Gear Review: The BOB IBEX Trailer
As I wrote about in my Biking Without Borders column at the Adventure Cycling blog on July 18, I spent a little over two weeks this past summer bicycling a hybrid route made up of parts of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. It was the first time I’ve taken a longish ride hauling a trailer, as opposed to carrying panniers on racks. The trailer I pulled was a single-wheeled BOB IBEX, the shocked version -- featuring three inches of adjustable suspension travel -- of the standard BOB YAK trailer.
My impressions? Great on the flats and downhills, whether paved or dirt (it was easy to forget I was even pulling the trailer a lot of the time); okay on the uphills, though I felt more sluggish than when carrying a similar amount of weight in panniers; and not so good in heavy crosswinds. In fact, I found downright terrifying a stretch of U.S. 20 I was forced to pedal from the Idaho-Montana border at Targhee Pass, about 8 miles into the town of West Yellowstone. Strong crosswinds were compounded by 1)heavy tourist and truck traffic and 2)brutal rumble strips that I had to skirt either to the right (think steep drop-off over nasty, angular boulders) or to the left (think previously mentioned truck and tourist traffic). I was getting blown around so much that I actually dismounted and walked a couple of miles through the worst of it.
To be fair, I’m not sure how much better -- if at all -- a set of front and rear panniers would have performed in similar conditions.
*The trailer, which ships in pieces, was quite easy to assemble.
*Parking the long and wide bike-trailer rig, which you do by angling both the trailer and handlebars 90 degrees to the bike frame, was no problem after some practice. Because I was in remote areas for the most part, parking space was not a concern; it would be if you were in a town with crowded sidewalks, because this baby takes up a lot of room.
*Packing the dry sak suits someone like me, who tends to throw things in rather than being neat and organized. For the rider who likes everything in a certain place, that’s much easier to accomplish with a set of rack packs than it is with the single-compartment dry sak.
*The trailer is quite easy to attach and detach from the bike, once you get the hang of it. This is a real advantage over panniers. For this reason, I would also say that a trailer like this is good for a quick bike overnight: just throw in the tent and everything else, hook the trailer up to your bike, and hit the road or trail.
*The locking/cotter pin is vital to keeping the bike and trailer safely attached to one another. Their elastic attachment, I found, is easy to break. Once that breaks, it’s easy to lose the pin, so I was glad I had spares along.
Because I was riding a 29er Salsa Fargo lent to me by the company (a bike that I’ll plan to review here at a later date), I had to opt for purchasing the IBEX 28, specially designed for 29er mountain bikes and road bikes with full-wrap fenders. I’ll probably find out next summer if there’s any problem fitting this longer-reach trailer to the standard 26-inch wheels of my Jamis mountain bike.