When most cyclists become parents, there is a point where the two worlds begin to collide. Instead of obsessing over a new bike, all of a sudden your research time is devoted to picking out the best bottles, crib, car seat, diapers, and much, much more. By the time the kid actually arrives, riding is probably one of the last things on your mind. But after the essentials are covered, and you finally start to get the hang of the whole parenting thing (as much as anyone really can), eventually it will be time to introduce your progeny to the world of bikes.
When it comes to first rides, child bike trailers are a great way to start riding as a family. But like those other child-related accessories that you probably over-analyzed, when it comes to a trailer you want it to be functional, fun, and above all — safe. The Burley D’lite X is all of that in a well-designed package – and it even offers some unexpected entertainment along the way.
Some of my first ever bike-related memories involve being towed behind my parents’ bikes in a hard plastic Cannondale Bugger. Fortunately for both kids and their parents, child trailers have come a long, long way since then. However, a high-end child trailer can also cost as much as a decent bike, and there’s a lot to choose from:
Burley D’Lite X Single Trailer
In terms of Burley’s lineup, the D’Lite X is an updated model that slots in just $50 below the top of the range model, the Cub X. Really, the only thing the Cub X has over the D’Lite X is the hard plastic bottom, but that also means the Cub X is not compatible with the 16+ wheel kit. So you could argue that the D’Lite X is their top end model that’s compatible with all of Burley’s accessory kits.
All of the ‘X’ models, including the less expensive Encore X, include suspension for the wheels of the trailer. All three of the top end models include a host of other premium features, but there is one thing in particular that makes the D’Lite X stand out — the availability of a single child model.
Should I get a single or double child trailer?
Both the Encore X and Cub X are only available in two seater versions. These can still be used with just one child, but the single seater D’Lite X has a few advantages if you’re planning on towing just one kid around the block.
Namely, that comes in the form of a trailer that is slightly smaller, lighter, and easier to get out and use. Even for someone like myself whose job it is to ride, wrangling a young child while getting everything necessary for a ride gathered up and getting out the door can be a challenge. Naturally, having a trailer that makes that easier is a huge plus.
When it comes to width, there are a number of places that a wider trailer will present more of a struggle. During testing, there were a number of doorways, gates, and other openings that the single-seater D’Lite Xjust managed to squeeze through. At 27.5″ wide compared to 31.3″ wide, the difference doesn’t sound like much, but I was very happy to have the narrower trailer — especially when used as a stroller (more on that in a bit).
Obviously, if you need the ability to carry two kids, none of this matters. But for the only child, the single-seater seems like the way to go since it also offers a more roomy position, centered in the trailer.
What’s in the Box?
As a new parent, you’re probably getting tired of hearing ‘some assembly required.’ Fortunately, when you pull the Burley D’Lite X out of the box, there’s very little to do to get it rolling. Arriving mostly assembled, you’ll find the main trailer in a collapsed state with the wheels, tow bar/1-wheel stroller kit, hitch, and two Quick Receivers stashed inside.
Installing the Quick Receivers is pretty straightforward as they simply slide over the square receiver supports, and then the inner yellow sleeve is pushed through to hold them in place. If you’re struggling to install them, there is an included leaflet that mentions loosening the bolts that hold the receiver supports in place so that you can rotate them slightly so everything is square.
On mine, the Quick Receivers went right on without issue. Once they’re in place, the tow bar or accessories can be installed by simply pushing them into the Quick Receiver. They’ll click into place once you’ve gone far enough, and the tow bar (or other left side accessories) are anchored with a quick release safety pin. To remove, simply pull the safety pin, and pull on the yellow handle on the Quick Receiver to release.
Many years ago, I used to have to assemble all the Burley trailers for the bike shop where I worked. Compared to those days, the modern Burley trailers are much, much easier and faster to assemble.
On the included Tow Bar and 1-Wheel Stroller Kit, there are two positions for the arm. The first is the longest position and is meant for towing with a bike. The second position pushes the wheel in closer to the trailer to make it easier to use a stroller. Still not as short as the 2-Wheel Stroller Kit, but better than the bike setting.
How do I attach a Burley trailer to my bike?
When you’re ready to go for a ride, you’ll need to attach the trailer to your bike. That process will vary depending on the bike, but fortunately, Burley has options.
Included with the D’Lite X is what Burley calls their Steel Hitch. This small bit of steel is designed to work with Quick Releases and solid axles up to 12mm in diameter. It will not work with Breezer or hooded style dropouts (unless you use the Hitch Adapter mentioned below), but it will work with disc brakes and many full suspension frames.
The Steel Hitch will also work with thru axles, though you’ll need a dedicated child trailer compatible axle. Burley sells their own axles ($54.99), but other options are available from companies like The Robert Axle Project. The axles I purchased from Robert Axle Project are just a few bucks more ($58-68 depending on the model), but come in more sizes, include additional washers and spacers, and are made in the USA.
Note that there are a LOT of thru axle standards out there. Burley offers five axles which cover a large chunk of the bike market, but The Robert Axle Project offers at least 25 different axles, each with different thread pitch, axle length, and style of fitment so their Axle Finder is a good place to start.
What if you have a shorter bolt-on axle that isn’t long enough to mount the Steel Hitch to? I ran into that problem with my wife’s beach cruiser which is built with a Shimano Nexus 3 speed hub. Burley’s got you covered there too. In this case, their Hitch Adapter acts as the axle nut, and provides an attachment point for the Steel Hitch. They also offer adapters for quick releases in order to clear hooded dropouts. Again, there are multiple thread pitches for the Hitch Adapter, so make sure to order the right one.
When it comes to actually mounting the Tow Bar to the Steel Hitch, you have to start by stowing the stroller wheel. When the wheel is down, there is an arm that prevents you from installing the Tow Bar into the hitch. By pulling down on the wheel, and then rotating it backwards until it locks, the arm moves out of the way and you can slide the Tow Bar into the hitch. Then a safety pin is inserted through the hitch and Tow Bar assembly along with a strap that can be wrapped through the frame for an additional fail safe.
Getting the wheel positioned correctly can be a bit tricky – the wheel will stay in place even if it’s not properly locked in. To make sure you get it right, the arrow printed on the side should be visible, and the tab on the wheel fork should mate with the notch shown above.
Thanks to the flexible coupling, once the trailer is attached to the bike, you can still lay the bike on the ground if you don’t have a kickstand.
Now, you’re all set to ride — once you rotate the handlebar forward. It’s super easy to forget this step, which is why I have photos with it in stroller position instead of riding position.
Burley actually tests their trailers while using the handlebar in a forward position as part of the roll cage. So for maximum safety, it needs to be in the forward position. It’s for this same reason that Burley advises against flipping the handlebar as shown in some of the photos. My wife and I both felt that the handlebar had better ergonomics for pushing if it was flipped, but since the trailer has not been safety tested in this configuration, Burley says it’s a no-go.
How do I use all of the trailer features?
I’ll admit — the instructions included with the Burley trailer were pretty lacking. Much of it is straightforward and easy to figure out on your own, but there are many other features that are less obvious. For that reason, I’d recommend watching the video above. There are so many features built into this thing that it’s easy to overlook them.
Using all of the cover features properly is one of the things that is basically omitted by any of the directions included with the stroller. When rolled up, the various flaps have zippers that include elastic straps to hold them in place. These straps are meant to stretch around the rolled up parts of the cover. There are also larger elastic loops on the side of the main cover to hold the entire cover in place when rolled up. The cover is also completely removable if needed with a series of velcro tabs — though you will have to remove some bolts to completely remove it.
The one part that is covered in the instructions is anchoring the cover with the clips on velcro straps at the corners. You do need to pay attention to these — we’ve had both clips fall off the velcro straps now, and if we weren’t paying attention, we could have easily lost the clips.
Is it easy to use?
Once you figure out all the little details, the Burley D’Lite X is very user friendly thanks to a number of smart features. Details like the Quick Receivers and one-touch wheel removal make setting up the trailer a breeze. Erecting and collapsing the trailer is also very easy, though there is a slight learning curve to figuring out the latches (watch the video above to get the hang of it).
The five point harness is much easier than our main stroller to use since the shoulder and waist straps remain connected for each side. In addition, the splash guard up front can be lowered to make it easier for your child to climb in and out, and the removable footwell makes cleaning up after a day at the beach much easier.
Finally, the single lever for the brake effortlessly locks the trailer in place, while a quick release handlebar and seat recline setting make for quick adjustments in comfort for you and the kid.
Can I use a Burley bike trailer as a stroller?
You can absolutely use the Burley D’Lite X as a stroller — it even includes a 1-Wheel stroller kit in the box. However, you may want to invest in the additional two-wheel stroller kit if you’re planning on heavy usage as a stroller (or even if you’re not).
On our first big trip with the D’Lite X, we were a little unsure of whether we could leave our main stroller behind, relying only on the Burley. We were headed to a rental house on the beach, but there would also be times we needed to navigate tight areas in outdoor public spaces where the single stroller wheel kit seemed like it might get in the way.
Due to that, Burley sent out the 2-Wheel stroller kit to check out and I’m so glad they did. Admittedly, you could make do with the included 1-Wheel stroller kit. But the shorter profile of the 2-Wheel kit and improved maneuverability make it much more enjoyable to use while in stroller mode — to the point where we’ve stopped using our really nice dedicated stroller for our daily walks and use the Burley full time.
Part of that is due to just how much our daughter loves the Burley. Immediately after unboxing it, and before we ever got out of the house, she starting climbing inside treating it like her own rolling playhouse. It’s been a few months now, and that love hasn’t worn off. We keep the trailer in our entry way (made easier thanks to the narrower design with the shorter 2-Wheel kit), and our daughter is constantly climbing in, putting her toys inside, climbing around, and begging to go for a walk or a ride. Of all of the child-specific items we’ve accumulated to this point, she seems to love the Burley most of all.
Should I get a child seat or a bike trailer for kids?
When it comes to taking your child for a ride, the two most popular options seem to be a child seat mounted to your bike, or a bike trailer to tow them along. To test out what would be better, I have both set ups including a long-tail cargo bike with a very nice child seat with plenty of room. While it’s a little easier to get out the door with the cargo bike, there is no question that my 17mo daughter seems to prefer the Burley trailer. Not to mention that it’s more functional with the stroller capabilities, arguably safer with a built-in roll cage, and leaves your bike almost unchanged for when you can get out on a ride of your own.
Can I take a child trailer off road?
While the stock wheels and tires are probably best suited to pavement, the D’Lite X is certainly capable of riding on various terrain. The suspension seems to help with that, but honestly with my daughter’s current weight of 22ish pounds, the softest suspension setting still feels a bit firm. Note that there is no damping for the suspension, just simple coil springs with an adjuster that changes the linkage geometry to affect spring rate. I suspect it will get better as she grows, but right now it can be a bit bouncy over rough terrain.
For more adventurous off-road excursions, Burley offers a 16+ wheel kit. This replaces the stock 20″ wheels and 20 x 2.125″ tires. A true ‘plus bike’ conversion, the 16+ Kit includes properly wide 45mm internal width rims and 16 x 3.0″ tires. There’s no question that these tires offer more flotation on soft surfaces — the amount of child trailers left at the start of the beach walk with regular tires were proof of that.
Even with the bigger rubber though, the 16+ wheel kit does drop the height of the trailer slightly, decreasing the ground clearance at the back. That shouldn’t be an issue, but something to consider.
Also, there is quite a bit of tire clearance on the trailer with the stock 20″ wheels and tires. I haven’t tried it, but it looks like you could mount up some meatier 20″ MTB tires and get better off-road performance than the stock tires without having to purchase the 16+ wheel kit which is pricey at $149.99. However, if you just add bigger tires to the 20″ wheels without the 45mm internal rim width, you’d lose out on some of the floatation provided by the plus wheels.
I could see the 16+ kit being popular with those who live near the beach, but in terms of fat biking on snow, it seems like the Ski Kit may be the better option.
So many accessories
You won’t need to buy anything additional to use the D’Lite X right away, unless your bike needs a specific thru axle. But if you want to accessorize your trailer, there are plenty of ways to do so. The D’Lite X is compatible with all of their kits which includes the 16+ wheel kit and 2-Wheel Stroller kits shown here, plus the Jogger kit and Ski Kit. There are also a number of accessories for smaller babies including a Bunting Bag if you’re using the trailer/stroller in the winter.
Due to how much we used the D’Lite X as a stroller, I purchased the Handlebar Console which straps to the handlebar to provide two cup/bottle holders, a clear pouch for your phone, and a storage area with magnetic closure on the flap. I found the Handlebar Console to be functional, but it could use improvement. The velcro attachment isn’t the most secure, and the Console tends to sag as a result. That in turn makes the cup holders more difficult to use, and the design doesn’t work all that well with the handlebar shape as it’s either too close to your hands or mounted on the part of the handlebar at an angle. With that said, we use it a lot and couldn’t see using the D’Lite X as a stroller without it (we like snacks and drinks, what can we say).
How much better is the D’Lite X over the Encore X?
There’s a pretty big jump in price from the Encore X to the D’Lite X, so what does that $250 get you? For starters, you’re getting better quality wheels and tires, which could make a difference if you plan on a lot of off-roading or riding in harsh environments like the beach.
In addition to larger windows, the D’Lite X also offers a better exterior cover with water-resistant zippers, and the ability to roll up the rear window flap for improved ventilation. The Encore X has an open flap at the bottom for ventilation, but without a zipper and the sides are fixed so the window flap isn’t movable. If you’re using the trailer a lot as a stroller as we do, you’ll probably want as much ventilation as possible — we basically leave all of the flaps completely open and rolled up for as much airflow as possible.
Also, the seats on the Encore X do not recline. Is that a big deal? Probably not, but you may find that your child is more comfortable in one seating position over another which is what we discovered with the 3-position recline on the D’Lite X.
Other differences include the lack of the Quick Receivers on the Encore X which certainly makes swapping back and forth between the 2-Wheel Stroller kit and Tow bar faster and easier. The removable floor mat is also not listed for the Encore X, which honestly makes cleaning up spilled cheerios, milk, sand, and any other messes a lot easier.
There are differences in the shape of the two trailers as well. The D’Lite X has bowed out sides that provide more interior space for the child along with a more ergonomic handlebar shape for the adults.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find more upgrades hidden in the D’Lite X as well. There are so many features that it’s easy to miss things like the giant side reflective panels on the D’Lite X that should make it more visible at night — along with reflective tires, reflectors on the front and back of the trailer, and light loops for additional visibility.
TL;DR? the D’Lite X is certainly more expensive, but you’re getting a lot of improvements over the Encore X. Not to mention that Burley trailers hold their resale value quite well (especially now), so you should be able to sell your D’Lite X for a decent amount when your kid finally outgrows it.
Is the Burley D’Lite X a good child trailer?
From our first ride, to our (now) regular rides, the D’Lite X has proved to be well… a true delight. At this point it’s been towed and pushed on roads, dirt, gravel, quite a bit of sand, and everywhere in between.
Not surprisingly, Burley makes a great kid’s bike trailer. Honestly what was more surprising was how well it works as a stroller/adventure wagon. The comfy ride combined with a spacious interior with panoramic windows and easy access to snacks and toy storage for the passenger clearly make this one a winner with small humans. And thanks to the various protections from the elements and a sea of accessories, the D’Lite X will help you seek out first rides and adventures all year long.
These are also actually available now at Burley.com (in the Single version), with Burley expected to get more doubles soon.
Price: $749.99 for D’Lite X Single ($849.99 for Double)