Over the past 6 years, we've got our hands on some of the highest-rated bike trailers on the market with 9 top contenders in this 2021 lineup. From smooth city greenway trails to rugged singletrack and washboard dirt roads, we used and abused each trailer to find their limits and see where they shine. After hundreds of miles, some flat tires, and a few microbrew-fueled picnic debates, we have the results of how each trailer performed. Get ready to hitch up your trailer soul mate and head to the hills.Related: Best Bike Trailer of 2021
Best Bike Cargo Trailer of 2021
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|Pros||Durable, easy hitch, elastic cargo net, smooth ride, stands on its own, one wheel||Three inches of adjustable suspension improves on and off road handling, tracks well behind rear wheel of bicycle, easy attachment||Solid axle makes the trailer stable for large heavy loads, folds down small for easy storage, open design allows for flexibility when hauling non-traditional cargo||Flexible rubber hitch mount allows bike to lean without trailer leaning so climbing hills is much easier when you get off your seat, lightweight, durable||great aerodynamics, includes large dry sack|
|Cons||Heavy||If packed uneven it can get wobbly on downhills, doesn't stand up on it's own||No straps or dry sac included||Enclosed structure makes it difficult to lock your trailer up along with your bike, weather resistant but not watertight||trailer is attached directly to back wheel without movable hitch so getting out of the saddle on uphills can get unsteady|
|Bottom Line||This model combines the heavy duty build quality of some two wheeled trailers with the easy pull of a one wheel design||If you're going to tow, tow this trailer||This is the trailer for hauling the kitchen sink||A versatile model great for touring or just shorter trips to the grocery store|
|Rating Categories||Burley Coho XC||BOB Ibex Plus||Burley Design Flatbed||Burley Nomad||BOB Yak|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Ease Of Towing (20%)|
|Smoothness Of Ride (20%)|
|Specs||Burley Coho XC||BOB Ibex Plus||Burley Design Flatbed||Burley Nomad||BOB Yak|
|Capacity||70 lbs||70 lbs||100 lbs||100 lbs / 105 liters||70 lbs|
|Weight||21.5 lbs||17 lbs||14.5 lbs||15 lbs||13.5 lbs|
|Number of wheels||1||1||2||2||1|
|Size (when open, L x W x H)||32.5” x 22” x 22.5”||62" x 17" x 16"||33" x 16.1" x 30.9"||32.4" x 26.8" x 22.8"||61" x 17" x 16"|
|Wheel Size||16”||16" x 2.125"||16"||16"||16" x 1.75"|
|Access into trailer||Top||Top, sides||Top||Top||Top, sides|
|Cover Protection||None||Yellow Dry Sak||None||Weatherproof cover||Yellow Dry Sak|
|Attachment to Bike||Quick release||Quick release||Forged Hitch||Forged aluminum hitch||Quick release|
Best Overall Bike Cargo Trailer
BOB Ibex Plus
The BOB Ibex Plus is our reigning champion. This versatile, lightweight, solidly designed trailer is excellent in a myriad of conditions and environments, solidifying it at the top of the pack. The single-wheel, in-line design makes this trailer extremely maneuverable, and the added suspension helps absorb bumps and road chatter, making it pleasant to pull. The ride quality coupled with the generous capacity and ease of use (removing and re-attaching) mean the Ibex Plus is well suited for almost any condition.
It does have some drawbacks. You need a 10mm wrench to assemble the rear shock and to connect the fork to the main body. You also need patience: it took us about 20 minutes to put together and install. The single wheel creates a particular balance point favoring careful packing to keep the center of gravity low and evenly distributed. Still, even with these small drawbacks in mind, the BOB Ibex Plus can tackle whatever you throw its way.
Read review: BOB Ibex Plus
Best Bang for the Buck
The Aosom Wanderer not only has the highest weight carrying capacity of the trailers we tested but is also uniquely inexpensive. It demonstrates that a rugged, durable, sturdy, and unrelenting design doesn't have to be expensive. We are also impressed by the versatility, ease of setup, and how nicely such a simple trailer can pull.
On the flip side, this was the rattliest trailer of our lineup when it was empty. It is also quite heavy, which is a necessary downside to having such a large carrying capacity. All these things considered, this is a fantastically capable trailer for the price.
Read review: Aosom Wanderer
Burley Coho XC
The Burley Coho XC is uniquely durable and able to haul large loads compared to other one-wheeled trailers. It offers a wide range of customizable features for different terrain or touring styles — anything from a quick grocery run or a week-long bike tour is easier and more fun with the Coho.
While the Coho sets the high mark for versatility, it does have drawbacks. The rugged design makes for a pretty heavy product, several pounds heavier than any other one-wheel trailer tested. It also has a large gap between the bike's rear wheel and the cargo bay of the trailer, making careful packing a must to avoid wag or sway. However, these negative features are far outweighed by the versatility and ease of use.
Read review: Burley Coho XC
Best for Grocery Shopping
The Burley Travoy is a specialist explicitly designed for around-town endeavors. It's best suited for grocery runs because of its integrated tote bag and the option to unhitch the trailer and wheel it straight into the grocery store. All these features are user-friendly, and we especially like how easily you can fold the trailer up and store it in the tote bag when you're done.
The Travoy lacks the ability for the trailer to clear the rear bike wheel when ascending a curb. At certain points while on our way to the grocery store, we had to go out of our way to avoid large bumps and drops for fear of breaking the trailer. We wish the Travoy was more versatile, but it is extraordinarily adept at maneuvering through the city and hauling a generous load of groceries without sustaining any damage to items such as eggs and produce.
Read review: Burley Travoy
Notable for Bike Touring
The Burley Nomad is a long-distance touring beast, able to accommodate all the comforts of home while on the road. It can pull straight and true even when loaded to the max, and assembly and breakdown are extremely easy, making storage a pleasant process.
Although not the most versatile trailer, the Nomad performed quite well at tasks from bike touring to running errands around town. It isn't completely waterproof with the weather cover, however, so keep that in mind if you're planning to be on the road for the long haul.
Read review: Burley Nomad
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is led by OutdoorGearLab Senior Review Editor Katherine Elliott, a prolific gear testing expert for many years at our home base in Tahoe. Kat enjoys lots of outdoor pursuits, many of them facilitated with a bit of extra bicycle carrying capacity. She is joined by former Yosemite Search and Rescue member and SAR technician Brian Martin. Brian is a mountain athlete for all seasons and can be found on everything from alpine ridge climbs to ski tours to bike-packing ultra races. His work with Search and Rescue often involved maintenance and selection of equipment, which required a sharp eye for many types of outdoor gear.
We initially checked out more than 40 models of bike trailers before settling on the best of the bunch for purchase and testing. For ease of towing, we hitched up each model in succession, comparing performance side-by-side. Ride quality was tested over various surfaces from smooth pavement to washboard gravel to singletrack trails.
Related: How We Tested Bike Cargo Trailers
Analysis and Test Results
To fully assess our lineup of trailers, we determined five testing metrics: capacity, ease of use, ease of towing, smoothness of ride, and versatility. Following is a discussion of these metrics with the results of how every model performed in each given area.
Among the many important things to consider when purchasing a bike cargo trailer, price is omnipresent. There was a significant gap in price and value between the field of trailers we tested. We're talking hundreds of dollars difference between the most affordable to the most expensive. The price doesn't tell nearly the whole story as your intended use and the trailer's overall performance are critical components in determining value for you personally.
Value, from our perspective, is that sweet spot where price and performance balance each other in the perfect way for your needs. While there are some amazing trailers in our review that scored highly across all our tests, some of them are a serious investment. If you don't need to fanciest thing out there — you just want to get your groceries from the store to your house or bring a bunch of toys to the park without the car AND without breaking the bank, consider looking into the extremely fair-priced Schwinn Day Tripper, Retrospec Rover Hauler, or Aosom Wanderer.
We placed a high value on each trailer's capacity, which, after all, is the entire point of purchasing a bike trailer for overnight camping or a week's worth of groceries. Two-wheel trailers generally have a much higher capacity, but they also have more rolling resistance. Single wheel options have less capacity but less rolling resistance and can haul stuff more gracefully, though packing these can be a bit more finicky and require a bit more zen-like balance.
The impressive Aosom Wanderer offers the highest stated weight-bearing capacity of all trailers we tested at 110 pounds! This is a lot of weight, much more than you would want to haul for an extended period of time. Think hauling firewood down a dirt road or taking your oversize dog on a camping trip. The Burley Design Flatbed and the Burley Nomad also offer 100 pounds of carrying capacity. The Flatbed was also significantly easier to roll giant firewood rounds onto with its open front and back ends.
Both the BOB Ibex Plus and the BOB Yak Plus are rated to 70 pounds. The extra three inches of suspension on the back of the Ibex Plus adds one pound to its weight, but the suspension allowed for a much smoother ride. It was an added weight that we were happy to have.
Ease of Use
When we get down to brass tacks, a trailer that is hard to assemble, has unintuitive attachment points, or is more trouble to operate than it is fun to use will sit in the garage and collect spiderwebs, dust, and sadness. To test this metric we paid special attention to the time and effort that went into assembly/first use as well as subsequent hitching/unhitching for quick use. Both the BOB Yak Plus and BOB Ibex Plus have a quick and easy initial setup process. The only thing that slowed us down was finding two 10mm wrenches to assemble the front fork and the back shock for the Ibex Plus. Attaching the trailer to the bike is also easy with two quick-release pins that insert into the provided skewer. The Burly CoHo, while easy to hitch once set up, did require determining the correct thru-axle size and threading which set us back a few days waiting for delivery.
The two-wheeled Burley models have an easy-to-use trailer attachment as well. It's a forged steel hitch that mounts directly to your bike frame by the back wheel. It also has a quick-release pin that holds the trailer in place and allows it to move freely from the bike. The Nomad and the Flatbed also come with button-activated, quick-release wheels, so taking them on and off for storage or travel is quick and easy.
While these two-wheel designs are generally a bit less efficient overall than their single-wheel cousins, they do offer easy-to-use around-town simplicity. Both the Schwinn Day Tripper and the Retrospec Rover Hauler have hitches that can live on your bike day in and day out without being obtrusive and allow quick hitching. This goes a long way towards increasing how much we used these trailers simply because of how easy it was to hook them up or detach them.
The wheels on the Aosom Wanderer are mounted with bolts onto the trailer, so it takes more time to adjust. With a pair of pliers, we managed to straighten out the back connector and get it attached to the quick-release skewer and the bike. The initial setup and connection took around 15 minutes altogether, and besides the bent back connector, it was a rather easy setup.
Ease of Towing
To first tackle the broad spectrum of trailers tested, it's essential to recognize the difference between one and two-wheeled options. As you might imagine, two-wheeled trailers are stable and require a bit less attention when packing. Just throw everything in, make sure it isn't heavily loaded at the back, and it will generally tow just fine. Single wheel trailers, as a rule, require much more meticulous packing. Keeping heavier items low down and on the centerline is critical. Overloading one side or the other, or even having a top-heavy load, can make things interesting. Stopping at a red light, for example, an awkward load in a single-wheel trailer will frustratingly pull the bike to whatever side is overloaded.
There is another important trade-off when going with two wheels. Two wheels, while offering stability, robs you of efficiency and maneuverability. If you have to pass through a short section of single track, a one-wheel trailer might pass right through, whereas the two-wheel models will likely have some trouble. One wheel also offers half the rolling resistance of two wheels.
Because of the rolling resistance and maneuverability advantages of the single-wheel trailers, we tended to favor them over the two-wheel models. This isn't to say the two-wheelers don't have their place, though, because they do. There are loads single-wheel models simply can't haul — basically anything large and cumbersome.
True to form, the single-wheeled Burley Coho XC and BOB Ibex Plus were the easiest to tow. Both track so well you nearly forget that they're behind you. Their lower center of gravity allows for better maneuverability and handling with or without a cargo load. The single-wheel design also makes an excellent trailer for maneuvering through tight spaces or a crowded street. Unfortunately, it is easy to overload the single-wheel trailers, making hike-and-bikes and technical trails a bit challenging.
Both the Coho XC and Ibex Plus are good choices if you're planning to travel on bumpy dirt roads or singletrack. When carefully loaded and balanced, these trailers offer a smooth, drama-free ride.
Throughout our two-wheel trailer testing, it became apparent that the Burley Nomad had a significant advantage over the competition. The mounting design is especially nice as the hitch mount allows the bike to pitch and yaw without moving the trailer off of level. While this doesn't sound that spectacular, when standing up to pump up a hill, the smooth pulling trailer is much appreciated.
The Burley Travoy also has some unique features, such as a padded handle that allows you to detach the trailer from its hitch, wheel it into a grocery store, and re-clip it to your bike. All with one hand.
How you load your trailer has a lot to do with how well it tows. For example, the dual-wheeled Aosom Wanderer made for an easier tow if there was a properly tied down and secured heavy load. It was a little squirrelly when empty or with a light load. Both the mono-wheeled BOB Ibex Plus and the BOB Yak Plus performed best with heavier supplies (tent, stove, etc.) in the back of the trailer by the wheel. This method creates better traction with the trailer and the bike.
Smoothness of Ride
As you might imagine, having suspension goes a long way to improve ride quality for bike cargo trailers. The Burley Coho XC and Bob Ibex Plus both offer smooth and efficient suspended one-wheel goodness. After using these trailers, it was difficult for us to want to tow anything else offroad as the rattle and perceived extra weight of a rigid wheel hitting a bump felt exhausting.
Two-wheel trailers, in general, are much less smooth. One wheel hitting a bump inevitably disrupts both wheels. Washboard gravel at high speeds causes something akin to the Jeep Wrangler "death wobble". The Aosom Wanderer was among the least smooth on gravel and was also pretty noisy when unloaded, which adds to perceived effort.
In short, the smoother the ride, the less energy it takes to pedal the trailer. Both the Coho XC and Ibex Plus offer quiet and smooth rides when compared to the rest of the field.
The Burley Coho XC was among the most versatile we've tested. The rugged construction, stretchy cargo net, kickstand, and one-handed hitching make most applications easy. From grocery runs to overnight camping, the Coho never seemed to run out of applications. The Burley Flatbed is also top-notch in this category with its open front and back. Add that to its stability, and you can haul practically anything.
The BOB Yak Plus and the Burley Nomad offer comparable versatility. The sizeable dry sack on the Yak makes it easy to load up and tie down. Similarly, the Nomad has a cargo cover that helps secure your load. The cover is easy to attach and detach from the main trailer body. So if you are hauling large or uneven cargo, you just need to unclip the cover from the trailer, load, secure your items, and you're ready to roll. You still have plenty of room for larger or longer items to stick out of the back of the trailer.
Different Types of Bike Trailers
- Single Wheel Bicycle Cargo Trailers: BOB Ibex Plus and Bob Yak Plus
- Two-Wheel Bicycle Cargo Trailers: Burley Nomad, Burley Flatbed, Aosom Wanderer, Schwinn Day Tripper, Retrospec Rover Hauler
- Child Bicycle Trailers — some of these types of bike trailers also convert to a jogging or hiking stroller
- Pedal Trailers & Trail-a-Bikes like the Weehoo iGo Turbo and the WeeRide Co-Pilot — neither of these are enclosed, and the Weeride is more like riding a bike
- Dog & Pet Bicycle Trailers like the Aosom Elite II which has rear suspension dampers that absorb shock
Our main motivation for choosing the BOB Ibex Plus as our favorite model is its suspension, relatively light weight, and balanced feel. We love the Burley Nomad for its large carrying capacity and balance point designed to reduce torque on the frame. The Burley Flatbed offers an open front and back design, and its accredited 100 lb weight capacity piqued our interest for heavier and longer objects to transport. Lastly, the Aosom Wanderer offers a lightweight steel frame and easily collapsible sidewalls for storage, which made it a must on the testing list, and the Burley Travoy is great for around-town commuting and grocery shopping. We hope our breakdown and assessment of these top-tier bike cargo trailers helps you pick the perfect one for your needs and lifestyle.
— Katherine Elliott and Brian Martin