One of the great things about a fat bike is that they can do work. Just because carbon bikes exist doesn’t mean you have to race, and trailers aren’t just for toddlers and groceries anymore. When you want to do things, sometimes you gotta haul stuff. If you want to do things in the snow, Burley has come up with a few options for you.
We reviewed the Burley Flat Bed trailer last year and you can find that review here:
Before I delve into the newly, available upgrades, I’ll touch on the gist of the previous review. This trailer was built to last. The nylon material that makes up the floor of the bed and sides is extremely tough. While I didn’t test the puncture strength, my pups are overdo for a nail trim and they weren’t able to do any damage to the floor of the bed. I did put the 100 pound weight limits through it’s paces and found the aluminum frame . The bed has some flexibility but also has an elastic property that acts as a shock absorber and is only slightly looser than when it first came out of the box.
Now – Burley has come to realize that skinny tires just don’t cut it for everyone. In my mind, skinny tires are the new “prude”, but to each their own. Here are a couple of options for those of us who want to do stuff on the beach or in the snow.
Option 1. Fat Tires Kit (a.k.a 16+ Wheel Kit)
option 2. Skis Kit (a.k.a. We! Ski Kit)
When playing around with both of these, I had a lot more fun with the skis than the wheels, because that’s the nature of the beast. While tires are more practical for the obvious reason that skis don’t work well on gravel, the ski kit presents a whole lot of new possibilities.
Option 1 – 16+ Wheel Kit:
These wheels are designed for snow and sand. I personally would recommend these for hard packed snow such as a snowmobile trail or wide groomed tracks. The all aluminum design and waterproof nylon means that sand and water would not be a problem either. You can ride this thing hard and put it away wet, and just dust it off the next time you head out to use it.
When compared to the Ski Kit, the 16ers are a better upgrade if your going to be transitioning between hard/frozen stuff and soft stuff, like a beach or a couple inches of snow. Obviously, fatter tires look cooler but I did feel a slightly higher resistance when towing the same load with these tires vs. the stock skinnies. The trailer follows pretty well with the exception of one of the wheels had become a little out of true. There wasn’t a lot of bouncing at speed which I’ve had with some towables.
I opted to bring the Burley Flat Bed on the annual Decorah New Year’s Day ride instead of my standard Big Dummy cargo bike. The ride is a rolling party with 20 of my closest friends and some other people that they know. The route consists of a little pavement, a lot of gravel and some snowmobile trails in a 26 mile route along the Upper Iowa River in bluff country. The load consisted of a couple 30 packs, a small keg, various flavors of moonshine, a case of Coors Light (which did not feel any lighter than the standard Banquet beer), and a recycling bin.
There is no front barrier or tailgate but the design of the trailer allows for bungees to easily stretch across the side rails. As rowdy of a ride as this on can be, not a single can was lost. I think a little bit of it has to do with the non rigid nylon bed. The flexibility and elasticity allows the load to “give” a little, which especially good for hauling carbonated barley pop.
For information and pricing for the 16+ Wheel Kit from Burley’s website click here – https://burley.com/product/16-wheel-kit/
Option 2 – We! Ski Kit
This upgrade is a game changer if you want to haul firewood out of the single track on a snowy day, or a better way to say it – if you want to haul anything in the snow. Of course this upgrade satisfies a very specific purpose, but it does the job perfectly. If I sent Christmas Cards, this would be the image I would use. I knew of a dead tree that was suspended off the ground just a few hundred yards into a trail that is mostly single track and ATV trail and wanted to get that wood to a fire pit for a long time. I was able to throw my gear on the nylon bed and haul it out into the woods, expecting that it would have bounced off by the time I got to where I was going. The fabric bed doesn’t disappoint, and my saw, ax and even the tow strap stayed put.
When empty, I really couldn’t tell the trailer was even back there. The skis don’t extend beyond the back wheel so turning is not a problem. I was a bit cautious of small trees and brush in case of hooking and snagging, but I came to find that those chances were pretty slim. You will need to be careful when you hop off and walk the bike because the skis will catch you in the heels. That’s never fun.
Before this option, you were probably just attaching a piece of clothes line to one of those $7 plastic sleds from Walmart and tugging your brother’s kids around the back 40 on the holidays. Well, you can still do that, but now they won’t have to feel every little bump along the way because this baby has ground clearance. How much depends on how much snow there is and how heavy your brothers kids are. But please remember, unless they’re wrestlers, it’s never polite to ask.
Here’s the link to the We! Ski Kit – https://burley.com/product/we-ski-kit/
The Ski Kit comes with towing poles just in case you want to lose the bike and step into some snow shoes. But neither the trailer nor the ski kit comes with the second tow bar receiver (sold separately), so you’ll have to order that separate if you expect to use them. Hopefully you figure this out before you start to put it together. I didn’t, so I mocked it up with twist ties.
To bring it all back home (which you can with this trailer) I am impressed with just how easy it is to swap out tires for fatter tires, and fatter tires for skis and vice versa. I like options, and the Burley Flat Bed likes to give you options.
The potential downside is that options don’t come cheap. List price for the trailer, 16+ kit and the ski kit are going to be right around $600. As I’ve stated already, the 16+ kit is more practical, but the ski kit is cooler. Cool enough for you, that’s not for me to decide.
Th Burley Flat Bed gets a 4 out of 5 on the flaming gnome scale. I like the design, construction and quality of the materials. It goes together and comes apart quickly and easily for when you need to haul it with something other than your bike. Realistically you could get by with one wheel set, but the stock wheel set would be a little more limited than the 16+ Wheels. At this time we have not heard if the trailer will be offered out of the box with the 16+ in place of the original wheel set. I really like the ski kit and what it allows you to do with the flat bed that was only possible with a sled previously. I do wish that it came with everything to use the towing poles in one package.