If you’ve ever hauled anything in a trailer behind your bike, you’ll appreciate what suspension can do. Either the trailer is too light and it’s just flitting about, skipping and bouncing over every little pebble. Or it’s loaded down, perhaps with a couple of small humans (not this trailer, but one designed for such things), and each bump feels like it’s taking away a small part of your soul. All of which I’ve experienced, so when the Burley Coho XC came out last fall, I immediately wanted to trade up from the “fully rigid” cargo trailer we’d been using to haul our Christmas tree home every year.
Most of my loads are much smaller, usually a cooler and some chairs. To be fair to those expecting a full-on back country mountain biking review where my entire living quarters and food for days is safely transported through writhing singletrack, sorry – this is not that review. But, the Coho is available with your choice of 16×3 “plus” mountain bike tire, a 16×2.125 “normal” mountain bike tire, or the 16×1.75 road tire tested here. (The XC model ships with the 16×2.125 as stock, though.)
It’s also available with a range of different axle adapters (see their guide here), helping it fit almost anything from 126mm to 197mm wide hub standards, thru axle or QR, with options for different thread pitches, too. And you can add the kickstand shown here (worth it) and side bags to add more storage than the 70 liters found inside the main tray. And there are accessory mounts to add pannier rack sides to the rear fender and bottle cages elsewhere on the frame. Basically, you can customize this to fit your exact needs. But it’s pretty darn great right out of the box.
Starting at the front, Burley’s dual “ball” axle replaces whatever axle you have and sticks two spheres out, one on each side. My Moots is a QR disc brake bike, and uses their large Breezer-style dropouts, which have proven troublesome when trying to fit some other axle-mounted trailers or other accessories in the past. Fortunately, Burley’s solution sticks out well past them, so it fits with ease.
The yoke that slots onto them is width-adjustable, so no matter what axle width you’re running, it’ll spread apart to fit it. Eyeballing the clearance suggests you’d have no problem running a 29+ bike with this trailer. Another great feature is the release handle, which releases the yoke from both sides simultaneously for true one-handed removal.
Lastly, the yoke connects to the trailer with a long QR skewer, so you can quickly remove it and throw it into the trailer to reduce its footprint in your garage. Same on the back, which you’ll soon see.
Under that is where the
optional included kickstand goes, which is immensely helpful in keeping a loaded trail upright when you need to disconnect your bike. Just in front of the kickstand’s mount is a rubberized roller, so even without it, the trailer is more likely to stay upright, and you can roll it along if needed.
The rear wheel mounts via QR to a swing arm, which is locked into place with a pin-and-cotter. That pin also serves as the pivot point for the suspension, but pull it out and you can flip the swing arm into the trailer to further reduce the footprint.
The suspension is a simple coil spring, nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. There’s a spring preload adjuster, but I haven’t had to touch it. It’s a stiff spring, so lighter loads will probably still bounce around a little, but with a 7′ tree strapped on board, the suspension worked like a champ to keep the wheel planted on the ground over rough, choppy bike paths, curbs and other poorly maintained street sections.
The detachable rear fender doubles as a light-duty, load-bearing expansion, which is one of my favorite features. My prior trailer (from Topeak, also really nice, but without suspension or rigid fender) had a thin, flexible plastic fender meant only to keep water at bay. Past tree-gathering trips just about wore through the fender because the weight of the tree mashed it onto the tire. Burley’s design, however, supported the tree quite well, and provided a great attachment point to secure it with a bungie.
Up top, a stretchy cargo net also helped keep it contained, but a few bungie cords were required to prevent the tree from sliding out the back under my monstrous accelerations.
The only downside to sticking cargo, particularly heavy cargo like a tree, so far out beyond the rear of the trailer is that all that weight makes things laterally unstable. Over 14mph, the trailer wanted to sway and would start wiggling back and forth ever more violently until I slowed down. It was scary. But with normal loads using normal loading methods, this has not been an issue.
Want one? Base price is $449, claimed max weight is 70lbs. If you’re new to trailers or looking to upgrade, I’d recommend the Burley Coho XC as the only one you need. It might be overkill for some users, but there’s peace of mind in knowing it’ll handle the unexpected. For more advanced users, the construction quality appears excellent, and it’s built on Burley’s reputation for making really great kids trailers. It’s available direct, through local bike shops, and at REI.