December 26, 2009
All my life I have toured with panniers, and this marks the first time I´ve made my transition to a trailer. It's not that I have anything against panniers, or want to jump in on the debate as to which is more efficient. I just wanted to see what all the hype was about.
I have been touring the Mexico Pacific coast for a few weeks now with Tours Specialist Sarah Raz, and we are both toting the Burley Nomad trailer. The Nomad has a couple big draws that separate it from other trailers. The system they use to mount the trailer to the bike has been improved over the past few years, and instead of clamping down to the frame, the trailer uses a hitch design. It consists of a small aluminum piece that you clamp to your rear dropouts through the rear skewer. The trailer arm then has a small pin that drops into the hitch. The system is very secure, and allows the trailer to move fluidly behind. We did get some loud squeaks out of the hitch, but they were quickly quieted with some light grease.
Another draw to the Burley Nomad is that it is very light at 14.4 pounds, and is easily collapsible. We were able to fit a trailer (with both wheels and all attachments), in addition to all of our clothing and camping gear into one duffle bag that was easily checked onto a plane. No tools are required for assembly, and it goes back together in minutes.
Using two wheels, the trailer is best suited for road use, and its low center of gravity, with modest wheelbase, keeps it upright through large off camber bumps and potholes. The top cover does resist water, but the trailer is not waterproof. If you anticipate rain, I would suggest putting your belonging in dry bags, or sealed plastic bags.
So am I sold on the trailer over panniers? I´m perfectly content with either setup. Both systems transport my gear from point A to point B quite well, and are easily serviceable on the road.
The Burley Nomad retails for $350, and there are plenty of accessories and replacement parts available.
Photo by Josh Tack
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.