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

How We Tested Bike Cargo Trailers

Tuesday May 7, 2019

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

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. We also pushed them beyond what they were made to do to figure out what their real-world capacity was and how far it could be pushed.

The large carrying capacity of this model made it one of the reasons for the Best Buy award.
The large carrying capacity of this model made it one of the reasons for the Best Buy award.

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. We won't get into the concept of "unsprung weight," but there is some interesting information on the internet. All we know is the trailers that utilized only one wheel and suspension are significantly easier to tow. 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 lb. (the empty trailer weighs around 30 lb. and the log was around 100 lb.) can be a little challenging  but once you are moving the this trailer handles with ease.
Getting started towing almost 140 lb. (the empty trailer weighs around 30 lb. and the log was around 100 lb.) can be a little challenging, but once you are moving the this trailer handles with ease.

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.

This trailer offers an easy solution to camping by bike allowing you to pack enough cargo to be comfortable for days.
This trailer offers an easy solution to camping by bike allowing you to pack enough cargo to be comfortable for days.

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

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 were loading it or preparing to hitch.

Hitching heavy loads was noticeably easier with the Coho since its kick stand put the hitch right below the attachment points on the bike. This let us focus on steadying the bike and only lifting the trailer about an inch to hitch. The Bob Ibex was a bit harder to steady when attaching a heavy load.
Hitching heavy loads was noticeably easier with the Coho since its kick stand put the hitch right below the attachment points on the bike. This let us focus on steadying the bike and only lifting the trailer about an inch to hitch. The Bob Ibex was a bit harder to steady when attaching a heavy load.