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
|Feature||Burley Bee||Burley Honey Bee||Thule Cadence||Thule Coaster XT|
|Capacity||Double, Single (Minnow)||Double||Double||Double|
|Internal Seat Width||22.5"||22.5"||22.5"||22.5"|
|Trailer Weight||20 lb.||25 lb.||22 lb.||26 lb.|
|Trailer Arm Stroller (3W)|
|Swivel Adjust Handlebar|
|Waterproofing||Rain cover included, water-resistant fabric||Rain cover included, water-resistant fabric||Rain cover included||Rain cover included|
|Baby Insert||3 - 12 months||1 - 10 months|
Burley vs. Thule Chariot: Mid-Range Bike Trailers, $500 – $700
|Feature||Burley Encore||Burley Encore X||Thule Cheetah XT|
|Internal Seat Width||22.5"||22.5"||12.5"/?|
|Trailer Weight||23.1 lb.||24.7 lb.||19.4 lb./26.5 lb.|
|Trailer Arm Stroller (3W)|
|Swivel Adjust Handlebar|
|Waterproofing||Rain cover included, water-resistant fabric||Rain cover included, water-resistant fabric||Rain cover included|
|Stroller Baby Insert||3 - 12 months||3 - 12 months||1 - 10 months|
Burley vs. Thule Chariot: High-End Bike Trailers, $700 – $1,150
|Feature||Burley D'Lite||Burley D'Lite X||Thule Chariot Lite||Thule Chariot Cross||Burley Cub|
Thule Chariot Lite
Burley Cub X
|Internal Seat Width||18.5"/22.5"||22.5"||16"/23"||16"/23"||22.5"|
|Trailer Weight||27.6 lb./29.3 lb.||29.3 lb.||25.8 lb./28 lb.||30.6 lb./32 lb.||37.9 lb.|
|Trailer Arm Stroller (3W)|
|Swivel Adjust Handlebar|
|Waterproofing||Rain cover included, water-resistant zippers||Rain cover included, water-resistant zippers||Rain cover included and covers zippers||Rain cover included and covers zippers||Rain cover included, water-resistant zippers|
|Stroller Baby Insert||3 - 12 months||3 - 12 months||1 - 10 months||1 - 10 months||3 - 12 months|
|Reclining Seats||Standard Recline||Independent Recline||Independent Recline||Independent Recline|
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cross
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 X
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 X
All Burley and Chariot trailers that come with handlebars adjust, but to various degrees.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!