Our Evaluations, Decision and Experiences

Having done no research at the time, we bought a Koolstop (Caboose) trailer 2nd hand in March 2001 to transport our 16 month old, and expected baby. It seemed ok to us; a vast improvement over using over-the-back-wheel childseats. Very bright yellow, easy-to-transfer chainstay hitch. But after about 2 years one of the metal joins at the top sheered off; a complete breakage. John welded it and later bolted it back into place, pronouncing it stronger than ever. Must admit, I wasn't too sure. Then the canvas floor started to fray at the front. So we finally got around to replacing the Koolstop in Feb-March 2005.

By then, we needed a trailer for the daily runs to school & nursery, but also the beach & countryside on weekends. We could afford a more expensive model rather than (the probably nearly as good) cheaper options from Lidl, Argos or Ebay. And given the basic cost of the chassis, the option of a stroller conversion didn't seem to add that much more to the price tag.

We had the option to pay in US dollars, money I had sitting in the bank doing nothing, and import from the USA. Although this would cost something like $160 US for shipping, & attract VAT at 17.5% and import duty of (?perhaps) 10%, it still worked out £80+ cheaper than buying in the UK.

It came down to Burley d'lite, Chariot Cougar 2 CTS or Wike Premium Double Moonlight. Dave Roth's detailed description of his experience with both Burley & Chariot made me lean towards the later, but I also made these comparisons:

Base, solid or fabric: B=fabric, I think, C=fabric, although their Captain model is solid, W=solid.

Cost ($US) for basic + cycling kit + basic pushchair kit+ shipping from REI or Wike websites:
B= $667 (159 shipping +429 basic w/1 hitch +39 pushchair conversion kit+40 for two alternative hitches (optional))
C=$647 (159 shipping+390 chassis+40 cycling conv. kit+40 strolling conversion kit+18spare hitch)
W= $565 (135+333+90+7 spare hitch)
Plus in the UK, VAT+10%import duty, approx. B=£68-£80, C=£71, W=£64

Frame: B=?,C=anodized Al,W=?

B=Website says that it's lifetime for all parts for whoever buys it new, but there's a review on Epinions that says that the fabric is specifically excluded!. C=Lifetime frame, one year fabric and hitch, wheels & tires not included W= 15 days no questions asked, Lifetime frame, one year part replacements.

Harness: 5 point in all cases, but it's a 2-part 5 point system in the Wike (seems odd). You also pay extra for a nice shoulder pad in the Wike, it's standard in Burley or Chariot.

Height: B & C=84cm, W=104.14cm

B=chainstay or skewer (skewer costs extra)
C=Skewer, canvas strap with lock pin, pay for each one
W=Skewer, bail wire with lock pin; 2 included in price of each trailer

Interior width: B=68.6cm, C=, W=61 cm. Length: B=86.3cm, C=104-115cm, W=114.3cm. Luggage space: B= 3 grocery bags, C=2 grocery bags, I think!, W= 2 grocery bags Weight: B=9.1 kg, C=11, W= 9.7kg Wheels:

B= 20" spoked alloy
C=20" stainless spokes, Al rims, pushbutton release,
W=20" spoked alloy, push button.
Width, Inside: B=68.6cm, C=56 cm, W=56-61cm

Width, Outside: B=81.3cm, C=81cm, W=81cm

Misc. factors.
The Chariot comes with a window on the top, so you can see inside when using it as a stroller; Burley does not. Chariot features adjustable suspension on both wheels, Burley & Wike do not. Chariot wheels to convert to a stroller store on the trailer - always at hand if needed!

Yet another rave review for the Chariot..
Where to buy the Chariot in the UK, with lots of technical info.

If there's one recurring moan about the Burleys it's the fabric, and the fact that it goes manky fast. Presumably this problem is common to all trailers without mud guards, though.
Reviews of Wike on Epinions. Reviews of Burley on Epinions. Reviews of Burley on biketrailers.com. Reviews of Chariot on Epinions. Yet another Adventure Cyclist review So, what did we decide....?

Decision Time

In March 2005, we got a Chariot 2005 model, Cougar 2.

We had a little bother with the company who did the shipping (FedEx). They labeled it camping gear and tried to impose 17.5% VAT... er, no. It actually qualifies as a baby carriage, subject to much lower VAT (and import duty). FedEx also imposed VAT on the REI membership that I bought, er... I don't think so!! This is something to watch out for if you buy from the USA. To be fair, FedEx accepted my detailed corrections of their original invoice, but it took me ages -- and several phone calls to HM Customs and Excise -- to go thru the invoice to figure out the right VAT and duty that I needed to pay.

So far (3 months in), what we think of the trailer itself is:

  • Cargo space is not so much paltry as hard to get into, too. The space is triangular with the small side where you put things in... you can get a lot in the cargo space, but it has to able to squish thru the small cargo space opening. It has worked out for the school run, but I wistfully miss the big, easy to get into space we had in the Koolstop (or that my friend has in her Little Man trailer).
  • Nevertheless, we have managed to bring a backpack (Snugli baby Tomy dreamrider) by just strapping it to the top using bungey cords... or wearing the backpack if the ride is a small distance.
  • Chariot advise you mustn't have any cargo in the back when using it as a pushchair, it will tip over backwards, they say. They are right, it is somewhat unstable in pushchair mode. This is a very impractical feature.
  • Extra waterproof cover wasn't worth buying, would have been better to get a storage cover, maybe.
  • The baby (8 months) sleeps really well in it, much better than in the Koolstop.
  • Husband thinks most of the engineering on it is great. People grab me and ask where we got it, it "looks" good.
  • The stroller/pushchair conversion kit is ok. It requires tightening down wheels (ARGGGHH...!, I was trying to avoid that), rather than a more clever lock-pin system -- why?
  • Also, the stroller wheels can be fiddly to remove, the bit you turn to get them off just turns the whole skewer, so it doesn't come undone. Once I saw another Chariot with both stroller wheels on, while the children were being towed on bike, couldn't help but wonder if the owners had the same problems we've had getting the wheels off.
  • The skewer system to attach it to your bike is easy to install.
  • The kids are obviously very comfy riding in it.
  • The flag is only meant to attach to one side, the left (WHY??). We poked a hole thru the canvas to attach the Koolstop flag on the right, now our trailer has 2 flags. The flag pole is way too long to be practical, we're using the flags at half-height.


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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!