Burley bike trailer: It’s the only way to ride
July 13, 2005
I have been impressed with my Burley bike trailer from the day I got it, often referring to it as the only essential piece of baby gear there is. We got by with minimal use of bouncy seats and Baby Mozart videos, and without bottles and cribs entirely. But how people survived in the days before bike trailers, I’ll never know.
And as my Burley grows from aged to ancient, I have found more reason to marvel. I bought it five years ago from a colleague, believing I was making a secondhand purchase; only recently did I learn that he had bought it used from a friend who had gotten a few years’ use. While the provenance is a bit cloudy, we estimate that this bike trailer is 12 years old – or twice as old as its current primary inhabitant, my daughter Olivia. It is at least old enough that the present lineup of Burleys, with their aerodynamic design, slick-looking wheels and distinctive yellow-and-blue colors, bear no resemblance to mine. And never did.
Yet I feel no envy for the cutting-edge crop. My vintage Burley does the job; the Eugene, Ore.-based Burley company has figured it out over its 27 years. (Of course, it was only in its teens when it turned out my model.) It corners ridiculously well, and handles bumps so smoothly that Olivia encourages me to find more – even from her preferred seat, crammed into the rear cargo space. Its age and extensive use show in the faded colors and ripped netting in back (a benefit, as Olivia sees it, making for easy entrance and exit). The safety latch has needed replacement twice, but getting parts has been a breeze. The only real drawback I found was that the Burley wasn’t good for Olivia in her real young days. There was too much room for her to slide around, and we had to pack the cabin with blankets and pillows to secure her. I’ve no idea if the problem’s been corrected in later models.
Burley’s website claims that the company’s products are made to last for a lifetime. We’ll never find out; Olivia’s goal is to master a two-wheeler by herself by summer’s end. Even if she doesn’t, I don’t think I can tote her around much longer. But tally up the years logged by the various kids calling this Burley their home on the road, and it gets up there.