Burley Bee Review

Burley Bee Review: Budget Bike Trailer

Before writing this review, I looked online to do a little research on what bike trailers are currently available for kids. The first two trailers from brands other than Burley that came up in my search cost well over $500. I don’t know about you, but thinking about spending over $1000 on a single piece of gear makes me start to sweat. Like, a lot.

While Burley does indeed make some pretty fancy trailers that go all the way up to $900, their Burley Bee trailer provides a high-quality, fewer-frills option for parents on a more reasonable budget. Coming in just under $350, the Bee will let you get outdoors with those kiddos while keeping those sweat glands in check.

Although the Bee doesn’t include some of the more deluxe options, it has all the features you need for a happy adventure (and still looks just as sleek and bougie as its higher-priced brethren). This two-seater trailer has an aluminum frame roll-cage that meets ASTM safety standards, without the extra side framing (or the extra handlebar reinforcement) of the Burley D’Lite trailer/stroller.

The Bee has hammock seats and the same 5-point harness as the D’Lite, without the extra seat or strap padding and no reclining option. It has UPF-protection tinted side windows and a front rain-flap, but lacks the built-in sunshade.

The Burley Bee has no suspension system (I find this to be the biggest difference to note between the Bee and higher-end Burley models). It does have the same hitch, tow-bar, and Flex Connector system featured throughout the Burley line up.

It also has the same spacious rear cargo bin, as well as interior pockets near the seats for kiddo’s use.

Our family has been biking together for some time, and until we received the Bee we had always used our rear-mounted child seat on Daddy’s bike. After trying the Bee, we feel like the trailer has more options and is more versatile than the bike seat, but also has some drawbacks. In the end, we felt like our choice between whether to use the trailer or the seat would depend on each individual adventure in order to take into account ride length, terrain, weather, and toddler attitude.

What We Loved

Easy Assembly

My first impressions of the Bee were great. It was easy to go from box to ready-to-ride really quickly. (I especially noted this since I was supposed to have it ready to go when Daddy got off work, but instead had fallen asleep during babe’s naptime and was awoken by his arrival with the Bee still in the box…) We simply had to pop it up from its collapsed storage position, add the wheel guards, slide the wheels in, and attach the tow-bar and hitch. The only part we needed a tool for was the wheel guards, which required the provided hex key.

Hitch

We were especially pleased with the hitch for the trailer as compared to the mount for our bike seat. For bikes with quick-release wheels, you simply slide the skewer through the hitch and it doesn’t disrupt your bike in any way. It is therefore easy to switch between Mama and Daddy’s bikes, whereas the bike seat mount is a more permanent attachment onto Daddy’s bike and it also takes up the space on the frame where a water bottle cage might go.

Ease of attaching and detaching trailer

It is easy to attach or remove the tow-bar from the bike, even one-handed and even with the kiddo in the trailer. The weight sits back on the wheels so that the tow-bar seems to feel weightless and is easy to move and direct the trailer where you need it.

Great Storage

We also love the very roomy storage compartment on the back of the trailer. When we are riding with the bike seat, I typically wear a pack to carry snacks, first-aid, etc. The Bee can carry all that we need and more! It is nice not to have to wear a pack in the heat of summer, and it opens up more options for activities along the way and for taking longer rides together. We can pack a full picnic, swimsuits and towels, balls or toys, even our golden retriever! (Ok, not really, but close.) We can pack spare gear in case of rain or stash extra layers if we need to add/shed some throughout the day.

Interior Pockets and Child Protection

Additionally, the extra interior pockets allow for our son to have easy access to his water bottle and snacks (and binoculars!) that he didn’t have with the bike seat. And with only one rider, we have an extra seat available for even more gear (or foxes). AND there’s no chance of him dropping and losing anything on the trail, unlike with the exposed bike seat. (We’ll never see that banana toothbrush again…) We love the extra versatility the trailer affords us, including the ability to protect our kiddo from the rain, wind, or sun better than in the bike seat.

Smooth and Easy to Pull

The Bee is easy to use for the pilot—mounting it is a breeze and its lightweight design makes it easy to pull. On flat, smooth ground you can’t even tell you’re towing anything! In order to compare difficulty, my husband tested it out on a steep hill that he is able to climb when our son is in the bike seat, and reported that pulling the Bee felt very similar and even had the added benefit of not having the passenger’s movement affecting balance in any way like it can with the rear-mounted seat. It’s also easy to use for the rider—our almost-three-year-old didn’t have any trouble climbing in and out of the trailer on his own.

What We Weren’t Crazy About

Lack of Suspension

The biggest complaint we had with the Bee dealt with rider comfort. This is where the Bee’s lack of suspension makes a difference. The standard 20” rubber tires help to smooth the ride, but they can only do so much. On pavement or sidewalk, we didn’t have any issues but when we tried riding on grass or gravel we heard several complaints. (“I don’t like the bumps!”)

We do a lot of our riding on a gravel trail so for that type of setting we would have to stick with the bike seat to avoid constant grumping. The lack of padding on the seat exacerbates this problem. If you’ll primarily be riding on paved paths or through town, the Bee’s performance will be excellent. But if you’re planning to really hit the trails, you may want to save up for a higher Burley model with the integrated suspension system.

There were a few more minor improvements we’d like to see with the Bee, some of which are corrected in other Burley models:

Ventilation

Since we are trying out the Bee in warm weather, we have had concerns with ventilation through the cabin. The side windows are stationary and unvented and while higher models have a vented window on the back of the trailer, the Bee only has the front mesh for air entry. There is no way to promote air flow except to completely open the cargo flap. Since we only have one child, I was able to clip a stroller fan in the head space of the empty seat, but there wouldn’t be space for this with another rider present. For this issue, our bike seat wins out since it provides an open-air ride. (Conversely, the Bee trailer will allow us to ride further into the cold months since it protects the rider from the wind, and we could even cover him up with a blanket if needed.)

Helmet Pocket

Another adjustment would be to increase the depth of the “recessed helmet pocket.” While it hasn’t been a major issue for us thus far, each time we stop I usually have to tip my son’s helmet back as it will have been pushed forward on his head by the seat back. I checked online to see if others have had the same issue, and it seems to be a fairly common complaint. Not sure if this is better on the higher-end Burley trailers or not.

Trailer front protection for when standing

I would also add some sort of feet or a cover across the front base of the trailer, as it comes into contact with the ground when the trailer is not mounted. Since there is fabric stretched over the frame here, it will be an obvious point of wear-and-tear. This appears to have been fixed with recent versions of the D’Lite and other models.

Parking Brake

Finally, it would be nice to have some sort of parking brake that could be engaged (like with a stroller). Not a major issue since you can just lay your bike over while the trailer is attached, but if I’m on any sort of slope and am holding up my bike with one hand and trying to make adjustments with the other I find I need to slip my foot behind my bike tire to keep everything in place.

Bottom Line

Overall, we are excited to have the Burley Bee in our line-up. We will continue to use and enjoy it regularly, although it won’t entirely replace our rear-mounted bike seat. If we were starting from scratch, I would likely choose to save up and buy one of the mid- or higher-end Burley models (see our previous reviews of the Encore X and the D’Lite…new D’Lite review coming this week!) in order to combine the versatility of the trailer with the comfort of the bike seat.

We received the Bee bike trailer from Burley in exchange for our honest review. As always, these opinions are exactly what we would tell our family and friends.

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Burley Bee

Emily is a full-time working mama and wife raised in the Ouachita Mountains and currently navigating life in northern Missouri as she finishes up her PhD in chemistry. Over the years, adventure has become a part of her lifestyle, leading her and her husband Rocky into outdoor activities like hiking, biking, scuba diving, camping, fly fishing, and now parenting—their biggest adventure yet! Now Emily is applying her adventurous spirit into getting her family outside no matter the season to instill that same love of nature and exploration in their two-year-old son, and connecting with other families to inspire them to do the same. Find them on Instagram @hiking.home

© 2019, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

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