The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Bike Cargo Trailers

Wednesday January 6, 2021

To produce the best review of bike cargo trailers that we could, we coupled our inherent love of cycling, camping, and the outdoors with every online resource we could find regarding cargo trailers. After rounding up the highest-rated trailers and purchasing them from online retailers, we hitched them up and took them to the limit. Think Rocky IV training montage where he's chopping wood, jumping rope, and carrying logs.

The Coho hitch system allows the trailer and bike to move...
The Coho hitch system allows the trailer and bike to move independently giving you greater mobility when trails get a bit technical.
Photo: Brian Martin

Capacity


Every trailer we tested was unique. While some of the two-wheel models were capable of hauling massive rounds of firewood, others were designed to easily load up groceries or a week's worth of camping supplies. We tested every trailer with their intended use in mind. We also pushed them beyond what they were made to do in order to figure out what their real-world capacity is and how far it can be pushed.

Along with its low price, we appreciated the large carrying capacity...
Along with its low price, we appreciated the large carrying capacity of this model.
Photo: Kat Elliott

Ease of Use


To determine the overall ease of use, we considered several aspects from how easy or difficult it is to put the trailer together to how it performs in the real world. Trailers such as the Burley Coho are incredibly easy to use. They have features such as an ergonomic hitch release and a kickstand to prop up the trailer as you are loading it or preparing to hitch.

Hitching heavy loads is noticeably easier with the Coho since its...
Hitching heavy loads is noticeably easier with the Coho since its kick stand puts the hitch right below the attachment points on the bike. This lets you focus on steadying the bike and only lifting the trailer about an inch to hitch.
Photo: Brian Martin

Ease of Towing


We found the one wheel trailers to be significantly easier to tow than two-wheel trailers, and the one-wheel trailers with suspension were the easiest of all. That being said, if you're hauling significant weight, the two-wheel trailers handle the weight much better than one. We loaded up each trailer and took off down dirt roads and trails to see how easy or difficult each was to tow over different terrain.

Getting started towing almost 140 lbs can be a little challenging...
Getting started towing almost 140 lbs can be a little challenging, but once you are moving this trailer handles with ease.
Photo: Kat Elliott

Smoothness of Ride


Ride smoothness required some standardized testing to establish how smooth each trailer could navigate a section of road. We chose a mostly tame dirt road that would illuminate which of the trailers were rough riders. As you might imagine, the two-wheel trailers were significantly bouncier, whereas the one wheel suspended trailers rode reasonably smoothly.

The Coho XC offers an easy solution to camping by bike allowing you...
The Coho XC offers an easy solution to camping by bike allowing you to pack enough cargo to be comfortable for days.
Photo: Brian Martin

Versatility


To test versatility, we went overnight camping, grocery shopping, and hauled our pets around with each trailer. While some situations — such as single-track trail with a two-wheel trailer — didn't work well, some trailers offered a pleasantly versatile set of characteristics.

The Burley Travoy Tote bag in the high configuration. This allows...
The Burley Travoy Tote bag in the high configuration. This allows you to put a couple cases of La Croix on the bottom shelf.
Photo: Brian Martin