The name Thule is synonymous with an active, outdoorsy lifestyle. In addition to making racks to carry your gear, the company also offers a line of bike seats and trailers to carry your kids. In fact, they make some of our favorite bike carriers!
Today, we’re taking a look at their entry-level double trailer, the Thule Cadence. At $349, this entry-level trailer won’t convert to a jogger or a stroller, but if you only need a bike trailer, the Cadence offers excellent bang for your buck in a lightweight, easy-to-use package.
Review In A Nutshell
- Lightweight (22 lbs.)
- Folds flat for transport
- 5 point seatbelt system
- Metal roll cage for safety
- Thule quality and reliability (Limited Lifetime Warranty)
- Narrow shoulder space
- Floor isn’t reinforced
- Doesn’t convert to a jogger or stroller
- No suspension
Price and Where To Buy:
- $379.95 List
- Check price at REI.com
- $379.95 at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2022-06-21 at 16:08) – More info
Out of the Box
For parents looking for a no-frills bike trailer that can carry two children with room for supplies or gear, the Thule Cadence is certainly one to consider. While Thule has higher-end trailers (like the drool-worthy Thule Chariott Cross) that offer features like suspension and multi-sport conversion kits for jogging or cross-country skiing, these luxuries come with a price tag much higher than the $349 MSRP on the Cadence.
20″ Pneumatic Tires & Sturdy, Removable Wheels
So what do you get for less than $350? For starters, you get high quality, 20” pneumatic tires, mounted to wheels that remove from the trailer chassis with the push of a button.
Note that trailers on the lower end of the price spectrum often substitute plastic wheels for air-filled tires, which affects passenger comfort as well as the handling of the trailer. Kudos to Thule for sticking with the better option!
The wheels have easy to use red knobs that the user pulls to collapse the trailer. This allows that trailer to easily fold for transport or storage, and can be done in less than one minute.
Opening the trailer back up is a similarly easy process. It was a little stiff at first, but that issue went away after a few days.
With the Thule Cadence, you get a safe, comfortable, weather-resistant passenger area for your little ones to sit. The interior measures 22” wide.
This is on-par with other trailers in this price range although narrower than some higher-end trailers. That said, while there is less shoulder space, a narrower trailer also means a more maneuverable trailer in tight spots.
Frame And Cover
The strong, lightweight aluminum roll cage is surrounded by sleek looking canvas cover. For the door, there is a mesh screen that secures with Velcro after loading children in.
The side-windows are UV-resistant, meaning you don’t have to worry about your littles getting sunburned while on a ride. There is also a front rain cover. This stores out of the way in fair weather via more Velcro loops. If the weather turns bad, it’s quick and easy to pull down and secure with the same velcro attachment as the mesh screen.
Finally, the Cadence also offers a sun-shade, which is a feature not usually found on a sub-$350 trailer! By pulling the back cover forward and attaching to Velcro closures, passengers in the Cadence are offered relief from the sun on bright days.
Safety First, Safety Always
Riding a bicycle carries inherent risks, but there are a myriad of ways to mitigate those risks. This includes wearing personal protective equipment such as helmets, using passenger restraints in the trailer, and making sure you and your trailer are visible in a variety of lighting conditions. To this end, the Cadence comes through with several smart touches.
The Cadence offers flexible mesh netting behind the passengers head. This makes riding with a helmet more comfortable, as the child’s head isn’t being forced forward at an uncomfortable angle.
We appreciate the height-adjustable five point harnesses which ensure the riders stay firmly belted into the trailer. The previously mentioned aluminum roll-cage also plays a role in safety, preventing the passenger from hitting the ground in the unlikely event of a rollover crash.
There are redundant connections to the bike itself, ensuring the trailer doesn’t accidentally detach during a ride (more about that below). Finally, the Cadence ships with the required rear and wheel reflectors, and a tall orange flag for added visibility.
A Few Cons
While Thule gets an A for effort in the safety department, we did notice the Cadence was missing reflectors on the front of the trailer, which our Burley Bee has. Also, the Cadence’s restraint system requires two separate straps to be buckled (one for the child’s shoulders, another for their pelvis), versus the single strap design of the Burley trailer. While not deal breakers by any means, these are important considerations.
Connecting to the Bike
Much like other high-end trailer designs, the Cadence comes with a removable arm that locks firmly into the trailer and has multiple, redundant safety straps that connect the trailer to the bike. The arm itself, made from aluminum, has a metal d-ring that mates to a clip on the rear of the trailer. The front of the arm utilizes a safety strap designed to go around the bike’s chainstay before clipping to another metal d-ring on the arm.
The actual trailer-to-bike connection is done via a brilliantly-designed ball-joint hitch, which seemed to require less precision to engage versus the Burley designs we’ve used in the past. Bicycles with either quick-release skewers or thru-axle designs are accommodated, however, a thru-axle will require an adapter, sized specifically for your bike. These can be purchased from Thule, or the Robert Axle Project.
One aspect of this design did have us scratching our heads initially, however – the ball and socket connection, secured by a metal cotter pin (standard across designs), is then held in place by a heavy-duty rubber strap, which while surely safe and sturdy, differs from the metal bail we’re used to seeing on other trailers. Ultimately, however, the connection held solid, and proved to be easy to attach and detach from our bikes.
The 20” pneumatic tires have a smooth tread that wrap aluminum rims and steel spokes, which are nearly identical to the competition’s wheels, and are best suited to paved paths or hard-packed, smooth dirt or gravel, with no option for an off-road tire available. The seats are hammock-style, without any added padding, and no headrest option is offered.
Hammock-style seats are ubiquitous at this price-point, but are better suited for shorter stints in the trailer, sticking to paved or very smooth paths. The mesh backing acts as a helmet-recess for comfort, although taller children may not get the full benefit of this design.
Given the lack of suspension, we don’t recommend using this for mountain biking – your children’s sensitive little bottoms will thank you!
On the Open Road
At 22 pounds empty, the Cadence is one of the lighter trailers around. This is something Mom or Dad will appreciate once the children and their requisite gear pile in! Boasting the same 100 pound maximum weight capacity as the Burley Bee, parents will be pleased with the space and cargo capacity this trailer provides.
Kids seemingly never travel without a plethora of accessories – drink cups, diaper bags, toys, snacks, the kitchen sink – the list is never-ending. Fortunately, the Cadence sports a cargo area behind the seats that’s perfect for the day’s accessories. Inside the trailer, there’s a single mesh pocket (as opposed to the dual pockets on the Burley Bee) that can be used for drinks, snacks, or whatever a child’s heart decides.
We were disappointed the pocket only exists on one side, as it led to a “discussion” or three, let’s say, as to who was allowed to sit where on a given ride. The cargo area, or “trunk,” is not as deep as the Burley Bee, which we noticed when we went to strap his balance bike in for a longer ride.
That said, you can still bring along plenty in the Cadence, so let’s give a big Rascal Rides high-five to anyone towing 100 pounds behind them on their bicycle. Go Super Mom!
Space And Weight Limits
Our two-year old and her five-year old brother fit comfortably in the Cadence, with adequate leg, head, and shoulder-room. No complaints were registered (especially after one or both fell asleep after a big day at the beach!).
Switching children, we tried our nearly 50 lb. seven year-old with his five-year old brother. While the two boys fit, our seven year-old started complaining about inadequate leg room after a bit (granted, he’s used to riding his own bike), and the 88 lbs. of children left little capacity for cargo if we wanted to stay under that 100 lb. maximum limit. Consider the Cadence great for smaller children, but if you’ll be carrying older children, a roomier trailer might be worth looking at.
Unless you have the luxury of living in a really bike-friendly community like some European cities (Amsterdam comes to mind), at some point you’re going to want to transport your trailer, bikes, and children somewhere in a car in order to ride. When it’s time for the Cadence to take a ride, it folds down quickly and easily with the pull of two red knobs, measuring 22” wide by 36” long, and a mere 10” high.
The wheels come off at the push of a button, and the fiberglass safety flag breaks down into two 29” long sections. Folded for transport, the trailer fits in the trunk of any modern four-door sedan.
Although accessories like a jogger kit, stroller conversion, or XC-adapter for winter use are not available on the Cadence, Thule does offer a variety of accessories like a rain cover (for the wettest of days, when the integral plastic flap may not be enough to keep the kiddos dry), an insulated “footmuff” (similar to a sleeping bag, really) for the coldest of winter days, and a storage cover if you intend on leaving the trailer outside for extended periods of time.
Thule Cadence vs Burley Bee
Looking at the Cadence in comparison to what, for us, is the standard-bearer of no-frills, high-quality bike trailers, the Burley Bee, the Cadence holds its own, albeit with a slightly higher price tag of $349 vs. the $299 for the Burley Bee. Fit and finish, assembly/breakdown for transport, and features are all very similar. We tend to prefer the assembly of the Cadence, which features knobs that positively click to lock the trailer together, versus a pair of machined clips on the Burley trailer that some users have had trouble with.
On the other hand, the Burley trailer offers slightly more cargo space behind the seats (but keep in mind, the more cargo in the trailer, the heavier the load Mom or Dad is pulling!), an extra set of reflectors on the front of the trailer, and mesh pockets for cups, snacks, or toys on both sides of the trailer as opposed to just one side on the Cadence.
Thule, however, comes through with a more robust warranty, which amounts to “Limited Lifetime” on the Cadence. Burley, on the other hand, has a warranty of 1-3 years depending on which part is being covered.
Is The Thule Cadence The Right Trailer for Your Family?
Every family has different needs. Some will use a bike trailer daily, carting the kids to and from school, to the market, playground, or elsewhere around town, while other families that may not live in a truly “bikeable” community will only use their trailer on weekend rides at the bike path.
There are bike Moms and Dads that take single-wheeled trailers on mountain bike trails, and for that, suspension is definitely suggested, which the Cadence doesn’t offer (nor do any other trailers at this price point, however). You’re also not going to get a conversion kit for riding on soft surfaces (like the 16”+ fat-tire conversion kit that Burley offers) or a ski-kit for winter use, but these options are available at a different price point from Thule or its competitors.
For the family that wants a good looking, high quality trailer from a reputable company for short trips, infrequent use, or just mellow rides on smooth bike paths and roadways, the Cadence is an excellent choice, and one we would absolutely recommend!
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About The Reviewer
Chris Del Sole has been an avid cyclist for over 20 years, and is now sharing his love of the sport with his wife and three children. A Marketing Director by day, in his free time he can be found riding bikes, working on bikes, looking at bikes, talking about bikes, and generally geeking out over bikes. In the winter, he spends his weekends teaching skiing and encouraging his kids to “send it” off every jump in sight.