Burley Solo Trailer


Mountain Bike of the Year
Which Bike Won?

Alternative Hitch is the Safest and Best Choice
Alternative Hitch is the Safest and Best Choice

Want a Great Mountain Bike?

Wrapping A Plastic Bag on Tongue Stopped the Rattle
Wrapping A Plastic Bag on Tongue Stopped the Rattle

The Solo Climbs Easily

Why We Picked The Solo

Safety - Weight - Width - Reputation

We decided to buy the Burley Solo because it was safe, very light weight, as narrow as a bike is wide and because of the reputation that Burley has earned among cyclists, particularly friends of ours who own one. We have only 1 child so this was the right choice; if we had another child we could buy a second Solo and have the stronger rider pull the older child plus lunch/gear while leaving the other rider to pull the lighter child. Since older children do not nap at the same rate as the younger ones, by having separate trailers we would be able to keep the dearly coveted nap cycle intact.

Safety Roll Cagethe Solo has a protective roll cage that completely surrounds the child, from above, on the sides and below. There is a recessed helmet pocket which allows extra room for the child to move their head around with a helmet on. Burley has a five point harness system (seatbelts) that keeps your child snuggly in the seat while being comfortable so your child does not protest when you put it on. Burley has 3 choices for hitch, and each hitch has a secondary safety strap. We picked the most bombproof of the hitches, the Alternative hitch pictured to the left which secures the trailer in the most secure fashion, directly to the rear axle of your bike; the trade-off for the increased security comes with and increased initial set-up time of about 30 seconds, truly a no brainer deal. Be sure to specify when you order that you want the Alternative hitch.

Weight; with a low weight of just 17.5 pounds the Solo is the lightest child trailer on the market. The 4 pound savings over a regular Burley is easily noticed on any incline. Having rented one trailer that weighed over 30 pounds and the the extra weight was an issue each time we used it, we had made it a key point to get the lightest trailer we could.

Lots of Room for 1 plus Toys and Books Width; the Solo's narrow profile width of 28.3 inches. The narrow profile had many advantages we wanted to avoid having to dread pulling the trailer out for rides. The width of the Solo was equal to the width of my handlebars, I was confident that if I could fit through something so would the Solo - no small point as hitting the edge of something at 10-15 mph would be a devastating collision for our child: the Solo freed us from that kind of worry. Another plus for the narrow profile was our wind resistance would be cut down considerably which would make pulling the trailer easier and more enjoyable and thus the trailer would be used more often. The Solo is 4-5 inches shorter than other trailers, also contributing to even less wind drag.

Reputation; Burley's reputation in the Trailer world is legendary, something we discovered when we talked to other parents with bike trailers. The life-time warranty only backed up the reputation. Burley is unique in that they planned for these trailers to last and to be used; online they sell replacement parts for current and past models, if you break something you can easily replace. Other trailer brands did not offer such a feature. If the price of a new Burley trailer gives you pause, it is a sure bet you can find one on eBay for a less; knowing that you can replace parts makes buying a used one less risky. There is a healthy market for used Burleys, so selling your new one after your child outgrows is likely going to be pretty easy.

Price Paid: $329
Purchased From: Cayuga Ski and Cyclery, Ithaca, NY
Sure you can buy it online, but your local bike shop will likely give you as good a price and they will include putting it together for you. Trailers are not hard to put together, but I asked my shop to spend a few minutes adjusting the hubsets to ensure they were working at their peak.

18 Month Road Test

Our 18 month road test of the Solo included places like the carriage trails of Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and the Withlacoochee State Trail in northern Florida as well as outings around New York and New England.

Transportable: Breaking down the Solo takes just a few seconds. The Solo packs down to a very small footprint when the wheels are off and takes up very little of car trunk space. For local excursions since the the Solo has 16" wheels as opposed to 20", we can leave the wheels on and still slip it in the trunk, so getting the Solo to the park or local rec trail is a 10 second job. Its light weight also saves your back while loading and unloading.

Child Comfort: The Solo is so comfortable for our child that he asks to get in it; if the Solo is out our he will climb in it. We had an issue with the straps chaffing our child when he was under 18 months of age, but as he grew the problem went away. Straps don't chafe or bind and the seat is supportive. See Cons for Air Flow Issue. Broken Snap On Left; Hard to Close the Back of the Trailer

Road Manners: The Solo had the best road manners of any trailer we have ever tested (that is why we bought it); owning one only reinforced our decision as the Solo tracked great and we never felt afraid that it would tip. The light weight and low drag also contributed to the road manners as the Solo was nimble no matter how many bottles of water, books and food were piled in the back.

Air Flow Issue: We found the trailer to be hot while we were in Florida. There are only two avenues for air flow: the front mesh and the back mesh. On hot days we felt this was not sufficient. The side windows need to have vents to increase the air flow. The mesh cannot be too low as to allow fingers to be able to escape, 2 locations would work: the upper 1/3 of the window or the top rear. By adding more windows you would be cutting down on the cold weather capability of the trailer but more parents ride in the Summer than in the Winter. Also, the new vents could have zippers to open and close as needed.

Mold or Fungus: Something is Growing in the Seat Growth/Stain on Seat Cushion: The first year we put a type of cotton padding on the harness straps to stop chaffing, those pads got went and were left for two days on the seat pad; since then we have had a growth of some sort where the wet pads were left. A full day of direct Summer sunlight did not eliminate the stain. Is is possible the growth is gone but the fabric is just stained but it does seem to oscillate its form on the seat.

Hitch Tongue Rattles: The apparatus that makes up the secondary hitch, or the safety hitch, (the hitch in case of failure of the main hitch) rattled and squeaked during riding and became a real pain on non-paved roads. We stopped the rattling by tightly tying a plastic bag around the hardware and that stopped the metal on metal movement. Burley should add a few plastic washers or buffers to stop the rattle.

Snap Button Broke Off in Snap Broken Snap: This occurred during our first year of service so it may be covered by the warranty - tune in for an update on that. We were surpised when the snap broke but we were biking in Acadia National Park where there is a great deal of dust from the trails so dust may have limited the lifespan. Unfortunately this snap is one of 4 that fastens the fly so we were unable to fully close the fly (see top photo); the snap also serves to close the rear so we now have to be aware of the possibility of small items falling out through the gap. Since Burley lists snaps as one of the most prominent replacement parts they must be aware that snaps break. We think a better solution than replacing snaps is to do away with the rear snaps and come up with a solution similar to what is employed on the the front of the fly; the front is secured in an ingenious way that uses stretchable O rings that are placed over a fixed spot; very easy to open and close and virtually bombproof.
Snap Update: We called Burley's customer service and were sent a free snap replacement kit. It took 20 minutes to install the new snaps and the new snaps work great. We were very pleased.

What We Would Change

18 months later we are still satisfied with our trailer but we think Burley could add three features that would improve the Solo significantly.

1. Replace 2 Rear Snaps on Fly with Pull and Hold O Rings Used on Fly Front
2. Add mesh on top of Side Windows to Increase Air Flow
3. Add Rubber Washers to Stop Tongue Rattle