire (2.125″ vs. 1.75″) holds more air and has a larger footprint, which dampens bumps better and provides more cushioning overall. The D’Lite X tires also have a reflective strip on the sides for added visibility.
Parking Brake Easy to Use, But Problematic
The parking brake on the Burley Encore X is engaged by swiping it from the left position to the right position with your foot – really easy to use.
On the last day of our official testing, we encountered an issue with the foot brake system which prevented us from continuing to use the trailer. We contacted Burley and were reassured that Burley trailers have a 5-year warranty on parts and replacement parts were sent out for us to fix the trailer.
Since that time, we have experienced the issue again with the Burley D’Lite X. The issue is that the brake design has the potential to wear down some plastic on the wheel’s axle. Once the plastic is worn down, the parking brake may not work. We recommend checking your wheels periodically for any wear and tear on the plastic.
Encore X vs. Bee: The Bee doesn’t have a parking brake because it can’t convert to a stroller or jogger.
Encore X vs. D’Lite X: They have the same set- up.
Comparison: Burley Encore X vs. Burley D’Lite X vs. Burley Bee
So back to our three questions. What’s the real difference between all these trailers? Do those difference really matter or is it just marketing-speak? Is it worth the huge jump in cost to upgrade to the next level or not?? We’ve answered the first two questions above. Now to figure out if you really should upgrade to the next level…
The answer to that question is totally dependent on what your pain points are. Below you’ll find a quick summary of reasons you might want to get an Encore X over the Bee, or a D’Lite X over the Encore X.
Areas where the Encore X is better than the Bee:
- Bench-style seats are more comfortable for the passenger and make it easier to load and unload kids
- Suspension if you’re going off-road or on bumpy roads
- Comes standard with 3-wheel stroller
- Can convert to a jogger, 4-wheel stroller, cargo trailer, or ski trailer (read the review!)
- Has a sunshade
- Rear venting
- More storage space
- Padded seats and harness for added comfort
Areas where the Burley D’Lite X is better than the Encore X:
- Bowed out sides provide more shoulder room for older riders
- Wider tires and more aggressive tread for better traction and a bit more cushioning
- Sunshade is adjustable
- Better rear venting
- Removable rubber floor mat makes keeping things clean so much easier
- Quick-receivers make swapping between trailer/stroller/jogger even easier
- Adjustable suspension if you’re a family that will be going off-roading often
- Single stroller wheel can be tucked in closer to the trailer body
- Available in single or double capacity
Burley Encore X Bottom Line
The Burley Encore X is an exceptional trailer for frequently active families. Upgrading to the D’Lite X does increase ease-of-use for the adult and comfort for the kids, but whether or not that’s worth a few hundred extra dollars is up to you.
Click here for a full list of Burley accessories.