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900 Miles: Long-Distance Test of Travoy Bike Trailer

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The Burley Travoy is an excellent city bike trailer. But what happens when you take an urban-designed trailer for a tour on a full-suspension mountain bike in a faraway country? This year, I did just that, packing the Travoy along for a two-month bike tour of New Zealand’s South Island. I explored the country via Highway 6 and, since I was using my mountain bike, I even got to test the setup off-road, including on a trail from Queenstown to the gorgeous town of Te Anau.

Burley Travoy

Burley Design of Eugene, Ore., debuted the Travoy trailer last year. It is meant mainly for city tasks, and my New Zealand trip was certainly a stretch. I carried about 60 pounds of food and supplies over 900 miles with all the weight crammed into a typical hiking backpack and strapped to the Travoy with bungee cords. Despite some issues with tipping and staying in control on difficult downhills on mountain trails, the Travoy performed great for the majority of the trip.

The three best things about bike touring with the Travoy are its lightweight, packability, and its multi-functionality. It weighs almost half of what a normal touring trailer can weigh (at about 10 pounds when empty). When I was going up steep mountain grades that weight loss was appreciated. During travel to the country, the trailer was so compact that I was able to fold it up and carry it onto my flights. It fit perfectly into the overhead compartment. At airports, I could then cart my oversized bike box around using the Travoy like a dolly.

The author using the Travoy like a dolly to haul his bike box

On the bike, the trailer pulled smoothly on roads. It also performed better than expected in most off-road situations. When biking on flat or uphill rocky terrain the momentum of the bike would pull the trailer back on track and minimize the sway anytime I hit a rock or hole.

The only time the trailer let me down was when braking going downhill on trails. Then, with the weight and momentum of the trailer pushing against my bike, the sway of the trailer would be exaggerated. After it hit an obstacle it would easily tip even on the most mild terrain going downhill. I did not crash, but this did require me to stop, get off the bike, and reposition the trailer before I could pedal off again.

Disconnected from the bike, the pack and trailer sit upright and accessible

For many bike tourists, the Travoy, which retails for $289, could be a slick option over panniers or a heavier and more expensive trailer the likes of a BOB Ibex. However, off-road or mountain-bike tours are not the venue for the Travoy. It is far more functional on pavement.

Next year I am heading to South America on a bike tour similar to what I did in New Zealand. Despite some hesitance with the trailer off-road, the Travoy is coming with me.

—Waima Azizi is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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