On Sunday (4/28/2013) I went on a 40.2 mile ride with Mike & Ben Collins. My previous long ride (modern day) was 32 miles so this was a substantial increase. Additionally I decided to tow my newly acquired Burley Travoy with a typical commuting weight to see how it worked out.
Here are two images of the Tavoy hooked to my bike. Ignore the garage that I have not cleaned up.
The Ride – Mike and Ben rode a tandem with nice smooth ride tires. I rode a hybrid with decent tires but definitely not smooth. Let it be known that each of them could have ridden a mountain bike pulling cement blocks and still left me in the dust. Knowing that I didn’t want to hold them up more than I did I pedaled harder than if I was out by myself. Add more that even though the Travoy did great I’m still towing something that creates drag, rolls on wheels and generally needs some additional energy to use.
The ride out was a bit over 18 miles and I felt it. I knew I was going to be able to do the 40 miles but at what cost in pain and slowing the others down? Plenty and plenty. On the ride back we stopped a few times for breaks which really helped and then we got in a rain shower which added motivation! Towards the end of the ride, we pedaled easily around a neighborhood to make sure we had in the miles and then I did something stupid. We had one hill to go and I challenged Mike & Ben to a race back to their house. I knew they would drop me but I wanted to ensure I had eeked out all the energy I could. Pain. Oh pain, you haunt me… thou horrid horrid pain. Dropped me they did and I pulled into their driveway completely done.
The Burley Travoy – This was my first actual use of the Travoy. I loaded “stuff” into it to simulate what I thought to be a standard commuting weight. When I first took off on the 40 miler I didn’t notice it being back there at all. I would reach back and check to make sure it was still there. It was. I’ll break my thoughts down into sections.
Needed Effort – At the beginning when my legs were fresh I didn’t noticed it at all except when I really needed to accelerate to cross a road, get up a hill, etc. When my legs were tired I noticed it back there as I would each and every extra gram of weight added to my bike. Even then I was VERY pleased with the small effort needed to tow it. One telling thing was when I would let up from pedaling and coast. If I really felt it dragging and slowing me down that would give me a fairly accurate indication of what was going on. However even with that I didn’t feel as if someone had thrown an anchor out out anything. Again I was pleased.
Handling – The Burley Travoy isn’t wider than my handle bars. I haven’t measured it officially (I will) but that’s my estimate. This means that everywhere I go it goes with the same footprint. The only difference there would ever be is on corners. Naturally anything that you tow is going to cut the corner a bit. I paid attention to that corner cutting at the beginning of my ride and noticed it was minimal but I was conscious of it each time I had to turn. At some point in time I am going to forget all about it and hit a pole or something. That would actually be a compliment on how easy it is to forget it is back there.
The connection point between the Travoy and the bike latch is made of some sort of rubber. This thing really absorbs vibrations and there were times I went over a bump and waited for another bump as the Travoy came over and didn’t get one. The connection rubber thing coupled with the low pressure tires (more on that in a moment) took care of those things plus the normal rumble that you could get from a rough bike path or road.
Tires – I failed to check the pressure in the tires to see if they matched the PSI there supposed to have. I still haven’t checked them but I will for sure. The tires have a fair amount of give in them which helps reduce road and bump vibration but also increases the rolling resistance. The tires also have tread on them (not slick) which increases rolling resistance. Just like on a bike all that takes more energy to move than a high pressure, no tread tire. But again the positive is the shock and bump absorption and increased handling.
I am going to put the tires on a pump and see how close I was to the recommended PSI. If I end up taking the Travoy on long-ish trips the tires become a big deal. If I just use it for my commutes then it’s not such a big deal. When you are pushing your distance (like this 40 miler) EVERYTHING counts.
Rain Cover – I was fortunate, for the review, to have it rain on us while we biked. Very simply the rain cover worked as it should. It does not guard against splashing from the back (off tires, underneath, etc) but the Travoy itself does a good job of blocking that wetness. However I can see that on a very wet and long outing those areas may eventually allow some wetness through. I am going to keep a large contractor trash bag or two with me to handle those times. I may even make or buy a silnylon covering with a shock cord to cover up all my things then put the rain cover over that.
Overall Impressions – I can’t find anything wrong with the Burley Travoy. It is exactly as advertised and reviewed everywhere. I will add to my impressions over time and as I use it to commute to see if the newness wears off and imperfections show up.
The Travoy I purchased came with the rain cover and is one of the links below. I’ve included a link without a rain cover as well.