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  1. #1
    Year-round cyclist
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    Burley Nomad and other cargo trailers.

    Hello Folks,

    Time to upgrade the bicycle trailer.

    I currently have a Chariot 2-children trailer: a 2000 model, which is fairly close to this. The kids have outgrown it and for the last 2 years I have used it only for cargo. However, the fabric is on its last days: there are a few really worn areas in the floor (mostly from children's feet) and the plastic of the front door is held by lots of clear tape. Therefore I am looking at a few alternatives:

    1. Repairing the floor with a few patches and lining it with Coroplast, and replacing completely the front door by new fabric.

    2. Buying the "Classic Cargo Kit", which simply is a professional version of the above repair work. Nicer looking and more resistant than the above.

    Here are my issues with the current trailer; most of them won't be addressed with the two options I just described:
    - The trailer is large and high, but it has a fixed roof and a structural member going from side to side at the top. With the door configuration, it is not a problem to carry groceries, but getting bulky items in the trailer is a challenge. And it is next to impossible to carry a bike in the trailer.
    - The floor sags a lot, partly by design (foot cage), partly due to wear. Not too much of a problem with cans, but it is hard to carry potted plants and not get a spill.
    - It's a 32" wide relatively high trailer: lots of wind resistance and a bit bulky to manoeuvre (especially to drive it into the house).
    - Wheel bearing cartridges will need to be replaced soon: a minor expense, but still something to consider. Even though they spin freely, the wheels definitely cause some major drag, robbing me of at least 2-3 km/h under the best circumstances.
    - The towing bar (the piece that goes from the trailer body to the hitch) tends to spring a bit: a little like a "Slinky" effect. If I accelerate unevenly, hit a pothole, a speedbump, etc., I feel that the trailer wants to spring forward and backward as if the arm flexes under the load. I start feeling it when the trailer has more than 50 lb and it's definitely an annoying problem with more than 80 lb in it. I haven't seen any cracks in the bar so it is not a safety issue, but I would find it *very* annoying if I were to ride 50 or 100 km fully loaded.

    I wonder to which extent these issues would be addressed by a new trailer.

    3. Buying another trailer such as the Burley Flatbed, the Wike Cargo trailer or the CargoTrailer. However, I think I might be buying a too heavy trailer for my needs.

    4. Buying a Burley Nomad.
    Probably my preferred option.
    I have been able to see it for real in one store but it was up in the air. I have been able to see the traditional hitch and I tried it with my single, but not (yet) with my tandem or trailercycle. I must add that I am NOT considering a single wheel trailer because of stability issues under heavy load and because I also want to hitch it behind the Piccolo once in a while.


    ***********

    Here are my questions:

    HITCH
    - Anyone has used both the regular hitch and the alternative hitch? Is it worth the extra money?
    - One issue I have with the alternative hitch is that it is offered in two lengths: 126 to 135 mm, and 140 to 160 mm. As I have a tandem and a single, is it possible to use the longer hitch with regular bikes or do the lack of threads prevent it?
    - Is the regular hitch hard on paint?
    - Does the regular hitch work with an Arai drum brake?
    - With the regular hitch (but not the alternative one), they post a warning for below 0 C (32 F) temperatures. Anyone with cold-weather experience here?
    - When the bicycle leans to the side, where does the twisting occur? Does the tow bar swivel where it attaches to the Nomad or is it the rubber elastometer that twists severely? (The Chariot Carrier uses a ball joint, so the ball rotates in the hitch receiver).
    - Is it easy to attach to the bike and detach from it when fully loaded (i.e. getting the grocery inside the house)?

    CONFIGURATION
    I read that the front and rear may be folded if necessary. Is it a quick job or a chore?

    CARGO
    I know it has a fabric floor, not a plywood floor. If I carry 50-75 lb of stuff like a full load of preserves, canned tomatoes, potted plants, etc., does the floor remain level or does it sag noticeably?
    Once I remove the front wheel, how easy is it to fit an un-boxed bicycle in it? I am aware that I'll have to wrap the fork ends to prevent them from going through the fabric.

    CROSS MEMBER
    As I looked through the Nomad documentation (page 8), I see there is a horizontal cross member (or roll bar).

    Is it necessary to have that cross member at all times? Is it easy to install and remove?
    In other words, if I carry a bulky load, can I remove it without having the trailer fall apart, and is it an ordeal to remove?

    COVER
    It seems that the cover can be installed and removed quickly. Right?

    WHEELS
    Any long-term issues, in terms of drag, maintenance or durability?

    GENERAL
    Anyone has attached taillights or done other customization to it?


    Thanks.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  2. #2
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Seems like a waste to get rid of a perfectly good trailer. I would vote for fixing up your current one as best as possible.

  3. #3
    Conservative Hippie
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    I have the Burley Flatbed and use it almost daily. I really like this trailer. I also have the Burley Solo that gets used once in a while.

    HITCH
    - Anyone has used both the regular hitch and the alternative hitch? Is it worth the extra money?
    - One issue I have with the alternative hitch is that it is offered in two lengths: 126 to 135 mm, and 140 to 160 mm. As I have a tandem and a single, is it possible to use the longer hitch with regular bikes or do the lack of threads prevent it?
    *I have had no problems with the regular hitch, but I haven't used the trailer in below freezing temperatures. I haven't tried the alternative hitch.

    - Is the regular hitch hard on paint?
    *Yes, the regular hitch will rub away the paint where it makes contact with the bike.

    - Does the regular hitch work with an Arai drum brake?
    *Don't know, I've never used a drum brake.

    - With the regular hitch (but not the alternative one), they post a warning for below 0 C (32 F) temperatures. Anyone with cold-weather experience here?
    *I've never used the trailer in below freezing temperatures.

    - When the bicycle leans to the side, where does the twisting occur? Does the tow bar swivel where it attaches to the Nomad or is it the rubber elastometer that twists severely? (The Chariot Carrier uses a ball joint, so the ball rotates in the hitch receiver).
    *With my trailers, it's the elastometer that twists and stretches, but this doesn't seem to be a problem. This hitch is designed so that the bike can be layed flat to either side while the trailer is connected.

    - Is it easy to attach to the bike and detach from it when fully loaded (i.e. getting the grocery inside the house)?
    *Yes, the load on the trailer makes almost no difference in attaching or taking it off the bike.

    CONFIGURATION
    I read that the front and rear may be folded if necessary. Is it a quick job or a chore?
    *On these trailers, the drawbar can be folded under the trailer bed and the wheels can be taken off by the QR skewers. This is very easy to do.

    CARGO
    I know it has a fabric floor, not a plywood floor. If I carry 50-75 lb of stuff like a full load of preserves, canned tomatoes, potted plants, etc., does the floor remain level or does it sag noticeably?
    Once I remove the front wheel, how easy is it to fit an un-boxed bicycle in it? I am aware that I'll have to wrap the fork ends to prevent them from going through the fabric.
    *The fabric floor is very sturdy. That being said, I load my trailer so that the load is spread over as much of the floor as practical. When the fabric does wear out, and it eventually will, I plan to replace the floor with thin plywood. I haven't tried to carry another bicycle, but with the Flatbed I don't think it would be difficult.

    CROSS MEMBER
    As I looked through the Nomad documentation (page 8), I see there is a horizontal cross member (or roll bar).

    Is it necessary to have that cross member at all times? Is it easy to install and remove?
    In other words, if I carry a bulky load, can I remove it without having the trailer fall apart, and is it an ordeal to remove?
    *Don't know about the Nomad. With my Solo I could remove the upper frame and cover and use it as a flatbed, but I've never had reason to do this since I also have the Flatbed.

    COVER
    It seems that the cover can be installed and removed quickly. Right?
    *On the solo it can. I would assume the same would be true with the Nomad. The Flatbed, of course, has no cover, but a piece of tarp tied over the load works well for this.

    WHEELS
    Any long-term issues, in terms of drag, maintenance or durability?
    *The only thing I've run into is a non-issue. The valves are Shraeder and the valves on a lot of bikes are Presta. Don't forget to carry a spare tube for the trailer as well as the bike.

    A trailer with a load on it does affect the handling of the bike. The drag makes the bike more stable, but less nimble and maneuverable.
    The opposite is true with very long and heavy trailers, i.e. when I tow a loaded canoe on my Wike Woody Wagon.

    GENERAL
    Anyone has attached taillights or done other customization to it?
    *On my Flatbed I replaced the reflectors with Cateye TL-LD500 tail lights. This light gives me a CPSC certified reflector and an active light in a single package.
    I also used PVC pipe for cross members on the front and rear of my flatbed, attached with big Zip-Ties, so that with my normal load, 25 qt. cooler and a backpack, I can just sit them in the trailer without having to tie them down.
    I also attached two pieces of PVC pipe vertically to the rear of the trailer to carry fishing rods.

    edit-- Is the regular hitch hard on paint?
    *Yes, the regular hitch will rub away the paint where it makes contact with the bike.
    **I have considered mitigating this by padding the attachment area with strips of old innertube. But it's one of those things I never quite got around to and it's pointless now that the paint's gone in this area on all my bikes.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 01-21-06 at 06:14 AM.

  4. #4
    Year-round cyclist
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    Seems like a waste to get rid of a perfectly good trailer. I would vote for fixing up your current one as best as possible.

    Right now, it is not a "perfectly good trailer" considering the amount of work it needs. I have visited only one canvas shop yet, but so far option 1 (sewing patches) and option 2 (buying the "cargo kit") come to almost the same price. If I were to buy a new trailer, I might be able to use some of its parts and I might also give away or sell cheaply the old beaten up trailer to a family that does the more typical "stroll on Sunday" with the kids. My trailer has been used for 5000 km so far, and even last year, in cargo-only mode, I used it for about 500 km. Most people don't do 500 km in the entire child's life, so their needs are different than mine.

    Still, repairing and upgrading the old trailer is definitely an appealing proposal, as long as it's not a money pit. In other words, I don't want to spend 300 $ (for example) on it in repairs/maintenance in the next two years if I can buy a new trailer that is lighter and seems more versatile for cargo for not too much more.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  5. #5
    Year-round cyclist
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    Thanks for the detailed reply, CommuterRun.

    I just realised that I might even have another alternative to the alternative hitch: the EZHitch used by my old Chariot 2-children carrier may fit onto the Burley tow bar. I'll check measurements at the shop. Should I say "Measure twice, shop once"?
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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