Small but mighty? With its rigid frame and compact dimensions, the Burley Trail wagon is the minimalist in our 2023 dog trailer comparison test. Retailing at € 489, Burley’s low-loader is pretty stable, despite forgoing suspension. Read our review to find out more.
We have tested the most exciting dog trailers in direct comparison – Click here for buyer’s guide and an overview of all the dog trailers we have tested.
The Burley Tail Wagon is the minimalist among dog trailers, forgoing popular features such as a brake, suspension and a safety leash. In this test, it sits on the leaner end of the spectrum compared to feature-packed trailers that are up to three times more expensive – and is even more basic than TRIXIE’s somewhat rudimentary € 349 Dog Trailer. But do we really need all of these features? And if we do, isn’t it all about the functionality of the features in everyday riding situations? What should you be looking for in this price segment – minimalism or full-spec? With 50 years of experience, the American brand should know a thing or two about bike trailers, but their dog trailer line-up is new to the range. Does the Tail Wagon get tails wagging?.
By the way, we’ve tested both of Burley’s dog trailers in this group test! In a separate review, we covered Burley’s bigger, feature-packed
Burley Bark Ranger trailer, which retails from € 679. Burley also offer several accessories for the Bark Ranger, including bags and a rain cover.
Retailing at € 489, the Burley Tail Wagon is available in just one size in a black/green colour pattern. It’s suitable for dogs up to 34 kg.
Burley Tail Wagon
Wheels: 16’’ x 1.75
Maximum dog weight: up to 34 kg
Trailer system weight: 9.8 kg
L x W x H folded: 93 cm x 66 cm x 64 cm; L x W interior: 92 cm x 42.5 cm
Step-up height: 17 cm
Interior height: max. 61.5 cm
Dog bed from € 69.90
Battery taillight € 27.90
Stroller buggy handlebar € 52.90
Buggy wheels from € 99.90
Small but mighty? The Burley dog trailer with minimal design
Simple, Minimalist, GREEN – that’s the best way to describe the Burley Tail Wagon using just a few words. With its bright green removable canopy, the Tail wagon looks a lot like a generic bike trailer at first glance, and can also be used to carry bulky items, such as a beer case, for example. The bold colour choice might not be everyone’s cup of tea, though.
As far as assembly and disassembly go, Burley’s minimalist bike trailer is extremely user-friendly. Just like its bigger brother, the Burley Bark Ranger, it’s easy to put together and take apart – in fact, Burley’s trailers are the most intuitive to assemble in this test!
The hitch mechanism of the Burley bike trailer is pretty solid but requires a firm hand to secure. Attaching the towbar to the hitch can be a mission, because you’ll have to hold the bike upright with one hand while at the same time aligning the two holes and sticking in the metal pin with the other – you might need to ask your dog to help! The safety strap is sufficiently long and ensures a safe connection. That said, we wished that the strap were a smidge shorter, because it flaps around the back of the frame. Moreover, the snap hook could be less bulky to use, which would make it easier to thread the strap through the frame, as this can be a bit fiddly with some frame shapes.
But how does it feel once the wheels are turning? Like its big brother, the Bark Ranger, the Tail Wagon has no suspension. But does the Burley even stand a chance against the competition, or should it throw in the towel straight away? The positive surprise: neither the handling nor the riding characteristics give away that you’re towing a rigid trailer, and you hardly notice that you’re towing one at all. Together with Burley’s generously padded dog bed, your doggo won’t even notice the difference between the rigid Tail Wagon and a suspended trailer – and the results of our accelerometer testing back up this statement! In fact, the lack of suspension actually seems to help with the handling. The rigid chassis prevents the trailer from swaying, ensuring smoother cornering and better stability. This is the same principle that applies to sports cars, which rely on stiff suspension to improve handling response. Following the same theme, the Burley bike trailer sits wide and low like a supercar, ensuring a lower centre of gravity and thus better tracking and weight distribution – carving through corners is tons of fun with the Burley! However, there’s one drawback: a lower centre of gravity also means less ground clearance, which can cause the bottom of the trailer to get caught on curbs and on obstacles when riding offroad. Furthermore, the skid plate doesn’t quite cover the whole base, meaning that water can splash up into the interior, not that our canine test-crew seemed to mind all that much.
The Burley Tail Wagon is the perfect example that sometimes less is more. With its compact dimensions and minimalist equipment, it delivers a solid overall performance – only the colour takes some getting used to!
Is less enough for the Burley bike dog trailer?
The low step-up makes it easy for dogs of all ages to comfortably get in and out of the trailer, even if they suffer with mobility issues. There’s no padding on the inside, but there are no hooks or sharp edges that could bother your four-legged friend either. Unfortunately, the interior isn’t removable, which makes it harder to wash the trailer when you come back from an epic backcountry expedition, forcing you to hose down the whole thing with a pressure washer. That said, Burley do offer a removable dog bed as an accessory for € 69.90 – while this is designed for the Bark Ranger, it will fit in the Tail Wagon too. Despite looking small at first glance, the Tail Wagon is rather spacious inside, which is partly due to the open design concept.
The windows and see-through mesh material ensure good ventilation and allow your dog to experience the surroundings while riding, while at the same time make it easier to keep an eye on your furry friend. There is one pocket at the rear, but this doesn’t have a closure system, so we wouldn’t recommend using it to stow away any particularly valuable or heavy items. An additional bag is available for purchase on the website.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a rain cover either. And while it’s true that dogs aren’t made of sugar, it would be nice to have one to avoid that aromatic damp dog smell once you get back home! An additional safety leash isn’t really necessary with the Burley Tail Wagon, because there isn’t an opening through which your dog could jump or stick their head out, no matter how many squirrels they see. The fastening systems are pretty rudimentary too, with Burley relying on basic elastic straps and buckles – simple, but effective!
The bumper is far too small and doesn’t cover the wheel, failing to provide effective impact protection and proving completely useless. The Trail Wagon also forgoes a parking brake, which makes it harder to keep the trailer in place when getting your dog in or out of the trailer, both on sloped and level ground.
Of course, Burley could drastically improve the Tail Wagon’s functionality by adding a few simple but clever features, like an integrated rain cover and a padded interior. But this would have an impact both on the price and minimalist look! What really matters, however, is the trailer’s handling, and in this respect the rigid Burley Tail Wagon delivers a tremendous performance. Less is more (sometimes!), and the Burley bike trailer really proves our point, despite having some limitations. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for bike trips with man’s best friend.
Our conclusions about the Burley Tail Wagon
Is it really necessary to get an expensive dog trailer with countless features? Burley’s Tail Wagon answers this question with a clear no, offering an excellent dog trailer in a compact and simple package that convinces with intuitive handling and excellent handling characteristics. If you want a trailer that is easy and straightforward to assemble and disassemble, the Burley Tail Wagon is an excellent choice – and it’s also a good option to use as a day-to-day transport trailer too If you need more extras, you should take a closer look at the Burley Bark Ranger.
- Stable and composed despite the lack of suspension
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Stable chassis
- Low step-up
- Can be used to transport other items
- Interior isn’t padded
- No pockets with closing system
- No rain cover
For more info visit burley.com
Words: Antonia Feder Photos: Antonia Feder, Robin Schmitt