I recently purchased an Action Bent Folding Trailer and I finally got a chance to take it out for a test ride. I did about 9 mi. on a gravel rail trail which is very similar to most of the things I will ride with my family on camping trips. So here's the review thus far:
The test setup: Fuji Supreme hybrid with 700x35 tires with 260# of rider. The trailer weighs about 16# empty and I had perhaps 40# of gear in the trailer. Assembling the trailer fender will require a screwdriver and a small wrench, but otherwise assembly is easy and does not require tools. If you remove the rear wheel the trailer can fold down to a package a few inches thick that will fit inside the carrying bag that is supplied. The carrying bag is a dry sack type and seems reasonably well made. I think with a little care you should get a lot of use out of the bag.
The trailer was pretty easy to load although as with all single wheel trailers you will want to pay some attention to left/right balance as well as keeping the load as low as possible. I found that by holding onto the arms of the hitch I could wheel the trailer around somewhat like a wheelbarrow. This makes moving the fully loaded trailer around a fairly easy task. You do have to replace your rear skewer with their special one, but that is an easy process and the modified skewer can be left in place without problems. It is very easy to attach the their special rear QR skewer. The sliding latches on the trailer hitch are very easy to lock in place and showed no signs of looseness in my ride. You just wheel the trailer up behind the bike, drop the hitch over the towing pins and slide the latches in place.
Riding with an extra 50-60# attached to the bike is noticeable in the handling in some situations. None of it seemed unique to the Action Bent trailer, since I have read similar comments from BOB users. The trailer tracked very well and once moving you hardly notice it on flat or downhill terrain. On uphills you can of course feel the extra weight. But the trailer pulled very well through loose gravel, ruts and small gullies on the trail with no tendency to destabilize the bike. On the roads going into a turn feels like you are on rails, so pick your line through curves carefully and with some foresight. I found I had little difficulty mainitaining my usual speed on flat and downhill terrain. On uphills you feel the extra work, but it is not excessive.
You will give a wider range of gears a work out since it is much easier to start off a fully loaded trailer in a lower gear. I found the more I road the easier it was to get into a trailer pulling frame of mind and anticipate properly. None of this seemed peculiar to the Action Bent trailer. Similarly, backing up bike and trailer can be interesting as can be getting it parked. Examining the trailer after the ride everything seemed to be a in good shape and the trailer was surprisingly quiet during the ride. There was little or no noise from the hitch or trailer unless I hit a bump. On undulating pavement I could feel the trailer more as it responded to the ups and downs. You can pedal standing up if you need to, but you will want to develop a very smooth fluid style so the trailer does not whiplash around on you.
- You will want to make sure your rear tire is fully inflated and maybe a little overpressured since you will be hanging extra weight on it.
- Make sure your brakes are in good working order since you will be asking them to stop the extra weight on the trailer.
- Remember that with the trailer you are almost 4 feet longer and need more room to turn. For slight variations in your course you hardly notice it, but making tight corners it will matter.
- Patience is a virtue when pulling a trailer. You will start a little slower and climb hills a little slower with the trailer -- particularly if you are carrying a decent load.
- Watch out when you stop. I didn't think about the effects the trailer would have on making the bike want to tip over if you aren't sitting in a fairly straight line. Also when you let go of the brakes, you may be surprised to find the bike wanting to roll forward or backward due to the extra weight. Just little things to get used to as you pull a trailer.
Overall I am very happy with the trailer so far. I'll know more once we take it on a real bike camping trip. Also I found that a 22 gal. Rubbermaid type container will fit in the trailer with room to spare. That might be a better choice for hauling fragile items since you could make foam padding for the equipment and enjoy a nice water resistant seal. That might also be a better choice for hauling groceries as well since it would keep everything more tightly together than the bag that comes with the trailer.