Review: Burley Travoy as Post-Apocalyptic Trailer?
Let’s just get it out of the way in the very beginning. The worst thing about the Travoy is it looks like you just cart-jacked Arnold Palmer on the 18th hole. Yes, it looks funny. Yes, it looks tippy and strange. But, if you can get over that, you’ll find the Travoy is a pretty amazing trailer on and off the bike.
For the last three weeks, I’ve been testing out the Burley Travoy as a gear hauler for video shoots. The good folks at BikeTrailerShop sent us a Travoy to use for some upcoming video projects and to review. For those that aren’t familiar with the Travoy, it came out a few years ago to a fair amount of fanfare and positive reviews but then seemingly disappeared from radar. It’s a bit different from other trailers in that instead of laying flat to carry cargo like the Burley Flatbed or BOB trailer, the trailer remains upright. While this seems like an odd design feature at first, it works particularly well for the things I need to carry like video tripods, sliders and lightstands (anything long that runs the risk of sliding out of flatbed style trailer).
Portable Cargo Carrier
The first thing that really impressed me about the Travoy was how small it was when it is folded. It is tiny. It ships with two straps and a bag which is designed to both act as storage for the Travoy when it is put away, as well as to carry things when it is in trailer mode. This folding capacity is really key and sets it apart from other trailers. Having owned a flatbed and a BOB, unless you have a garage or bike room they can take up a lot of space. The Travoy, on the other hand, when not in use fits in its own bag and can be tucked easily under a desk or your bed. While this is great for storage, it also means that it is great for travel. We recently went out to Bend, OR to watch some cyclocross and had to rent a car to get there. I didn’t even have to think twice about folding up the Travoy and tossing it in the back. It really is the cargo trailer you can take everywhere with you.
I’ve taken loads ranging from 20 to about 40lbs on the Travoy and it handles remarkably well. I’ve carried everything from video gear to about a weeks worth of canned food for 2 people for our disaster preparedness kit. On level ground, I would often glance behind me to make sure the trailer was still attached since the handling is so transparent. Unlike trailers that hitch directly to the rear axle or rear triangle of the bike, which seem to more pronouncedly alter a bike’s handling characteristics, the Travoy attaches via quick release to the seatpost. The hitch has an elastometer that does an amazing job at buffering twists and turns between the bike and trailer. For example, going uphill I would do standing climbs without feeling the torque and oscillation of the trailer behind me. I use to own a single wheel trailer and it would oscillate and really twist the rear of the bike, making standing climbs a bit of a challenge. The trailer is also fairly narrow and tracks well behind the bike. It is noticeably narrower than the Burley flatbed and makes riding through tight spaces a bit easier. That said, it gives up some weight carrying capacity and volume because of its more compact design.
Off the Bike
For most bike trailers, this is where their review would end. While you can sort of crouch and walk a BOB or flatbed around it would be an ungainly and backbending exercise in frustration. The Travoy, however, has great utility even when it is disconnected from a bike. On recent shopping trips, I would wheel it into the store and have my own personal shopping cart. On photoshoots, I can easily move around lightstands and tripods without a lot of awkward grabbing of separate bags. When we went to the local army surplus store to pick up 4 gallon water containers, I half folded it and left it with the clerk behind the counter much to his amazement. If you are in a work environment and have to haul several boxes around, it would function great as a simple handcart as well.
As a Bugout Trailer
Watching the post-Sandy coverage of gridlocked traffic and people forced on foot was a real wake-up call for us. It really made it obvious that during and after a disaster, the bike may just be the most efficient way to get around. This got us real serious about our preparedness supplies so we bought some containers for water and food for a week which we picked up with the Travoy. Because it is an open design (yes there are specialized bags for it too), if we were forced to evacuate we can at a moment’s notice toss a prepacked duffel on the Travoy without having to divide everything up into evenly loaded panniers.
This is one great advantage of the Travoy (and trailers in general), if you are seriously interested in using a bike in a preparedness role you don’t have to buy specialized bags. You could even throw gear in a large expedition backpack so if you have to ditch the bike and go on foot you have that option. Trailers, relative to most cargo bikes, are less expensive and require less of a learning curve to steer since it more or less acts like a “regular” bike. The cargo carrying ability can also be transferred to other bikes, so you are not committed to maintaining one specific bike. For people that don’t necessarily identify as being a hardcore cyclist, but would like the utility of navigating a post-disaster scenario on bike, the Travoy is a good fit.
More to come
Barring the foretold Great Cascadia Earthquake (knock on wood), we’ll be taking the Travoy through its paces in the next few weeks to come and will be writing about those experiences. I’ll take a closer look at how we attach things to the Travoy in the next post as well as hopefully take it on an overnight bike tour!
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