Thule Cadence Review
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$349.95 at REI
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|Pros||Lightweight, water-resistant, large wheels||Lightweight, best hitch design, water-resistant, excellent value||Inexpensive, easy to tow, well ventilated||Inexpensive, lightweight, great ventilation, low profile||Inexpensive, large interior space, well-ventilated|
|Cons||Uncomfortable for passengers, difficult to set up and break down, noisy||No passenger padding, no bottom reinforcement, lacks versatility||Small passenger space, saggy fabric, difficult to use, not weather-resistant||Small wheels, not weather resistant, poor hitch mechanism||Small plastic wheels, saggy fabric, not weather-resistant|
|Bottom Line||The Cadence is light and does well in wet weather, but its basic passenger area and awkward frame design make us question its mid-range price||This nimble trailer is durable and the easiest to tow at less than half the price of many high-end trailers||This inexpensive trailer will get you and your kids on the road, but it's annoying to set up and it's not built to last||For parents seeking an inexpensive and low-profile trailer for short trips around town, the Allen Sports Steel is a great place to start||One 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||Thule Cadence||Burley Bee||Schwinn Echo||Allen Sports Steel||InStep Take 2|
|Passenger Experience (20%)|
|Biker Experience (20%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Thule Cadence||Burley Bee||Schwinn Echo||Allen Sports Steel||InStep Take 2|
|Converts to Stroller?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Number of Children||2||2||2||2||2|
|Harness System||3-point with lap belt||5-point||5-point||3-point with lap belt||5-point|
|Weight||22 lbs||25 lbs||26 lbs||24.5 lbs|
|Size Open LxWxH (inches)||35" x 30" x 35"||32.25" x 30" x 36"||51.8" x 32.5" x 31.9"'||22" x 21" x 21"||31.5" x 32" x 31"|
|Size Folded- wheels removed LxWxH (inches)||37" x 30" x 9"||35.5" x 29.25" x 28.6"||31.5" x 26" x 8"||31" x 25" x 6.5"||31.5" x 26" x 7"|
|Wheel Size (inches)||20"||20"||20"||16"||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||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
The Thule Cadence offers quality construction at an affordable price, but with a few design issues and an uncomfortable passenger area, it was outperformed by several of the other trailers we tested. We give you the details in each of our five performance categories below.
The Cadence meets ASTM safety standards, like all the trailers we tested. Beyond that, Thule doesn't go too much farther with safety features in this model. The roll cage features one bar across the back of the trailer, but no extra bars on the top or sides. The harness is three-point with a lap belt, similar to the Allen Sports Steel, while all the other trailers we tested came with five-point harnesses. We didn't feel that this trailer was unsafe, but if you're looking at a product in the same price range that puts safety front and center, we'd recommend checking out our Best Bang for the Buck Award winner, the Burley Bee.
The rain guard in this trailer performed better than we expected, with barely any water in the body of the trailer after a five-minute blast with a sprinkler, but it was outperformed by the Thule Chariots and by the Burley Bee, which all remained completely dry inside. The Cadence has no suspension system so large bumps were very noticeable.
Passengers in the Cadence are in for a pretty basic experience. The seat is bench-style with no contouring or padding. We noticed that the seat bottom slants down slightly, so our passengers tended to slump forward against the harness, leading to dreaded wedgies. The harness is unpadded and is a three-point design with a lap belt, and this didn't secure kids in place laterally as well as the five-point harness designs in most of the other trailers. Finally, the lack of suspension in this trailer makes for a pretty bouncy ride on uneven terrain. For long stretches off road, we'd recommend a trailer with suspension, like the Burley D'Lite models or the Thule Chariot Cross.
The Cadence is lightweight, aerodynamic and fairly low-profile, so we gave it relatively high marks in this category. As with all the Thule models we tested, we noticed a bit of feedback from the trailer to the bike, especially when standing up on hills or going over potholes. This is likely due to the slight play in the ezHitch system as the ball moves back and forth in the socket. The 20" wheels did well on uneven terrain, though this trailer doesn't have a suspension system so it was more bouncy than the Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariot Cross, which do. We found the Cadence to be a relatively noisy trailer, with general rattling on par with the Allen Sports Steel and the InStep Take 2. If you're looking for a trailer that's quiet as a mouse, we'd recommend the Burley Bee, which outperformed all the other products in this category.
Ease of Use
The Cadence was quick to assemble — we had it attached to the bike 20 minutes after it came out of the box. Like all the trailers we tested, the Cadence attaches to the bike with a steel adapter that's clamped to the frame by the rear quick release skewer. Thule's patented "ezHitch" system uses a rubber ball at the end of the tow arm that slides into the socket of the hitch adapter and is then corralled in the socket with a cotter pin. This system is intuitive, quick and easy to use, but we did notice that it took a fair amount of tugging to secure the cotter pin in place with its rubber fastener. Sometimes this motion was enough to knock the bike over, which was obviously annoying and could freak kids out. We found the bracket hitch used in the Burley D'Lite models and the Burley Bee to be a little easier.
We didn't like the way the Cadence's frame snapped together. Pulling the frame into place required significant force, and folding it back up was almost impossible to do once the trailer was detached from the bike. We found we had to wedge the front of tow arm against a wall to get enough resistance to collapse the frame. The angles were awkward and fingers got pinched. For a much easier and more intuitive setup and breakdown experience, check out Thule's higher-end models, the Chariot Cross and the Thule Chariot Lite.
The Cadence is a bike trailer only, with no stroller, jogger, or cross country ski conversions available. It has one of the smaller cargo spaces we tested with a cargo area footprint of 22" by 9.5", putting it behind most of the other trailers in our test group. The seats in this trailer don't lie flat, so the interior space isn't as flexible as the Burley D'Lite models or the Hamax Outback, but the interior is big enough to fit a large load of groceries.
Since the Cadence doesn't have a suspension system and its seats aren't the most comfortable, we'd recommend this trailer for shorter trips mostly on paved roads. This bike trailer did a good job of protecting passengers from wind and rain, so it would be a great entry-level option for short commutes in places with a lot of inclement weather.
The Cadence is one of the less expensive trailers on the market, but we felt that the price was still a little steep for what is essentially an entry-level product. It had a better quality of construction than the Allen Sports Steel, the Schwinn Echo, and the InStep Take 2, but it still performed similarly in most of our testing categories and it costs more than twice as much as the budget models. For the price, we feel that the increased ease of use and towing in our Best Bang for the Buck Award winner, the Burley Bee, make it a much better value.
The Thule Cadence is an affordable trailer made by one of the best companies in the business, but ultimately, the downsides in passenger comfort and frame design can't be overcome. We think that buyers in this price range will be better served by the outstanding Burley Bee.
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