Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A trailer for my bike

I've just spent two weeks down in the West Country, cycling down, as part of my recent 'man of leisure' existence. On the advice of a friend I considered a trailer instead of doubling up on the panniers and getting a front pair as well. Being that I am hoping to give up my car at some point, I thought about a trailer's potential for carrying heavy and bulky items that panniers simply can't.

With this in mind I ended up going with the trailer option as one of my first intentions was to get my surfboard down to South Devon without a car. Step forward the Burley cargo flatbed.
It was a tough choice, as aside from it being expensive, I was originally thinking that for my upcoming travels, I'd want to travel lighter than a trailer may allow. However, past a point, no matter how many reviews and other's experiences you read, you are never going to know what will work best for you. I suppose the only way I will know is to - at some point - purchase the front panniers and find out for myself; then make a choice based on experience. It could be that they will be appropriate for different uses, lighter panniers for long distance touring, trailer for general use.

This decision all came quite late, even for me. I bought the trailer at 5pm on the day of leaving and started riding at 10pm. It was brilliant, an experience you can only really get if you have no time constraints/plans. My first use of it was pretty dramatic, carrying a heavy and long load for an intended 260 miles of hilly English countryside. A baptism of fire you could say!

So what is towing a trailer behind your bike like. Well I have to say, so far my experience has been superb and the trailer has performed admirably. Aside from the obvious and expected: weight increase; width increase; slow speed and off the bike manouverability issues, it has been a pleasure.

Often times, weight and slight rattling aside, you are unaware that you are towing it is that smooth. Stability is fantastic. Trailer manufacturers suggest top speeds for safety in respect of stability. I think mine is 25 kph (18 ish miles per hour), I suppose as disclaimer type recommendation. However, slowly building up speeds, the Burley cargo flatbed was very stable with speeds above 30 mph, even when accounting for corners and man hole covers, potholes and bumps etc. As long as you are sensible in your riding you should be fine! The other thing to note is that I was particularly careful with weight distribution and packing the trailer, so how it is packed and type of cargo is likely to have an affect. A brilliant purchase so far though!


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