Burley Bike Trailers: Which One is Best for Your Family?

Burley bike trailers come with a promise to “enable adventure”. Whether your adventure is enjoying a sunny day on paved neighborhood trails, or braving rugged terrain on a cold, winter day, there’s a Burley bike trailer that’s built to handle whatever you (or mother nature) can throw at it.

Available in seven different models, the Burley bike trailer that is best for you depends on your budget as well as how you plan on using the trailer. Do you need a trailer that converts to a jogger or stroller? Do you plan on riding dirt trails or mainly paved trails? Are reclining seats important to you? There are a lot of determining factors.

Two moms with their Burley bike trailers. One has a Burley Bee, the other has a Burley D'Lite X.

After testing over 40 bike trailers (9 of them Burley!) over the past 12 years, we know choosing a trailer can be daunting. But we’re here to help you understand how all of Burley’s trailers are different, and when you need to upgrade and when you don’t. We’ll also provide a head to head comparison of Burley vs. Thule bike trailers.

Burley Bike Trailer Models: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’ll be sticking to the neighborhood, or riding through the forest on packed dirt trails, Burley has a bike trailer that will fit your family’s needs.

Burley makes seven trailers that fall under three quality tiers. Basic , Mid-Range, and High-End. Each trailer comes in only one color. For example, the Burley Bee is only yellow, while the Burley Honey Bee is only red.

As of Spring 2023, the 55% of soft goods in all of Burley’s trailers are made from post-consumer recycled materials, mostly recycled water bottles!

Burley Bike Trailers – Basic

Burley Bee and Honey Bee - Burley's basic trailers
Burley Bee, Burley Honey Bee

Burley Bee (single or double): ($349, $379) The Bee is Burley’s basic trailer. With hammock-style seats and a no-frills design, the Bee may be basic by Burley’s standards, but still blows all the other “basic” trailers out of the water.

With no suspension and no ability to convert to a stroller or jogger, the Bee is perfect for families who will be sticking to paved trails and who want the highest-quality trailer that’s only a trailer. It comes as a single or double trailer.

Burley Honey Bee (double): ($479) The Honey Bee is the same as the Bee, except that it comes standard with a single stroller wheel. It only comes as a double capacity trailer.

Burley Bike Trailers – Mid-Range

Burley Encore X double kids' bike trailer

Burley Encore X (double): ($649) The Encore X is the least expensive Burley trailer to offer conversion to all of its multi-sport kits – from 4-wheel stroller, to jogger or ski kit. It’s also at this level that Burley trailers have padded, supportive seats, which are an upgrade from the basic trailers’ hammock-style seats.

Suspension and the ability to convert to a cargo trailer also come standard starting at this price tier. The Encore X is only available as a double trailer.

Burley Bike Trailers – High-end

Burley D'Lite X and Cub X, Burley's performance level bike trailers
Burley D’Lite X, Burley Cub X

Burley D’Lite X (single or double): ($899/$999) Burley’s D’Lite X trailers are the cream of the crop. It’s at this level that you get adjustable suspension, reclining seats, beefier wheels, extra elbow room, and an adjustable sunshade.

As additional benefits, the D’Lite’s seats independently recline and it has a removable rubber floor mat. The plastic cover over the rear window can also roll up.

Burley Cub X (double): ($1,049) The Cub X is the most rugged of the trailers. It’s essentially the Burley D’Lite X with a hard plastic bottom.

Burley Bike Trailer Features: Comparison Chart

Burley offers an incredibly helpful comparison tool on their website. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty feature differences between their trailers, you need to check out that tool.

Here’s a chart you can’t find on their site anymore, but it’s also very helpful! Note: The Bee and Honey Bee now have skid guards.

Comparison chart of Burley Bike trailers

Burley’s Quality Tiers: What extra features do you get by upgrading?

While that chart is certainly helpful, how do those differences play out in real life? Is it worth it to upgrade to a mid-tier trailer, or will the basic level suffice for your family? And is the upgrade to a high-end trailer really worth the extra cash? We know because we’ve actually tested trailer models from all three tiers!

Mom pulling her baby across a green grassy field in a Burley Bee Bike Trailer

What Upgrading from Basic to Mid-range Gets You

Why should you pay more for a Burley Encore X over a Burley Bee or Honey Bee?

Interior Features

  • Bench-style seats – more support makes it easier to load kids into the trailer, and also makes for a more comfortable ride
  • Padded seats and harness for added comfort
  • Slightly larger rear storage space

Exterior Features

  • Stationary sunshade acts as a visor for little eyes
  • Rear window with bottom vent is quite useful in stroller mode

Performance Features

  • Compatible with all conversion kits – can convert to a jogger, 4-wheel stroller, ski attachment (read the review!), and fat tire trailer
  • Suspension – if you’re going off-road or on bumpy roads, you’ll want this!
  • Can convert to a cargo trailer

What Upgrading from Mid-range to High-end Gets You

Why should you upgrade from the Encore X to a D’Lite X or Cub X? In addition to all the benefits of the Encore X…

Interior Features

  • Available as a single or double trailer
  • Trailer sides bow out to provide additional shoulder room for older/taller riders
  • Removable rubber floor mat for easy cleaning

Exterior Features

  • Sunshade is adjustable up or down the front of the trailer for accurate placement
  • Rear window cover can be rolled up for better ventilation

Performance Features

  • Tires are wider and have a more aggressive tread for increased cushioning and traction (however, consider the 16″ fat tire kit if you’ll regularly be on loose terrain)
  • Adjustable suspension is ideal for off-roading families
  • Quick-receivers make swapping between trailer/stroller/jogger even easier
  • Single stroller wheel can be tucked in closer to the trailer body

Our Burley Bike Trailer Reviews

Burley’s current line of trailers debuted in 2019, was streamlined in 2021 by removing the Minnow and the D’Lite trailers, and had some color and fabric changes in 2023. We have reviews for six of those trailers. Click on the link below to read the results of our test rides.

Basic Burley Bike Trailers

Mid-Range Burley Bike Trailers

High-End Burley Bike Trailers

Burley’s Trailer Features (and Burley vs Thule)

So what are the very best features of Burley trailers? And how does Thule compare? We’ve tested 9 Burley trailers and 7 Thule trailers, so let us tell you!

1. Burley Bike Trailers are exceptional quality

Kid standing next to his mom's Burley Encore X bike trailer on a dirt path through the forest

Burley bike trailers are designed to take a beating, and are in it for the long haul. They will last through several kids, and then still be in good enough condition to give to a friend.

From a thick, water-resistant 600D polyester cover, to heat treated 6061-T6 aluminum frame tubes and a full internal aluminum roll cage, the structural integrity of every Burley bike trailer is second to none. There are plenty of rides I’ve been on in a Burley that I would never consider even attempting with a Schwinn, InStep, or other cheaper trailer.

As a self-admittedly over-protective mom, the quality and craftsmanship of Burley trailers put my mind at ease while transporting my precious cargo.

Burley vs. Thule

While Thule trailers are also exceptional, Burley trailers feel more beefy and rugged than Thule trailers (with the exception of the Thule Chariot Cross and Sport). If you’re sticking to paved roads, this won’t matter. But if you’re going off-road, Burley trailers are a better bet in our opinion. Burley also has an optional 16″ fat tire kit that we’ve used bike packing, fat biking on snowy groomed trails, and trail running!

2. Burley Bike Trailers are lightweight

Mom pulling Burley trailer with Burley Ski Kit through the snow on her cross country skis

We’ve pulled a lot of bike trailers in our time, and we push stroller/jogger versions on the daily. Burley bike trailers are precision-built so that they pull smooth and never rattle. You honestly can forget you’re even pulling them sometimes!

Pushing a Burley trailer in stroller mode (like the Burley Encore X) is the same smooth and effortless experience. The stroller/jogger functions are not an afterthought like they are on cheaper trailers. Burley trailers are designed to excel as a trailer, stroller, or jogger.

Burley vs. Thule

Burley trailers tend to be a few pounds lighter than their Thule counterparts, which can make a fair amount of difference if you’ll be riding or running in hilly areas.

3. Burley trailer stroller wheel conversions so easy to use

Mom pushing Burley DLite Single trailer stroller by a lake

With the exception of the Bee, every Burley bike trailer comes with a single stroller wheel. This wheel is attached to the end of the trailer tow bar, and folds up and out of the way when not in use. 

When you want to convert to stroller mode, you simply pull the wheel down. It’s insanely easy to use. Most other single stroller wheels have to be completely removed from the body of the trailer when not in use. Some even require you to remove your child from the trailer to convert from trailer to stroller.

Burley Encore X trailers and above are compatible with an optional 4-wheel stroller kit. These wheels insert onto the front of the trailer, and take just seconds to attach.

All of Burley’s trailer strollers features swivel handlebars that allow you to rotate the handlebar up or down to customize its height for your body.

Burley vs. Thule

Both Burley and Thule trailers excel as strollers and joggers.  One of the main differences between the brands is which stroller kits come standard, and which come as an optional upgrade.

The Thule Coaster XT is a 3-wheel trailer stroller, but the wheel must be removed and then re-inserted to store it on the tow arm.

The Thule Chariot trailers (Courier, Lite, Cross, Sport) all come standard as 4-wheel strollers. These wheels insert from underneath the trailer, which can be a little awkward, even with practice. They cannot convert to 3-wheel strollers.

While all Burley models that convert to strollers have swivel handlebars, this is not true for Thule. Only the Thule Courier, Thule Chariot Cross, Sport, and Lite have swivel handlebars. The Thule Coaster XT and Thule Chariot Cheetah XT only have two handlebar height settings. This is a huge win for Burley trailers, and one reason we typically prefer their basic models over Thule’s.

4.  Burley Trailers have spacious and secure storage areas

Side by side comparison of large storage compartment in the rear of the Burley Bee vs the narrow profile mesh pocket on the back of the Thule Chariot Cheetah XT

If you need to pack a lot of stuff along for the ride, Burley is the only way to go. All Burley trailers have large, deep, flat-bottomed cargo area in the rear. We regularly haul backpacks, scooters, basketballs, blankets, and helmets in the back of our Burley trailers.

Burley vs. Thule

Thule has much more minimal storage, but if you don’t need to bring along a lot of extras, this design style does make Thule trailers more compact and less bulky.

5. Burley Bike Trailers come with rainproof features

Every Burley bike trailer comes with a waterproof cover. It rolls up when not in use, and quickly rolls down when you need to use it. Burley’s mid-range Encore X feature zippers, while the D’Lite X and Cub X have water resistant zippers.

rain cover on Burley Encore X bike trailer stroller

In addition to rain, we’ve found these weather covers come in handy to simply battle wind or cold weather. We’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how warm our little nuggets stay when we roll down the weather cover. If you’re a winter warrior and want to run and bike in the cold, a Burley trailer will keep your little ones happy!

Burley vs. Thule

Burley and Thule both have well-designed, high-quality weather covers that kill the competition. This protection from the elements is reason enough to shell out the extra money for a Burley or a Thule.

Rolled down, Burley’s weather covers are crinkled and make the trailer look a little unkempt. Rolled up, they’re a little bulky and cause the trailer top to sag a little. Thule’s plastic door cover design is more taut (rolled up or down) for an always clean, sleek look.

Thule’s higher-end Sport, Cross, and Lite models come with a removable, true plastic rain cover that extends around the sides and over the top of the trailer and attaches with elastic for easy removal. Waterproof zippers are not necessary because the rain guard covers the zippers. This is our favorite rain cover of any brand and any model.

Rain Cover on Burley D’Lite X vs. Thule Chariot Cross

The raincover of the Burley D'Lite X bike trailerzips down, while the Thule's raincover is removable and attaches taut via plastic tabs and elastic ropes.

6. Burley Bike Trailers are insanely easy to fold, transport, or switch between activities

While pretty much every bike trailer can be folded down to transport, some of them are a huge pain to fold. When you’re battling nap time and cranky kids, how easy it is to get your trailer in and out of the car can mean the difference between a total melt down (for your kids or you!). 

Burley trailers have an easy-to-use, inward-folding design that takes just seconds to execute. With a mission to “enable adventure”, Burley understands the little pain points like transporting your trailer. They’ve made the process painless.

Burley Bee folded down is very compact. Red clips hold two top bars together.

Switching between activities (like from trailer to stroller) is just as painless. Whether you’re simply pulling down the single stroller wheel as mentioned above, or inserting the dual stroller wheels into the front of the chassis, Burley has simplified the process better than most (if not all) other brands.

For example, while we love the high-end Thule Chariot Cross trailer, the dual stroller wheels have to be inserted from underneath the trailer, which is a bit awkward. On Burley trailers with dual-stroller wheel conversion kits, the wheels insert from the front, so you don’t have to tilt the trailer back. It’s small details like this that Burley has thought through to make your experience as easy as possible.

Burley D'Lite X Stroller wheel and woman pulling quick release to remove wheel

Burley vs. Thule

While Thule trailers are also easy to fold down compactly, Burley’s folding process is more effortless. This isn’t a reason to choose Burley over Thule, but it’s a really nice perk if you do choose Burley.

Thule trailers are also very easy to convert between activities. One area in which Thule Chariot excels is that its two front stroller wheels and tow arm are stored on the trailer body when not in use. With Burley, you’d have to store them in the trunk of the trailer (or separately in your garage), and you risk forgetting them at home.

7. Burley’s Reclining Seats Aren’t Very Reclined

Rear view of the Burley D'Lite X, showing the two seats independently reclining

Reclining seats are a high-end feature only found on the most expensive bike trailer models. In the Burley line, D’Lite X and Cub X offer reclining seats.

The D’Lite X and the Cub X feature independently reclining seats in the double trailers so you can set the recline separately for each passenger.

When reclining the seats, it does limit the storage area in the rear.

Burley vs. Thule

The recline settings on Burley vs. Thule trailers is one of the most distinguishing features between the two trailer brands. If reclining the seat for a sleeping child is important to you, Burley may not deliver.

For the trailers that recline, the standard seat position of a Burley is quite upright, while the standard seat position on the Thule Chariot Cross is quite leaned back. (The Cross and Sport are Thule’s only reclining trailers.) In fact, the most reclined position in a Burley trailer is about the same as the most upright position in the Thule Chariot Cross!

You will use the recline feature regularly in the Burley because its standard position is too upright. You probably won’t use the Cross recline as much, because it’s not as necessary. However, when you do need it, it will deliver. The Cross’ naturally leaned back seat also makes it much easier to load and unload kids.

8. Burley Bike Trailers Have Mediocre Sunshades

Sunshade on Burley Encore X vs Burle Dlite X

Sunshades act as a visor to shield little eyes from the sun, but they can also protect skin from harmful UV rays.

Burley Encore X has a narrow, stay-in-place sunshade at the top of the trailer door that folds under when not in use. This shade acts mostly as a visor, and depending on the angle of the sun, may or may not be useful.

The Burley D’Lite X and the Burley Cub X have the same size sunshade, but it can be moved up or down the front of the trailer to adjust for the angle of the sun. They move along a string track, which can end up looking a bit messy.

The Burley Bee and Honey Bee do not have a sunshade.

Burley vs. Thule

All Thule trailer models come with a sunshade. The sunshade on the Thule Cadence, Thule Coaster XT, and  Thule Chariot Cheetah XT are all a stay-in-place, short visor like the Burley Encore X.

Sunshade on Thule Chariot Cross vs. Burley D’Lite X

Thule Cross bike trailer sunshade is much longer than the sunshade on the Burley D'Lite

The sunshade on the Thule Chariot Cross, Sport, and Lite are easily the best of any sunshade we’ve seen. Not only can they be adjusted up and down the front of the trailer, they can be adjusted to be short or long. When extended to their full length, these sunshades also act as great skin protection from the sun.

9. Burley’s Baby Snuggler is for 3 – 12 months

Burley Baby Suppoter and Thule Infant sling allow parents to carry infants in trailers while in stroller or jogger mode only.

For ages 3 to 12 months, Burley offers a Baby Snuggler to provide support for younger babies. It doesn’t alter the recline angle of the seat, but rather provides side support. It is for use in stroller mode only. You can read our full review of the Baby Snuggler here.

Burley vs. Thule

The Thule Chariot Infant Sling can be used with babies as young as 4 weeks old! In stroller mode only, Thule offers the Thule Infant Sling which creates a smaller, separate, reclined seat for babies. From personal experience, this was a game changer for us. Check out our article about why we love the Thule Infant Sling soooo much!

Both brands do NOT recommend pulling a child less than 12 months in their bike trailers. Stroller use is fine by 1 or 3 months, depending on the brand. Jogging mode should not be used until at least 6 months, but it’s best to consult your pediatrician on that one.

10. Burley’s Tow Arm Design is Unique

Tow arms of Burley and Thule trailers side by side. Rider with Burley trailer and Thule trailer. The Burley trailer is not centered behind the rider.

Thule designed their trailer arm to center the trailer on the bike, while Burley centers the trailer on the hitch. This can be seen in the shape of the trailer arm. Burley trailers have an L-shaped tow arm, while Thule Chariots have a C-shaped tow arm. As a result, all Burley models stick out slightly to the left of the bike

For most riding, this difference between centered or positioned slightly to the left of the trailer doesn’t matter. However, when riding alongside traffic or through narrow gate openings, the adult rider pulling a Burley needs to be mindful of the offset trailer.

As a bonus for the Thule Chariot Sport, Cross, and Lite, you can store the tow arm right on the body of the trailer, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing it in the garage!

Interested in other bike trailers?

Check out our 10 Best Bike Trailers article – our easy list of the best bike trailers for any budget! We cover trailers from Burley, Thule, Hamax, Wike, Schwinn, Allen, and Instep.

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