Burley Solo Bike Trailer Review

The Burley Solo bike trailer’s the ‘one passenger’ version of the Burley D’Lite.  That’s a pretty simple statement, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

Like…in the neighborhood of 2300 more words.

Read on (and on and on…) and you’ll know more about the Burley Solo trailer than just about anyone you’ve ever had to stand behind in a REI checkout line.

About the reviewer: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.

Burley Solo Bike Trainer Review by Ron Fritzke

Child Comfort and Safety 4.5 Ease of Towing 05
Quality of Materials 05 Customer Service/Reliability 05

burley solo bike trailer review

I find it amusing that in producing the Burley Solo,  Burley’s zeroed in on one of the problems with having two kids in one trailer-

Here’s how they put it: “This trailer protects against all poking and pestering, because your passenger has both windows to himself.”

Oh well, there is the advantage of the Burley Solo bike trailer being lighter to tow around.

Burley Solo- 23.5 lbs.
Burley D’Lite- 28 lbs.

Being the ‘lightweight’ member of the Burley family, the Solo can handle up to 75 lbs of cargo and kid, while the other Burley trailers can handle up to 100 lbs.  Seventy pounds should be plenty, since it’s not likely you’ll be able to cram your 7th grader into the trailer anyway.

Which Brings Us To Ease Of Towing The Burley Solo

As I’ve mentioned above, this trailer’s on the light side.  The 23.5 lb weight of the Solo is certainly significant when you compare it to cheap steel-framed  bike trailers.

Some of them weigh close to 40 pounds.  Add the weight of your thirty pound toddler and there’s no doubt you’ll be aware that  you’re pulling a bike trailer.

On the other hand, the Solo’s as light as you’ll find on the market, so you may find yourself joining the chorus of the guy who said, “Unlike the child seat, I had no idea the trailer was behind me”.  Or the comment, “The weight was hardly noticeable”.

Another factor that eases the pain of towing the Burley Solo is the relative narrowness of the trailer.

It’s only 27.8 inches wide.

That translates into two different advantages.

  1. Can you say side clearance?  If you can get your handlebars through an opening, it’s likely that your Burley Solo will make it through without scraping a wheel off.
  2. The other advantage is wind resistance.

As a guy who’s spent more than my fair share of time bent over my time trial bike, I can assure you that frontal area makes a whole lot of difference.  When I pulled my kids around in a two seat Burley (which was 32 inches wide) there was no doubt that I was being followed by a bike trailer the minute I turned into the wind.

The few added  inches in width may not seem like much, but don’t tell that to any time trialist who knows intimately just how much extra effort it takes to push any extra width through the air.

I’ve heard a bit of grousing about the difficulty of switching  the trailer from one bike to another.  This isn’t a unique problem to the Solo; it’s common with any bike trailer.  In fact, the solution of keeping an extra hitch attached to another bike is trumpeted by owners of all types of bike trailers.  You can get an extra hitch for about twenty dollars.

===>You Can Get The Burley Solo From Amazon here<===

How About Child Comfort And Safety In The Burley Solo?

burley elastomer suspensionThe Burley Solo bike trailer has a full suspension. In this case it’s called an elastomer suspension.

Get those visions of leaf springs and over-sized nitrogen gas shocks out of your head.  What we’re talking about isn’t nearly so manly…in fact it’s subtle enough to be overlooked.  Essentially what we’re talking about is an ‘elastomer’ plastic between the axle and the frame of the trailer.

"There's plenty of room out here, I don't know what you two are screaming about!"

Nevertheless, between the flex in the tires and the elastomer suspension, the ride in the Burley Solo will be as smooth as any trailer on the market.

Previously I wrote about the narrowness of the Solo.  Let’ consider whether or not child comfort is sacrificed.  I’d argue that child comfort (assuming you’re cramming two kids into a two kid trailer) is sacrificed anytime you’re pulling two kids, rather than when you’re putting one child in the Solo.

Here’s how one owner put it… “Most of the trailers have two seats, but from what I read and saw in stores, the seats are extremely small and it’s not realistic to fit two kids in the trailer together. Plus we only have one kid who isn’t riding their own bike. I didn’t want to haul around the extra room and weight if the space wasn’t needed.”

burley snuggler

Burley Snuggler

Like most bike trailers on the market, the Solo has a ‘hammock’ style seat, topped with a seat pad.  This can look a bit uncomfortable to the parent, but the kids seem to be fine with it.

Actually, the hammock style is A-OK for a single kid, since they migrate to the center…it’s only when the hammock style causes two kids (in the D’lite or  Honey Bee for example) to migrate to the center that much bickering and prodding may take place.

The seat in the Burley Solo reclines so you should be able to get your little toddler to the optimum angle without too much trouble.

I know that with my kids, they invariably leaned over and went to sleep during many of the rides.  Come to think of it, they still go to sleep in the car if the ride exceeds an hour or so.  Must be a genetic defect.

My little passenger was safe, but making sound...screeching sound!

If you care about your infant  😉 , you can get them into a Burley Snuggler which’ll keep them upright and mucho comfortable.

The Solo comes equipped with a five point safety harness. Both the harness and the seat pad are removable so keeping the part of the trailer that comes in contact with the kid can easily be kept clean.

If you have the trailer out in the sun for any length of time you’ll appreciate the UV protection that the tinted windows provide, and as you can see from the picture above, the front panel rolls up and back to increase wind flow when the weather heats up.

bike trailer helmet pocket

Bike Helmet Pocket In Two Seater

A Word About Helmet Pockets…if you read much about bike trailers you’ll learn that most of the good one’s have what’s called a ‘helmet  pocket’.  This isn’t a pocket to put a helmet into when the trailer’s not being used.  It’s an accommodation for the little rider’s comfort.

Think about it, when the kiddo’s sitting upright in the trailer with a helmet on their noggin, their head is going to be forced forward if the seat doesn’t have a recess that lets the helmet go back further than their back does.  This is called a helmet pocket…and yes the Burley Solo bike trailer has a helmet pocket.

Burley’s All About Quality

I’ve written about it before, but here’s a ‘shout-out’ to Burley’s strong history of quality in the bike trailer arena. The Burley Solo bicycle trailer is produced by a Eugene, Oregon company that’s been around since 1978.

I was pulling my kids around in a Burley back in the late 1980′s.

Burley’s customer support is trumpeted loud and long by a lot of people who’ve had a problem here and there with their bicycle trailers.

Burley’s got the history to support their claim to quality and a recent 2009 recall of some models of the Solo and the D’lite serves to enhance that claim.

Here’s what happened with some to the 2009 models…

From Burley’s recall documents-

“Production axles were not built to the specification which required a press fit assembly of the axle receiver sleeve into the axle tube for primary retention of the wheel. If the press fit was looser than the specification allowed, the four tack welds at the outer end of the axle could break, allowing the axle receiver sleeves to pull out, taking the wheels with them.”

“There has been ONE reported incident in the field, and although there have been neither any injuries nor any incidences of a wheel coming off while in use, Burley’s goal is that every consumer has a positive experience with our products.”

Did you read that carefully?

There was ONE reported incident in the field…without injury, and Burley was voluntarily replacing all of the axles.

These guys are serious about product satisfaction!

Gizmos To Entertain Dr. Gadget

It’s no secret that items like bike trailers toot a lot of whistles in some ‘gadget’ type parents.

In this section we’ll cover adjustable handlebars, parking brakes, push button wheels, fold-flat designing, and retractable tow-bars.

  • Adjustable Handlebars-There’s a lot of buzz in the bike trainer/stroller/jogger world about multiple use.  One of the features that the Burley Solo has is an ‘adjustable handlebar’.  In case you’re wondering what that’s all about, it’s the handlebar that the parent would use to push the bike trailer should it ever not be used as a bike trailer (think jogger or stroller).  I’ll cover converting the trailer over in the next section.

    It took less than a minute to reduce the Burley Bee to a 'Burley Bee Pancake' for storage. Same goes for the Solo.

  • Parking Brake- Adding to a sense of security is the parking brake on the Burley Solo.  When you stop for a Red Bull Vitamin Water midway into your ride, the last thing you need is to look out the store window to see little Joshua accelerating down the incline in his bike trailer, dragging your bike behind.  After all, you paid good money for that bike!
  • Flattens For Storage- Now here’s a problem that keeps growing the longer you add to the number of souls in your family…storage space in the garage.  Because the Burley Solo quickly folds flat and disassembles with push button removable wheels, you’ll have more room in the garage to store even more outdoor gear.  The folded trailer has little resemblance to the ‘fun wagon’ that followed merrily behind your bike.
  • Retractable Tow-Bar- Included in the magic act of reducing the trailer from three dimensions to two is the retractable tow-bar which you can see laying over the wheels in the picture.
===>You Can Buy The Burley Solo From Amazon here<===

Adding Kits To The Burley Solo

Burley Stroller Kit

Burley Stroller Kit

Stroller Kit- When it comes to the stroller kit, the rave reviews become somewhat less than rave.  The kit costs around $60.00 and there is a bit of ‘Harumph, Harumphing’ about it.

Some people who have been looking at the Chariot trailers which cost $700 and more, think that these kits should be part of the Burley package. Others have some gripes about the stroller kits themselves.

One owner didn’t like the plastic wheel, noting that it rattled and bounced like a cheap toy.  He thought that a pneumatic rubber tire would be better.  I have mixed feelings on the idea…a nicely inflated rubber tire does match the quality of the rear tires, but discovering the the front rubber tire has gone flat is just one more pain in the gluts to take care of.

The Jogger Kit- The jogger kit is also subject to mixed reviews.The ‘i love this’ review needs little explanation.But the review that notes frustration with assembly instructions, the tendency of his unit to pull to the left, and the fact that this isn’t a ‘quick change over product’ is worth noting.

Burley Jogger Kit

Burley Jogger Kit

And then there is the owner who’s irritated because the front wheel on the jogger is rigid.  It works fine when going straight but it’s constantly in need of correction, which necessitates popping a mini-wheelie.

I did some looking around and it appears to me that all of the joggers are made this way…although I can understand the irritation of constantly having to correct course.

There was also a notation that having the brake on the front wheel was folly, but I’m not sure that engineering add-on rear brakes to include in a jogger kit is a reasonable expectation.

Oh, for a perfect world!

The Good
  1. The Burley Solo bike trailer is made by a rock solid company.
  2. This bike trailer is lighter than just about any on the market.
  3. The Burley Solo is narrower than a two seater, reducing the effect wind has on the trailer.
  4. Available extra hitch makes switching towing bikes easy.
  5. The Solo has a full suspension for a smooth ride even over rough surfaces.
  6. Has a removeable seat pad and five point safety harness to make ‘clean-up’ easier.
  7. A hammock-style reclining seat optimizes toddler comfort.
  8. Tinted windows provide UV protection.
  9. Helmet pocket allows kid to sit up straight without head being bent forward.
  10. An adjustable handlebar makes pushing the trailer more comfortable should it be used as a stroller or jogger.
  11. A parking brake keeps the trailer secure during stops.
  12. The Burley Solo folds flat and has push button removable wheels to accommodate storage.
  13. A good sized storage unit behind the toddler allows ‘extras’ to be pulled along.
The Bad
  1. Some customers aren’t thrilled with the jogger and stroller kits.
  2. This trailer may too expensive for casual riders who won’t use the trailer much.

The Burley Solo Bike Trailer Is For:

  1. Parents intending to pull one child.
  2. Consumers who want to buy a quality product from a conscientious company.
  3. Cyclists who are interested in a high resale value.

Here’s What People Are Saying…

This is an excellent trailer for one child. The size is just about perfect and it’s made of durable and easy to clean materials. Easy to attach and detach from bike…

“J. Simmons” {This review edited for brevity. Read entire review here}

Have had the Burley Solo for two years and we’re very happy with it…no issues. Our child loves the ride…

“Tim Kraushaar” {This review edited for brevity. Read entire review here}

You Can’t Miss With The Burley Solo

I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the Burley products, and if it’s ONE kid you’re pulling around the Burley Solo bicycle trailer may be the one for you.

===>You Can Buy The Burley Solo From Amazon here<===

Their pricing matches or beats just about anyone’s on the internet…and they’re a very trusted merchant.

Bike Trailer Wiki article
Bike trailer Ehow.com article

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Burley Solo Bike Trailer Review

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