Has your child outgrown their trailer or bike seat? If so, you might want to consider the Burley Piccolo trailer-cycle.
Even once kids are capable of pedaling solo, they often tire out after a few miles, or they simply ride too slow. A trailer-cycle is a great way for kids to be involved in the ride, but still allows you to set the pace and make it to work (or wherever you need to be) on time.
That said, many trailer-cycles (also known as trailer bikes or tag-a-longs) are more of a pain than they are worth. They can wobble like crazy or be really heavy.
That’s not the case with the Burley Piccolo. The Piccolo is hands-down the best trailer-cycle we’ve used. It’s extraordinarily sturdy, no wobbling!, relatively lightweight, and plenty of fun for both parent and child.
Review in a Nutshell
- Best-in-class stability and maneuverability
- 7-speed drivetrain
- Ideal for bicycle commuting and touring
- Won’t fit on every bike
- Shifters are challenging for small hands
Price & Where to Buy:
Burley Piccolo Detailed Review
Unique Rack Mount Offers Superior Stability and Maneuverability
Compared to EVERY OTHER trailer-cycle we’ve tested, the Piccolo is far superior in terms of both stability and maneuverability. This is thanks largely to the fact that it installs to a rack rather than to your seatpost.
The Burley Piccolo mounts to an included rack (left) as opposed to most trailer-cycles that mount to the seatpost (right).
Other trailer-cycles tend to sway a bit (or a lot) from side to side. If your child shifts their weight suddenly, it can take a bit of effort to keep you and your child upright.
Not so with the Burley Piccolo. The trailer stays up straight and doesn’t sway even with a squirmy kiddo on it. This makes it easier and more enjoyable to ride and far safer.
The other issue I’ve had with other trailer-cycles is the ability to make tight corners and turns. The Burley Piccolo, however, does an admirable job and has a reasonably tight turning radius.
Lightweight Design Means You Won’t Kill Yourself
Weight may not seem like a big deal…..until your child decides to give up pedaling. (Which I promise they will probably do at some point).
Fortunately, the Burley Piccolo is lightweight (18 lbs) and tips the scales at about 9 pounds lighter (!!!) than the Weehoo, for instance. That weight savings will mean a lot to you when your kiddo decides to clock out on that 10% grade climb.
If you are transitioning from a trailer, you’ll also notice the Piccolo is considerably lighter. In fact, this is a great reason to make the switch once your child is old enough.
Rack and Trailer Installation
Despite rather unhelpful and somewhat useless instructions, installation of both the rack and the trailer itself was straightforward and relatively easy.
The rack installs to eyelets on the seat stays as well as the eyelets at the dropouts. If you don’t have eyelets on the rear triangle, the rack does come with p-clamps you can use instead.
Once you’ve installed the rack, you’re supposed to cut the adjustable arms to size. That’s sort of obnoxious. I honestly wasn’t sure how to do that, and was too lazy to deal with it, so I’ve just left them long. Not ideal, but they don’t seem to get in the way of anything either.
Once you have the rack on, hooking up the trailer-cycle (and removing it) is easy-peasy and can be done in about 30 seconds or less. It locks securely in place, and we haven’t had any issues with it shaking loose. In fact, this is the best attachment point of any trailer-cycle we’ve ever tried.
While the trailer-cycle itself is easy to remove, you are left with the rack installed semi-permanently on the bike. If you’re installing it on your recreational or commuter bike, this shouldn’t be a big deal, as you can use the rack for panniers or other cargo as well.
Should you and your spouse want to swap the Piccolo between your bikes, you can order a second Moose Rack off the Burley website.
Bike Compatibility May Be An Issue
The trailer requires the installation of an included rear rack. This means that for the Burley Piccolo to be compatible with your bike, your frame must have bosses near the rear dropouts, you can’t have full suspension, nor can you have fat tires (though plus-size tires will work). The rack may or may not be compatible with disc brakes depending on how they are mounted.
While the rack will work with most disc brakes, there may be instances where the disc brakes stick out too far. In this case, the rack can be adapted with some washers or the Jandd disc brake adaptor kit.
Of the 10 or so adult bikes we have at our house, we found that exactly one of those bikes was compatible without any adaptations. (Most of our bikes have full suspension, fat tires, or lack eyelets).
That said, we like the Burley Piccolo enough that it would be worth picking up a cheap bike on Craigslist just to use with the trailer if your existing bike isn’t compatible.
Gears Allow Kids To Practice Shifting And Help Propel YOU Forward
The Piccolo offers your little rider their own gears (7 of them to be exact). This not only makes it easier for them to pedal up big hills (or along fast flats), it also gives them a chance to practice shifting in a low-pressure environment.
Compared to our older Novara trailer-cycle without gears, I noticed a huge difference when biking with my son around town. In spots where he would be under-geared on the Novara, I could feel him shift into the correct gear and actually PUSH ME forward.
For my 6-year-old, who’s already comfortable shifting, he liked the ability to change gears. That said, the trigger shifters were challenging for his little fingers. Given the high price of the Piccolo, it would be nice if Burley upgraded to the trailer to either grip shifters or higher-end trigger shifters.
While we really like having a geared trailer-cycle, if you want to save a little coin or save a bit of weight, you can always choose the Burley Kazoo instead, which is basically the same great trailer without the gears.
Tires Are Fast Rolling For Paved Riding
The Piccolo comes with CST City 20 x 1.75 tires. We found that these were fast-rolling and ideal for commuting around town and cruising on paved paths.
If you plan on using the trailer off-road, either on dirt trails or on gravel rail-trails, we’d recommend swapping out the CST tires for something a little beefier and knobbier. Fortunately, the Piccolo will accept tires up to 2.2 so you’re good if that’s something you choose to do.
Cranks and Q-Factor
The Burley Piccolo comes with 140mm crankarms. While perfect for kids on the older side of the size spectrum, they are going to be pretty long for your 4 or 5-year-old. This might not be a big deal for the occasional cruise or short rides around town, but for a long tour, you might want to consider swapping out some shorter cranks (or use a crank arm shortener).
Also of note, the Q-factor (the distance between pedals) is quite wide for young riders but not for older ones. While this would be a deal-breaker for me on a child’s bike, it’s not on a trailer-bike. Yes, your child’s pedaling may be less efficient, but you’re there to give them a boost anyway.
Both of these are likely unavoidable issues due to the fact that the Piccolo is designed for such a wide range of ages. It’s hard to create a bike that’s going to fit both a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old perfectly.
Transportation and Storage
The attachment arm on the Piccolo breaks into two for easier storage and transportation. (You have to unscrew two bolts though, so it’s not incredibly fast to do).
We managed to fit the Piccolo just fine into the back of my SUV, but if you have limited space inside the car we’ve also heard of people having success mounting the Piccolo on their roof-rack with the Yakima RaptorAero.
Space For Panniers
Even with the Piccolo attached, the Moose Rack still offers space to use panniers as well. This makes it great for bicycle commuters and families doing longer cycling tours.
Age Range and Weight
The Piccolo is designed and marketed for the kids in the 4 to 10-year-old range.
An even better indicator of readiness is your child’s inseam. The minimum seatpost height is 24″, so your child needs around a 22″ inseam to feel comfortable on the bike and be able to touch the ground with their toes. You could potentially lower the seatpost height a couple of inches by cutting the post or swapping out a shorter one.
For even smaller kids, check out the Weehoo trailer-cycle instead.
At the other end up the spectrum, your child is likely limited by weight not age. The maximum weight for the Piccolo is 85 pounds, and it’s recommended to maintain a 2:1 adult-to-child boy weight ratio. So, a 120-pound mom would be maxed out with a 60-pound child.
Quick-Release Seatpost Collar (But No Quick-Release Skewer)
We appreciated the quick-release seatpost collar on the Burley Piccolo. This means that you can easily make seat height adjustments without the need for tools, and is particularly handy if you have more than one child that you plan to use the Piccolo with.
The rear wheel, on the other hand, does NOT have a quick-release. This means that you need a wrench to remove the rear wheel to fix a flat tire.
Handlebars Are Adjustable
The handlebar can adjust to create the best fit for your child. Besides being able to rotate the handlebar to play with the angle, you can also move the handlebar up and down the trailer arm.
For Use Off-Road and Touring
We first learned about the Burley Piccolo several years ago when we ran into a dad and his son using it on the mountain bike trails of Park City, UT. And it certainly can work for that purpose, thanks to the reasonably tight turning radius.
Unfortunately, most mountain bikers will find that the Piccolo isn’t compatible with their modern mountain bike since it most likely has disc brakes and full suspension. If your family is serious about mountain biking, you might be better served by the ToutTerrain Streamliner or a simple tow rope like the TowWhee.
The other popular use for the Burley Piccolo is bicycle touring. As mentioned above, it works well for this purpose since it’s still compatible with panniers.
Other Stuff Worth Mentioning
- The saddle seems reasonably comfortable but may be a bit small for older kids.
- The trailer-cycle comes with reflectors on the wheel, on the pedals, and includes a safety flag that inserts into the rack.
- The pedals are plastic and have enough pins to provide decent traction for small feet.
- The grips have knobby ends to help keep little hands from slipping off the bars.
Who We’d Recommend The Piccolo For
- Families who enjoy longer rides, including touring
- Kids that have outgrown their bike seat or trailer
- Parents that ride enough to justify the price
Comparison Chart: Burley Piccolo vs Other Trailer-Cycles
How does the Burley Piccolo stack up against the competition? It’s lighter and has better stability than just about everything out there.
On the flip side, it’s a bit spendy and won’t fit the very youngest riders.
Bottom-Line: A Best-in-Class Trailer-Cycle
Aside from the ToutTerrain Streamliner (which costs a fortune and is designed for parents tackling technical singletrack or biking across Kenya), the Burley Piccolo is the BEST trailer-cycle out there.
If it is compatible with your bike, this purchase is a no-brainer. The Piccolo offers far more stability and a better turning radius than any other trailer-cycle we’ve used. You and your child will be able to get wherever you need to be faster and with far less whining than would be possible with them riding solo.
Consider Your Other Options
Not convinced that the Burley Piccolo is right for your family? You might want to take a look at these articles as well.
FTC Disclosure: Burley provided a trailer-cycle to help facilitate this review. We did not receive any monetary compensation, and all opinions are our own. The majority of the links on this site are affiliate links and we earn from qualifying purchases.