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Allen Sports Steel Review

For parents seeking an inexpensive and low-profile trailer for short trips around town, the Allen Sports Steel is a great place to start
Allen Sports Steel
Photo: http://allenracks.com/
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Price:  $200 List
Pros:  Inexpensive, lightweight, great ventilation, low profile
Cons:  Small wheels, not weather resistant, poor hitch mechanism
Manufacturer:   Allen Sports
By Joanna Trieger ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 1, 2017
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53
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Protection - 30% 4
  • Passenger Experience - 20% 5
  • Biker Experience - 20% 7
  • Ease of Use - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Allen Sports Steel is a basic bike trailer that impressed us with its efficiency and overall value but fell short in protection and passenger comfort. The trailer is small, lightweight, and low-profile, making it easy to tow and to tuck away at the end of the day. However, its bare-bones roll cage and unpadded seating area make it a less safe and less comfortable option than higher-end trailers like our Editors' Choice winner, the Burley D'Lite X, or our Best Bang for the Buck, the Burley Bee. Our Top Pick for an Ultra-low Budget, the Schwinn Echo, has bigger wheels and a nicer harness setup than the Allen Sports Steel, and it retails for less. Overall, we would recommend the Allen Sports Steel for families who are looking to get out occasionally for short trips on paved roads. Beyond that, it doesn't pull its weight.

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Allen Sports Steel
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Allen Sports Steel
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $200 ListCheck Price at REI
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$279.99 at Amazon$140 List
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Pros Inexpensive, lightweight, great ventilation, low profileAmple storage space, best hitch connection, most versatileLightweight, best hitch design, water-resistant, excellent valueInexpensive, easy to tow, well ventilatedInexpensive, large interior space, well-ventilated
Cons Small wheels, not weather resistant, poor hitch mechanismNot waterproof, awkward suspension adjustment, minor component durabilityNo passenger padding, no bottom reinforcement, lacks versatilitySmall passenger space, saggy fabric, difficult to use, not weather-resistantSmall plastic wheels, saggy fabric, not weather-resistant
Bottom Line For parents seeking an inexpensive and low-profile trailer for short trips around town, the Allen Sports Steel is a great place to startThis is an all-around excellent trailer with standout safety features and unmatched versatility, making it a clear pick for our Editors' Choice awardThis nimble trailer is durable and the easiest to tow at less than half the price of many high-end trailersThis inexpensive trailer will get you and your kids on the road, but it's annoying to set up and it's not built to lastOne of the least expensive trailers we tested, the Take 2 is a functional entry point for those who want to try out bike towing but aren’t ready to make a big investment
Rating Categories Allen Sports Steel Burley D'Lite X Burley Bee Schwinn Echo InStep Take 2
Protection (30%)
4.0
10.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
Passenger Experience (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
Biker Experience (20%)
7.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
4.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
Versatility (10%)
5.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Allen Sports Steel Burley D'Lite X Burley Bee Schwinn Echo InStep Take 2
Converts to Stroller? No Yes No No No
Number of Children 2 2 2 2 2
Harness System 3-point with lap belt 5-point 5-point 5-point 5-point
Weight 26 lbs 29.3 lbs 25 lbs 24.5 lbs
Size Open LxWxH (inches) 22" x 21" x 21" 33.3" x 31.3" x 38.3" 32.25" x 30" x 36" 51.8" x 32.5" x 31.9"' 31.5" x 32" x 31"
Size Folded- wheels removed LxWxH (inches) 31" x 25" x 6.5" 37" x 31.3" x 14.3" 35.5" x 29.25" x 28.6" 31.5" x 26" x 8" 31.5" x 26" x 7"
Wheel Size (inches) 16" 20" 20" 20" 16"
Access into trailer Front and back Front and back Front and back Front and back Front and back
Cover Protection 2-in-1 mesh and rain shield 2-in-1 mesh and rain shield, adjustabe sun shade 2-in-1 mesh and rain shield 2-in-1 mesh and rain shield 2-in-1 mesh and rain shield

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Allen is a basic bike trailer that will get you and your family on the road easily and affordably, if not very comfortably.

Enjoying a slightly bumpy ride in the Allen bike trailer.
Enjoying a slightly bumpy ride in the Allen bike trailer.
Photo: Joanna Trieger

Protection


Like all of the trailers we tested, the Allen meets ASTM safety standards. Beyond that, it doesn't go as far as most of the other trailers we tested regarding safety features. Its roll cage is minimal, with no top or back framing, and the harness is three-point with a lap belt, rather five-point.

The Allen's interior. The three-point harness straps and lap belt...
The Allen's interior. The three-point harness straps and lap belt are unpadded and feature carabiner-style clips, rather than the five-point buckle in most of the other trailers we tested.
Photo: Joanna Trieger

The Allen is extremely well-ventilated, making it an excellent choice for rides on warm days. There is no suspension in this trailer, so we wouldn't recommend using it to haul your kiddos over rough trails.

Our passenger testers appreciated being able to step easily in and...
Our passenger testers appreciated being able to step easily in and out of this model.
Photo: Joanna Trieger

Passenger Experience


The Allen model offers a relatively no-frills passenger experience, but for short rides around town, it gets the job done. Our passenger testers appreciated that the front of this trailer unclips completely, allowing them to climb in all by themselves. The harness is unpadded and uses carabiner-style clips, rather than the more secure five-point harness and buckle found in most of the other trailers we tested.

For a more luxe passenger experience, we'd recommend checking out our Editors' Choice, the Burley D'Lite X.

This trailer's light weight and low profile makes it one of the...
This trailer's light weight and low profile makes it one of the easiest to tow on paved roads.
Photo: Joanna Trieger

Biker Experience


With its relatively light weight and small profile, the Allen Sports Steel was easy to tow and performed better than we expected in this category. We noticed only a little bit of lurching while riding, likely due to the spring in the tow arm, but didn't observe any other feedback. This model's main disadvantage in this category comes from its small wheels — at just 16" in diameter, these wheels were on par with the InStep Take 2 but were smaller than all the others we tested. The difference wasn't significant on smooth surfaces, but we had to expend more energy to tow this trailer off-road. The Schwinn Echo is in the same low-budget category as the Allen, but it has sturdy 20" tires. Other trailers that provided a better experience for the biker include the Burley D'Lite X and the Burley Bee.

Ease of Use


The Allen is straightforward to assemble, with frame tubes that snap together, held in place with D-clips. This process was tricky to get the hang of at first, resulting in some pinched fingers, but setup got easier with practice. The trailer attaches to the bike with a steel adapter that's clamped to the frame by the rear quick release skewer, as do all the trailers we tested. The hitch uses a male-female system so that the end of the trailer's tow arm slots over the protruding hitch. Of all the hitch types we tested, this was the least user-friendly.

Inserting the hitch into the tow arm required lining the trailer up perfectly with the bike, which often took several tries. We had to lean the bike over to get the angle of the hitch to match the tow arm, which is tricky to do with one hand and isn't conducive to keeping your hands clean if you're on your way to work. Most of the other trailers, including the Thule Chariot models, the Burley D'Lite models, and the Burley Bee, had hitches that were easier to line up and attach. As with all of the trailers we tested, the Allen's hitch may not work with every bike; for more on this, see our Buying Advice Guide.

Versatility


The Allen is a bike trailer only — no stroller options or other sport conversions are available with this model. The cargo space in this trailer was smaller than most of the others we tested, with a 22" by 7.5" cargo area footprint. The Allen's seats don't have the option to lie flat, like the ones in the Burley D'Lite models and the Hamax Outback, but they are positioned far back enough in the trailer that a medium-sized dog could curl up comfortably in the main compartment.

The Allen could handle hauling a full load of groceries, but only...
The Allen could handle hauling a full load of groceries, but only with no passengers.
Photo: Joanna Trieger

Best Applications


This is a great affordable option for families who want to give bike trailers a try but aren't ready to invest in all the bells and whistles yet. It is best suited to shorter trips on paved roads around town. This is a solid trailer for hauling kiddos or cargo, but probably not both at once. Exceptional ventilation and big windows make the Allen a good option for fair-weather climates.

Value


At just $200, the Allen is one of the less expensive products we tested and offers a great value for families looking for their first taste of travel by trailer. However, the Schwinn Echo outperformed the Allen in a few key areas and it retails for less, so those set on a budget buy will likely find more value in the Echo. And if your plans include off-road travel, longer trips, or rides in inclement weather, then a slightly higher-end model like the Burley Bee is worth the investment.

Conclusion


The Allen Sports Steel is a pared-down introductory bike trailer that will get you and your kids on the road without destroying your wallet. It's light and small, so it's easy to set up and tow, but it's pretty basic on the inside, so not very cush for passengers.

Joanna Trieger