Best Standard Upright
Our top pick for geared trailer cycles. Trailer attaches to included rack, vs. seat post, for best-in-class stability.
The Burley Piccolo is one of the most expensive trailer cycles on the market today, but it does offer a very unique feature: It attaches to the adult bike via a rear rack, rather than via the usual seatpost-mounted hitch. This makes it extremely stable while riding, even with heavier kids.
Assembly and Installation
The Piccolo assembles easily, with just a few parts (pedals, handlebars, trailer cycle arm) to attach using standard tools.
Installation on the adult bike is also straightforward, as long as your bicycle is compatible. You first attach the included “Moose Rack” to the rear of your bike. The Moose Rack installs just like any other cargo rack, with four screws that attach to the threaded mounting points near the rear axle and on the seat stays.
If your bicycle doesn’t have mounting points on the seat stays, there are clamps included that go around the seat stays to allow you to attach the Moose Rack. If it does not have mounting points near the rear axle, you won’t be able to use the Piccolo at all – so check carefully before buying!
Mounting and Unmounting
Once you’ve assembled the Piccolo and installed the Moose Rack, the Piccolo attaches easily and securely to the rack. You pull a lever to attach the metal hitch to the Moose Rack. For added security, you then push down and turn a large knob to provide another point of attachment to the rack.
Unmounting is just as easy. You unscrew the large knob and then pull the lever to release the hitch. You’ll probably want to keep the rack attached to the adult bike, but it comes in handy for toting panniers (saddlebags) and other cargo.
While all trailer cycles offer quick-release attachments to the adult bike, I found the Piccolo’s attachment to be exceptionally easy to use. Most hitches require you to line up holes on the adult bike attachment and the trailer cycle in order to be able to insert a quick release skewer. You also need to really tighten down the quick release skewer in order to prevent wobble. This all takes a little bit of wrangling to get just right. In contrast, the Piccolo’s attachment always pops right on to the rack, and then it’s easy to secure: Just turn the knob till it stops. Done.
The Piccolo offers 7 gears for riding on varying terrain.
The Piccolo offers a thumb shifter, rather than a grip shifter like most multi-speed trailer cycles.
Neither my 4 year old nor my 7 year old could operate it with just their thumbs. They ended up taking one hand off the handlebar to shift gears, as you can see my 7 year old doing in the picture below. But this did work fine, allowing them to shift gears on their own.
Overall, gears are a fantastic idea. But after about two months of using the Piccolo almost daily (including up and down some fairly significant hills), my kids still rarely use the gears unless I prompt them to shift gears, and when they do, they usually just use the lowest and highest gear.
Gears can also be a bit of a hassle. Most adult bike riders can identify the sound of a chain rubbing against the derailleur when the bike is “in between” gears, and they know to shift up/down to get into a proper gear and stop the rubbing. My kids don’t know this, and so when I hear the chain rubbing, I have to prompt them to shift up/down. It happens multiple times each ride and is a pain, although at least the kids are starting to understand when I ask them to shift so the chain stops rubbing.
Over time, the Piccolo’s derailleur will require more care and maintenance than a single-speed trailer cycle. Derailleurs need to be cleaned on occasion and shifter cables can wear out or get bent over time. Care must be taken to avoid hard blows to the right side of the trailer cycle, which can bend the derailleur’s hanger and interfere with shifting or even cause the derailleur to get caught in the spokes of the wheel.
Because of all that, I don’t feel strongly about gears being a must-have feature, at least at my kids’ current ages/skill levels. They have both started riding geared bikes in the last few weeks, and it was nice that they already had gained some experience with gears while still safely attached to my bike. It will be interesting to see if they start using the gears on the Piccolo more as time goes on and they get more familiar with the concept.
If you are not insistent on having gears, consider the Burley Kazoo, instead of the Piccolo. The Kazoo offers all the same great features, including the rack-mounted hitch, just in a single-speed version. It retails for $299.
The Piccolo features a quick release seat post that makes it easy to adjust between riders of varying heights without tools. As shipped, the seat post is a little too long to insert fully into the seat tube, so the bottom of the saddle sits an inch or two above the top of the seat tube. The distance from the top of the saddle to the top of the pedal at the lowest setting is about 20”. My 4 year old, who fits easily in 4T pants, is just barely tall enough for it. If this is an issue for your child, you can cut down the included seat post or use a shorter seat post, which will allow you to insert the seat post all the way into the seat tube.
The handlebars can adjust up and down the trailer cycle arm, after loosening four bolts:
I found the handlebar adjustment to be less essential than the seat post adjustment: My 4 year old and 6 year old definitely need the saddle height at different settings, but they can both ride with the same handlebar setting. Still, it’s nice to have that option as they grow.
The Piccolo also provides a very unique “grow with your child” feature: You can remove the trailer cycle arm and add the Burley Plus kit to turn it into a standalone 20” bicycle, for kids ready to ride entirely on their own.
On the road
So, how does the Piccolo ride? In a word: Amazing.
The rack-mounted hitch is far superior to even the best seat post mounted hitches. It’s extremely stable, even with my 50-pound 7 year old. It rides like it is part of the bicycle, not an after-market add-on.
The hitch also allows the Piccolo to pivot smoothly in all directions. This provides for great maneuverability, both on and off the bike. In addition to the ease of maneuvering around tight corners, such as when turning from a crosswalk onto a sidewalk, one of my favorite discoveries is that the Piccolo can pivot all the way around so it actually sits next to the adult bike in a bike rack. (This isn’t possible with a seat post mounted trailer cycle; the hitch gets in the way.) When we’re riding around town and decide to hop off the bikes, it’s sometimes a challenge to find a bike rack that can accommodate my bike plus a trailer or trailer cycle hanging off the back. Not with the Piccolo!
The included Moose Rack works well for carrying panniers, with or without the Piccolo attached. The Piccolo’s arm provides plenty of room underneath to clear the tops of any panniers on the rack, even if they are a bit overstuffed. The Piccolo hitch takes up some space on the rails of the rack, so it’s best to use panniers that have clips that can adjust to different positions. That way, you can place the clips in a good position to avoid the Piccolo hitch. These Ortlieb Frontroller Classic panniers work perfectly.
The Piccolo is pricey, but absolutely worth the investment, especially for families who use a trailer cycle a lot. It simply rides better than anything else out there.
If your bike doesn’t have the proper attachments for a rear rack, if you don’t have the budget to spend nearly $400 on a trailer cycle, or if you just don’t like the color green, there are plenty of other trailer cycles that will do a great job. Just do yourself a favor: Don’t test ride a Piccolo. Because once you’ve experienced the stable, easy ride of a Piccolo, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
By: Natalie Martins
Last Updated: February 20, 2017
FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for 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.