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Old 06-08-14, 06:24 PM   #1
bikenh
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Handling of a Burley trailer at high speed

How well do they handle? That may sound like a crazy question but I'm talking 50-55, maybe 60 mph. When loaded down with 25-30 pounds how well do they handle? How well would they handle on not so smooth road at those kinds of speeds. I just got a free Burley trailer from the guy who owns the local bike shop and I'm starting to seriously think of using it for the bike trip this summer and I know one area I'm planning on getting myself around I tend to have a feeling it wouldn't be hard to hit 50-55+ mph going down the road. Yes, I fully tend to tuck the drop, I've been waiting ages to ride the drop and see how fast I could go down it. I'm not sure what the conditions of the pavement are since I haven't been on the road since spring of 2007 hence why I add in the possibility of not having smooth pavement.
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Old 06-08-14, 09:24 PM   #2
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others with real life experience with trailers will chime in, but I would be seriously careful about going quickly with a trailer. It seems to me that even at half the speed you are throwing out has potential for all kinds of wrong to happen.
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Old 06-08-14, 09:26 PM   #3
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Hard to take your post seriously as this speed would hardly be safe practice on a bike without a trailer (IMHO)
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Old 06-08-14, 09:46 PM   #4
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The fastest I have ever went down a hill was 77.4 KMs/Hr without a trailer... So, that's nowhere near 55-60MPH... But I suspect, having seen what happens to my trailer when I am pulling it and it hits a pothole at lets say 30KMs/Hr the outlook is not good at 55+MPH in my opinion....
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Old 06-08-14, 11:11 PM   #5
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crossing the usa pulling a heavily-laden BOB, hit 56 kmh in the ozarks, according
to my companions electronical speedometer. no problems with handling.

but you wanna do this with a BURLEY? i don't think i'd trust the two-wheel,
single arm on one side attachment thingie at that speed.
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Old 06-09-14, 03:13 AM   #6
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Reference the posted maximum speed for the trailer and don't deviate from it.
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Old 06-09-14, 04:37 AM   #7
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The owner's manual says this.......

"4. Observe recommended speed limits: a maximum of 15 mph (24 km/h) on smooth, straight roads and 5 mph (8 km/h) or less when turning or on uneven roads."
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Old 06-09-14, 07:14 AM   #8
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Without a wagon it took me every bit of effort to hit 60mph on an 8% grade into Cedar City, UT here. This was without a load, fully tucked, hammering, etc. To this day this is my favorite descent.

We did a tour in the Adirondacks a few years ago. I rode a LHT with Burley TailWaggin:

There are some nice hills in the Adirondacks. I don't recall the top speed I hit on our fastest downhill, but I'm certain it wasn't anywhere near 60mph (despite the grade being more than 8%). The trailer rode so wonderfully that I didn't even notice it was there. This was with a 35# dog in the back. I had to sand bag a bit because my wife isn't super confident at high speeds, but I definitely let loose for a stretch here and there and had no issues at all.

If I had to guess my top speed was probably around 40mph. You have a lot of surface area that's going to slow you down - not sure that 60 is a reasonable expectation.

Last edited by benda18; 06-09-14 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 06-09-14, 02:33 PM   #9
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I hit 40 mph with my Burly nomad on the back of my LHT a few years ago in California,didn't even know it was back there. I had about 35 or 40 LBS in the trailer.
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Old 06-09-14, 03:49 PM   #10
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you could add trailer brakes.
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Old 06-09-14, 04:32 PM   #11
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Remember Newton's first law of motion. How do you plan on decelerating?
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Old 06-09-14, 05:12 PM   #12
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60 mph? No idea.

Longwinded ramble on trailers...

I do own a few trailers, though. The best for cargo, in my opinion, is the Burley Nomad. You can haul a fair bit of weight in one, and the wind resistance is low due to the low profile. Far better than a kiddo trailer.

The child trailers have too much frontal area. Any wind at all, really drags on you. The difference between hauling 50 pounds in my Nomad versus 50 pounds in my kiddo trailer is night and day. When I'm pulling our child trailer ( Baby Jogger Tailwind ), there is definitely NOT a tailwind. lol.

I prefer a trailer with a flexible hitch coupling like the Burley versus the Bob style. The more independently the bike can move in relation to the trailer, the better in my opinion. I've also seen some trailers that attach to the seat post instead of your rear axle area. I'd much prefer to have the attachment point down low. In my view, with a flexible joint between the trailer and bike, less forces that are acting on the trailer are transmitted to the bike itself. Think about it. You wouldn't rigidly mount a trailer to a car, would you? No. You'd have a hitch with a joint (ball/socket) to allow each to move with some degree of independence. The weight of the trailer does not upset the parked balance of the bike either, when you stop. This being said, I can see two small advantages in my mind to the Bob type of trailer. Being that they are fairly narrow, on a windy day they probably drag you down a little less than something like a Nomad would. Also, the Burley sticks out just a tad to the left, where the narrow Bob is right in your shadow. But just like there are Chevy and Ford guys, there are probably Nomad and Bob guys. I'm in the Nomad camp. Probably one of the best things I've spent money on. Bobs are good solid units with some advantages in their own right. It's what you prefer.

I'm a believer in keeping the weight on the trailer instead of your bike. An unladen bike pulling a trailer feels a lot more nimble to me than a trailerless bike with a bunch of stuff in panniers. I know there are differing opinions on this, just putting my 2 cents in. Not up for starting a war, as I know a bazillion other folks are fans of hauling 50 pounds of gear on their bikes. Not me. I used to haul a lot of crap in panniers, and once I moved to the Nomad, never looked back.

The fastest I've been moving with my Nomad with any heavy load is probably 30mph. No issues at that speed at all. Sure, I can see if you had 200 pounds on a trailer and went down a hill at 65 mph, probably not the safest idea on a bicycle.


Anyway, just some random trailer thoughts since I use mine pretty often. A lot of the time, I just leave the empty Nomad attached even when I have no specific cargo hauling agenda. Empty, unless it's super windy, you forget it's back there in large part. Yeah, you have to devote 1/10 of a brain cell to it when turning, backing up, in traffic, etc, but it's cake.

Last edited by syncro87; 06-09-14 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:46 PM   #13
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I'm too lazy to drag out all my old posts about my terrible crash with an overloaded BOB. I totally would not do what you are suggesting.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:50 PM   #14
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I fess I'm not sure what top speed on said hill would be. I know what I've seen going down it from a stopped position and then coasting in neutral in a car during the higher air resistant winter months...90+ mph, several times. I know it's the only drop I've been down that I always have found myself going "oh crap" when the bottom suddenly falls out. It is a nice 2-2.5 mile long descent that is pretty much straight the whole way down it until a VERY wide open, 90 mph in a car during the winter months, S-turn at the bottom. I've been curious for a long time to see how fast you could get going down it on a streetluge or now on a bike. For some reason I have a feeling it probably is only 45-50 but it seems like it should be faster given the drop. Yeah, I know physics.

I know I was on the drop going west out of Cazenovia, NY on US20 two years ago and hit 46.5 mph going down it and I didn't know the same "oh crop" feeling like I do on the drop I'm planning on doing this summer. It's the only drop I've had the experience on...in a car.
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Old 06-09-14, 06:44 PM   #15
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A lot of this would depend on how much weight you had in the trailer. I don't think I'd worry a whole lot about 20 pounds of cargo in there and flying down a hill any more than I would already worry about flying down the hill without my Nomad behind me. Now, you start getting into the 40-50 pound + range, I get a little more leery of it. But sub 20 pounds, I think would have a pretty minimal effect on you. I would assume that trailer aside, if you're going to be hauling down a mountain at high speed, you'd already have made sure you had quality brakes on your bike capable of dealing with the task. The trailer, modestly loaded, would not worry me too much assuming that your brakes were high quality in the first place. Now, adding a trailer and cargo to a bike that already had no business rocketing down a long hill, that's another story.
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Old 06-10-14, 04:45 AM   #16
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I've had my loaded Nomad up in the 40s many times. It's no big deal. It has a very low center of gravity and tracks just fine, very stable. Don't think I've ever hit 50.
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Old 06-10-14, 08:44 AM   #17
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I've had my loaded Nomad up in the 40s many times. It's no big deal. It has a very low center of gravity and tracks just fine, very stable. Don't think I've ever hit 50.
Yeah, the only reason I was leery of endorsing the idea to the OP is that I hadn't done this myself. I agree, the Nomad tracks great, very low CG, no issues at all in my experience. Unless you just had a ridiculous amount of weight in it, or crappy brakes, or a legendary downhill speed/distance, I'd be pretty comfortable with having mine behind me.

To the OP, let me re-emphasize that there is a huge difference between an upright kid trailer and a Nomad. The kid style trailers are like giant sails behind you.
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Old 06-10-14, 04:22 PM   #18
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This is a, right now, a kid trailer, that I'm already in the process of removing the top from it and replacing it so that it doesn't collect the wind...and so I also lose a couple extra pounds of trailer weight. I realize the secret, just like with a backpack, is put the heavy stuff on the bottom so the weight stays down low and helps out quite nicely to keep things balanced. I'm sitting, right now, just across the street from one of the biggest drops around where I live. Quite frequently I hit 45+ mph going down it. Hopefully, if tonight and tomorrow goes well i'm going to load down the trailer with dummy weight and head for the top of the hill and see how it goes. The hill is even more perfect of a hill since it does have a couple of street wide cuts where they have had to replace water/sewer lines. Other than those two spots the rest of the road is smooth. The only problem with the road is the intersection about 2/3rd of the way down. That's the nice thing about the drop on the trip, there are no intersections, just a straight drop.
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Old 06-10-14, 06:15 PM   #19
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Cool. I don't think you'll have a problem. Burley actually sells, or used to sell, a flatbed trailer that is basically just the bottom of a kid trailer, no roof/windows, so you're basically going to have one of those. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 06-11-14, 07:45 AM   #20
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There still is a Flat bed.. I have the 20" wheel version, the post CoOp PI made ones use a 16" wheel.

It is possible to replace the elastomer connection to a metal universal joint one

if you have the mechanical chops to make one.
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Old 06-17-14, 06:57 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syncro87 View Post
Cool. I don't think you'll have a problem. Burley actually sells, or used to sell, a flatbed trailer that is basically just the bottom of a kid trailer, no roof/windows, so you're basically going to have one of those. Let us know how it goes.
I used to have a Burley Flatbed that I used to haul stuff around town. The fastest I ever went with it was a bit over 30 mph (in a straight line, I wouldn't corner at that speed), with about 80 lbs on the trailer, and it didn't give me any problems. A few observations: First, make sure that you have enough tongue weight - insufficient tongue weight will make the trailer shimmy. Put heavy stuff near the front of the trailer and tie it down well, since it will tend to shift backward with road vibrations. Second, be aware that two-wheel trailers are prone to rolling over in high-speed turns and be much more conservative in cornering than you would be without the trailer. Third, your braking technique will be different - you'll use the rear brakes more than you would without the trailer. Fourth, you may want to replace the elastomer coupler. It is a wearing part, and IIRC, Burely recommends replacing that every two years if it gets exposed to a lot of UV.

All that said, I wouldn't want to go 60 mph with any kind of trailer.
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Old 06-17-14, 08:19 PM   #22
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We hit 54.9 MPH on our touring bikes fully loaded in the Rockies last summer. It was fun. You really notice the weighting imperfections of your wheel/tire at that speed. We used panniers and it was fine. Most of the descents were 20-40 MPH depending on steepness and at that speed it was very stable. Our fully loaded weight is much less than some of the bikes posted to this forum, however...
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Old 06-17-14, 08:31 PM   #23
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Anyone who thinks it's safe/OK to go 60MPH with a trailer in tow needs to follow someone with a trailer on and watch what happens to said trailer when it hits a pothole at any speed. Many a time I have seen them leave the ground and seen what's in them fly out and the person towing doesn't have the faintest clue what happened... What that tells me is things are OK, until they aren't, than it's too late to slow down...
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