Burley Travail first thoughts

Having recently acquired myself a Fiido D2S, and then finding myself rather liking it’s quirky and rather aggressive styling I pretty much committed myself to not covering it in luggage.

The Wild Man case fulfilled a good purpose when it comes to carrying a pump and a few other bits, but I needed to get serious when it comes to camping and larger luggage; Indeed for all three foldies! Often I’ll find myself wanting to go shopping, or just wanting to collect a larger item.

I’ve looked at, and indeed used fiat bed trailers, but attaching them to building bikes can be a big problem as the frame is often a different shape or the vital bar required for the clamp is missing. My own trailer (a recycled child transport trailer with the fabric removed) won’t hitch onto the Fiido at all.

This was when I saw the Burley Travail.

At upwards of £250 just for the trailer, and then around £50-£100 per bag (should you choose Burley’s custom made bags) it’s a very serious commitment and quite clearly for that amount of money you’d expect it to be perfect. So is it?

Well initial impressions are very good. Thick tubes, good plastics, solid feeling clips, and the unfolding mechanism is great! You can unfold it using just one hand (although apparently fatigue on the folding wires is an issue after a number of years, but these are repairable). The styling is similar to the Fiido with the mag style wheels (style. They’re plastic).

The Travail is essentially a folding sack barrow with a towing hitch. I could be really clever and try and use big words, but no, really, it is! Not that that’s a bad thing. Sack barrows are very useful tools.

It all comes boxed and packed in a tote bag (which has an issue, I’ll explain later) with the wheels removed and the frame folded. Closed up it is probably about the same size as my Fiido folded, but about a quarter of the weight.

In the pack is a superbly designed hitch for your seat post which is quick release both for releasing the trailer and removing the hitch. No tools are needed to install it or set it up save for a cycle pump (the tyres come deflated).

Clamping the hitch around the rather slender post of my Raleigh and clipping the trailer on took seconds; something easily achievable in a supermarket or train station.

The biggest annoyance for me though is that whilst the Travail comes in its own bag, the bag doesn’t have clips on it to allow it to be used on the trailer. This seems like a massive oversight and on a £250+ trailer I really would expect better and will be marking it as such. To make this trailer fully usable as Burley intended you essentially have to spend another £150!

Other major issues to consider are that if your bike is a similar design to my Raleigh then your rear reflector will be blocked by the trailer. Handily Burley have fitted a couple of reflectors down near the axle mounts which can fold out. There’s also a light mounting position for if your rear light isn’t visible and this will take most clip lights, although my BTwin do sit a little upwards. I think an under saddle clamp is probably the best way to go.

So what’s it like to ride with?

As with any trailer, weight distribution is key. Because the majority of your load weight is forward of the axle snaking isn’t really an issue although when the trailer is empty I noticed a little bounce shimmy occasionally over potholes. Loaded down with around 15kg it feels really smooth and solid.

Reassuringly there are no creaks or groans as you turn it and apart from the extra weight and extra power required to pedal it’s easy to forget you have it on, as I found to my cost when I clipped a railing and nearly flipped it and me!

Keep the weight low down and it’s fantastic, and for camping trips stick your tent and sleeping bag up at the top and your heavier stove and pots down low and you’ll not have a problem.

Does it affect E-Bike range?

Well clearly it will – after all it’s extra load and extra rolling resistance – but at least you’ve got a handy trailer to put a spare battery and charger in for long term trips – and I’ve even researched a solar panel for trickle charging (tip : don’t bother – the technology is years away – get a spare battery).

A fully loaded trailer adding 30kg onto your train weight could impact your battery by 10-15% depending on your own weight, so bear this in mind – although if you’re anything like me, you’re probably not shy of a bit of self propulsion anyway.

The Verdict

I love it. I think it’s a great tool and I can see me and it doing many miles together, but the pricing is really in need of attention, especially as the manufacturer proudly tout their USA heritage and then manufacture the product in China (admittedly with good quality control), and the tote bag problem left me feeling duped.

A stunning trailer with brilliant engineering, but only for those with silly money to burn; let down by a money grabbing tote bag design. I want to give it 10/10 but value for money feels a bit off when you realise how little you get in the box.

🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🟡🔵🔵 8/10

Priced at £246 + shipping. Bought from Evans Cycles.

***EDIT***

After two days of use my Burley developed an issue. The fabric has come away at the bottom of the barrow section. Being of sound engineering mind I have figured out how they attached it and I’ve managed to sort it, but I have to say I’m very disappointed with the QA so far and I’ve reached out to Burley about this. I’ll share the response here.

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