I admit it, I am a Burley fan. I love my Burley Rock and Roll Tandem, and my Burley D'lite has seen service hauling kids and gear for the last several years. I have lusted after a Fox Hollow (a lime green roadie screamer I tried out at Interbike in the Deserts outside Vegas) for some time now, and I am saddened by Burley's decision to discontinue bicycle manufacturing. But none the less, I definitely looked forward to taking the Nomad cargo trailer out for a few runs.
As is true in most of life's design applications, simple really is better, and this trailer is no exception. All of the parts simply fit together by slipping them into place. The aluminum frame is tubular and the pieces are sized to slip into each other where appropriate and not when not. The largest element of assembly was screwing the brackets and reflectors into the frame. Otherwise assembly consisted of slipping the side pieces onto the bottom piece, attaching the top bar, screwing in the knurled knobs and shafts and attaching the wheels (Quill based quick release). Thread the splash guard and tailgate fabric straps into place, attach the tongue and the assembly is complete. Folding and stowing the trailer or setting it up will seriously require about one minute. But the Nomad also stows very nicely simply standing on its rear fully assembled.
Designed for touring as well as hauling groceries, the Nomad is a good deal smaller than its larger cousin, the D'lite. The Nomad is strictly a cargo trailer. But it also has 8,000 cubic inches of cargo space. There are very nice touches inside, both sides are lined with pockets for the stuff that always gets lost, fire starters, multi-tools, pocket knives, patch kits, anything small enough to work its way to the bottom of the gear pile is a perfect candidate for the numerous pockets.
Another nice touch is the webbed divider that can be strung between the bottom of the trailer and the top cross bar. It affords a nice vertical method of separating the gear and providing a certain ability to segregate crushables and hard goods, kind of like segregating the chips in one partition and the jars of salsa in another. Any sudden stops or other maneuvers and the goods stay separated and intact.
So how does it work in real life? The first occasion I had to use the trailer was on a Pearl Izumi Gear review ride. I figured, why not take the tag along? So I hooked it up to my Cannondale SIX13. The Nomad is so light and well balanced that I literally forgot it was there. There is no perceptible drag from the mere presence of the trailer. It does not effect handling at all while empty or lightly loaded. Now my only issue with the trailer is actually the legacy hitch mechanism. On my Cannondale the rear wheel is tucked so tightly under the rear seat that my heel could and did occasionally catch on the hitch. Burley offers an alternative quick release hitch which solves this problem.
The second trip I hung the Nomad off the back end of my mountain bike to return bottles. Several trips later, all the bottles were returned and I was $7.85 cents richer. On the way home I got a little frisky and managed to ground out the right side pedal in a turn, which merely demonstrates how well the trailer tracks and how stable it is. It couldn't have cared less how far over I leaned. I took seriously terrible roads and although Cori saw the trailer airborne on several occasions, I felt no disruption of the ride or bike handling what so ever.
Now if you have ever used a trailer on a bike or a car, there is this phenomenon I call surging, or porpoising. Basically it is the trailer and its load absorbing acceleration energy and then releasing it in kind of a push. It is a funny feeling that you recognize immediately as a towing phenomenon, car or bike, it is there and it is not a function of design flaws or any other negative. It is just a fact of life while towing. It is not uncomfortable, just strange at first but you quickly get used to it and frankly I enjoy it.
The next errand was running up to Pathmark to pick up two cases of Poland Spring water. This time I hung the Burley off of my 40 year old Steel Raleigh 10 Speed. Talk about a sweet ride... Smooth, compliant and flawlessly positive in tracking, the combination took everything the road had to offer in its stride. We barely noticed the additional weight of the two cases of water and again the handling was similar to the bare bike, Now pulling the additional weight up hill will add to the work necessary to climb, but once rolling on a straight and level road, there is no perceived effort increase.
Last errand, I met Lee at the Pathmark store to bring home the bacon, and the chicken and the eggs and.... well it was the weekly shopping. Approximately 20 bags and $165,87 worth of groceries later, the whole shopping trip fit easily in to the cargo trailer.
Since these errands, I have acquired a fixed gear Specialized Langster, and since I hung the trailer off the end of it, I have not removed it. I have discovered the perfect urban errand combo, so I just leave them mated up and ready to go. Using platform/clipless pedals from Performance Bike, the rig is ready to go as soon as you lift your leg over it, bike togs or jeans and work boots, the errands just get done.
What can I say? I made these trips easier and faster with the Nomad than I could have in a car and I used absolutely no gas! If you want to run local errands or camp out touring by bicycle this trailer is the perfect companion.
For more info on Burley Trailers, check
The Burley D'Lite
and A d'liteful Adventure