Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burley Nomad

As promised, the possibly long-awaited Burley Nomad review. I'm going to pretend that you're all interested and rapt with attention, so bear with me here.

OK, the Burley Nomad:

Narrow enough to fit through a door, light enough that it doesn't kill you by itself, and carries 100lbs.

Here are a few pictures from my last shopping trip (try not to judge me by the food:

As you can see, it holds quite a decent amount of groceries even though the front section could have held quite a bit more. I usually don't use the divider (if it's not velcroed around the crossbar it just lays flat) but I decided that my bag of salad and bagels probably didn't need things on top of them.

How does it handle? Pretty well! Making extreme right turns can cause the wheel to hit the towing bar, but that rarely happens to me--and never will at high speed. Left turns are limited only by the bicycle's turning radius. The way the tow bar attaches, the trailer rides a little bit to the left--the right wheel of the trailer lines up pretty close to the wheels of your bike when going straight down the road. Very convenient as it means if you move over to let a car pass, you don't really have to worry about the trailer falling off the edge of the road. I suppose it's less convenient in countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road, but that's what they get for being weird.

I have mentioned before that on crappy pavement it feels funny. The road that I take to Kroger has lots of cracks in it, and riding along it feels like there's some push/pull aaction from the trailer--I don't know if this is the tow bar flexing or if it's simply the trailer pushing and pulling slightly as the wheels ride up and down the breaks in the pavement. I've come to believe it is the latter.

One has to give a little extra room when cornering, obviously, since like a car trailer it will have a shorter turning radius than the bike.

I have also used a BOB trailer before, an old discontinued model called the Coz. The only difference in the Coz and the Ibex seems to be the way they carry cargo--the Ibex has an open cargo area where one is meant to put a dry bag, and the Coz just has a rubbermaid container bolted onto the bare frame. Handling and attachment should be identical though.

The #1 advantage of the BOB over the Burley is that due to the attachment system and the articulating yoke, it will follow the back wheel almost exactly through turns. This means that you don't have to take turns any wider, and it can be used while mountain biking (very useful for carrying trail tools). The fact that it has only a single wheel in back also makes it narrower, and the whole trailer tilts along with the bike when cornering.

The BOB requires a special skewer to attach to the bike, the Burley needs nothing special to attach, it has a special clamp that fits on the left side of the rear triangle. Note that this means it woin't work on a bike with disc brakes, they make an adapter to attach to the skewer in this case, but I have no experience with it.

The Burley ca be easily attached whether empty or fully loaded, and it's designed so that the tongue weight should only be 10% of the total load weight. BOBs are not supposed to be attached when loaded (and it's really hard to do anyway), and transfer more of the total load weight to the rear wheel of the bike. Burleys also have a higher maximum load, 100lbs vs 50lbs. For touring, this shouldn't make much of a difference, but I like to take mine when I go to buy big bags of cat litter, so higher weigh limits are welcome.

I think when pulling the Burley I get more room from cars. I think this is partly because it sticks out more into the traffic lane and partly because people think it might be a child trailer. For some reason it's OK to hit adult cyclists, but it's not OK to hit kids.

I would definitely recommend the Burley for shopping and touring, but I still think an Xtracycle would have advantages--hopefully I'll be able to build one up by spring and report back. I suppose I could always have an Xtracycle and a trailer attached, but I think that would get a little heavy.

I should go to work soon, so I guess I'll cut this off here.


Chris - Jacksonville FL said...

Thanks for the review of the Nomad.

Trevor Hollenback said...

Awesome review. Just what I was looking for!

Riley - NZL said...

Any idea if you can modify it for us weirdos that drive on the wrong side of the road? :P

Also are there any good points on it for attaching lights?