The Best Bike Trailers

I love to ride my bicycle, I love to ride my bike as the song goes. And for many of us, we do truly love to ride our bikes. Cycling is fun, maybe you stick to paved roads, maybe you race, maybe you cycle mountain trails. You might have even been on a cycling holiday or plan to. The biggest drawback with a bike is carrying more than you have in your pockets. The basket at the front of your grandmother’s bike is not really practical for much more than a few groceries. So what are your options, you could load up a day backpack, but this is not ideal and will cause stress on your back. What about panniers? Panniers are the bags which can sit to each side of the cycle back and front wheels, these work well but it is best to try and distribute the weight evenly, and if you want to take more than one change of clothes or a larger tent. This is especially true if you are a family taking a biking holiday. Or you like to ride off road, and putting all that extra weight on our bike frame in panniers is worrying, what then? Well a bike trailer. Bike trailer really come into two categories, one wheel, and two wheel trailers, both with advantages and disadvantages. Have a look below at the top 5 trailers, how to choose and what you need to know.

The Top Rated Picks

Burley Nomad
  • Burley Nomad
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Excellent overall quality
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Weber Monoporter
  • Weber Monoporter
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Stable and secure
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Bob Ibex
  • Bob Ibex
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reliable performance
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Burley Nomad

Number of wheels: 2

Type of bike attachment: Axle with pivot

Weight: 6.5KG

Size:82cm x 55cm x 57cm

Cargo Space: 105 litres/ 50KG

Wheel size (in/cm): 16/41

Overview

The Nomad is a two wheel trailer from Burley. This trailer is designed specifically for touring, with a huge cargo capacity. This heavy duty trailer is also very light weight. The trailer includes a waterproof cover and fabric side to ensure whatever you are hauling will remain dry whatever the weather conditions. Inside the trailer, you will find a large capacity, with a space divider which can be collapsed if not needed to separate luggage, and six interior clips to tie gear in place. The side panels feature three large mesh pockets to keep small items separate. The trailer folds down for ease of storage when you are not using it and the wheels can be removed with the push of a button so that they can be stored inside. When attached to your bike and fully loaded the balance point and center of gravity makes the trailer easy to tow and reduces stresses on your bike frame and axle. The two wheels offer good stability and tracking. The hitching the trailer is easy once you have installed the towing hitch and with the added safety straps the chances of you losing your trailer are slim if not impossible.

Pro’s

Quick and easy to hitch.

Hitch bolt/bracket can be left on the axle when not towing.

High capacity

Very stable.

Waterproof cover included

Foldable for storage.

Quick release wheels

Flex connector keeps trailer upright even if the bike has fallen down.

Con’s

Wider than your bike.

No suspension

Weber Monoporter

Number of wheels: 1

Type of bike attachment: Axil fixed

Weight: 5.7KG

Size: 76cm x 44cm x 15cm

Cargo Space: 25KG

Wheel size: 16/41

Overview

This is a great single wheel trailer. The aluminum frame and high strength plastic enable the Monoporter to be incredibly light but also strong. It can carry 25KG of cargo over all types of terrain. The width of this trailer is the same as your bike itself and as it connects to your bike with a double-sided coupling it just becomes part of your bike when cornering, the single wheel allowing it to lean with the bike into a bend. The coupling is very straight forward to attach. Once the hitch or coupling parts are attached to your axil, a job you only have to do once, the monoporter trailer just clip and locks in place. The trailer incorporates a suspension spring to protect your load from lumps, rocks and other general off-road impacts you might experience. The cargo bed is low to the ground to add to stability by lowering the center of gravity, however, this might over very rough terrain ground, but this would be rare. The flat cargo bed features ten slots to secure your luggage with the quick self-locking tension straps, or to fix the waterproof bag. The option of removing the waterproof bag enables you to carry loads which would not easily fit into the bag if the need ever arose. When you’re not using the trailer or if you need to put in into a suitcase to transport via train or plane the monoporter can fold to an average suitcase size, and an optional transport bag is available. It comes in two standard colors of silver or red, but 12 additional custom colors can be ordered.

Pro’s

Quick and easy coupling

Follows your bikes wheels exactly.

Narrow, only as wide as your bike.

Low center of gravity

Removable waterproof bag

Steel suspension spring

Multiple colors to match the color of your bike.

Luggage clipping system

Con’s

One Wheel means less stable. If your bike falls over so does the trailer.

Bob Ibex

Number of wheels: 1

Type of bike attachment: Axil fixed

Weight: 7.7KG

Size: 64cm x 41cm x 46cm

Cargo Space: 35KG

Wheel size: 16/41

Overview

The Ibex is a strong single wheel trailer made from steel tubing, which adds to its weight compared to other single wheel trailers. However, the extra strength from the steel frame and steel mesh flatbed enable this trailer to carry just over 35Kg of luggage. The trailer is easy to hitch with the BOB quick release system, once the hitching components have been installed on your bike. The trailer has an adjustable suspension spring, which will protect your load from the bumps and lumps of rough off road terrain. And as the suspension spring it adjustable up and down  3 full inches it improves handling both on and off-road. The trailer follows the back wheel of the bike but is also pivoted to enable tighter corners when needed. The trailer does not include and bags or covers, as many other trailers do, but a tarp or waterproof sheet can easily be used to wrap your cargo and bungee strap it to the trailer. The trailer is compatible with all bicycles and even some motorbikes.

Pro’s

Adjustable suspension

Quick and easy coupling

Follows your bikes wheels exactly.

Narrow, only as wide as your bike.

Low center of gravity

Great on all terrains.

Con’s

Heavy compared to other single wheel trailers.

No bag or cover included

No cargo fixing system

Will fall over if the bike falls.

Extra Wheel

Number of wheels: 1

Type of bike attachment: Axil fixed

Weight: 4.79 KG

Size: not stated

Cargo Space: 35KG

Wheel size: 28/71

Overview

Extra wheel is exactly what is says, it is an extra wheel. If you don’t like the idea of pulling a trailer and prefer panniers, but need to carry more than four panniers can hold, then this is definitely for you. It is an extra wheel which you add more pannier too. The extra wheel is incredibly easy to fit, whether you have quick release axle, standard nut axle or even a gear differential axle, the extra wheel will fit in minutes the first installation and then in the second thereafter. Once attached the wheel pivots up and down from the axle fixing point, this may mean that the contents of the panniers on the extra wheel may be bounced and banged on rough terrains. As it is only a wheel it is very light weight, weighing less than 5 Kg but this does not mean that it can not carry as much as other trailers, in fact, it is able to carry up to 35Kg of cargo, the downside being that they have to be able to fit inside pannier bags, which may mean separating parts of your tent into different panniers depending on the size of tent. It is available in different wheel sizes the idea being that as well as being a trailer it doubles as a spare wheel in case of unrepairable damage to your front wheel, however if you intend to attach pannier to the extra wheel a wheel larger than 20inch is needed of the panniers may rub against the ground. Panniers are not included but all types of pannier are easily attached to the extra wheel frame, meaning no need to buy new panniers if you already have some.

Pro’s

Quick and easy coupling

Follows your bikes wheels exactly.

Narrow, only as wide as your bike.

Low center of gravity

Great on all terrains.

Very light weight. The frame weighing only 1.65 Kg the rest of the weight is the wheel.

Con’s

No flat cargo bed.

No bags included.

Cargo needs to be split evenly on each side of the wheel.

Fishtailing when riding downhill at speed.

Radical Designs Cyclone IV

Number of wheels: 2

Type of bike attachment: axle with pivot

Weight: 5.5 KG

Size: 132cm x 65cm x 50cm

Cargo Space: 100 litres/ 40Kg

Wheel size: 18/47

Overview

This is undoubtedly my favorite, they have pretty much thought of everything. The cyclone is a two wheel lightweight bike trailer, weighing only 5.5kg, but capable of carrying 40kg or 100 liters.

The trailer hitches very easily to the hitch fitted to the rear axle of the bike. The trailer can be flattened to be stored under your bed or in the back of the closet.

Imagine you are planning to go on a biking adventure. So you pack the trekking bag of this trailer with all you are going to need, you attached the wheels to the back and the hitch becomes a handle for this now hand cart similar to a golf cart. Once you are outside by your bike you press the quick release wheels and move them to thcenterre of the trailer evening the weight distribution so as not to  put stress on the bike frame, and hitch the trailer to the quick release trailer hitch, and off you ride. Lets say for example you are going to take a train to the the starting point of your tour. Just detach the trailer, then remove the towing arm and place it inside the trekking bag, remove the trailer wheels and place then inside a special wheel bag and place these inside the trekking bag, and clip a shoulder strap turning your bike trailer into a duffel bag. At the end of your train journey you quickly and easily re assemble your bike trailer, maybe fitting the waterproof rain sheet over the trekking bag to protect it from the rain. And off you ride. If all of this versatility is not enough the trailer also has an option which is included to enable the trailer to become a backpack, yes your hear right, a backpack. OK so you found a transformer of a bike trailer but how does it perform as a bike trailer. And if you have read this far you deserve to know. It is a two wheel trailer so it is wider than you bike, but not any wider than if you had panniers on each side of your bike. The trailer lacks suspension, so your luggage may be bounced about a bit if you are off road, so be careful with that bottle of soda. The position of the wheels when in the trailer mode are in the centre of the trailer evening the weight distribution making the trailer stable in itself and easier to pull.

Pro’s

Quick and easy to hitch.

Hitch bolt/bracket can be left on the axil when not towing.

High capacity

Very stable.

Water proof cover included

Foldable for storage.

Quick release wheels

Bag for wheels.

Several wheel positions for use as bike trailer or hand cart

Transforms to a hand cart.

Transforms to a duffel bag

Transforms to a backpack

Con’s

Wider than your bike.

No suspension

What you need to know.

OK so you gonna take the plunge and get a bike trailer, what type should you get? One wheel, two wheels, axil attached, or frame attached. It all depends on what you are going to do with the trailer and how you are going to load it and with what.

One wheel trailers

If you are going to be going off road, one wheel trailers are the best, they equally are great on paved roads. The single wheel setup makes the handling very natural as the trailer wheel will follow the rest of the bike, making negotiating difficult terrain and enabling better maneuverability. Some single wheel trailer such as “Extra wheel” with its twin panniers is almost unnoticeable on paved roads, maybe a slight drag when hill climbing, but that’s expected more weight more drag, whereas other single wheel trailers have a flatbed setup to hold your luggage in a single bag. The length and center of gravity are important considerations and can affect the handling and the need to distribute the weight evenly. All one wheel trailers the weight which you place on the trailer is distributed between the trailers one wheel and the rear wheel of the bike. This increases the weight to the rear wheel of the bike, which has advantages and disadvantages. The extra traction you get from the extra weight makes uphill off road accents easier with less wheel spin.

Two Wheel trailers

Two wheel trailers are best on paved roads, but that is not to say that they can not be used off road, but keep in mind the width of the trailer and the width of the tail, I wouldn’t want to be weaving in and out of trees on a mountain bike trail with a two wheel trailer, however that is not to say that you cannot ride off road with a two wheel trailer.  But if I want to carry more than 15kg and not really notice the extra weight and be mainly on paved roads, then a two wheel trailer is for me. Most two wheel trailers are a flatbed cargo trailer attaching to the frame or axis. They can carry a lot of weight. Two wheeled trailers usually hitch in a similar way to a car trailer, that is to say, they don’t stay statically fixed to the bike by a pivot on there fixing, this means turning corners may need to be taken wider than usual.

Is there an advantage between one or two wheels?

The main advantage of a two wheel, compared to a one wheel trailer, is balance. A two wheel trailer is easier to handle because it provides it’s own balance. It has less of an effect on the handling of the bike. Also, where a single wheel trailer tilts over when it’s not attached to the bike, a two wheel trailers stay upright, which makes loading, unloading, and storage easier.

Axle Mount

The most common place to fix a bike trailer is from the axil. Depending on the weight and size of trailer you are going to carry depends on the added stress you are placing on the bike frame. It is recommended that your axil is a 12mm axil, but 10mm axil are in general OK depending on weight.

Seatpost Mount

As it says it is mounted to the seat post. The only advantage to this is a smaller turning circle as the pivot is closer to the centre of the frame.

Fitting your trailer

Most bike trailers are designed to be easy to hitch. But to do this you will need to fit a hitching part to your bike and in most cases to the axle itself. Depending on the type of axle your bike has, quick release axle or more standard axle bolts it is fairly straight forward as long as you are comfortable in taking part of you bike apart.

Standard bolted axle are probably the easiest to fit a hitch to. In most cases the hitch for the trailer for this type of axle is a replacement bolt or a bracket type attachment which fits behind the bolt. When loosening an axil bolt only loosen one side at a time. I would recommend loosening the opposite  side to the bike chain first and replace that bolt or fit the hitch to that side first. Then tighten the new bolt. This will lessen the chance of the rear wheel moving and making the chain loose. Then if needed loosen and replace the chain side bolt. Before hitching the trailer and riding into the sunset, check that the bike chain is still torte and not about to jump off the sprockets.

Quick release axle are slightly more complicated. Although the axle is easy to release and remove, this type of axle usually has some springs which if care is not taken can spring off the axle and be lost. Your trailer might have come with a new quick release axle in which case it is just a case of replacing the axle with the new trailer hitch axle. However some trailers will come with a hitch which needs to be fed onto the axle, this will entail removing axle springs to feed the hitch into position and then replacing the springs. Is sounds more complicated than it is but if you have never removed the axil before can be daunting. Again once you have finished attaching the hitch to the axle, check that the chain is taut and not liable to jump from the sprockets.

Hub gear axle. Unless you are an expert do not take this axle out of the bike, it can cause gearing sync problems.  Most bikes of this type close to the axle bolt there will be two small holes on the bike frame usually just above the axle bolt. These holes are to attach any modification to the bike which would otherwise be attached to the axle bolt. If you have this type of axle with hub gears or internal gears then make sure you specify this when you buy the trailer as the correct hitch attachment will need to be included.

Pros and Cons of bike trailers in general

Pro’s

Greater load carrying capacity. You can most definitely carry a lot more weight without the risk of breaking your bikes wheels spokes with a trailer.

For tandems, where you are limited to four panniers between two, enables more weight to be carried for two people.

It is easy to unhook the trailer and immediately have your normal bike back. With panniers you can take them off but the pannier frame usually needs to be unbolted.

Better handling due to the load being lower and therefore lowering the center of gravity. The lower the center of gravity the better stability you have.

Not only for touring, you can use it for shopping trips. Ditch the car, and go to the supermarket on your bike. Not only reducing your carbon footprint, but you get a workout as well.

There are no heel-pannier clearance problems. The main problem with panniers is that if not fitted right or if they shift once you are riding you can end up with your heel hitting them

Con’s

More drag especially when riding uphill, however sometimes the extra weight on the rear wheel can assist in traction and make hill climbing when off-road easier.

More wheels more possible puncture repairs and more inner tubes.

Less maneuverability than a bike without a trailer. Your turning circle will be larger because your vehicle is now longer. Breaking distances will be greater due to the extra weight and you will have to adjust for this.

Downhill can be more fun or scary depending on your outlook. The trailer will push you down the hill and may even fishtail especially if it is a one wheel trailer.

Transporting a bike with trailer on a train or plan is a lot more difficult and maybe more costly. However many bike trailers are able to fold and fit in a custom bag or standard suitcase.