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Burley D'Lite Review
Cons: Difficult to stow, not watertight, noise from parking brake
Bottom line: The D’Lite is an all-around excellent trailer with standout safety features and unmatched versatility, making it a clear pick for our Editors' Choice award.
The Burley D'Lite is a top-of-the-line multifunction bicycle trailer, and its consistently outstanding performance across each of our testing categories rolled it to the front of the pack to earn our Editors' Choice award. Burley goes to great lengths to ensure that their products are among the safest in the industry, with standards that go above and beyond the minimums required by the ASTM. For the person pulling the trailer, it doesn't get much better than the D'Lite, which features a lightweight design, a hitch that transfers zero motion to the bike and 20" wheels that smooth out rough roads. When it comes to versatility, this trailer is a clear front runner, with strolling, jogging, and cross-country skiing conversions available and a roomy interior that can be reconfigured to haul everything from dogs to groceries to camping gear.
The D'Lite didn't go unchallenged in this review, with our previous Editors' Choice award winner, the Thule Chariot Cross, providing stiff competition. We thought that the Chariot Cross just barely edged out the D'Lite from the passenger's perspective due to the giant views offered by its full-front mesh screen and its superior wet weather protection. The Chariot Cross was also slightly easier to set up and break down than the D'Lite. However, in the final tally, we decided that the Chariot Cross is specifically suited for hard-core athletes, while the Burley D'Lite is a better trailer for all-around use. If you're looking to invest in a bike trailer that does everything well and goes above and beyond for safety and versatility, this is the one for you.
RELATED REVIEW: The 8 Best Bike Trailers for Kids
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Burley D'Lite has dethroned the Thule Chariot Cross to earn our Editors' Choice Award in 2017. Beloved by haulers for its lightness, its ease of connection and its lack of feedback, and by passengers for its comfy seat setup and abundance of interior pockets, the D'Lite charms everyone who has the pleasure of testing it. Crucially, this is the safest and most versatile trailer we tested. Our review editor liked the D'Lite so much, she kept it for herself!
As you can see, the D'Lite was at or near the top of the pack for every metric we tested. Though it faced some significant competition, especially from the Thule Chariot Cross, in the end, the D'Lite was a clear Editors' Choice award winner.
Want the details behind the numbers above? Read on for an in-depth explanation of the D'Lite's performance in each of our testing categories.
The D'Lite scored higher than all the other trailers we tested in this category, narrowly beating out the Thule Chariots. Its aluminum frame creates a full roll cage, protecting passengers with a double frame tube on top and additional framing on both sides, and the stroller handlebar folds forward to provide even more roll cage protection during rides.
Burley takes safety seriously, and it shows in the way they've gone all out with additional security features in the D'Lite. The five-point restraint harness is well-padded and relatively easy to adjust (though not quite as easy as the Thule Chariots, which were our favorite in this area), so you can make sure your passengers are snug and secure without crushing them. The retractable sun shade on the trailer's front flap is easily adjustable to keep direct rays off kid's faces all day, and it's also permanently integrated into the trailer's design, so it won't get lost. Like the Burley Bee, the windows on the D'Lite are rated UPF 30, making it a great option for longer rides where sun exposure might be an issue.
Ventilation is a concern for many parents pulling little ones in trailers, especially on long or hot rides, and the D'Lite performs well in this area. Even with the rain guard down, the D'Lite's design allows air into the front of the trailer, and an extra back window with mesh underneath encourages air to flow through. The D'Lite's closest competitor, the Thule Chariot Cross, seems slightly less well-ventilated when its super efficient rain guard is in place.
Ease of Use
The D'Lite is relatively simple to assemble, but at 35 minutes it took longer to put together than most of the other trailers we tested. It's straightforward to set up and break down, though not quite as simple as the fantastically user-friendly Thule Chariots. Putting the D'Lite together from its stowed position requires reaching through the back of the trailer and pulling two of the aluminum frame bars together until they latch, which initially took so much force that we worried about breaking one of the components. After a few cycles of folding and unfolding, though, the process became significantly easier as we got the hang of it and things loosened up.
The D'Lite's hitch mechanism — the same one used in the Burley Bee — was the easiest to use out of all the ones we tested. Like all the trailers' hitches, it attaches to the bike with a steel adaptor that's clamped to the frame by the rear quick release skewer. The Burley hitch adaptor is a metal bracket that receives the rubber end of the trailer's tow arm, which is then held in place by a cotter pin. Connecting the trailer to the bike is fast and easy and doesn't require you to line the bike up correctly, like the Allen Sports Steel and the Weehoo weeGo, or to yank the whole rig around to secure the cotter pin, like the Thule trailers. We seriously raised a glass to Burley every time we connected this hitch.
As with all the trailers we tested, the D'Lite's hitch adaptor won't fit every bike (see our Buying Advice Guide for more information on this). However, we were able to use it on a range of bikes in our stable, and Burley sells a $12 hitch adaptor that should allow you to bypass tight breezer dropouts.
Can we talk some more about that hitch? The design of a trailer's hitch mechanism is a huge component of the bike rider's experience, since it factors heavily into how much lurching and other feedback is transferred from the trailer to the bike.
The D'Lite's super sturdy hitch makes towing the trailer a breeze. Over and over again, we noted that it felt like the trailer and the bike were one unit, even when traveling over rough terrain or standing up on steep hills. This feeling of "oneness" makes a real difference on tired legs, especially when you're pulling heavy kids or cargo. The D'Lite's closest competitors, the Thule Chariots, didn't perform as well in this area, transferring significant movement to the bike because of their looser hitches. However, our Best Bang for the Buck Award winner, the Burley Bee, uses the same hitch as the D'Lite and provided an equally delightful lack of motion transfer.
The D'Lite is nearly four pounds lighter than the Thule Chariot Cross, and it's similar in weight to the Chariot Lite. Its sturdy 20" wheels help it over gravel, grass and uneven terrain, making it much easier to tow off road than the Allen Sports Steel and the InStep Take 2, which have 16" wheels. The well-designed tow arm and hitch combo make the D'Lite nimble and easy to maneuver through tight spaces while walking the bike as well as riding. Our only complaint about this trailer from a rider's perspective is that parking brake makes a racket as it rattles while you're rolling along, but this is nothing that a well-placed piece of foam can't fix (if you're looking for a virtually silent ride, check out the Burley Bee). Overall, the D'Lite offers a hassle-free biker experience, as would be expected from a trailer of this caliber.
The Burley D'Lite was a solid contender in this category, just barely getting beat out by our Top Pick for Athletes, the Thule Chariot Cross.
This trailer provides a very comfortable ride for passengers: The seat and harness are both strategically padded and comfortable; there is a recessed pocket in the seat back to accommodate the passenger's helmet; the adjustable suspension means that kids won't feel every lump and bump in the road; and the sharply sloping footwell means that they don't have to wear their knees around their ears. At 22.5", the seat area is a full inch wider than that of the Thule Chariot Cross, and the bowed-out sides of the D'Lite provide plenty of shoulder room. Our passenger testers especially loved that the lower front flap of the trailer folds down so they could climb in on their own and that the segmented interior pockets were ideal for stashing everything from sippy cups to cool rocks.
The D'Lite gets trumped by the Thule Chariots in two main passenger areas. First, it performed surprisingly poorly in our rain test, doing worse than both Thule Chariots, the Thule Cadence, and the Burley Bee. After five minutes under a blasting sprinkler, we discovered water in the footwell of the D'Lite, as well as a few drips in the cargo area. The seats remained dry, so we would still recommend this as a good trailer for kids in inclement weather, but the Thule Chariot Cross remained totally watertight under the same test. Second, the front cover of the D'Lite is bordered all the way around by an inch or so of opaque fabric, whereas the Thule Chariots have a mesh screen that goes all the way to the edge. This isn't a huge deal, but we felt that the D'Lite doesn't offer quite as impressive a viewing experience for passengers as the Chariots. The D'Lite features a coil spring suspension system with a dial to adjust its stiffness based upon passenger weight. It performed well in our suspension testing, offering a smooth ride over rough terrain and noticeable shock absorption over large bumps.
We were amazed by the versatility of the D'Lite and felt that it beat out all the competition to earn top marks in this category. The D'Lite can be converted into a stroller, and additional accessory kits are available to turn it into a jogger and a cross country ski sled. Only the Thule Chariot Cross shares this level of convertibility.
As a bike trailer, the D'Lite really shines in its ability to do stuff other than just haul kids. It has a cargo area footprint of 22.5" by 11", bested only by the Burley Bee and surprisingly, the InStep Take 2, so you can easily fit a medium-sized load of groceries or some camping gear in the back even with passengers loaded into the front. Crucially, the seats in the D'Lite can unbuckle to lie entirely flat, which literally opens up the trailer to a ton of hauling options. Our canine testers were definitely happiest in this trailer, as a dog bed placed over the flattened seats gave them tons of room to hang out. The only other trailer in our lineup with seats that can lie flat is the InStep Take 2.
In our opinion, the excellent versatility of the D'Lite makes it worth considering even for the budget-conscious, since it has the most potential to have a useful life — as a grocery hauler, a pup wagon, or a bikepacking companion — long after your kids are pedaling their own bikes.
One of the reasons we love the Burley D'Lite so much is that it performs very well in a wide variety of situations. Bike commuting with kiddos? The D'Lite's bowed sides give passengers extra room for a comfy ride, and its ample cargo area can accommodate several backpacks, briefcases and lunchboxes. Heading out for a family ride on the rail trail? The D'Lite is one of the best off-road performers we tested, so you won't be sweating the rocks and potholes. Training for a triathlon with toddlers in tow? We'll admit that the D'Lite isn't amphibious, but it'll take you through the biking and running miles with its multisport conversion options. This trailer doesn't quite match up to the Thule Chariot line for hard-core athletic purposes, but it's still capable in that area and great at everything else. If we had to pick an absolute best application for the D'Lite, it would be hauling your kids home from school the long way so you can go offroading on the local trails, culminating in a massive picnic you unloaded from the ample cargo space.
At $689, the D'Lite is the least expensive luxury trailer we tested and is more than $300 less than its closest competition, the Thule Chariot Cross. This is an extremely durable, safe and versatile trailer that will be a joy to use with your kids and will remain useful long after they're up and out of it. We think the D'Lite is priced on the low side for what it offers, making it an excellent value.
Top scores in all of our rating metrics and unique features like a convertible interior, side framing for safety and a rock solid hitch earned the Burley D'Lite our Editors' Choice award for the best all-around trailer. If you're planning to get out on the roads and trails with your kids and you want to feel comfortable and flexible doing it, the D'Lite won't disappoint.
— Joanna Trieger
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