Burley Design Flatbed Review
Cons: No straps or dry sack included
Manufacturer: Burley Design
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|Pros||Lightweight, large capacity, versatile||Durable, easy hitch, elastic cargo net, smooth ride, stands on its own, one wheel||Easy to assemble, spring loaded connection on the hitch allows for good tracking behind the bike, durable||User friendly, packable, stable hauling||Easy to use, good tracking, simple assembly, affordable|
|Cons||No straps or dry sack included||Heavy||Plastic bottom rattles when using empty, heavy, axle mount for the trailer has a tendency to rotate forward due to the torque from the weight||Small wheels, plastic components||Noisy, wheels out of true, thin fabric top|
|Bottom Line||No matter what you want to haul, this trailer will probably do it||This model combines the heavy-duty build quality of some two-wheeled trailers with the easy pull of a one-wheel design||This burly and affordable trailer is too heavy for the long haul, but useful around town||This is an incredibly easy to use trailer with the ability to transport groceries and fragile materials without damaging them||Designed for simplicity and ease of use, this bike trailer will get you to and from the grocery store without any hassle|
|Rating Categories||Burley Design Flatbed||Burley Coho XC||Aosom Wanderer||Burley Travoy||Schwinn Day Tripper|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Ease of Towing (20%)|
|Smoothness of Ride (20%)|
|Specs||Burley Design Flatbed||Burley Coho XC||Aosom Wanderer||Burley Travoy||Schwinn Day Tripper|
|Capacity||100 lbs||70 lbs||110 lbs||60 lbs||50 lbs|
|Weight||14.5 lbs||21.5 lbs||30 lbs||10.2 lbs||18.5 lbs|
|Number of Wheels||2||1||2||2||2|
|Size (when open, L x W x H)||33" x 16.1" x 30.9"||32.5” x 22” x 22.5”||57" x 27.6" x 19.2"||43"x 22" x 16"||25" x 16.5" x 10"|
|Access into Trailer||Top||Top||Top||Top||Top|
|Cover Protection||None||None||None||Weatherproof tote||Weatherproof cover|
|Attachment to Bike||Forged Hitch||Quick release||Aosom Type 'B' Bike Trailer Universal Hitch Coupler||Quick release||Forged Steel Hitch|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If we were testing trailers solely on their ability to haul heavy and odd-shaped items, the Flatbed would be the outright winner. This trailer is abundantly impressive with its ability to move a hundred pounds while being extremely lightweight compared to trailers with similar weight tolerances.
The weight limit of the Flatbed is only half of the story. While it can hold up to 100 pounds of cargo, the real surprise is how well odd-shaped items can find a secure home for the voyage. While other trailers in our review have almost the same claimed capacity (both mass and volume), it was hard to get odd-shaped items to pack into the limited space. The Flatbed was the one trailer capable of easily overloading because of the large-sized items we could fit.
Multiple attachment points and rails allowed us to get creative with lashing items into the trailer. Our ability to haul things was rarely hindered by weight allowance and more by the laws of physics, which the Flatbed seemed to bend. It's not just the sheer weight capacity that surprised us with this trailer; it's the ratio of trailer weight to capacity that really makes it shine.
Ease of Use
Assembly out of the box is incredibly easy with this trailer. We went from boxed to hitched in only about 15 minutes, and that included tearing open packaging, locking wheels into place, clipping in the two side rails, and mounting the arm that links the bike to the actual trailer. Everything about the Flatbed assembly is logical and went together just as it seemed it would.
Using this trailer in the real world is quite pleasant as well. The foldable side rails make for easy packing in and out of a car, and durable materials allow for use and abuse without seeing anything more than superficial scuffs and dings. Burley has risen to the top of the bike trailer market with simple, clean trailer designs, and the Flatbed is a prime example of that pedigree.
Ease of Towing
The Flatbed comes equipped with a forged aluminum hitch that mounts directly to your bike's back skewer, nutted axle, or 12mm thru-axle (just barely), allowing for easy attachment to and from your bike. The Flatbed performed extremely well compared to other two-wheeled cargo trailers. It pulls smooth, straight, and handles heavy loads without asserting an uncomfortable amount of force or sway on the bike.
Part of the towing burden, for some of us, can be exacerbated by loud and rattly trailers. The tight tolerances and secure attachment points of the Flatbed work well to keep rattling and noise to an absolute minimum, helping to enhance the smooth pulling nature of this trailer. This way, you can let your attention wander to more pleasant things like the baby ducks swimming in the creek near the bike path.
Smoothness of Ride
One of the things we really like about the Flatbed is that even without any cargo in the back, it handles and pulls smoothly. Many other trailers in our review needed something loaded and weighted in the back to function properly. The two-wheel design of the Flatbed makes it a little more stable than the single-wheel-designed cargo bike trailers. It handles well on paved roads around town and even on gravel trails too.
Ride smoothness could likely only be improved with larger wheels, though this would also come with some significant drawbacks. While larger wheels might serve to make bumps and dips seem smaller and less impactful, it would also raise the trailer's bed, which would likely throw off the excellent towing characteristics of this heavy hitter.
The Flatbed ranked extremely high in the versatility category due to its lightweight, ability to haul 100 pounds of bulky material, collapsible side rails, ease of cleaning, and overall durability. The durable PVC material combined with aluminum railing makes for a surprisingly light trailer that also feels rugged and durable. We hauled coolers to the park for baseball games, loaded the trailer with a days worth of ski equipment, and even stacked crashpads about 5 feet high with no drama. The lightweight makes the Flatbed a better choice than heavier steel trailers for longer distances.
What is so unique about this trailer is the marriage of minimal weight and maximal weight allowance, something rare in the bike cargo trailer field. This surprising ratio, coupled with the low to the ground and open bed design, allows for a massive variety of cargo and uses. It's fair to say that if you can haul an item with any other trailer in our testing field, the Flatbed could haul it too. We've even seen this trailer used for long-distance bike touring with a dog bed (and a hearty dog) in tow. While we wouldn't recommend this trailer for your furry friends since it isn't explicitly designed for that purpose, it does speak to the trailer's high level of versatility and wide variety of applications.
The Flatbed sells at a fair price for the great functionality you get. It includes an aluminum forged hitch to mount to your bike, two 16 inch alloy push-button release wheels, and a trailer arm for mounting. The PVC tarp bottom bedding held up surprisingly well to our test regime — even when faced with sharper-ended objects and lots of wear and tear. This trailer is also very easy to keep clean; just spray it off with the hose. Some might balk at the price point, and it is absolutely a pricy cargo trailer. But the reality is, the Flatbed is expertly designed and worked beyond our expectations.
If you are looking for a more eco-friendly way to transport or pick up cargo of any kind, then the Burley Flatbed is probably the right fit for you. We were very impressed with how resilient it was while transporting and hauling heavy, uneven cargo loads. Of all trailers tested, this was the most surprising with its massive weight tolerance and impressively light weight. It would be a challenge to find items this trailer can't haul — it really is the utilitarian choice for your all-around bike cargo transportation needs.
— Brian Martin
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