Carlito the Carrito (little Carl the little Cart in Español), as Sora fondly refers to her Burley D Lite, has certainly proved its value during the 15 months we cycled from Patagonia to Medellín, Colombia (here is a Google Map of our route). We traveled over every surface imaginable: rocks, washboard roads, bumpy dirt, gravel, sand, rooted dirt roads, forest roads, squishy muddy trails, mountain biking trails, clay, and even goat paths. The trailer has seen it all.
During our European tour, we used the Burley Tail Wagon. While we loved our Tail Wagon, South America called for something with a bit more gusto. The rough roads required something with suspension and more space. We knew the D Lite, unlike the Tail Wagon, offered shocks that could absorb the rugged conditions. Still unsure if the suspension would get us through the rigorous terrain, we placed a quick email to Burley support and they confirmed the trailer could handle the mountains, beach, and jungles of South America.
You can see our review of the Burley Tail Wagon here to help you decide which trailer is right for you.
We downright abused Carlito in South America, yet the the trailer proved its durability and performed admirably given the tests it endured. In this review, we tell you what we love about our Burley D Lite and changes or amendments we would love to see in the future.
What We Love About the Burley D Lite
The Burley D Lite offers a spring-based adjustable suspension for a smooth and easy ride. You can make the suspension more or less firm depending on the terrain you’re riding on. Because Sora and her gear added a bit of weight, we always set the suspension as maximum bounce (Sora weighs 45lbs/18kg). Often, we would get hit with some nasty wrist pain after riding on a washboard road, thanks to the shocks Sora happily chilled in Carlito taking in the views.
The extra suspension adds more weight to the overall setup, but we think it’s well worth it. Plus, if you’re putting anything in the trailer, like food, you’re less likely to have it wind up looking like mashed potatoes.
The interior space of the D Lite accommodates Sora more than sufficiently. Her bed fits perfectly, providing a cushy pad for her to rest, plus she has enough room to sprawl out on her side if she wants. Thanks to the bowed-out sides, there is considerable space at just over 47.5L. Like the Tail Wagon, Sora can comfortably stand up and turn around mid-ride. She tends to rest her head on the gear stored in the foot area like a pillow. There’s almost too much room in the trailer for a single dog like Sora, so be forewarned that you may stuff extra gear back there and then later suffer on the hills. Sometimes if you see space, then you’re going to fill it.
We even managed to carry two dogs in the Burley D Lite after helping a friend rescue a street dog from a village in the Peruvian mountains.
Read more about the adoption on our blog in Street Tails: Flavia and Tupac Amaru.
Built-in Sunshade / Tinted Side and Rear Windows
One of our favorite features of the Burley D Lite is the built in sun and weather protection. South America has everything when it comes to weather, including nasty storms and intense sun. We are always conscious of how the moisture and heat will affect Sora and we want to ensure she’s having as much fun as we are.
Burley has included a sliding sunshade on the front of the trailer that can be used to block the direct sun. This was especially important for us as we constantly always worry about Sora overheating, especially in when the temps are hot and humid. The sides and rear windows are also made of a plastic film that is tinted and protects Sora from the sun.
The plastic film sides also doubles as rain guards. One concern we had with the Tail Wagon was the mesh sides. They are great for breathability, but Sora is left rather wet if we ride in rain or over wet roads. Not so with the D Lite.
Easy to Break Down
With a lift of the canvas cover and a tug at the bright red clamps, the Burley D Lite easily breaks down into a small size. We have taken plenty of rides with vehicles and this feature allows us to stuff it inside small spaces. With South American’s tiny door frames, we sometimes needed to remove one wheel in order to squeeze by, but in general our trailer easily fits nearly anywhere, and almost always perfectly through regular door frames.
Weighing at 28.4lb / 12.9kg the Burley D Lite is still relatively lightweight. Adding the suspension, larger wheels (more on that below), and a bigger cargo space meant an extra 5lb / 2.26kg, compared to the Tail Wagon. I noticed the extra weight while toting Sora, but it’s well worth the extra few pounds considering the more rugged features and suspension.
Built-in and Adjustable Handlebar
The built-in handle bars are brilliantly designed. Because they’re integrated into the trailer, you don’t have to worry about carrying the extra bar like with the Tail Wagon. The angle of the bar is also adjustable so that you can make ergonomic changes depending on whom is pushing the trailer.
It also came in super handy when Sora had a cancerous tumor surgically removed and we used the jogging adapter
to run or walk with her.
As a bonus, we put a Go-Pro mount on the handle bar and got some fantastic footage from a unique perspective during our trip. We call it the Burley Cam.
20″ Wheels with Push Button Quick Releases
The wheels on the Burley D Lite are definitely premium. They are 20″ compared to the 16″ on the Tail Wagon. The extra height is perfect for off road riding and when you know there are going to be obstacles.
The push button quick releases make taking the wheels off super easy. No more futzing with trying to get the right torque and tightness. You simply push the button and the wheels pop off.
We We Would Love to See
Zipper for the Rear Window
While the trailer features a zippered rain cover in the front, the back doesn’t offer any other way to let fresh air flow other can lifting the entire back cover. We didn’t feel comfortable for Sora to have such easy access to jumping out of the trailer. Eventually, we used little straps to hold the back partially open to increase air flow.
Better Zippers for the Front Window
After some use, the front zippers start to stick easily. We eventually had to replace the cover with a new one as the zippers were no longer working at all. Of course, all zippers can and will fail so this isn’t much of a surprise. We’d still like to see a little more durability out of them.
Option to Purchase without Child Equipment
Each Burley D Lite comes with two strapped in child seats. We always feel guilty removing these pieces and would love to have option to not include this equipment. Perhaps the price could be lowered if a customer opts to not have the child equipment.
The emergency cable that connects the trailer to the bike in case the hitch detaches does not work well with disc brakes. The cable length is either too short or too long. When I attach the cable to my Surly Long Haul Trucker, it rubs against his brake rotor, which can tear the fabric or cause an accident on account of the friction.
To mitigate this, I twist and wrap and weave the cord to the exact tightness that works for my bike. This is a common grip with all trailers and we are hopeful to see a better solution in the future.
Overall, we love our Burley D Lite and would recommend it to anyone looking for a top of the line trailer. It has more than served our needs during our tour and has proven its durability. The price is high at $600+ on Burley.com and we think if you’re going to buy one trailer, this is it. The high quality, volume, size, suspension, built-in sun and rain protection, and larger wheels mean this trailer is the jack of all trades.
One recommendation would be to switch the inexpensive original tires for the indestructible Marathon Schwalbe (20” X 1.75”), which we had exactly 3 flats over the whole trip.
Burley Design provided the D Lite as part of a ambassador agreement that enabled us to embark on this adventure. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely our own and we were in no way compensated for this review. We love our Burley D Lite and would like to see more on the road, filled with dogs!