Burley Bike Trailers vs. Thule Chariot

A Comparison Guide

Which bike trailer is best for your family?

You really can’t go wrong with a Burley bike trailer or a Thule Chariot bike trailer.  Both brands are the best quality you can buy, and perform significantly better than lower-end brands, such as InStep and Schwinn. Unlike lower-end brands, Burley and Thule also offer various models to fit your family’s specific needs.

The trailer that is best for you really depends on your budget as well as how you are planning 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.

Use the charts below to compare the different features available for each model of Burley or Thule trailer, and then keep reading for more detailed descriptions and additional pictures of the trailers. Please note that Burley introduced a new line of trailers in 2019, so this article may not apply to models purchased in 2018 or before.

Burley vs. Thule: Basic Bike Trailers, $350 – $450

FeatureBurley BeeBurley Honey BeeThule CadenceThule Coaster XT
Model

Burley Bee

Burley Honey Bee

Thule Cadence

Thule Coaster XT

Burley Bee bike trailer in yellow and blackBurley Honey Bee bike trailer. 2019 edition in red.Thule Cadence bike trailer in greenThule Coaster bike trailer in blue and black
MSRP$349$399$330$430
CapacityDouble, Single (Minnow)DoubleDoubleDouble
Internal Seat Width22.5"22.5"22.5"22.5"
Seated Height27.5"26"23.6"23.6"
Trailer Weight20 lb.25 lb.22 lb.26 lb.
Trailer Arm Stroller (3W)
Swivel Adjust Handlebar
Sunshade
WaterproofingRain cover included, water-resistant fabricRain cover included, water-resistant fabricRain cover includedRain cover included
Baby Insert3 - 12 months1 - 10 months
Bench-Style Seats
4W Stroller
Jogging Upgrade
Suspension
Washable Seats

Burley vs. Thule Chariot: Mid-Range Bike Trailers, $500 – $700

FeatureBurley EncoreBurley Encore XThule Cheetah XT
Model

Burley Encore

Burley Encore X

Thule Chariot Cheetah XT

Burley Encore bike trailer in blueBurley Encore X double kids' bike trailerThule Chariot Cheetah XT as a stroller
MSRP$529$599$599/$699
CapacityDoubleDoubleSingle/Double
Internal Seat Width22.5"22.5"12.5"/?
Seated Height24"24"27"
Trailer Weight23.1 lb.24.7 lb.19.4 lb./26.5 lb.
Trailer Arm Stroller (3W)
4W StrollerUpgradeUpgradeStandard
Jogging Upgrade
Swivel Adjust Handlebar
Suspension
Supportive Seats
Sunshade
WaterproofingRain cover included, water-resistant fabricRain cover included, water-resistant fabricRain cover included
Stroller Baby Insert3 - 12 months3 - 12 months1 - 10 months
Washable Seats
Reclining Seats

Burley vs. Thule Chariot: High-End Bike Trailers, $700 – $1,150

FeatureBurley D'LiteBurley D'Lite XThule Chariot LiteThule Chariot CrossBurley Cub
Model

Burley D'Lite

Burley D'Lite X

Thule Chariot Lite

Thule Chariot Cross

Burley Cub X

Burley D'Lite double bike trailer in blueThule Chariot Lite Double trailer in 4-wheel stroller mode in blueThule Chariot Cross Double trailer in 4-wheel stroller mode in blueBurley Cub X bike trailer in orange
MSRP$699/$799$899$850/$950$1,050/$1,150$899
CapacitySingle/DoubleDoubleSingle/DoubleSingle/DoubleDouble
Internal Seat Width18.5"/22.5"22.5"16"/23"16"/23"22.5"
Seated Height24"24"27"27"22.5"
Trailer Weight27.6 lb./29.3 lb.29.3 lb.25.8 lb./28 lb.30.6 lb./32 lb.37.9 lb.
Trailer Arm Stroller (3W)
4W StrollerUpgradeUpgradeStandardStandardUpgrade
Jogging Upgrade
Swivel Adjust Handlebar
Handbrake Upgrade
SuspensionAdjustableAdjustableFixedAdjustableAdjustable
Supportive Seats
Adjustable Sunshade
WaterproofingRain cover included, water-resistant zippersRain cover included, water-resistant zippersRain cover included and covers zippersRain cover included and covers zippersRain cover included, water-resistant zippers
Stroller Baby Insert3 - 12 months3 - 12 months1 - 10 months1 - 10 months3 - 12 months
Washable Seats
Reclining SeatsStandard ReclineIndependent ReclineIndependent ReclineIndependent Recline
Bowed-Out Sides

Stroller Options

Both Burley and Thule trailers also 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. Please note that the Burley Bee, Burley Minnow, and Thule Cadence are trailers ONLY and cannot be used as strollers or joggers.

Thule trailers come standard with 4-wheel stroller kits and do not have the option of a 3-wheel stroller, with the exception of the Coaster XT. Burley trailers come standard with 3-wheel stroller kits and have a 4-wheel stroller kit as an optional upgrade, with the exception of the Honey Bee.

3W Strollers: The Burley Honey Bee, Burley Encore (X), Burley D’Lite (X), Burley Cub X, and the Thule Coaster XT come with a small stroller wheel attached to the trailer arm that can be flipped up when towing the trailer. Thule trailers do not offer the flip-up wheel on any models except the Thule Coaster XT.

4W Strollers: Burley offers a four-wheeled stroller kit as an upgrade for the Burley Encore (X), Burley D’Lite (X), and Burley Cub X. The Thule Chariot Cross, Thule Chariot Lite, and Thule Chariot Cheetah XT come standard with two front stroller wheels to convert the trailer into a 4-wheeled stroller.

Jogging Kits: No Thule or Burley trailers come standard with a jogging kit, but they are available as an upgrade on all Burley Encore, D’Lite, and Cub models, as well as Thule Chariot Cheetah XT, Lite, and Cross models.

Handbrake Upgrade: Thule offers a jogger/stroller hand brake upgrade on their Lite and Cross models. Burley does not offer a handbrake upgrade for any of their models.

Collage of 5 Thule and Burley bike trailers showing 3-wheel and 4-wheel stroller options and jogger option.

 

Bike Hitch and Trailer Arms

Burley and Thule trailers both pull much more smoothly than lower-end trailers, but they do pull slightly differently from one another. Thule designed their trailer arm to center the trailer on the bike, while Burley centers the trailer on the hitch.

Thule bike trailers have a C-shaped trailer arm while Burley trailers have an L-shaped trailer arm.

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.

The C-shape of the Thule centers the trailer behind the adult bike while the Burley trailers are centered on the hitch.  As a result, all Burley models stick out slightly to the left of the bike.

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. 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.

Buckles and Washable Seats

Due to changes in CPSC standards starting in 2015, trailers that can convert to a stroller can no longer offer a center buckle in a double trailer.  To help keep the trailer balanced, single riders should always ride on the right side, which is the side opposite the tow arm.

All Burley and Thule trailers have 5-point harness systems.

Burley D'Lite X bike trailer has a 5 point harness and padded shoulder strapsThe Burley Encore (X), Burley D’Lite (X), and Burley Cub X and the Thule Chariot Cross, and Thule Chariot Lite come with washable seat cushions, while all other models are wipeable, but cannot be removed to be washed.

Side by side comparison of seats on Burley Bee, Encore X, and D'Lite X bike trailers

Reclining Seats

In the Burley line, D’Lite (X) (all three models), and Cub X all offer reclining seats. The standard seat position of Burley trailers is much more upright than Thule trailers, so this reclining is very useful. Olders Burleys did not really recline, so this is an awesome upgrade to the 2019 line.

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

The D’Lite X (not the standard D’Lite double) and the Cub X feature independently reclining seats so you can set the recline separately for each passenger. The disadvantage of this design is that it places a metal tube at the top of the cargo space, which prevents you from putting a large item inside. For example, you could easily store a kid’s scooter in the back of the Encore or D’Lite, but you couldn’t get it into the D’Lite X’s cargo space.

The only Thule model to offer reclining seats is the Thule Chariot Cross. The Cross double has independently reclining seats. Thule trailers have a standard setting that is already very reclined. We personally have the Cross and use it daily, but I’ve only used the recline on a handful of occasions because it’s usually just not necessary.

 

Weatherproofing

While riding in the rain is rarely someone’s intention, keeping your child dry and warm is of concern for many living in cold or wet climates.  The door panels of trailers vary greatly and range from a simple mesh covering with elastic tie-downs to a thick waterproof cover attached with sealed zippers.

Burley: All of Burley’s trailers are made with a water-resistant polyester material. Additionally, plastic all-weather front covers come standard on every Burley trailer and roll up at the top when not in use.

Water resistant zippers come with the Burley D’Lite (X) (all three models), and Cub X. These special zippers provide additional protection from water coming into the trailer from the front.

Given that the covers do not extend over the top of the trailer, if you’re in some serious rain, the water resistant polyester material of the trailer may not always prevent your child from getting wet. If you’re interested in waterproofing the top of the trailer, you can purchase a DWR (durable water repellent) spray to treat the material.

Thule: Thule’s higher-end 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.

The Cheetah XT, Coaster and Cadence come with a plastic door cover, but if you want a true rain cover to protect the top of the trailer, you’ll need to purchase the Coaster/Cadence Rain Cover, or the Cheetah XT Rain Cover.

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

Sunshades

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

Burley: Burley Encore and Encore X have a narrow, stay-in-place sunshade at 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 models, 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. The Burley Bee and Honey Bee do not have a sunshade.

Sunshade on Burley Encore X vs. D’Lite XSunshade on Burley Encore X is stationary at the top, while the sunshade on the D'Lite X can move up and down.

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 models.

The sunshade on the Thule Chariot Cross, and Thule Chariot 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 its full length, these sunshades also act as great skin protection from the sun.

Sunshade on Thule Chariot Cross vs. Burley D’Lite XThule Cross bike trailer sunshades is much longer than the sunshade on the Burley D'Lite

Adjustable Handlebar

All Burley and Chariot trailers that come with handlebars adjust, but to various degrees.

Two Heights: Dual-height handlebars are available on Thule Chariot Coaster XT and Cheetah XT .

Multiple Heights: Swivel handlebars are available on Thule Chariot Lite and the Cross and all Burley models that convert to strollers.

 

Dual-height handlebar of Thule Cheetah XT vs. multiple-height handlebar of all Burley trailers and Thule Lite and Thule Cross.

Storage

Burley and Thule trailers are vastly different in their rear storage capacities. All Burley trailers have large, deep, flat-bottomed cargo areas in the rear. If you need to carry large items, Burley is the way to go.

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.
Large rear storage area in Burley trailer, vs large mesh pocket on back of Thule trailer

Suspension

While suspension isn’t a necessary feature, it will always provide a smoother ride when adjusted appropriately. You’re more likely to feel the difference if you’ll be doing a lot of trail riding, and it may not be worth the investment if you’re going to primarily ride on paved roads.

The Burley Encore X (not the standard Encore) and the Thule Chariot Lite have suspension, but it’s not adjustable.

The Burley D’Lite (X) (all three models), Cub X, and Thule Chariot Cross offer adjustable suspension with 5 different settings (light to heavy loads).

In our opinion, adjustability really isn’t that big of a deal unless you have a double trailer and regularly switch from the weight load of a single rider to two riders. Both adjustable suspension systems require you to adjust the suspension on each wheel separately.

Suspension spring on Burley Encore X bike trailer

Bowed-out Sides

The sides of the all three Burley D’Lite trailers are bowed-out, which greatly increases the amount of elbow room for kids.  If you have two older kids, the wider shoulder width of the D’Lite will provide much-needed space. 

Burley D'Lite trailer has bowed-out sides which provide extra shoulder room for older riders

Infant Slings/Pads

Burley and Thule both offer inserts to provide support for younger babies.

For babies from 1 to 10 months in stroller mode only, Thule offers the Thule Infant Sling which creates a smaller, separate seat at a much lower incline 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!

baby lying peacefully in the Thule Infant Sling inside the Thule Cross trailer stroller

For ages 3 to 12 months, Burley offers a Baby Snuggler which does not change the incline angle of the seat, but rather provides side support. Thule offers a similar Baby Supporter for ages 6-18 months.

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

Notable Accessories

Handlebar Console: Burley and Thule Chariot both offer a handlebar console.  Burley’s Console attaches to the handlebar and Thule’s console attaches to an accessory bar on top of the trailer.

Handbrake Upgrade: Thule also offers a jogger/stroller hand brake upgrade, while Burley does not.

Fat Tire Kit: Burley offers a 16″ Fat Tire kit, making a trailer much more suitable for off-road conditions or snow. Be aware that it does make the trailer heavier.
Collage of trailer accessories, showcasing Thule console with metal frame, Burley's hammock style console, Thule hand brake, and Burley's 16" Fat Tire kit.

Ski Kits

Both Thule and Burley offer a ski kit in their higher-end models.

Side by side images of Thule trailer Ski Kit and Burley trailer Ski Kit.

Discontinued Models

All Thule Cheetah (not Cheetah XT), Cougar, Chinook and CX models have been discontinued.  Many are still available online, but due to short supply, they have been removed from our charts.  If you’re interested in the Cheetah or Cougar, be sure to check out our Thule Cheetah vs. Cougar and Burley D’Lite vs. Thule Cougar comparative reviews.

Related Articles

Bike Trailers: How to Choose: What to look for when shopping for a bike trailer.

Bike Trailers: Product Filter Tool – To view and filter trailers from all the brands, and read reviews.

10 Best Bike Trailers – Our easy list of the best bike trailers for any budget!



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