experience over lungs
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
Bikes: Marin Cortina, Bianchi San Jose
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I am car-free, so I get a lot of use out of my trailers. I had a BOB and now have a Burley Nomad (first design, which is pretty identical to now except that the tarp's high point is toward the back instead of the front). I used the BOB around town for a couple of years and also did a two week, 1,000 mile solo tour with it along the west coast. The BOB had two big strengths -- it's a breeze in traffic and tracks great. The downside is that it can really affect steering on a descent when loaded, is very hard on frames when loaded (in some circumstances, it can exert a pretty strong force on the rear triangle, a force that is very similar to the tools used to straighten steel frames), and is a pain to deal with when mounting and dismounting. Also, while it was the most popular trailer among all those I met along the route, most had failures that required emergency welding (I did not, but I was only carrying around 50 pounds). I met a guy who did the whole coast from Alaska to Patagonia, and he had to have the thing repaired a few times. I hear that they have improved that joint, but I wonder about the design in general. But it was convenient. Lastly, at least half the weight is put on the rear wheel of the bike, so you have to have a strong enough wheel.
The Burley Nomad is excellent and really doesn't have any of the problems of the BOB. Having two wheels is seldom a problem, even in tight traffic (the Nomad is narrower than most two wheeled trailers). There is almost no load placed on the bike (the new model does move more of the load onto the bike so rear wheel traction is improved in turns, but it still is much less than the BOB). I also like that I can remove the canopy and have a flatbed, making it more flexible in use than the BOB (I have hauled groceries, lumber, and the dog in this thing in different configurations). The only real downsides are that when first getting started, it does lurch a little bit and it can dive a little in a turn (an issue with all two wheeled trailers). Unlike the BOB, I feel confident using this trailer on a bike with any kind of geometry (for the BOB, a longer wheelbase with a stout rear triangle is preferred). Lastly, you don't have to worry about how you load it.
I am friends with the guy who did the remodels of the Burley trailers (he does not work for Burley), and so know how they could be better if they were willing to charge a little more, but I can understand the choices the company made. I think they are the gold standard of trailers, as long as you upgrade to the skewer mount (I haven't and don't really mind, but the skewer mount is a much better design). The only issue with Burley is that the company has gone through some significant changes over the past year, so I wonder about parts and service in the long term. On another trailer, it wouldn't matter as much because I wouldn't expect it to last long, but Burley's last forever (they have amazing resale value for a trailer) and are modularly built, so you can easily bring a sick one back to life.
I don't know a lot about some of the newer brands of trailers out there or the ones from Euroupe. It does seem like there are more options now than ever, and many have borrowed well from the Burley design, so it probably pays to do a lot of internet research. Last time I looked into it, I couldn't find another trailer that rode as well as the Burley in the same weight class. I'd be curious to hear about what you find.