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Hands-on Gear Review
Burley Bee Review
Cons: no parking brake, lacks versatility
After months of testing, the Burley Bee has been through a lot. Our testers were hesitant at first, after using top end trailers like the Thule Chariot Lite 2, but we were slowly won over by the simplicity and quality construction of the Burley Bee. Sure, it lacks suspension and a parking brake, but when you get out on the road, the kids do not seem to mind. It is a purpose built, no-frills bike trailer, but it gets the job done, day-in and day-out. With a price point that is hard to beat, and strong scores in all of our rating metrics, it is the winner of our Best Buy Award. Read on for our full review to see how it measures up to the competitors.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Burley Bee is the winner of our Best Buy Award for its competitive price point and excellent overall quality. The Bee is a single function bicycle trailer, meaning it is not compatible with conversion kits like the high end Burley D'Lite. Despite being a lower price option, the Bee still meets the stringent safety standards of Burley, and employs many of the design features of the Burley D'Lite.
Protection for Child
The Burley Bee scores well here, with a full internal aluminum roll cage, but it skips the horizontal roll bar of the more expensive Burley D'Lite. All Burley trailers are built to exceed the ASTM standards, and the Bee is no exception.
The water resistant fabric cover with UV protected windows is similar to what you find on the D'Lite, but the Bee does not have a retractable sunshade. Our testers missed the sunshade and found it a bit more difficult to keep their kids out of the sun when using the Bee.
The five-point harness system is similar to the D'Lite, but it does not have the padding, and uses bare nylon straps throughout, and the seat is suspended fabric with no padding.
Ease of Attachment, Storage and Assembly
The Burley Bee shines here, with a score equal to that of the Burley D'Lite. Assembling it from the collapsed position is accomplished by pulling the internal cage bars together and latching them, which requires partial removal of the cover. As was the case with the Burley D'Lite, the first few cycles of folding and unfolding were a bit difficult until the fabric stretched out. Assembly times were 2:10, slightly longer than the D'Lite and Thule Chariot Lite 2, primarily because the Bee does not have a parking brake, so extra care must be taken when attaching it to the bike.
The Bee uses the same push button axle type wheels that our other award winners employ, making wheel removal simple. The hitch receiver and bar are identical to the D'Lite, and attachment requires that the holes be lined up on the bar and hitch in order to insert the cotter pin.
Ease of Towing
The Burley Bee tows well, and does not have any clunking or lagging issues during acceleration. It is not as aerodynamic as other trailers we tested, such as the Thule Chariot Lite 2, so it does make the rider work a bit harder in a headwind, and requires a bit more attention in cross winds. The Bee does not have suspension, so it gets jostled around a bit more on rough surfaces, and the feedback is noticeable to the rider. The 20" wheels help a bit on the rough stuff, and it does tow noticeably better than the InStep Take 2. The turning radius is comparable to the other trailers in our test group, and requires extra attention especially when making sharp right turns at low speed.
Smoothness of Ride
The Burley Bee suffers a bit here with no suspension and a non-padded seat. Riding on rough surfaces requires extra care, especially when towing small children, in order to prevent excessive jostling. It does score higher than the InStep Take 2 due to it's larger wheels, which we feel smoothes things out a bit in comparison.
Versatility is limited with the Bee, but to be fair, it was designed to be a single function bike trailer. It will, however, serve your cargo hauling needs quite well when the kids get too old to ride, and maybe your aging dog will take you up on the offer.
The Burly Bee is best suited to families that already own a jogging stroller and are looking for a single function bicycle trailer, or for those who would not use the conversion kits available on higher priced models. The Bee has a large rear storage area and would make a great trailer for commuters.
The Bee is a great value with an MSRP of $299, less than half the price of our Editors' Choice, the Thule Chariot Lite 2. It is well made, and should far outlast the average family's child towing needs.
The Burley Bee is a bargain for $299, you get a high quality trailer from a manufacturer known for safety. The Bee is a single function bicycle trailer, so it is not compatible with conversion kits from Burley. If the over $800 price tag of the Editors' Choice Thule Chariot Lite 2 makes your eyes bulge, and the conversion kits do not interest you, look no farther than the Bee. It is well designed, with no frills, but it gets the job done and is a pleasure to tow. These qualities earn it our Best Buy award.
Other Versions and Accessories
Burley Design Flatbed
For more info on Burley Trailers look here.
— Curtis Smith
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