Child trailers from Burley and Thorn - a cycling test

Cycling Article Index


Child trailers from Burley and Thorn.

Before I had kids myself I always though that when the dred day came it would severely curtail Kate
and I's touring activities. But as each child arrived we got another piece of equipment and soldiered
on. The biggest outlay (Note : now exceeded - see next issue!) was for a kids trailer. Here I've paired
up two quality trailers that are capable of carrying two kids each and touring luggage as well.

Burley D'Light. Perhaps the best known trailer on the market this is a very pricey piece of kit at
around £450 pounds, so what do you get for your money? With an all-up weight of just over 10 kgs
the frame is lightweight alloy tubing with a Nylon cover stretched over it, and I mean stretched, it's
remarkably taught. You get the idea that some rocket scientist on vacation decided to use his/her
CAD package to design the cover. It all looks very neat and the side bars (there are two plus one
either side of the wheel) are cleverly curved to increase their strength at car bumper level, and give
extra shoulder room. It's this side impact protection which really makes the Burley stand out. A
friends son had a car hit his Burley with two children in it. It went end over end along with the bike,
but when it finally came to rest the kids were shaken but unharmed, still well belted in. This is very
impressive and shows how a good trailer is far safer than any baby seat.

The Burley folds flat, it's a bit of a fiddle, and doing up and undoing the very stiff popper studs will
no doubt break all your nails. The quick release wheels help here.

Gripes? Apart from the popper studs being stiff, they are screwed into the alloy frame and are
beginning to work loose, opening up their holes (update - several have now failed...). The tyres supplied had a bulge each, I couldn't get
them to seat properly producing a rocking motion in the trailer (deliberate? ;-)). The hitch
arrangement is a bit fiddly, and quite honestly is too clever for it's own good. It won't fit on some
bikes, often fouling pannier racks. When the hitch wears Burley insist that the Trailer is returned to
them or the importer to have the hitch replaced. I suppose their argument is that the hitch is critical
and must be attatched correctly for safety. This ignores the fact that it is less complecated to change
than a brake cable and really can't be got wrong - I think it's a scam... Luckily the hitch of the Thorn
trailer is much simpler and just as effective and.... fits the Burley like a dream...

All in all dispite the price the build does mean that it wears fast, poppers coming off and the material fading. I have to say that for this reason the Burley is unsuitable for hire use or for those who will use it a lot.

Overall 6/10

Value 5/10

Thorn "Cruiser" Trailer.

At about half the cost of the Burley this looks suspiciously like a cheap copy. The frame is high
quality and very similar. The differences are as follows. The folding mechanism is simpler, the
cover is a much looser affair being held on with velcro rather than poppers and there are no side
bars, the trailer in effect having "soft" sides that a child will push outwards with their shoulders to
get similar room to the Burley. Otherwise the differences are minimal, the hitch is better IMHO but
fits the Burley anyway. Gripes - the test trailer had wheels that were slightly "toed in" and so
scrubbed through the tyres very quickly. Five minutes filing the "dropouts" solved this but it
shouldn't have happened. Personally I feel that the Thorn does eerything that the Burley does but at
half the price, with one important difference. In the unlikely event of a car hitting the trailer you'll
wish you'd bought the Burley....

Overall 6/10

Value 8/10

A Small Favour

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