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Hands-on Gear Review

Thule Chariot Lite 2 Review

Thule Chariot Lite
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $800 List | $699.95 at Eastern Mountain Sports
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Easy setup, easy attachment to bike, aerodynamic shape, on-board accessory storage, parking brake, versatile.
Cons:  Heavy, excessive play at hitch, limited storage.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Thule

Our Verdict

The Chariot Lite is the replacement to the Cougar 2 that was our clear favorite. It's hard to imagine a better trailer for your child toting needs. Top-notch construction and design with unmatched ease of use made this one hard to get back from our testers. We love this trailer, and most importantly our kids love riding in it.

From our point of view, the only real shortcoming for the Lite is a lack of cargo space, so we recommend that dedicated commuters look at the Burley D'Lite, winner of our Top Pick Award. Or, if you are really more interested in hauling cargo than kiddos, take a look at our Bike Cargo Trailer Review.

This review is of the Cougar 2, the preceding version of the Chariot Lite. See how the two products stack up below

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bike Trailers of 2017 for Kids

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Score Product Price Converts to Stroller? Number of Children Harness System
Editors' Choice Award
Yes 2 5 point
Top Pick Award
Yes 2 5 point
Best Buy Award
No 2 5 point
Yes 2 5 point

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Curtis Smith
Senior Review Editor

Last Updated:
April 6, 2017


The New Chariot Lite 2 vs. the Chariot Cougar 2

We did a full test on the Cougar 2 (see below). We are currently testing the Lite and will have a full review of that shortly. But before we get to a full review of the Cougar, here are our preliminary thoughts on the Chariot Lite 2:

The Chariot Lite 2 is a new addition to the Thule lineup and comes with a hefty price tag. The Chariot Lite 2 is offered in two sizes, single-child for $700 or double-child for $800. At $750, the Cougar 2 was the most expensive trailer in our test, and this is a big increase. However, according to Thule, they've made adjustments to almost every feature of the old Chariots, so we're looking forward to testing them out and seeing how much bang you still get for the buck. Just like the Cougar, the Lite line comes with a strolling and biking kit and is compatible with jogging and skiing kits, sold separately. Check out the new look in this side-by-side comparison, showing the new Lite 2 on the left and the Cougar 2 that we reviewed on the right. Then, keep reading for a full summary of updates.
Thule Chariot Lite
Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with Bicycle Trailer Kit

Here's a full summary of the updates to the new Chariot Lite 2:
  • Suspension — A new leaf spring suspension system was implemented to improve smoothness.
  • Folding — The folding mechanism of this stroller has been changed to allow for more convenient, compact storage. The older model's ease of use and compactness made it one of our favorite trailers, so we're curious to see how it's been made even better. You can see the new folding mechanism here:
    Thule Chariot Cross 2

Because we haven't yet tested the new Chariot Lite 2, the rest of this review covers the Cougar 2.

Hands-On Review

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is a top-of-the-line bicycle trailer, and the winner of our Editors' Choice Award. Thule, a company most recognized for their high quality vehicle rack systems, bicycle racks, and cargo boxes, recently acquired the Chariot brand, and has brought their well loved designs into the Thule family of products. Chariot trailers have been in production since 1992, and have an almost cult following in the outdoor community. Despite the recent acquisition by Thule, the rebranded Thule Chariot does not have any notable differences from the previous model. The trailers are still made in Canada under the direction of the original owners.

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 stands out from the crowd with a simple, intuitive folding design, and easy attachment to the bike. Overall ease of use is paramount to our testers. When you have a fussy baby, being able to get moving quickly is critical. A simple, easy to use product equals more time for you on the bike. Other standout features include adjustable suspension and a well-designed cover with a retractable sunshade. No other trailer we tested has adjustable suspension, making the Thule Chariot a capable off-road option. The Chariot meets ASTM safety standards, and the easy to use adjustable padded five-point harness makes securing your child a breeze. A plethora of optional add-on kits such as skis and jogging kits add to the versatility of the trailer, and provide you with options for all seasons.

Performance Comparison

Baby Ever is ready for a ride in the Thule Chariot Cougar 2.
Baby Ever is ready for a ride in the Thule Chariot Cougar 2.

Protection for Child

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 meets ASTM safety standards, and receives high marks from our testers here. The anodized aluminum frame of the Chariot is well constructed, and designed to protect the occupants in the case of a crash or rollover. The Burley D'Lite was our top scoring product in this category, due to its horizontal roll bar that provides unmatched roll over protection. However, the lateral frame tubing on the Chariot extends well over the height of the seating area and should prevent a child from coming into contact with the ground in the case of a rollover. The well-designed five-point harness system is padded and easy to adjust to the size of the child. A pad on the seat ads some extra cushion so that he child is not sitting directly on the trailer frame.

The cover does a good job of keeping out light rain, and has a retractable sunshade, which our testers found to be quite effective at preventing sunburned faces. Other trailers we tested, such as the Burley Bee, do not have a sunshade, which can be an issue on long rides or on hot days. We did have some issues with wheel spray water getting in under the cover flap, but this was an issue that all of the trailers we tested suffered from to some extent. Additional safety features include wheel guards, a hub engaged parking brake, and a safety flag for visibility.

The plush padded interior of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 set up in two child mode.
The plush padded interior of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 set up in two child mode.

Ease of Attachment, Storage, and Assembly

This is where the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 stands out from the crowd. We love the ezFold™ system used to collapse the canopy for storage or travel. The release knobs are located on the outside of the trailer for easy access. Other trailers we tested, such as the Burley Bee and Burley D'Lite, are collapsed by manipulating the frame inside of the trailer. This design is more time consuming and requires partial removal of the cover. The Chariot also employs push button axle wheels that make wheel removal quick and easy. Our testers were able to complete assembly and attachment of the trailer in 1:30 after some practice, and this is the fastest time of any trailer we tested.

The hitch and tow bar design make attachment very easy, and the parking brake prevent the trailer from rolling around during the process. Once folded the Chariot is still quite large, and you will need a vehicle with a decent amount of cargo space to transport the trailer to your destination.

The hitch and ball of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2.
The hitch and ball of the Thule Chariot Cougar 2.

Ease of Towing

Overall, we found the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 to be easy and enjoyable to tow. The aerodynamic design is a huge help when towing with a head wind, and the lower side profile helps with stability in cross winds. Other trailers we tested, such as the Burley D'Lite suffered a bit more in the wind due to a less aerodynamic profile and a larger side profile to catch the wind.

The 20" wheels employed by the Chariot roll over obstacles well, and the adjustable suspension helps smooth out the ride and limits vibration and feedback felt through the bike frame. Our one complaint is a lurching and clunking feeling felt with hard accelerations, which is due to the design of the hitch and tow bar. The ball on the end of the tow bar has some play fore and aft with the receiver. When you accelerate rapidly, the ball slides to the back of the receiver, causing a lurching feeling as the trailer begins its acceleration slightly after the bike. This is really only an issue with stop and go riding and is not felt when cruising at a steady pace. Turning radius is similar to all of the trailers we tested, right hand turns at slow speed can be a problem if the rear tire contacts the tow bar. This is an issue that all trailers suffer from, related to attachment at the hub of the rear wheel.

Wheel size makes a big difference  especially for off road use.  On the left is a 20" wheel from the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 and on the right a 16" wheel from the inStep Take 2.
Wheel size makes a big difference, especially for off road use. On the left is a 20" wheel from the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 and on the right a 16" wheel from the inStep Take 2.

Smoothness of Ride

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is our best scoring trailer in this department. Our passenger survey was unanimous. We attribute the excellent ride quality of the Chariot to its adjustable suspension. The Chariot uses a leaf spring suspension system on each wheel that can be adjusted based on the total weight you are carrying in the trailer. We found that the settings based on total pounds being carried were a good starting point, but most of our testers preferred the springs to be set slightly softer than recommended by Thule. The suspension does not eliminate all vibration, but it will take the sting out of the unexpected encounter with a pothole or bump in the road. We found that the suspension was especially useful when venturing off road and during operation on uneven surfaces. The Thule Chariot is the only trailer we tested with adjustable suspension, and is a step above the others. The Burley D'Lite uses an elastomer suspension system that is not adjustable, and while it is better than the unsuspended trailers we tested, it does not quite measure up to the Thule Chariot.

Adjustable suspension on the Thule Chariot Cougar2.  Adjustments are made on each side of the trailer based on load weight.
Adjustable suspension on the Thule Chariot Cougar2. Adjustments are made on each side of the trailer based on load weight.


The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is our top scoring product for versatility. Thule offers a range of conversion kits, including a jogging kit and a cross-country ski kit. It also comes with stroller wheels. Burley offers these kits for the D'Lite as well, but Thule takes things a step further with on-board external storage for the stroller wheels with their versa wing system, and built-in storage for the bicycle tow bar. These features allow you to tow your trailer to a destination, and quickly convert it to a stroller once you arrive. Our testers loved this feature and we used it far more frequently than we thought we would. Some of our testers even felt that their jogging and car seat strollers were obsolete after experiencing the versatility of the Chariot.

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 at the beach with stroller wheels  attached on the Versawing.
The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 at the beach with stroller wheels, attached on the Versawing.

Best Applications

The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is best suited to active families with one or two children. It is an excellent bike trailer that tows well in the wind, and was well liked by our testers that frequently ride for exercise and training. The ability to use it as a jogging stroller with the conversion kit was a big plus for our athletic testers trying to stay fit with a little one in tow. We used it for commuting as well, but the lack of cargo capacity was a limiting factor, and we found ourselves grabbing the Burley D'Lite for trips to the grocery store. For dedicated athletes, excellent ease of use and multisport appeal make up for the lack of cargo space, but commuters may prefer the D'Lite.


There is no getting around the $790 price tag (as tested with the bicycle conversion kit that is an additional $40 to the $750 MSRP). The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is more expensive than any other trailer we tested. The Burley D'Lite similarly equipped with a stroller kit is $718, and Burley offers similar conversion kits. What you get with the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is a highly refined trailer, with unmatched ease of use. The ability to convert the trailer to a jogging stroller is an added bonus, and can save you some money and storage space by allowing you to purchase a single product instead of two. Despite the high price, we feel that the Chariot is still a great value.


The Thule Chariot Cougar 2 is the winner of our Editors' Choice Award due to its strong scores across the board in all of our rating metrics. It is a highly refined product with unmatched ease of use. Features such as adjustable suspension and onboard storage for conversion kits set the Chariot apart from other trailers on the market. If we had to pick a trailer to recommend to our friends and family, this would be the one. The almost cult following that the Chariot enjoys is well deserved, consider us converts.

Other Versions and Accessories

Thule Chariot Cougar 1
Thule Chariot Cougar One-Child Carrier
  • One child version of this stroller
  • Same multi-functional design with changeable sport options
  • $675

Thule Chariot Cougar Jogging Kit
Thule Jogging Kit
  • Works with either Chariot Cougar version
  • Large front wheel with rear push handles for jogging
  • Smooth rolling 16" tire for front
  • $100

Thule Chariot Cougar 2 with Bicycle Trailer Kit
Thule Bike Trailer Kit
  • Converts the Chariot Cougar 1 or 2 into a bicycle trailer
  • $90

Thule XC Hiking Kit
Thule XC Skiing Kit
Thule Cross Country Skiing and Hiking Kit
  • Front arms with waist strap to tow stroller
  • Works with rear wheels or ski tracks for XC skiing
  • $300

Check out this article for more info about the muti-functional child carriers
Curtis Smith

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Most recent review: April 6, 2017
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   Feb 4, 2015 - 08:32am
Rack1600 · Mountain Biker · Gistrup, Denmark
I have had a Cougar 2 for 4-5 years now, and it is has been an excellent purchase for our family - I have had 2 children in it for daily trips (6 miles) to nursery for 2 years, and now my youngest (and friends when she has guests) for 2 more years - although not every day any more, at least when the weather is bad or I am in a hurry (instead of letting them cycle).

Even after 4 years the trailer is still going strong. However there is one major issue with the trailer that could be easily solved - all the fittings on the bike are made of plain steel. They rust. In Denmark they salt the roads, and after just 1 day in these conditions, having a steel bolt directly on aluminium frame with salt water, they rust. Now the entire chassis is covered in ugly brown rusty bolts/screws. Mostly it is asthetic, but some parts, like the securing bolt for the trailer arm, are horrible after a year.

Additionally the suspension adjusters are totally seized - even after 1 year I had to remove the plastic "finger friendly" caps off the suspension adjustment and use a spanner, even after a night to let the WD40 work into the rust.

Saying that, the suspension, the large wheels, the light weight and (other) quality materials mean that even after 5 years the trailer is still a joy to use.

Some simple improvements, by using better materials for screws/bolts/nuts and this trailer would still work and look as good as new even after 5 years.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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