Which Bike Trailer is Best for Your Family?
From car top carriers to bike racks, adventure camping and child bike seats, Thule is one of the most trusted brands in the outdoors. Thule Chariot is Thule’s bike and multi-sport trailer arm. Both rugged and beautiful, these precision-built Thule Chariot trailers are the perfect blend of beauty and brawn.
What’s the Difference Between a Thule bike trailer and a Thule Chariot bike trailer?
Thule Chariot trailers are multi-sport (trailer, stroller, jogger, ski, hike) and have more features like supportive seats, recline, and suspension. They have a more luxurious feel to them as well.
Thule Chariot Trailers (Multi-Sport)
Thule’s basic trailers do not have the Chariot named attached, and are not multi-sport. Their features are limited and no-frills. Thule bought the Chariot brand of trailers several years ago. The Thule team designs basic trailers under the Thule name, while the Chariot team was brought on to continue to design the Thule Chariot line.
Thule Trailers (Basic)
8 Reasons Why We Love Thule Chariot Bike Trailers
After years of testing nearly every bike trailer brand out there, including five different Thule bike trailers, here are 9 reasons a Thule Chariot bike trailer should be in your outdoor arsenal.
1. Exceptional quality – built for long-term performance
2. Offered in 10 models – with a wide variety of capacity, prices, and features to fit your family’s needs
3. Taut, sleek look – all canvas is pulled tight for an always-polished look
4. Seat pads stay securely in place, but can be removed for washing
5. Easy to load and unload kids – easier than most other trailers
6. Weather protection features – best rain cover and sunshade on the market
7. Easy to fold, transport, or switch between activities – and conversion kits are stored on the trailer
8. Infant sling can be used in stroller mode as young as 4 weeks
1. Thule Chariot trailers are exceptional quality – built for long-term performance
Last summer we went to Whistler and brought our Thule Chariot Cross. That should tell you a lot right there. While we clearly didn’t take it on any singletrack or downhill trails, we did tackle the easy flow and jump trails in the bike skills area, as well as all the valley floor trails – paved and dirt and plenty of inclines. The Cross didn’t skip a beat and our toddler was able to enjoy Whistler just as much as the rest of us.
Thule’s trailers, particularly the Thule Chariot Lite and Cross, are designed to last forever and to excel on whatever path you choose. Our Thule Cross has been used daily for over two years and is still solid as a rock and going strong.
If you want your precious cargo to be comfortable and safe while you both enjoy your biking adventures, Thule Chariot is an exceptional option. With every part designed and assembled to the most precise and exacting standards, these beautiful machines pull quiet and smooth, making the trailer seem at one with your bike.
2. Thule bike trailers are offered in 10 models with a wide variety of capacity, prices, and features to fit your family’s needs.
Whether you want the Lexus of bike trailers with all the bells and whistles (and beauty to go along with it), or a super lightweight trailer stroller that will be a great companion for training, Thule Chariot has you covered.
Thule Chariot Cross: ($1,080/$1,180) The Cross is the best trailer money can buy – from any brand. It’s the trailer that manages to be a luxury Lexus and a workhorse Ford F-150 all at the same time.
With adjustable suspension, independently reclining seats, the best zip-down front cover on the market, an insanely awesome rain cover, sun shield, and UV windows, the Thule Cross is what we choose for our own family. The Cross comes in single or double capacity.
Thule Chariot Lite: ($880/$980) The Lite is very similar to the Cross. The primary difference is that it doesn’t recline and its suspension is fixed and can’t be adjusted.
The standard seat position on Thule Chariot trailers is already very reclined, so its inability to recline isn’t a big deal. If you’ll be sticking to paved trails and moderate dirt trails, the Lite is a more affordable option. The Lite comes in single or double capacity.
Thule Chariot Cheetah XT: ($650/$750) The Cheetah XT is the most affordable of the Thule Chariot trailers, but also isn’t quite as luxurious or comfortable as the others. Its main benefit is that it’s really lightweight.
The single trailer is over 10 pounds lighter than the single Thule Chariot Cross. That’s a lot of weight if you’ll be training or frequenting hilly areas. Part of the reason the Cheetah XT is so light is that it doesn’t have suspension. The Cheetah XT comes in single or double capacity.
Thule Coaster XT: ($430) The Coaster XT is Thule’s basic trailer/stroller. It’s still well-designed, durable, and has UV windows and a sunshade, but is very basic in features.
For example, its hammock-style seats offer less support for the child rider. Also, it’s only available in double capacity.
Thule Cadence: ($330) The Cadence is very similar to the Coaster XT except that it does not have a stroller wheel – it’s only a trailer. Also well-designed with high-quality components, it’s only available in double capacity.
3. Thule bike trailers have a taut, sleek look – all canvas is pulled tight for an always-polished look
Not that looks should matter, but they do. With sleek lines and canvas that’s always pulled taut, these trailers have an air of polished sophistication.
Even the weather covers (rain cover and sunshade) pull nice and tight so you’re always looking crisp and smooth, no matter the weather situation. Most other trailers (even high-end brands) have covers with a bit of slack and always end up looking a little messy.
4. Thule Chariot seat pads stay securely in place, but can be removed for washing
In the Thule Chariot Lite and Cross, thin, low-profile, yet sufficiently soft pads keep your child comfortable. These pads are a big departure from Burley’s thickly padded seats.
Thule’s thinner pads stay firmly in place and also can be removed for washing. On the other hand, Burley’s bulkier pads shift out of place easily, and can actually be a pain when trying to get kids loaded into the trailer.
5. Thule Chariot trailers are easy to load and unload kids – easier than most other trailers
The pads staying in place is just one factor that makes loading and unloading kids into the Thule Chariot trailers easier than other brands. The other factor is that the seat back of Thule Chariot trailers is angled backward, as well as the area where a child rests their legs.
This reclines the child and the bulk or their weight away from the shoulder straps and buckle. Without the pressure of a child’s body weight to deal with, it’s much easier to access the straps and buckle and to get everything clicked into place.
Thule Chariot Cheetah XT and Cross
6. Thule Chariot weather protection features – best rain cover and sunshade on the market
We’ve used a lot of trailers and been out in a lot of wind and rain. The rain cover and sunshade on the Thule Cross and Thule Lite trailers are hands down our favorite system.
We’ve heard a few people complain because Thule’s weather shields come completely off the trailer and are stored in the back storage pocket. These people complain because they could get lost or forgotten when you actually need them, and prefer Burley’s system that has these shields integrated into the front of the trailer.
That’s a fair point, but the truth is, the rain cover and sunshade on the Thule Cross and Lite work much better than those on Burley trailers, or any other trailer. The rain cover wraps over the entire front and top of the trailer, sealing the front and sides from any potential rain or wind getting in.
That rain cover keeps little ones super warm in cold weather (my toddler rips her hat and gloves off in 25 degree weather). I also regularly run in the rain because I know my child isn’t going to get wet… at all.
The sunshade moves up and down the front on a track system and is much longer than Burley’s sunshades. It offers much more protection and is much easier to use.
Thule vs Burley
7. Thule Chariot trailers are easy to fold, transport, or switch between activities, and conversion kits are stored on the trailer.
As you can see in the picture above, Thule’s stroller wheels are stored on the trailer when not in use. The trailer arm and jogging wheel can also be stored on the trailer, so you’ll never have to rummage through your garage wondering where you put them!
The Chariot trailers are folded with a simple push of a button, and collapse down quickly and compactly for easy transport or storage.
Be aware, however, that the Thule trailers (Cadence and Coaster XT), are much more difficult to fold down. We got used to the system after a while, but it is a bit of a pain.
8. The Thule Chariot Infant Sling can be used in stroller mode as young as 4 weeks
This feature is a GAME CHANGER for new moms. When our little nugget was just 4 weeks old, I was pushing her in stroller mode while recuperating from childbirth. The Thule Chariot Infant Sling allows active moms to get outdoors with their babies almost from birth.
Burley does have a baby insert, but it can’t be used until a child is 3 months old. Please remember that this insert is for stroller mode only. A child under 1 year old should never ride in a bike trailer.
If you’re still unsure which Thule trailer is right for you, check out our full reviews that have a ton of information on each specific model. You can also leave us a comment below and ask any question!
Thule and Thule Chariot Bike Trailer Reviews
Thule Chariot Cougar 2 (old model)