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Which bicycle cargo trailer is best?

A bike basket is a useful accessory, but capacity is limited. Handlebar-mounted models can make the bike unstable with even modest loads. The answer to greater carrying ability is a good bike cargo trailer.

Our report looks at your options and the important features you’ll need to think about. We’ve also made a few recommendations at the end. Our favorite, the Burley Flatbed Utility Bicycle Cargo Trailer, is an open design that offers great versatility and is light, so it won’t slow you down.

Considerations when choosing a bicycle cargo trailer

There are all sorts of trailers for bikes. Those for young kids and pets are popular, and if you’re into bicycle touring, there are specialist single-wheel models that are light and compact for long-distance cycling. What we’re looking at here are specifically bicycle cargo trailers that are great for shopping or hauling gear for work or weekend adventures.

To ensure stability, we’ve gone for two-wheeled models. They are bigger and heavier than touring-bike trailers, but you can carry much more. Budget models will have steel frames, which are strong and durable (if you keep an eye open for rust spots). Aluminum alloy frames might only be half the weight, and won’t rust, but cost considerably more. You’ll want to check the maximum-load rating, which can be anywhere from 40-100 pounds.

Bear in mind bicycle cargo trailers don’t have suspension as such, relying solely on air-filled tires for absorbing bumps. That being the case, fatter tires will generally give a smoother ride.

Although most bike trailers are a flatbed design, often with a large canvas bag on top, there are more upright models that resemble hand trucks. Some of these have optional luggage made to fit them, so they can be very versatile. If you move tall or long items they’re worth considering, because they don’t extend so far behind your bicycle. The whole rig is shorter.

If you’re choosing one with an enclosed basket and lid — which is useful to protect and conceal what you’re carrying — you might want to check how easy it would be to remove it, and whether the underlying frame could be used on its own. With many, it’s a very open structure, and without the canvas bottom, there is little support. If you choose an open-frame design or one that only has sides, you can carry longer or larger items, but you’ll need straps or a cargo net to secure things. These are not normally included.

How your bicycle cargo trailer hitches to the bike is another consideration. The upright “hand truck” types usually attach to the seat post. The flatbed types mostly attach to the rear wheel axle. Many come with a “universal” fitting, but while they will fit the majority of bicycles, it would be a stretch to say all — so you’ll want to check. A variety of affordable adapters are available, so it’s seldom a problem.

All good bike cargo trailers will fold down nearly flat for easier transportation and storage. Wheels are usually quick-detach items to make this as easy as possible.

Bicycle cargo trailer price

The cheapest bike trailers we’ve seen are under $100, but load ratings are modest and long-term durability might be a concern. There’s lots of choice between $120-$200 for general-purpose cargo trailers, though you can pay as much as $400 for the lightest models.

Bicycle cargo trailer FAQ

Q. Are there any regulations about bicycle cargo trailers?

A. Not regarding the trailers themselves, but you need to be careful about load. It’s likely you’ll run into trouble if you’re overloaded, if the load is unstable, if it’s too wide, or if you’re causing an obstruction on the highway.

Q. Do bicycle cargo trailers have rear lights?

A. No. They have reflectors, but not lights — which you’ll need if you’re towing after dark. The Ascher LED bike tail lights are very popular, USB rechargeable, and under $20 for two.

Bicycle cargo trailers we recommend

Best of the best

Burley Flatbed Utility Bicycle Cargo Trailer

Burley Flatbed Utility Bicycle Cargo Trailer

Our take: High-quality lightweight load platform offers good flexibility.

What we like: 100-pound weight capacity. All-weather aluminum frame will not rust. Stable and well-balanced. Quick and easy to assemble and break down.

What we dislike: Does not include cover, straps or webbing — which are vital to secure the load.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

Schwinn Day Tripper Cargo Bike Trailer

Schwinn Day Tripper Cargo Bike Trailer

Our take: Top brand offers a sturdy carrier that provides unbeatable value for money.

What we like: Load rating of 100 pounds. Strong steel frame is resin coated for rust prevention. Nice fat tires cushion ride. Folds flat for storage.

What we dislike: A small number have arrived damaged. Owners are critical of support.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Aosom Elite Bicycle Cargo Wagon

Aosom Elite Bicycle Cargo Wagon

Our take: Durable steel-framed model offers good capacity at a competitive price.

What we like: Rated for 88-pound load. Hard-wearing Oxford canvas basket with removable top. Quick-release wheels help folding. Easy attachment to most bikes.

What we dislike: Occasional problems with wheel/axle connection. Some frame rattle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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