BOB Trailer Review

This was the first time I used a trailer instead of panniers. My comments are a direct comparison between the two. Pedalling distance was about 2,500 km’s, plus the ferry and train on Bass Strait and Nullarbor Plain.

The towing bike was a rigid aluminium frame, with 26″ wheels and road tyres. Drive gear was 9-speed 11-34 rear and 22-32-44 front. Brakes were Shimano XT hydraulic discs with 160mm rotors. It had front panniers and a handlebar bag.

The trailer was fully-loaded, with heavy items packed low and to the front in the BOB bag. An overnight bag was strapped on top with three extra 1.5L water bottles.

The weight was noticeable. It pushed the bike during braking and dragged during acceleration. A pannier-loaded bike feels heavy but without the push and drag.

It had momentum and rolled along quite effortlessly, though as soon as the path sloped upwards I was quickly looking for a low gear.

Braking required some technique, think ‘semi-trailer’. It had a longer braking distance, even with hydraulic discs. Both brakes needed to be used together, with the rear brake being applied first.

Using the front brake first felt unsafe with the weight pushing from behind, especially while cornering. I also suspect this force loosened the threadless headset.

Steering was slower and heavier. The rig preferred gentler cornering without sudden manoeuvres. Take-off was very stable and straight. A pannier-loaded bike often begins with a few seconds of wild steering, but overall has quicker manoeuvrability.

U-turns required a bigger turning circle, and moving slower with less leaning. This is when I felt my trailer was top-heavy, though I was moving slow enough to just step off when it tipped.

Parking required leaning on something, which usually meant manually handling the bike and trailer into a stable position against something solid. Often there wasn’t anything available and I’d miss out on the photo.

A handbrake made a big difference; a rubber band on the brake lever will do it.

There is a free-standing technique that many use, turning the bike and trailer at right angles. I suspect it puts abnormal stress on the BOB quick-release and locking pins.

Reversing takes practice. I didn’t realise how often I push the bike backwards till I had to do it with a trailer.

Train and Ferry required unhitching the trailer. This meant taking up two luggage spaces. Fortunately I wasn’t required to unpack and box everything. Other articles I read discourage unhitching a loaded trailer, but I did it anyway. It needs strength and care not to bend or break anything.

Tips and Gripes:

When it falls over, grab the BOB by its frame and don’t use the bike as a lever to lift it. Gravity will damage the trailer hitch.

A larger rear brake rotor would greatly improve braking performance and decrease rear pad wear. A larger front rotor might not be a good idea; I suspect it would increase the previously-mentioned stress on the front end.

A centre-stand might provide free-standing support without needing to lean on something. A side-stand will not do the job.

A piece of sleeping-mat, cut and placed in the tray, stops the metal grill rubbing holes in the bottom of the bag.

A handle to move a loaded-trailer like a wheelbarrow might be good.

BOB’s Ibex trailer model with suspension would better handle the bumps and gutters, but I wanted less moving parts to maintain.

Clips on the bag are positioned so low that opening and closing the bag while it’s on the trailer can be difficult.

The trailer sits lower than the bikes rear mudguard, it won’t stop mud being splattered all over the BOB bag.

CONCLUSION:

The trailer looked good, carried everything, didn’t break, and was a wonderful conversation piece. It travelled well and followed the bike well.

It has the ability to carry heavy gear, and the convenience of unhitching the heavy gear to go exploring without it.

Pedalling uphill, braking, doing u-turns, negotiating obstacles, parking, reversing, and using public transport, all require a different set of techniques and sometimes more effort.