Riding with extra cargo around London isn’t for the self conscious. Pedestrians double take and drivers stare. Bike trailers are not a common sight in London.
However, if you’re the type that doesn’t particularly care what others think, then you’ll discover there’s a lot to love about the Burley Travoy.
Burley are an Oregon based company who specialise in making products to haul stuff, whether that is shopping, camping equipment or children: they make robust buggies, kiddy trailers and cargo trailers. I met someone from Burley at a bike show in February and she convinced me to try out their urban cargo trailer, the Travoy, which is popular in US cities but yet to make an impact here. Having used it I am not sure why.
The perfect bike trailer for inner city
If you were to think of the three biggest problems with trailers, they may be:
- Too big to allow easy manoeuvring in tightly packed London traffic
- Takes up too much space in a small London flat
- Takes to long to attach/detach
The Travoy overcomes all of these.
It sits upright, meaning it can fit through smaller gaps and is more manoeuvrable. It also folds down, making it suitable for small apartments. It’s upright and folding nature also makes it suitable for use as a hand cart for grocery shopping with or without a bike (think about the shopping trolly your gran may have). It only weighs 4kg, so it can be carried to the shop folded in its bag and then towed back if sans bike. On the bike it doesn’t add its own bulk to the stuff you are carrying.
The trailer attaches to the seat post and can be used on a variety of bike types, folding included. The mount is simple; it has a pin with a quick release making it very easy to attach and unlatch. The tyres of the trailer are pneumatic so the trailer should fair well on rough London streets and can also be easily bumped up and down curbs, even when loaded, and as you can carry up to 23kg with it, it will be loaded.
Going grocery shopping with the Travoy in tow
Setting up the Travoy is quick and easy. You attach the included bracket to your seat post using an Allen key (also included, just incase). Then, unfold the trailer and attach it to your bike.
Unfolding the trailer takes a bit of practise, but once you are use to it, it takes less than 30 seconds: this video from Burley helpfully shows you how to use it and fold it.
With an empty trailer or light load, you barely notice it’s there. So much so that I ended up glancing over my shoulder quite regularly to check it was still attached.
The Burley Travoy trailer doesn’t seem to impact riding style, aside from being a little more cautious with what size gaps you can cycle through.
When I arrived at the supermarket, I wasn’t entirely sure what I should do. Should I lock the trailer to my bike? Should I detach it and take it with me? In the end, as the bike stand would have made locking the trailer a little difficult, I decided to take it with me.
With hindsight, this wasn’t the best decision. Due to the way the Travoy sits at a slight angle, it’s tricky to rest a basket on there, unless you start faffing around with one of the included straps. It ended up being a little cumbersome going around the supermarket with a basket in one hand and dragging around the Travoy with the other. Next time I think I will use it as my trolly and put groceries in the bag and take them out at the tip – unless someone gets suspicious!
With the included bag, I could fit enough groceries for two people to last the week. You can however, easily expand capacity with one of the additional bags that Travoy sell as add-ons (Though do note how this will add to the cost of the trailer).
On the way back, with the added weight, you definitely notice the Travoy more. When you start pedalling from the stopped position, it feels a little as though someone is holding on to the seat post and trying to pull you back. However, once you get moving it really isn’t a problem and it is certainly much nicer than carrying that much on your back.
The Travoy also comes with 2 straps for attaching odd sized luggage or a backpack directly to the trailer, handy for carrying cases or boxes.
The trailer is light and packable, meaning you can have the benefits of a large carrying capacity, without any downsides in terms of storage, as you would with a cargo bike or flat-bed trailer. The low weight also makes it more portable for taking around when you are not using it with a bike.
The trailer is very stable when in use and it rides over London streets fine. With a moderate load there wasn’t a noticeable impact in terms of handling and ride quality. Once up to speed with heavier loads it was fine too.
Compared to panniers, it’s nice having the option to completely detach the Travoy quickly and easily when you have no need for it. It is also easier to drag around than carrying one or two heavy panniers.
A small fringe benefit is that I seemed to get extra space from cars while riding around. I noticed they were not driving as close to me and gave me more room at traffic lights.
The Travoy costs around £207 for the trailer itself and the additional bags quickly add to the cost as these are between £60–90. It does come with a storage bag which can be attached and filled although if you are not careful it can rub against the wheels, shortening its life.
It’s still a bit more of a pain to use than simply strapping a backpack to your back and riding, but it’s nice not having the weight on your back and allows you to carry larger items than normal.
The Travoy is a great product for increasing comfortable carry capacity on a bike. You can fit larger items on it than you could in panniers, so if you are really intending to use your bike a lot for picking things up and transporting anything you can think of, then this will be really great.
It is a very practical item for the various constraints of life in London – small flats, busy roads, bumpy rough road surfaces and impractical car ownership. The Travoy is built to combat these situations and it does it with finesse.
While it is relatively expensive, if you do do your shopping by bike or on foot, and want to use your bike to cart things around more, then it is definitely good value. It is a really exceptionally well made item and feels like it will last for many years of hard use.
If you want to get your own Travoy, you can find it over on amazon.co.uk from £207 (with Prime delivery!).
Do you have a trailer for your bike? Have you ever tried one? Let people know below!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.