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How to Hitch a Bike Trailer

Mountain bikes, e-bikes, beach cruisers, and more. With so many types of bikes, frames, and axles, creating a one-size-fits-all hitch system is not only impossible, but unsafe! That's why we've created axles and adapters to ensure our trailers are compatible with as many bikes as possible.

Every Burley trailer comes with a basic hitch system. This standard hitch system works for most bikes but in some cases you may need an adapter or thru axle to properly hitch your trailer to your bike. In this guide, we’ll show how to hitch a kid trailer, pet trailer, or cargo trailer to your bike and help you determine which hitching solution is right for your bike.

Click your trailer category below to jump to the corresponding hitch guide.

Axle Mounted

Most Burley trailers come equipped with a Steel Hitch, Tow Bar, and Tow Bar Mount (the Travoy and the Coho XC have their own unique hitching systems). In most cases, this is all you need to safely connect the trailer to your bike. Some specialty bikes may need an additional adapter or thru axle. This section will help you determine if you need an adapter or thru axle and, if so, which one.

The first step is to identify your bike's axle type. There are 3 main types of axles.

Quick Release Axle

The most common type of axle. The quick release axle has a lever that clamps the axle in place with an acorn nut on the opposite end.

Bolt-on Axle

The bolt-on axle (a.k.a. solid axle) has a hex nut on both sides. It is common on fixed gear and single speed bicycles, as well as internally geared hubs.

Thru Axle

Thru axles are thick and hollow. These axles screw directly into the bike frame and do not stick out of the opposite side. They are common on newer bicycles with disc brakes, especially mountain bikes.

The second step is to determine your dropout type. There are many types of dropouts, but for the purpose of hitching a Burley trailer, we'll focus on two main categories.

Standard Dropout

Most bicycles will have a standard dropout. They won’t all look like this, but the key thing to look for is a flat area around and below the axle where the Steel Hitch can sit flush against the frame.

Hooded Dropout

Hooded dropouts have a protruding metal hood that extends around the top of the dropout. They are common on custom or hand-made bikes. They can prevent the Steel Hitch from sitting flush against the frame. This problem is solved by the adapters which you will read about later.

Not all dropouts will look exactly like the samples shown here. If you are unsure about your dropout type, please check with your local bike shop.

Now that you know what type of axle and dropout you have, you can use the table below to determine if you need additional parts to connect your Burley trailer.

.

QR Axle

Bolt-On Axle

Thru Axle

Standard Dropout:

Steel Hitch (included)

Steel Hitch (included)

Steel Hitch (included) + Burley Thru Axle

Hooded Dropout:

Steel Hitch (included) + Adapter

Steel Hitch (included) + Adapter

Steel Hitch (included) + Burley Thru Axle

Q: What does the adapter do for me?

A: You will need an adapter if your dropout does not have room for the hitch to sit flush against the bike frame, or in some cases, if the addition of the hitch makes the axle too short for the nut to be re-installed. In these cases, the adapter acts as a spacer. It provides a flat surface away from the dropout that lets the hitch sit flush against a solid surface. In the case of axles being too short to be reinstalled, it extends the length of the axle so that it can be safely installed with the hitch.

Q: I see there are multiple sizes of Adapters and Thru Axles, how do I know which part is right for me?

A:It will depend on the size and threading of your axle. Use the Adapter Guide and Axle Fit Guide in Step 4 to determine which part is right for you.

*It is possible that the addition of the Steel Hitch may make your bolt on axle too short for the nut to be re-installed. If this is the case, you will require an adapter.

Quick Release (QR) Adapter

If you have a Quick Release Axle you will need the QR Adapter. This is the most commonly used adapter.

Bolt-On Axle Adapters

There are three adapter models which apply to bolt-on axles. You must know the Diameter and Thread Pitch of your axle. We recommend getting this information directly from your bicycle/axle/hub manufacturer. Once you have this information, you can select the appropriate adapter based on the axle diameter and thread pitch, which are indicated in the adapter name.

  • Adapters are named for the Diameter x Thread Pitch.
  • For example: M10 x 1.0.
  • In this example, M10 is the Diameter and 1.0 is the Thread Pitch.

Instructions for installing the adapter will be included with the adapter. Adapters can be ordered on our Hitches & Adapters page.

12mm Thru Axle Adapters

Coho XC

Step 1: Identify Axle Type

The first step is to identify your bike's axle type. There are 3 main types of axles.

Quick Release Axle

The most common type of axle. The quick release axle has a lever that clamps the axle in place with an acorn nut on the opposite end.

Bolt-on Axle

The bolt-on axle (a.k.a. solid axle) has a hex nut on both sides. It is common on fixed gear and single speed bicycles, as well as internally geared hubs.

Thru Axle

Thru axles are thick and hollow. These axles screw directly into the bike frame and do not stick out of the opposite side. They are common on newer bicycles with disc brakes, especially mountain bikes.

Step 2: Purchase Appropriate Adapter

If You Have:

A Quick Release Axle

These 5mm skewers replace the existing QR skewer on your bike to make it compatible with the Coho XC cargo trailer. This adapter is required to use the Coho XC on bikes with QR skewers. Multiple skewer lengths are available.

Then You Need:

Coho 5mm Skewer

A Bolt-On Axle

The Nutted Axle Adapter includes a set of threaded adapters that replace the nuts on your current nutted axle, allowing your bike to connect to the Coho XC cargo trailer. This adapter is required to use the Coho XC on bikes with nutted axles. Multiple thread pitches available.

Nutted Axle Adapter

A Thru Axle

The Coho 12mm Thru Axle allows bikes with 12mm rear thru axles to connect to the Coho XC trailer. Multiple thread pitches and lengths are available. A Coho 12mm Thru Axle is required for any bike with a 12mm rear thru axle to use the Coho XC. Use the Coho Thru Axle Fit Guide below to determine the correct axle for your bike.

Coho 12mm Thru Axle

Travoy

Quick Hitch

The Quick Hitch provides an innovative, tool-free way to attach the Travoy to your seat post and easily releases with the flip of a switch – ideal for bikeshare bikes. The quick and easy trailer connection makes for effortless transitions for around town errands.

*For obsolete Travoy models, please note the Quick Hitch and Travoy Hitch are reverse compatible with each other.

Rack Mount

The optional Rack Mount moves the mounting location for the Travoy Hitch to a rear bike rack if more clearance is needed. The Rack Mount is only compatible with the Travoy Hitch (not compatible with the Quick Hitch).

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