When I first took the Burley Encore X out for a spin around the block, I was immediately kicking myself for not having bought one sooner. The Encore X is Burley’s mid-range double stroller/trailer, a mix of ease, durability and versatility for active families. Biking with a trailer was nowhere near as cumbersome as I imagined. While I had been a double-stroller user in the past, the ability to bike again brought a welcome dose of fun to our daily routine.
Granted, I did learn the hard way that if you are biking uphill with two kids in a trailer, stopping halfway up the hill is a very, very poor decision. Trying to get going again with 100+ lbs behind you is no laughing matter. (Unless you’re all those people watching me trying to get up the hill after a stop at the playground).
But other than that (slightly embarrassing) incident, biking with the Encore X is perfectly enjoyable. The concerns I had about pulling a trailer melted away. I had worried that I wouldn’t be able to hear the kids if they needed something, but that was never an issue. Navigating around turns or biking on sidewalks was never a problem either – it was hardly any different than biking by myself.
The Burley Encore X also excelled as a stroller. While its notably more cramped for two kids than my double stroller is, it is far easier for me to push (even without the swivel front wheel my double has). The 20″ tires (which easily pop on and off with only the push of a button) provide a smooth ride. While it was definitely more pleasant pushing the stroller with the jogging wheel attachment, the small wheel attached to the bike tow bar was also sufficient for short trips.
What sets the Encore X apart from the Encore is the suspension system. Seeing as how I never hopped in the back to test it out for myself (I am comfortably over the 100 lb weight limit of the trailer), my 4 year old described a ride on a gravel trail as “bumpy but fun” and my 1 year old fell asleep, so I assume it works well enough.
1 Wheel Stroller Kit
Burley trailers (excluding the Minnow and the Bee) have a wheel attached to the tow arm, allowing you to switch from biking to strolling easily. Hint: pull the wheel out and then down to switch positions. One gripe I have with Burley is the instruction manual left out a lot of little details I learned through trial and error. This feature comes in handy when you bike to a place you then want to walk around at. While this wheel does swivel, it somewhat less smooth of a ride than using the jogging wheel, and does stick out from the stroller a fair amount.
Large Back Trunk
The sizeable back “trunk” of the Burley was a significant bonus. It was plenty big enough to toss backpacks in there going to-and-from school. It’s a small detail but was one of my favorite features. There are two mesh pockets at the top of the cargo area, meaning for once in my life I wasn’t absent mindedly tossing my keys into a great abyss only to spend hours digging around my diaper bag for them later. It was also perfect for holding a water bottle. (The kids have there own mesh pockets for water bottles, toys, snacks etc. by their seats.)
The Encore X also features an opening in the back to allow for more air flow. While we haven’t hit high temperatures here yet, I can say that the opening never let any rain in.
Another feature I appreciated was the cover, which was customizable for virtually any weather situation. When I am walking in winter with my town’s hiking group, I have noticed that kids in bike trailers always seemed perfectly cozy in their fully-enclosed nest of blankets and books while mine in a traditional double stroller were at the mercy of the wind. The water resistant cover can be zipped down in wet weather, or rolled up leaving a mesh cover on dryer, warmer days. There is a sunshade protector between the layers that can be easily tucked out of the way on cloudy days.
You can also completely roll up the cover when using it as a stroller.
This was one of the biggest problems I had with the stroller – the elastic loops that hold the cover together while rolled up were nearly impossible use in any meaningful way. That being said, I never had problems with the cover unrolling as long as it was tucked in even nominally into the loops.
Another tip that I missed seeing in the instruction manual – the front cover hooks to the frame like this:
The greatest amount of frustration I had with the Encore X came within the first ten minutes of getting it out of the box. Setting this thing up is a beast. For the most part, the set up is fairly simple – the wheels pop off and on easily and setting up the tow bar doesn’t take any effort. But getting the metal frame to lock together is a completely different story. It took me twenty minutes to lock into place (and possibly would have taken longer if my husband had not come home and intervened). I called customer service to see if I was misreading the directions, but they assured me that the fabric is very stiff the first few days. They recommended that once you lock it into place, leave it for a few days to allow the fabric to relax.
Honestly, I found it difficult to set up for at least a couple of weeks, although less so each time. Tip: If you approach it from the front, pushing the bottom bar into the top one from that angle rather than trying to squeeze them together from above, it is much easier. After a few weeks, it only took about 5 to 10 minutes to set up the whole system, including unfolding, attaching wheels and tow bars, hooking it to the bike, getting helmets on kids and getting them buckled in.
Here is a picture of the trailer in my van so you can get an idea of how much room it takes once folded down.
Height adjustable handlebar
The handlebar of the Burley is fully adjustable, a feature I really appreciated. Some days I wanted it higher, some days I wanted it lower. It was great to move it to exactly where I wanted it. It folds over the trailer when biking to act as a roll bar, a feature I thankfully have not had to test out.
There were a few times I found myself pushing the handlebar with my hips while I responded to a text on my phone. I would not recommend this, as it resulted me kicking my shins into the hard metal bar at the bottom of the stroller. Don’t walk and text, folks.
The Encore X is definitely a snug ride for two kids, making it a wonderful opportunity for them to overcome their differences and bond for life. I mean, I hope. My four year old definitely whined about going in it at points, although I think that had more to do with the fact his older brother was biking and he was not (due to a broken pedal on his bike). Although there were some unintentional elbows-to-noses while buckling kids in, I never heard any complaining about being cramped once we got moving. Unlike the D’Lite, the Encore X does not have the curved windows which allow for more shoulder room for riders.
Burley trailers have more of a foot well than other trailers which seem to be flatter on the bottom. There is a mud flap which you can lower for ease of getting in and out.
The seats are nominally “reclinable” via an adjustable strap behind the seats, but I found this to be pointless to adjust. Whether or not the kids leaned back adjusted it far more than the strap did. You can also adjust the tops of the seats to make more room for helmets.
I did have a few fiddly issues with the seats – the straps connecting the seats to the top of the trailer came undone once, the comfort piece on the bottom of the harness slipped off immediately and would not stay on. But the harnesses were also easy to adjust as well as buckle and unbuckle.
If you want to prolong the use of your trailer, you can also unhook the seats and use it as a cargo trailer as well.
While the Encore X does come with a strolling wheel, the jogging wheel makes for a much more pleasant ride. The price is steep – for $150 you could just buy another stroller. I found the wheel installation to be a little fiddly – I couldn’t get it tight enough with the quick release, and found myself having to unscrew the nut in order to remove the wheel (or eventually, just leaving the two arms and wheel attached). I hesitate to say its worth the cost, but if you plan on using your trailer as a stroller, it is much better than the single strolling wheel.
You can also buy a 2-wheel stroller kit for $99. The Encore X is also compatible with a 16+ wheel kit, a ski kit, and a walking/hiking kit.
What I loved
- At its core, the Burley Encore X offers a comfortable ride for the kids, and was easy for me to push and pull.
- It was not difficult to tow two kids when using it as a bike trailer.
- The spacious back trunk for gear came in very handy.
- The one wheel stroller kit makes it super easy to switch from biking to strolling.
- The cover offers plenty of options for different weather conditions
What I wasn’t crazy about
- Snapping the frame into places takes some hand strength for at least the first few days to weeks.
- The instruction manual doesn’t answer all the set up questions I had.
- I had a few issues with straps on the seats and covers, but nothing that actually impacted performance.
All in all, the Burley Encore X is a comfortable, easy to pull trailer that I expect will hold up for years to come. We’ve started biking to school a few mornings a week, and I’ve remembered how enjoyable it is to start your day off with a bike ride. My kids are proud that they are helping reduce pollution by biking more and have taken to chastising me every time we drive (sorry, even Burley’s spacious cargo trunk can’t fit enough groceries for a family of five).
While Burley did provide me with the Encore X and the jogging wheel, these opinions are my own and are exactly what I would tell my family and friends. So what other questions do you have about the Encore X? Let me know in the comments!
Team Member Jackie is a coffee-lover, writer and a mom of a six year old, four year old and a 18 month old living in Helena, MT. She thought that hiking might help tame her children’s wild spirits, and co-leads a Hike it Baby branch. All that hiking only made her crew wilder, but in a good way. Before kids she enjoyed reading, knitting and baking, but now she enjoys making it to bedtime.
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