Review: Radical trailer (2005)
Bike trailer review from the Velo Vision archive. First published in Issue 19 in 2005.
Posted by Peter Eland on Thursday 8 Dec 2011
This review was first published in Velo Vision Issue 19 in 2005. Prices mentioned date from that time, and will have changed. Contact details are current unless otherwise stated.
CYCLING THE CYCLONE
Sue Archer reviews the Radical Design Cyclone trailer – and finds it as useful for utility riding as it is for touring
My new flat is small, I’m on the second floor, and there’s room for just one bike in the lobby. But a trailer is a really useful thing to have, especially if like me you don’t own a car. I need something for occasional use, easy to manoeuvre on and off the bike, not too heavy and easy to store. The Radical Design trailer looked like a good solution and I was eager to test it.
The Radical Cyclone trailer is a large rectangular canvas ‘bag’ with the tubular stainless steel frame built in, a removable draw bar and two quick release 20" wheels which fit into one of two positions on the frame, middle or rear. It weighs 5.7kg and quoted capacity is 100 litres volume and 40kg load weight.
The bag is indeed capacious, with a zipped opening positioned asymmetrically, presumably to help with waterproofing. The opening is not quite full length, which did interfere with loading a little. My first job was to transport old university notes: twenty full A4 lever arch files. I had to use one hand to hold the bag open, but I really needed both hands to lift the boxes of files into the bag. Another few centimetres of zip would have allowed the sides of the bag to stay apart. But once a few items were in, they kept the bag open. It’s not a problem if you’re loading anything you can lift one handed, like shopping bags.
The bag is made of tough fabric, although I might add a piece of thick cardboard for protection if I had to carry anything sharp edged that might cut the base.
The hitch is attached to your rear drop out, and fits into a sprung sleeve on the draw bar. There was a minor difficulty in fitting the hitch to my bike, due to the moulded shape of my dropouts, but this was solved with a couple of washers and a longer skewer. The hitch was swapped very easily to a Brompton when the time came for the Editor to take the trailer home.
The trailer is easy to hitch up, with a safety strop looped over the tow ball, and then the sprung sleeve pulled back and slipped over the ball. Even one handed, hitching is simple – handy if you need to hold the bike up. The link feels perfectly secure.
There’s a reflective strip and a loop for a rear light on the back. If you had a bulky or unusual load that wouldn’t fit in the bag, you could simply strap it on top. It’s also been suggested by The Editor that having the wheels in the rear position might provide a suitable centre of gravity when towing a long load.
On my first few trips, I was continually checking behind me: I kept thinking I’d lost it! The whole rig was very quiet compared to the box-and-metal-frame trailer I’ve used. Fully loaded, I was impressed by how little the trailer affected the ride. I’m used to a seat post hitch, which can affect the balance of the bike, but with this low hitch I hardly knew the trailer was there.
It’s at the end of the journey that this trailer really comes into its own. Once unhitched, I can do one of two things. If I move the wheels to the rear of the frame, the trailer becomes a trolley. I can wheel it around easily, and even bump it up stairs. Alternatively, if the load isn’t too heavy, I can take the wheels out and carry the whole lot up, using the detachable shoulder strap.
Removing and refitting the wheels is very easy, with a push button in the centre of the hub to release them. There are little squashy rubber caps to cover the buttons, presumably to keep dirt out, but in practice I found that they tended to come off when stowing the wheels in their bag.
Up in the flat, with the wheels off, the trailer can lean against a wall, or slip under the sofa, keeping it handy, but out of the way. The wheels have their own bag, so you can keep them neatly inside the main bag, and avoid marking anything with wet tyres.
The drawbar also removes easily – the big lever is easy on the hands and just unscrews, and you pull the bar off. You can reposition the lever by pressing the button, so it lines up neatly when fastened.
There are a few things I would change. If the zip was a little longer, it would make it easier to load up, as mentioned earlier. A loop or T-piece handle to attach to the tow-bar for pulling by hand would be useful, especially when pulling the full trailer up a slope or a flight of steps.
Finally, the rain cover, which can be bought as an extra, might be handier if it folded away into an integral pocket attached to the outside of the bag. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you leave it behind, and then it rains. Or you leave it in the bag full-time, and put all your stuff on top of it, and then have to root around to get it out in a hurry. Even better would be a completely waterproof bag, but I suspect this would lead to a weight and price penalty.
This was a great trailer for me. I thought I wouldn’t be able to have a trailer in the flat, but this one works really well. It’s robust enough to cope with most people’s needs. It looks good, and if you remove the tow bar and the wheels, looks like just a large piece of luggage, which is useful for getting onto trains and so on. It’s not the cheapest trailer out there, but for someone in my situation, the convenience of easy carrying and storage are really valuable. I’ll be saving up for one I can keep!
Manufacturer: Radical Design:
Tel +31 599 513482 or see www.radicaldesign.nl
They have many dealers. In the UK, try Bikefix or Norman Fay Cycles – see their adverts for details.
Price is 409 Euros or about £280.
Peter Eland adds:
Though Sue tested the Radical in a utility setting, it comes into its own as a touring trailer – especially alongside a folding bike or a recumbent otherwise without great carrying capacity.
As a case in point, I towed it behind my Birdy back from CycleVision in the Netherlands, passing these wild horses in a nature reserve near Ijmuiden. Cycled it onto and off the ferry, and at the other end tucked wheels and drawbar away in the bag, folded up and bagged the Birdy, and got on a bus with no hassle at all. Transferred to a train back to York, and then cycled it home from the station.
If you need to include public transport in your trailer travels – or would like that option when on tour – then the Radical is ideal. Only the Carryfreedom City (see Issue 15) is a serious rival in this regard.
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