Burley Bee Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, best hitch design, water-resistant, excellent value
Cons: No passenger padding, no bottom reinforcement, lacks versatility
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|Price||$329.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Lightweight, best hitch design, water-resistant, excellent value||Lightweight, water-resistant, large wheels||Inexpensive, easy to tow, well ventilated||Inexpensive, lightweight, great ventilation, low profile||Inexpensive, large interior space, well-ventilated|
|Cons||No passenger padding, no bottom reinforcement, lacks versatility||Uncomfortable for passengers, difficult to set up and break down, noisy||Small passenger space, saggy fabric, difficult to use, not weather-resistant||Small wheels, not weather resistant, poor hitch mechanism||Small plastic wheels, saggy fabric, not weather-resistant|
|Bottom Line||This nimble trailer is durable and the easiest to tow at less than half the price of many high-end trailers||The Cadence is light and does well in wet weather, but its basic passenger area and awkward frame design make us question its mid-range price||This inexpensive trailer will get you and your kids on the road, but it's annoying to set up and it's not built to last||For parents seeking an inexpensive and low-profile trailer for short trips around town, the Allen Sports Steel is a great place to start||One of the least expensive trailers we tested, the Take 2 is a functional entry point for those who want to try out bike towing but aren’t ready to make a big investment|
|Rating Categories||Burley Bee||Thule Cadence||Schwinn Echo||Allen Sports Steel||InStep Take 2|
|Passenger Experience (20%)|
|Biker Experience (20%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Burley Bee||Thule Cadence||Schwinn Echo||Allen Sports Steel||InStep Take 2|
|Converts to Stroller?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Number of Children||2||2||2||2||2|
|Harness System||5-point||3-point with lap belt||5-point||3-point with lap belt||5-point|
|Weight||22 lbs||25 lbs||26 lbs||24.5 lbs|
|Size Open LxWxH (inches)||32.25" x 30" x 36"||35" x 30" x 35"||51.8" x 32.5" x 31.9"'||22" x 21" x 21"||31.5" x 32" x 31"|
|Size Folded- wheels removed LxWxH (inches)||35.5" x 29.25" x 28.6"||37" x 30" x 9"||31.5" x 26" x 8"||31" x 25" x 6.5"||31.5" x 26" x 7"|
|Wheel Size (inches)||20"||20"||20"||16"||16"|
|Access into trailer||Front and back||Front and back||Front and back||Front and back||Front and back|
|Cover Protection||2-in-1 mesh and rain shield||2-in-1 mesh and rain shield||2-in-1 mesh and rain shield||2-in-1 mesh and rain shield||2-in-1 mesh and rain shield|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For the third side-by-side test in a row, the Burley Bee has earned our Best Bang for the Buck Award. The interior of this trailer is basic, but the overall package is light, nimble, safe and durable.
The Bee scored well in this category, on par with the Weehoo weeGo and only slightly behind the Thule Chariots, and our top-scorer, the Burley D'LitemnX. Like all of the trailers we tested, the Bee meets the rigorous safety standards set by the ASTM. They also go beyond those standards in a few key areas, which we'll discuss below.
The roll cage on the Bee is solid, with two aluminum frame bars coming together at the top of the trailer to form one reinforced bar over the passengers' heads. However, there is no extra side framing, as there is in the D'Lite and D'Lite X. The D'Lite models and the Thule Chariots have handlebars that fold forward while riding to reinforce the roll cage, and the Bee lacks this feature. The Bee's harness is unpadded, but it's the same five-point system as the D'Lite models and is easy to size and adjust.
Like the Burley D'Lite models, the Bee's windows are rated UPF 30, so they protect passengers from harmful rays. However, the Bee lacks the built-in sunshade that comes standard in the D'Lite models. The Bee provides adequate ventilation, but again, it doesn't match the full performance of the D'Lite models, which have an extra back window with mesh underneath to encourage airflow throughout the trailer.
There is no suspension system in this trailer, so passengers being towed on unpaved trails and over rough roads are in for a fair bit of jostling in the Bee. The 20" wheels do a lot to smooth out uneven terrain, but we would still recommend exercising caution while towing kids off-road in this trailer by slowing way down and avoiding potholes. The Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariot Cross both come with suspension systems that are adjustable for weight, so we'd suggest checking those out instead of the Bee if you plan on taking to the trails.
The Bee performed surprisingly well in our rain test, with no water in the interior after five minutes of sprinkler blasting and only a little bit of seepage around the seams on the top of the trailer. Still, it couldn't compete with the Thule Chariots, which have rain shields that cover the entire top of the trailer. If you're going to be doing long rides with kids in torrential rain (hats off to you), you'll probably start to see some water dripping into the interior of the Bee.
One issue that came up repeatedly in our initial research into the Bee is the potential for the fabric stretched over the front bottom frame of the trailer to rip. When the trailer is not attached to the bike, this fabric rests on the ground, and we did find that it started to show some signs of wear even after light use. This kind of built-in dysfunction is uncharacteristic of the Burley brand, and we hope to see it corrected in future versions of the Bee. However, after months of testing during which we actively tried to exacerbate this problem, we concluded that it's not a severe issue.
The Bee is comfortable but basic, so passengers aren't in for quite as delightful an experience with this trailer as the cyclists towing them. However, the Bee has enough to offer its occupants to earn it a slightly above-average score.
The Bee features a suspended bench-style seat with no padding, similar to the Thule Cadence. It comes with a five-point harness that is also unpadded, so while it's easy to secure passengers snugly and distribute tension around the harness, there is a possibility of chafing. By contrast, the Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariots feature padding on both their seats and their harness straps, making them more comfortable for passengers.
At 22.5" across the middle of the seat, the Bee has one of the wider passenger seating areas we tested, on par with the D'Lite models and the Weehoo weeGo and just behind the 23" InStep Take 2. The Bee lacks the D'Lite model's bowed sides, which provide extra shoulder room, but two average kids should have no trouble fitting in the Bee.
Man, did we love biking with this Best Buy winner. This light, quiet, nimble trailer was sweet as honey to our cyclist testers.
Hauling a trailer is never going to be as easy as biking unencumbered, but some trailers strive for that goal a little harder than others. At a mere 20 pounds, the Bee is the lightest product we tested, and when it's empty, you barely notice it's there. Even when hauling kids or cargo, the fact that the Bee is fully 12 pounds lighter than our heaviest trailer, the Thule Chariot Cross, is noticeable and appreciated.
We already mentioned that we loved the Bee's hitch for its ease of use, but we also found that it created the best towing experience of all the trailers we tested. The hitch adapter is super sturdy and creates a single point of connection with no play at the cotter pin, and this leads to a feeling that the bike and the trailer are one continuous unit. We felt no lurching, vibrating or lateral pulling while towing the Bee; in fact, we felt almost no transfer of motion from the trailer to the bike at all. The Bee's upscale sibling, the D'Lite models, performed just as well in this area because they use the same hitch mechanism.
Unlike its namesake insect, the Bee is not known for its noise. This was the quietest trailer we tested, with no general noise like the Weehoo weeGo and no hitch squeaking like the Thule Chariots. The Bee is silent, lending a feeling of peace and tranquility to early morning rides. We loved it.
Ease of Use
Compared to the range of trailers we tested, the Bee is intuitive, simple and easy to use. It doesn't quite match up to the superior user-friendliness of the Thule Chariots, but it still earned high marks in this category.
The Bee took just 12 minutes to fully assemble, from in the box to attached to the bike. This was far faster than the other trailers we tested — the slowest trailer, the Thule Chariot Cross, took a full 40 minutes! Complete assembly is usually a one-time event, but if you plan on transporting the trailer often, or if you just want to start riding as soon as is humanly possible, the Bee is a good option.
For daily use, setting up the Bee from its stowed state requires reaching through the back of the trailer to pull two of the frame bars together. It's a similar system to the D'Lite models, except that the Bee uses metal C-clips that you push down to fasten the bars, while the D'Lite's bars lock in place with sturdy plastic spring-loaded clips that you don't have to touch. We mention this because those C-clips are stiff and cold on early morning commutes! We started putting on gloves to set up this trailer to avoid frigid fingers.
We found the Bee to be relatively quick to set up, taking an average of 48 seconds to go from stowed with wheels on to attached and ready to ride. Our leaders in this category, the Thule Chariots, performed significantly better, taking just under 30 seconds to set up. The Chariots have the simplest frame design of all the trailers we tested and don't require you to remove any part of the cover to assemble the frame, as the Bee does.
The hitch design of the Bee is the same as the Burley D'Lite, and it was our favorite attachment mechanism of all the ones we tested. A quick release links the rubberized trailer hitch to a steel adapter attached to the bike. We found the attachment process to be quick and straightforward, and best of all, it didn't require perfectly aligning the bike and the trailer like the Weehoo weeGo, Allen Sports Steel, and InStep Take 2 systems did.
Like the Thule Cadence, the Burley Bee is a single-sport trailer. It's made for towing behind a bike and doesn't have any stroller, jogger or cross-country ski conversions available. If you're looking for trailers that convert to strollers, check out the Weehoo weeGo and the Thule Chariot Lite. For trailers whose superpowers include strolling, jogging and skiing, look to the Burley D'Lite models and the Thule Chariot Cross.
The Bee's most versatile aspect is its cargo space, which was one of the largest we tested with a 23" by 11.5" footprint. With that amount of room, we found that we could easily fit passengers up front with our necessities for the day in the back, whether it was backpacks, a small load of groceries or beach gear. Without passengers, we found that the Bee could easily handle a large load of groceries, and its lightness made this a tester favorite for weekly trips to the supermarket. That said, the seats in the Bee are fixed in place and don't lie flat like those in the D'Lite models and the Hamax Outback, which limited the size and dimensions of items it could carry. Our 60-pound canine tester could curl up in the front of the Bee, but he preferred the princely comfort of the more versatile D'Lite and D'Lite X.
The Bee is durable, light and nimble, making it a great option for heavy use around town. Bike commuters with trailer-age kids will love this product for its rain resistance and its ample cargo space, which is big enough to accommodate backpacks, totes and laptop bags simultaneously. We also think the Bee should be a contender for anyone who lives in a hilly environment since its feather lightness really makes a difference on the way up. This bike trailer is sturdy enough to handle off-road travel, but its bare-bones passenger seating area makes this a less-than-ideal option for extensive off-road use. For riding on rough roads, we'd recommend the Burley D'Lite X instead.
The Bee is less than half the cost of our Editors' Choice award winner, the Burley D'Lite X, but it delivers way more than half the value. The Bee is a joy to use, it has great safety features, and it comes with the outstanding quality of construction that customers have come to expect from Burley. Based on our testing, we'd expect users to get thousands of miles out of the Bee before it started showing significant signs of wear. All this for just $300! We think the Bee is an outstanding value, so much so that it earned our coveted Best Bang for the Buck Award.
The Burley Bee is a charming trailer that punches above its weight in passenger protection, ease of use, and towing experience. While its lack of suspension and basic passenger compartment aren't as suited as higher-end models like the D'Lite X for off-road travel, we think this is a great option for extensive riding around town. At just $300, the Bee is a total steal, and we highly recommend it.
— Joanna Trieger
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