The Burley Bee is the best. The best entry-level bike trailer, that is.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a bicycle trailer for hauling your kids, but you do want to get one that’s high-quality, durable, and easy to tow, then the Burley Bee is the trailer that you want. It lacks the bells and whistles of higher end trailers, but sometimes simple is best.
This is a bike-only trailer (it doesn’t convert to a stroller), but maybe you only need a bike-only trailer. And compared to other entry-level “budget” bike trailers, the Burley Bee is heads and shoulders above.
Read on to find out why the Burley Bee is our number one pick for entry-level trailers.
Review In A Nutshell
- Good bang for your buck
- Comes in both single and double versions
- Lightweight aluminum frame/roll cage
- Water resistant polyester cover and fabric
- UV windows
- Ample cargo space
- No floor mat or hard plastic bottom
- A bit tricky to fold/unfold
- Doesn’t convert to a stroller
Price: $279.99 (single), $299.99 (double)
Why You Should Buy The Burley Bee Rather Than A “Budget” Trailer
The Burley Bee is a great entry-level trailer for families who simply want to get in some family bike rides, or who want to start biking around town more rather than driving. While it’s not a true “budget” trailer (at $279+ it’s definitely more expensive than some of the “cheaper” trailers), it is the best bang for your buck.
Here’s what the extra money gets you when compared to a trailer like the Instep or Retrospec trailers:
- 20″ wheels rather than 16″ wheels. Bigger wheels roll faster and make it up and over obstacles (think cracks in the sidewalk) much easier.
- Metal rims and spokes rather than plastic ones. Plastic is, well, plastic. It breaks, it cracks, it warps. Plastic and bikes don’t generally mix very well.
- Quick release buttons for removing the wheels. If you’re going to be folding the trailer down for transport or storage, it’s nice to be able to remove the wheels with a push of a button.
- UV windows. The UV windows help protect your child’s skin and eyes from the sun….especially nice if you are doing longer rides.
- Higher quality components and fabric. The Burley Bee has thicker, more durable fabric, higher grade aluminum, and all-over feels mores durable. You can use the Bee for multiple children and sell it for a decent price when you’re done.
- Easier initial assembly. If you’re the type that swears assembling Ikea furniture, you’ll appreciate this.
- Smoother towing. This is hard to describe without experiencing it, but the Burley Bee has a much smoother, less jerky feeling when towing it.
Comes In Both Double and Single Versions
The Burley Bee used to come in only a double version, but new for 2021, Burley is now offering it as a single version as well. This is great for parents that only need to haul one kid.
The single trailer is also narrower than the Burley Bee which makes it easier to maneuver thru tight areas. Of course, if you have two kids getting the double is a no brainer. You might also want to get the double even with one child if you want additional space to store things (i.e. you want to haul a kiddo and some groceries).
Aluminum Frame Is Lightweight But Strong
The frame of the Burley Bee is made of heat treated 6061-T6 aluminum. This makes for a lightweight trailer, but one that’s also strong.
After years of hauling kids in trailers we’ve learned that it’s almost inevitable–at some point you’re going to tip a trailer over with your kid(s) in it. With the Burley Bee they can roll onto the side, and still be fine. The frame acts as a roll cage.
Compared to higher-end Burley trailers, however (including the HoneyBee), the Bee is missing the stroller handlebar that folds forward over the trailer cage. This means that kids are slightly less protected from the top.
Five Point Harnesses Keep Kids Secure
The Burley Bee comes with either one five point harness or two depending on whether you order the single or double model. These do a great job of keeping kids secure (and the buttons are hard enough to push that little kids can’t get out on their own).
The shoulder straps are height adjustable and we appreciate that they simply slide up or down and you don’t have to re-thread them thru the seat as your child grows like some trailers we’ve tested.
While Burley hasn’t skimped on safety with the seats in the Bee, they have on comfort. While the seats are on par (or even better) than other budget trailers, they’re not exceptionally comfortable.
This might not be a big deal if you are doing short rides, but if you plan on doing longer rides, your kiddos will be much more comfortable with padded seats. Burley does sell their premium seats as an accessory, so you can always upgrade later on if you feel like your kids need it.
The good news is that the Bee does have a recessed helmet pocket so your child can comfortably rest their head (with helmet) against the back of the seat. This is something lacking in many entry-level trailers, and it makes the ride much more enjoyable for kiddos.
Additional Safety Features
In addition to the aluminum roll cage and 5-point harness (the most important safety features in our opinion), the Bee also has additional safety features worth mentioning. It meets or exceeds all ASTM F1975-09 safety standards.
Other safety features include:
- Safety flag
- Wheel guards (keeps rocks or other debris from flipping up)
- Reflective materials and reflectors for visibility
- Loops to clip blinky lights too
Cover Is Durable and Water Resistant
Where you can tell the Burley Bee really shines when compared to the cheaper “budget” trailers is the fabric cover (which is 600D polyester). It is both thicker and better constructed than cheaper trailers.
This means that the Bee will last thru multiple children and heavy use. The cover is also water resistant and does a good job of keeping kids dry even in the rain.
That said, keep in mind that this is still an entry-level trailer. While the cover is certainly more durable than most budget trailers, it’s still not the same quality that you find on the more expensive Burley trailers. If you know the trailer is going to get HEAVY use, you may want to upgrade.
Door Has Both Mesh and Rain Covers
When the door is closed you can either put down only the mesh cover (for good airflow) or the plastic cover as well (for colder or wetter weather). With kids in a sleeping bag and the door down, you can ride in almost any weather conditions.
The cover secures via a strap and hook which makes it faster and easier to open and close than a zipper, but perhaps slightly less secure from the elements. The rain cover rolls up and is kept up via two velcro straps.
Windows Have UV Protection (But There’s No Sunshade)
The windows on the Burley Bee have tinted windows that provide UV protection. This is great not only for keeping your kids skin protected, but also your child’s eyes.
In terms of sun protection, the one thing the Burley Bee is missing when compared to higher-end trailers is a sunshade. We know some parents who have made a DIY sunshade to address this issue.
Trailer Is A Bit Tricky To Fold-Down And Put Back Together
The good news is that the Burley Bee can be folded down for either storage or transport. It fits easily in the back of an SUV for instance.
The bad news is that I found it rather difficult to pop back into the open position.
The lever that holds that bars into place when fully open was nearly impossible for me to snap into place. This is compared to the other Burley trailers we’ve tested which are exceptionally easy to set up and tear down.
Honestly, I’m a bit confused about this because other reviews I’ve read have raved that the trailer is easy to set-up, so I’m not sure if mine is somehow defective or what the deal is. And it’s not just me….my super strong husband has had trouble with it too.
While the frame was a challenge for me, the wheels–like all the Burley trailers–were really to take on and off. There is a button in the center of the wheel that you push–and voila, the wheels slide off.
Lots Of Storage For Your “Stuff”
We all know that biking with kids (or doing anything with kids) requires lots of gear. You need snacks, waterbottles, toys, diapers, a change of clothes, and on, and on, and on.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of space for all of that in the Burley Bee. The large rear compartment can hold larger items–we’ve shoved in a soccer ball AND a balance bike–and there are also interior pockets for your kids snacks, water bottles, or small toys.
Lightweight And Easy To Tow
Remember how I said sometimes simple is best? This is really where the Bee shines.
At 20 or 21 pounds (depending on which version you get), the Bee is crazy light. Compared to multi-sport trailers, like the Hamax Outback for example, the Bee is a staggering 10 pounds lighter.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot, trust me, you’ll be appreciating the lighter weight when hauling a kid and groceries up the hill to your house. The lightweight contributes to an overall positive towing experience.
The Burley Bee has 20 inch wheels, high-quality tires, and metal spokes and rims (not plastic). This is the other big factor is making the trailer enjoyable to tow. (It doesn’t jerk like cheaper trailers).
The trailer connects to your bike via a tow arm and hitch. The hitch connects to the rear quick-release on your bike. (This is a pretty standard design across trailer brands).
The only thing to note is that the trailer hitch will NOT work with bikes that have a rear thru-axle, but you can order a thru-axle convertor on the Burley website or from Robert Axle Project.
If you plan to ride on dirt roads or on snowy roads, you can also upgrade the wheels with Burley’s plus-tire kit. We’ve used the plus-tires with our higher-end Burley trailers (pictured below on the Burley Encore X) quite a bit, and then make tackling more challenging terrain much more manageable (especially on a trailer like the Bee that doesn’t have suspension).
The Floor Is Not Reinforced And Can Sag
My only real complaint about the Burley Bee is not at all unique to the Bee–it’s true of all “budget” trailer–but it’s still worth mentioning. The floor is not reinforced and is just fabric.
This means that as kids stand on it, jump on it, climb in and out, the fabric will start to sag and wear out. And because it’s just fabric, there’s also no easy way to wipe it down when little feet track in mud.
Like I said, this isn’t unique to the Bee–and the floor fabric is still superior to many “cheap” trailer–but if you have extra money to spend, this might be a reason for you to upgrade.
Doesn’t Convert To A Stroller
The Burley Bee is a bike trailer ONLY. It doesn’t convert to a stroller, jogger, xc ski trailer or anything else fancy.
This might be just what you’re looking for. All that other stuff can add a lot of expense to a trailer, and if you already have a stroller, jogger, etc can be total overkill.
That said, having a trailer that converts to a stroller can be really nice. For instance, we’ve always appreciated being able to bike to the farmer’s market, then unhook the trailer from the bike and walk around with it. If you have a sleeping toddler, this can be doubly nice.
If this is something you want, check out the Burley Honeybee which is essentially the same trailer but with the strolling option.
Burley Bee Compared To Other Burley Trailers
The Burley Bee is Burley’s most affordable trailer. From here you keep adding features (some of them really nice).
Bee vs Honey Bee
The next level up from the Burley Bee is the Honey Bee. As mentioned above, the Honey Bee has the option to convert it to a stroller, which can be awesome for trips around town.
The Honey Bee also has a brake which the Bee does not. A brake is more important for strolling than biking, but can still be nice for use in trailer mode when stopped on a hill.
As previously mentioned, the Honey Bee (and all other Burley trailers) have a handlebar that folds over the top of the aluminum cage and adds some extra level of protection.
Finally, and perhaps most important, I found the Honey Bee really easy to fold up and down. But the Bee was a struggle fest for me.
Bee vs Higher End Burley Trailers
The more you have to spend on a Burley trailer, the more awesome stuff you get. Some of this stuff you may never need (i.e. the xc ski kit) but some can be really nice–like padded seats.
In my opinion, the nicest upgrades you get as you move up the Burley trailer spectrum are premium seats (padding can be really nice for kids on longer rides), suspension (important if you ride gravel or bumpy roads), and a rubber, reinforced floor.
If you know you are going to be biking A LOT, then I’d highly recommend spending more to get these features. If, on the other hand, you’re simply doing the occasional weekend bike ride, the Burley Bee should be find for your needs.
Burley Compared To The Competition
The closest competitor to the Burley Bee is the Thule Cadence. Thule is another company that makes trailers that we highly recommend.
Like the Bee, the Cadence is Thule’s entry-level bike trailer. It’s a bit more expensive ($330 vs $300), but at the end of the day the two are pretty comparable.
The Cadence has a sunshade (point for Thule!), but the Bee has a much better harness and more legroom (two points for Burley!). Neither converts to a stroller.
You won’t be disappointed with either trailer, but we give the slight edge to the Bee and you can keep that extra $30 in your pocket.
Compared to cheaper trailers like the Instep or Retrospec…..well there is no competition. Refer back to the beginning of this article if you need a reminder on why spending a little bit more for the Bee makes a ton of sense.
Bottom-Line: Our Favorite Entry-Level Trailer
This is the bike trailer that most families want or need. It’s not fancy, but most parents don’t need a fancy trailer.
What the Burley Bee does offer is everything you DO need. It’s safe, easy to tow, and will hold up for years to come.
Compared to other entry-level trailers, the Bee is more durable, more enjoyable to tow, and more comfortable for your kids. We highly recommend spending the extra money to get a high-quality product.