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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.