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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 04-15-07, 08:00 PM   #1
donnamb 
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Burley Flatbed or Nomad?

Hey all,

I'm hoping to hear your opinions about the Burley Flatbed versus the Burley Nomad trailer. My brother and I are both car-free and live within 4 miles of each other. We decided that there was no reason not to split the cost of a utility trailer and share it. After a year of using my bike for about 90% of all my trips, I think I'm physically ready to pull a trailer. My brother has been using a bike almost exclusively for about 5 years. Now that he is a homeowner, it would be nice for him to be able to bring home largish items without always having to shell out for Flexcar.

We have our choice narrowed down to the 2 Burley trailers. We want a 2 wheeled trailer for sure - no BOB. My brother's fiancee and I prefer the stability of a side hitch, and we would both feel a lot better if my brother did not have the opportunity to do crazy things with a seatpost hitch trailer. Burley is a sure thing for safety and reliability, and either of the utility trailers are within our budgets. We can easily obtain them locally for the same price as mail order. A used Burley child trailer isn't going to save us much money in Portland - it's a seller's market for those here.

My brother has pretty much deferred the final decision making to his big sister (as usual ), and I was pretty much set to go with the Flatbed, when the guy at the LBS was convinced we should go with the Nomad. Sure, if Brother and I had all the money in the world, we'd have both - but we don't. The LBS guy feels the Nomad is a better quality trailer, will carry more (though Burley says the limit for both is 100 lbs), more versatile, etc. The only thing that gave me pause is the LBS is a co-op and not known for steering customers to needless purchases. But really, the Flatbed seems more versatile to me as you can carry weird, bulky items with it that may not fit in the Nomad. As to the quality - what do I know? Not much.

Many of you good folk do, however. So here I am, starting this thread in hopes of some good advice. Brother and I can only get one. Which do you think it should be?

Links:

Flatbed - http://www.burley.com/products/flatbed.html

Nomad - http://www.burley.com/products/nomad.html
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Old 04-15-07, 08:17 PM   #2
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Not sure why exactly you are buying a trailer. But there are quite a few threads in Carfree living on this...particularly lately. Most seem to want something that you can use to haul groceries or other types of shopping.

My first thought would be to have a trailer that you could unhitch from the bike, push into the store, fill up, then proceed to the checkout. I was impressed with this wike for that http://www.wicycle.com/gcs.htm

However, I suppose the additional unloading from the shopping cart to a rubbermaid type box on the Flatbed wouldn't be that much of a deal.

But if you are looking for votes, I would say go for the nomad. It looks like you could just put your bags right in... no need for an additional container.

Only problem is that you won't be able to use it to move a mini-fridge or something largish.
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Old 04-15-07, 08:34 PM   #3
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The Flat Bed, Donna. Much more versatile.

A tub helps for small loose things, and one of those bungie spider-webs is invaluable too.
I did have to modify the hitch so it would not interfere with my hub. It was the Rohloff's torque arm that was in the way. I'm betting your Shimano hub will be ok as is.
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Old 04-15-07, 08:46 PM   #4
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I have a Nomad. It replaced a 2-children bike trailer as the children are now too tall for the trailer, the old trailer is worn out (more than 8000 km in all weather), and I wanted a trailer that could be useful for touring. All in all, I went for the Nomad because I thought it would be relatively unobstrusive and fairly lightweight, and so far after a little over a year, I am quite satisfied.

Differences?

– The Nomad uses 16" wheels whereas the Flatbed uses 20" wheels. I think it's a trivial matter unless you ride a bike or trike with 20" wheels or if you ride on soft terrain.

– The Nomad is 7" narrower. I find it makes a good difference. When I was riding with the 2-children trailer (with 32.25"), I felt like I was using a bit too much space on the road. Not that much a problem on city streets or roads with a good paved shoulders, but a bit more problematic when riding on narrow, high-speed 2-lane roads. The Nomad feels like it's just about my width, so it works fine on the road. And if you like bike paths or multi-use paths, you'll have less "squeezing" to do in tight spaces.

– I don't know how your appartment or your brother's is made, but my kitchen is at ground level. I had to cut the axle of the 2-children trailer to shave the 0,15-0,20" it needed to go through the door. The Nomad fits through the door like a charm, which means I bring the loaded trailer in the middle of the kitchen.

– On the Nomad, you can remove the cover and fold down the front and rear panels. It then looks and feels like a Flatbed... except it's 4" narrower. You'll have to decide whether 18" inside width is enough for you.

– If you want to carry groceries or anything loose with the Flatbed, you'll need to add a plastic basket on it. If you travel most of the time with the Flatbed and basket, your trailer will be heavier and will stick more in the wind. Or you run the chance of NOT having the basket when you need it.
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Old 04-19-07, 08:58 PM   #5
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Well guys, I stopped by the LBS on the way home from work tonight and rode home with a Burley flatbed attached to my bike. As you predicted Allen, no problems with the hitch and my Nexus 8 hub. Like many people who do not share my spatial visualization learning disability, the LBS guy was perplexed by my insisting that I remove and put on the hitch 3 times before I left, but that's ok. It was the same guy who isn't all that fond of them, though he showed me what to look for if the trailer has too much weight on it and where to bolt on a board for support if I wished to carry heavier objects in the future.

I put my pannier on it for a little ballast on the ride home, and it was amazing how much lighter I felt with it on the trailer versus attached to my rear rack. It was actually fun to pull. My brother and his fiancee are most excited to be co-owning this trailer, and will be riding over in the next week to learn how to attach it. I decided to get it now instead of next month because my garage flooded on Tuesday and I will be taking many objects to the dump. Fortunately, nothing bicycle-related was damaged. 'm also excited to be able to purchase the really big bags of kitter litter once more.

Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate it.
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Old 04-20-07, 12:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by donnamb
'm also excited to be able to purchase the really big bags of kitter litter once more.
Okay, maybe it's time for me to look into these. Not only is the kitty litter an issue, but so is water softener salt.

The flatbed's load limit is 100 lbs. Anyone venture beyond that?
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Old 04-20-07, 01:21 PM   #7
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The guy at the LBS said if you bolted a board to the front and rear main frame tube so the weight is not resting on the fabric, you could most likely carry more. That said, if you want to carry really heavy loads, perhaps the Burley is not for you. How heavy are the bags of water softener?
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Old 04-20-07, 06:17 PM   #8
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Good choice, Donna. I think you'll like that trailer. I've had my flatbed for over three years and it's a great piece of gear.

For a while I was using it almost daily. To the point where, when I went to a rack and panniers on two of my bikes, they felt weird without the trailer back there.

I modified my flatbed by taking the rear reflectors off the aluminum tabs, rotating the tabs 90º so they point outboard, and clipping a Cateye TL-LD500 on each rear corner of the trailer. Two active lights and reflectors on the back. A zip-tie run through the hole in the end of each tab keeps the lights from sliding off the ends of the tabs, although the fit is tight enough that this doesn't seem it's ever going to be a problem.

I have used my daughter's Solo as a covered utility trailer and have found the Flatbed to be much more versatile.

Some thoughts on modifying the trailer to carry more weight:
I think the 100 lb. limit is conservative on the part of Burley.
I know the 15 mph speed limit (do they still put that warning in the owner's manual?) is way conservative.
I think a solid bed and a solid axle would allow the trailer to carry more weight.
It wouldn't surprise me if modifying the trailer like this to carry more weight voids the warranty.

Last edited by CommuterRun; 04-20-07 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 04-20-07, 07:12 PM   #9
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Good choice, Donna. I think you'll like that trailer. I've had my flatbed for over three years and it's a great piece of gear.

For a while I was using it almost daily. To the point where, when I went to a rack and panniers on two of my bikes, they felt weird without the trailer back there.

I modified my flatbed by taking the rear reflectors off the aluminum tabs, rotating the tabs 90º so they point outboard, and clipping a Cateye TL-LD500 on each rear corner of the trailer. Two active lights and reflectors on the back. A zip-tie run through the hole in the end of each tab keeps the lights from sliding off the ends of the tabs, although the fit is tight enough that this doesn't seem it's ever going to be a problem.

I have used my daughter's Solo as a covered utility trailer and have found the Flatbed to be much more versatile.

Some thoughts on modifying the trailer to carry more weight:
I think the 100 lb. limit is conservative on the part of Burley.
I know the 15 mph speed limit (do they still put that warning in the owner's manual?) is way conservative.
I think a solid bed and a solid axle would allow the trailer to carry more weight.
It wouldn't surprise me if modifying the trailer like this to carry more weight voids the warranty.

I think if I was going to modify a trailer that much, I would get a couple of wheels off an old kids bike someone was dumping, and built my own trailer. Not hard, with a couple of wheels, and some of that left over lumber in the garage....

I would think, build a frame out of some 2x2 lumber, attach a wheel on either side, use wood or a hunk of metal pipe to rise from floor to saddle height, then wrap a piece of old inner tube around the seatpost, for a hitch. Nail or screw some plywood to the frame, if you want walls, you just build them ontop. Another option to walls, is to get a package of screw eyes (they have a screw on one end, and a metal loop on the other, put one every 15cm or so, around the ootside, add a few bungie cords, and loads do not have to fit within the trailer. If you go with the screw eye method, you might want to build boxes around the inside of the wheel, amf a wall at the front, so stuff doesn't end up in the spokes.
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Old 04-20-07, 10:31 PM   #10
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I too think the 100-lb capacity is conservative. But there are a few factors to consider:

– The trailer won't break apart when you reach that magical number, but make sure the load does have a flat bottom.

– The heavier the load, the more the arm flexes. You'll have to cycle very constantly to avoid any back-and-forth movements.
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Old 04-22-07, 08:15 AM   #11
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I have been reading this thread with interest as i need a new trailer.

The Nomad (without bag) seems to be what is required.

I need it to fold flat,to go on the back of the motorhome (RV).Lightness is also important.

It needs to have a degree of side protection and a securing point for my little dog.We do not want a 'baby buggy' style.It will also have other uses.

The literature available does not seem to show the Nomad without the bag in place.I cannot find a cycle shop in UK that has a stock item i can look at before purchase.

Perhaps Michel or others could answer my queries.

Zoot,best of the Four Brothers.
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Old 04-22-07, 04:10 PM   #12
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I covet your trailer!
Although, I might have to go for a Nomad... Or build one. Still making up my mind.
Where did you pick up your trailer, if you don't mind my asking? I think I need to poke around at a couple Burleys to get my mind made up.
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Old 04-24-07, 08:02 PM   #13
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I covet your trailer!
Although, I might have to go for a Nomad... Or build one. Still making up my mind.
Where did you pick up your trailer, if you don't mind my asking? I think I need to poke around at a couple Burleys to get my mind made up.
Citybikes. They have both. They also have a Blue Sky model, but that was out of our budget and we didn't want a seatpost hitch. Oh, and Burley has changed the hitches for 2007, so if you want a 2006 hitch, get cracking.
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Old 04-24-07, 08:24 PM   #14
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BTW, guys, I had this 75 lbs dead TV that a jerk of a former housemate left in my garage. I took it to the recycling center in my flatbed on Saturday. It was fun! I felt so independent...
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Old 04-24-07, 11:14 PM   #15
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For me, the flatbed would be the perfect trailer. I'd be able to make so many mods for that thing I could start a small business selling them (if I lived in a bike friendly area). If either of you are handy with a drill, dremel, and wrench the flatbed would be ideal. But I don't know your brother or you that well... but I do have a big crush on you and my wife is jealous.
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Old 04-25-07, 06:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZootSims
I have been reading this thread with interest as i need a new trailer.

The Nomad (without bag) seems to be what is required.... The literature available does not seem to show the Nomad without the bag in place.I cannot find a cycle shop in UK that has a stock item i can look at before purchase.

I'll try my best.
I'm not sure what you mean by "The Nomad without the bag in place". There are a few interesting pictures in the Instruction manual that comes with the Nomad and Flatbed. Look at the exploded views of the Nomad on pages 8 and 15, and of the Flatbed on pages 6 and 16

First, neither trailer folds. In the case of the Nomad:

- The cover may be removed fairly easily. In fact, if you plan to remove it very often, you might replace the two knobs (#19 on page 15) with standard bolts and simply install the cover over the bots. Removing the cover before storage is then even faster.

- The two side panels slide in pegs and are secured with clips. Easy to remove if that's what you want or need to do. I would look at another approach: use zip ties as an added safety to attach the side panels even more reliably.

- The wheels have a quick release.

I think points two and three also apply to the Nomad.

One question you should ask yourself is whether you want to store the bike trailer outside while the motorhome is parked or while it's moving.
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Old 04-28-07, 09:51 AM   #17
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Thank you,Michael,for that link.

I can now see all the information i need.

N


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Old 04-28-07, 11:17 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by donnamb
BTW, guys, I had this 75 lbs dead TV that a jerk of a former housemate left in my garage. I took it to the recycling center in my flatbed on Saturday. It was fun! I felt so independent...
Yes!!! Preparing for our (next week) move to Portland, I've made a few runs to the recycling center with my bike and trailer. It is still-after 10 years-a wonderful feeling to be able to carry things of size on/with a bicycle. Good for you, Donna.
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Old 04-28-07, 11:59 AM   #19
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Thanks, Tony.
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