Monday, September 13, 2010

The Burley Travoy Trailer: A Review

"Clever!" "Neat!" "I want one!" These are the kind of things people say when they first encounter the Burley Travoy. First off, let me get the disclaimer stuff out of the way. I get no kickback from Burley for this review and they didn't give me the trailer or anything. We have them for sale at the shop where I work, the Bicycle Center in Issaquah, and if we didn't think it was a good product we wouldn't bother having it in our store. And if you buy it from us, yep that does help keep me employed. Similarly, if you buy it from your local bike shop, you're helping keep those folks employed. And if you can't find one locally and buy it from Amazon using one of the links on this blog, a small percentage of your purchase price goes to me. We all clear on that? Good! On with the review.

When we got the Burley Travoy in the shop, I was one of those people saying "Clever, neat, I want one!" Burley describes the Travoy as a commuter trailer but I think it's better described as an errand trailer. While most bike commuters probably don't need to carry a trailer load of stuff on a daily basis, almost every cyclist encounters situations where the ability to carry large or awkward things would come in handy. While something like an XtraCycle, a Big Dummy or a Trek Transport can carry huge loads, many cyclists don't have the space or cash to devote to such large and lovely machines. If I was regularly hauling things like cylinders full of welding gas (hi Matt!) and didn't live in a second floor walk-up apartment, I'd totally be one of those cargo cult cyclists hauling hundreds of pounds of stuff on my big, long bike.

The Burley Travoy is designed to carry loads of up to 60 lbs (27 kg) and it's designed to carry stuff, not people. The Travoy is light (just under 10 lbs) and it folds up for storage. Folded, the Travoy fits in it's own cargo bag. Folding and unfolding is a very quick process -- the Travoy folds in thirds with a twist of the handle/latches and the wheels pop on and off with a push of a button. The Travoy can also function as a hand cart and it is narrow enough to roll through doorways.

The Travoy has many nice, clever touches. The small hitch mounts securely to the bike and a simple latch mechanism connects the trailer to the hitch. Spare hitches may be purchased for $30 so you can easily share the trailer between multiple bikes. Burley also makes a variety of bags that can be used with the Travoy and the trailer has many tie-down points. As a test, I strapped my folded Dahon D3 to the trailer as cargo and it worked fine. I also used the Dahon as the towing bike for the trailer. The stock hitch isn't sized for the large diameter seatpost of the Dahon but replacing the stock bolts with longer ones solved that problem. With a pair of folding bikes and this trailer you could, for example, meet a friend some place and then you both could ride off into the sunset. (Maybe I'm the only one who does things like that, but a trailer like this opens up interesting car-free possibilites. If I was younger and single that would totally be how I would date!)

The Travoy tows wonderfully. It tracks nicely behind the bike and handles well both empty and loaded. On the trip to the Trader Joe's a few miles from my house I get a mix of paved and gravel riding and if I'm in the mood I can get a bit of trail riding in as well. The Travoy handled the bumps and rough stuff well. 12" pneumatic tires and a flexy material near the hitch do a good job of damping vibration. What I think of as a big load of groceries fits easily into the Travoy bag.

There's a lot of plastic on the Travoy, but the trailer seems very solid. The latches all work smoothly and for it's intended use as an urban errand trailer, I can't really come up with anything I'd change about the design. If I was going to go on a cross country or round the world tour, I'd probably want something with beefier wheels, more metal and less plastic. Burley, if you're reading this and need a field tester for an adventure trailer with a design like the Travoy, let me know.

This isn't a long term test, we just got this trailer into the shop. So far, I'm very impressed. I've included some videos Burley made showing the Travoy in action and the link to Amazon includes some reviews there. If anybody out there has anything they wan't to add about the Burley, feel free to use the comment form here. If you're in Issaquah, stop by the Bicycle Center and check out the Travoy for yourself.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA

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