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This Is the Best Bike Trailer Active Parents Can Buy


September 14, 2019 Sports and Outdoors : Cycling By Photo by Burley

The Burley D’lite ($849+) is the best kid bike trailer for active parents who want to bring their kids and gear along on rides. As our summer-long review proved, every detail of the trailer is honed for comfort, safety, and versatility.

The D’Lite is the entry-point to Burley’s premium performance line of trailers, meaning it offers several useful upgrades over Burley’s more affordable options. Beefy wheels and an adjustable suspension provide a smoother towing experience. An adjustable sunshade and more comfortable reclining seats help keep tiny passengers happy. And a speedy method for converting the trailer into a standalone stroller makes the D’Lite a fantastic accessory for outdoor adventures even without a bike.

At a starting price of $699+ for the single-seated version, the D’Lite isn’t cheap. But given everything the trailer is capable of, the D’Lite is still a great investment for most parents who bike often.

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The Good

Seating and Cargo Capacity: The D’Lite line consists of the smaller D’Lite Single and the bigger dual-seated D’Lite, which I tested. The seats in either version come equipped with five-point safety harnesses similar to a car seat. Both also feature a dedicated rear storage cubby. Our tests found that the bigger D’Lite’s 50-liter cargo space stored all of the typical kid gear we lugged around on weekends.

The D’Lite’s premium seat padding is comfortable and removes easily for cleaning (thank god). Unlike many bike trailers, the seats can recline in three positions to suit your kiddo’s preferences. They can even fold flat, transforming the D’lite into a sizeable gear hauler. Small mesh pockets on the inner walls of the trailer are useful for storing snacks, water bottles, or plenty of other random things that kids insist on bringing. The D’Lite’s bowed body style also offers extra elbow room, making it more comfortable for bigger or older kids.

Weather Protection and Safety Features: The cabin’s exterior, supported by a sturdy aluminum alloy roll cage, is equally functional and made to match all weather conditions. A triple-layer zip-up panel that can switch between blocking bright sun, bugs and even fierce rain is a standout design element. The cover also rolls up tidily out of the way when it’s not needed at all. To be clear, the D’Lite’s cabin technically isn’t weatherproof. Rain will dampen the side panels around the window after prolonged exposure. In practice, this never impacted my daughter inside the cabin and I wasn’t concerned. The D’Lite will still keep your kids drier than other solutions. I’d just recommend letting it air out for a bit before taking it out in the rain again.

Reflective materials are integrated on all sides to increase visibility. There’s a pair of white reflectors on the front with a matching red set on the rear. The rear Burley logo on the back reflects light too, along with two thick strips of material on the cabin’s outer walls. Like all Burley trailers, there’s a bright orange flag attached to the top roll bar that helps driver’s notice the lowriding trailer. A large red brake lever on the back of the trailer firmly locks the wheels in place when it’s time to park.

Ride Quality and Design Versatility: An adjustable suspension that offers five different settings to match various terrains or towing weights is another one of the D’Lite’s distinguishing features. These adjustments made a noticeable difference in ride smoothness on rougher park trails, as well as when hauling a full load of groceries.

The D’Lite’s premium 20-inch wheels are, well, burley, and capable of handling most road conditions and well-established trails. For buyers with bolder activities in mind, Burley offers a robust line of accessories for the D’Lite including 16+ wheels for snow, sand and gravel, a jogger kit and even a ski kit. Removing or swapping any of these wheelbases is relatively easy and doesn’t’ require tools.

Burley also includes a single-wheeled stroller kit with the D’Lite that converts the trailer into a stand-alone buggy. It’s a fantastic perk that allows buyers to get more mileage out of the D’Lite beyond just biking. Though the D’Lite can’t squeeze into tighter indoor spaces like a typical stroller, its big wheels and spacious cabin are compelling features for extended family jaunts outside.

Speaking of squeezing, the D’Lite can flatten down to save storage space. It’s a helpful design consideration that’s awkward to execute in practice, mainly because you must remove the wheels first to prevent them from damaging the exterior of the trailer. And even flat, the stroller will monopolize most of a car trunk.

I also found expanding the trailer back to be somewhat finicky. Pulling and locking the upper roll bar back into position often required a noticeable amount of effort. Sometimes the bar would also look like it was securely under the appropriate latch but immediately slip back out after letting go. Neither of these issues were deal-breakers, but they did impact my hope of always tucking the trailer away after a ride. Instead, I just wound up clearing space in the garage and left the trailer fully setup if I knew we’d be using it soon.

Fast Hitching and Towing Manueverability: A huge advantage of any bike trailer over an installed bicycle seat is rider flexibility. Trailers are easy to remove when transporting kids isn’t on the agenda, allowing owners to use their bikes normally. Burley’s smart hitching system doesn’t disappoint in this area, once you understand the proper attachment technique. It’s worth pausing here to applaud Burley’s Youtube channel, which includes tons of helpful video guides on how to install the hitch on various bikes and attach the trailer.

The D’Lite ships with Burley’s own Steel Hitch that mounts quickly on most bikes. However, certain bike designs also require hitch adaptors. Burley’s Hitch guide makes it easy to determine what will work with your particular bike. All solutions are easy to work with and allow for attaching and detaching the trailer in less than a minute once you get the hang of it.

Besides making the hookup process easy, the hitch and tow bar design allows for a shocking amount of maneuverability. It doesn’t defy the laws of physics; there’s no getting around the trailer’s wide girth compared to a bike. But I was still impressed with how well my bike turned with the trailer attached. Walking the bike and trailer through cluttered garages or up to public bike racks was also much less of a hassle with the D’Lite than I anticipated.

None of these features matter more than how the hitch handles falls though. If the bike falls over with the trailer attached, Burley’s design ensures that the trailer stays standing on both wheels. I witnessed this once when I knocked into my parked bike, tipping it over. The trailer remained stable and my daughter was fine. All she did was laugh at her clumsy dad.

Alternatives

There are several specialty cargo bikes on the market designed to haul fleets of children in comfort and style. But they’re far more expensive than buying even a great bike and a premium trailer like the D’Lite. These super bikes also make little sense for parents hoping to ride solo on a regular basis still.

Child bicycle seats are popular and recommended by many parenting outlets. Their downsides are significant, though. For starters, the usually require installation, meaning they’re always on your bike whether you’re riding not. Bicycle seats are also typically positioned over the rear axle which can negatively impact the bike’s center of gravity, reducing stability and handling. As consumer reports notes, the high position of these seats also represents a much bigger falling risk to kids involved in an accident, and few bike seats offer much in the way of roll-over protection.

Bike trailers aren’t perfect either. Their lower riding height can make them harder to spot by drivers. They can also be wider than older bike lanes and paths. As with any trailer, braking takes more time and turns must be wider. But these risks are easier to swallow for any risk-averse rider who prioritizes child safety above all else.

Among Burley’s own robust offerings, the D’Lite sits at a notable feature sweet spot, especially for buyers with adventurous ambitions. It’s the cheapest entry-point Burley offers with most of the useful features highlighted in this review including an adjustable suspension, adjustable sunshade, reclining seats, a quick trailer receiver, and premium wheels. If these aspects feel unnecessary, you can easily save hundreds of dollars by choosing one of Burley’s more affordable options.

Moving up to Burley’s two most expensive trailers adds a hard plastic bottom to the D’Lite’s design, and in the top tier, the ability to independently recline each trailer seat. Whether those benefits are worth an extra $100 is your call.

Verdict

Having kids means putting your hobbies on the backburner. It’s the warning every exhausted parent passes down to anyone who’ll listen, especially those mulling over procreation for the first time. As a relatively new parent, I’ve learned that this is a half-truth. Once kids are in the picture, keeping up with things you love doing just requires better planning and time management. Owning the right equipment can also be a game-changer.

Nothing illustrates the impact of great gear for parents more than Burley’s line of kids trailers and strollers. Many parenting and cycling experts regard the Oregon-based company as the premier bike trailer maker. After spending the summer testing their popular D’Lite trailer and stroller, I understand why.

My wife and I worried that our days of biking around the neighborhood were over after having our first child. At least for a few years until our daughter could learn to ride on her own. We knew there were tons of options for biking with young kids, but finding one that let us mimic our old lifestyle felt daunting, if not impossible.

That’s until we tested the Burley D’Lite. The bike trailer’s mix of creature comforts, safety elements, and user-friendly design provided everything we needed to maintain our love of biking alone or with a toddler. On weekends, our daughter loved riding to parks and nearby destinations. And during the week, my bike was still free for personal errands. The trailer even changed the way I approached bigger shopping excursions, reducing the number of times I had to hop in the car to get things done.

If you’re a relatively new parent that likes to bike and wants to bring the kids along for the fun, put the Burley D’Lite at the top of your list. Even when your kids eventually outgrow it, chances are you’ll still find ways to put the D’Lite to work.

What Others Are Saying:

• “The Burley D’Lite won the top spot and our Editors’ Choice award impressing us most with its versatility. It has attachments that allow it to be used for multiple sports, including jogging, biking, and cross-country skiing, in addition to being a stroller. When not being used for children, the seats can be folded down to create a flat surface to haul cargo, extending the life of the trailer far beyond child use.” — Baby Gear Lab

• “The D’Lite is an all-around excellent trailer with standout safety features and unmatched versatility, making it a clear pick for our Editors’ Choice award.” — Outdoor Gear Lab

Key Specs

Trailer Weight: 29.3 lb (including trailer)
Max Carrying Weight: 100lb
Cargo Space: 50 liters
Size Open: 33.3″ (L) x 31.3″ (W) x 38.3″ (H)
Size Folded: 37″ (L) x 31.3″ (W) x 14.3″ (H)
Interior Seat Height: 24″
Interior Seat Width: 22.5″

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Burley provided this product for review.

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