My interest in trailers piqued while I was doing some aerodynamic and weight testing with touring bikes. Until then, I’d never really considered using a trailer because I always thought they were for people carrying way too much gear. But when it was suggested that they could be more aerodynamic than four panniers, the idea of a big trailer test really stuck. So I requested a sample Aevon KIT L80 trailer to review and share my experiences.
This article is a combination of why trailers can be great for touring, as well as an in-depth look at the Aevon KIT L80 itself.
Aevon KIT L80 Review
Aevon trailers are pitched at the top-end of the trailer market. While some trailers can be found for a quarter of the price, the KIT L80 offers a few things that most other trailers do not:
Firstly, it’s a seatpost mount design. That is different to the majority of bike trailers that mount from the rear wheel axle. The main advantage to the seatpost mount is that you can achieve tighter turning circles because the pivot is further forward on the bike.
Secondly, it folds. Using some allen keys and a spanner, the trailer can be separated into small enough pieces so that the entire trailer fits into the supplied 80-litre waterproof bag. I travelled to Japan with my bike in a cardboard box, and my whole trailer and all my gear in the trailer’s bag.
Thirdly, it rides on air suspension. For anyone riding off-road, this is a must because it allows all of your gear to be ‘sprung’. The suspension smoothens out rough roads like nothing else. You can adjust the air pressure of the shock to suit your load and the terrain.
Fourthly, it’s pretty darn light. At 7.81kg, it is a true lightweight. We can put that in comparison with four pannier bags and two racks which weigh about 4.8kg and run the same capacity. The thing is that by using a trailer you can use a lighter bike – but more on that later.
Trailer frame inc. shock and fender – 4406g
Seatpost mount – 215g
16” wheel – 1042g
80-litre bag – 1998g
Carrying strap – 149g
How I Tested The Trailer
In order to squeeze the most out of the trailer, I decided to get in contact with a local Australian brand (Curve Cycling) who make some rather nice titanium road bike frames and carbon wheels. Now I know what you’re thinking: a long distance bike tour with a 9.0kg/20lb titanium road bike which rolls on carbon wheels?
Let me explain.
The trailer supports the majority of the load rather than the bike, permitting you to use something as lightweight as a road bike with 1400 gram carbon wheels.
The Curve Belgie Spirit is an endurance road bike. It’s built super light like a race bike, but employs a taller front end, longer wheelbase and more relaxed frame geometry. The only thing that I changed on the bike was the rear cassette: I needed an 11-42 tooth one to help climb the steep pinches with 20kg+ in tow.
I used a Wolf Tooth Road Link to make the effective cage length of my Ultegra derailleur a bit longer. I added a new chain to the bike to accommodate the huge cassette and was pleasantly surprised that all the gears worked. That said, while in the small front chainring (34t), I avoided the lower cogs (11, 13t) on my cassette because the rear derailleur needed a bit more spring tension than it could offer.
So How Does The Trailer Ride?
When you first load the trailer to your bike, it is very noticeable. But like any loaded bike, you soon forget and learn to adapt your riding style to suit it.
With all the weight in tow, the steering is very quick and that makes the experience of cycling with a load feel unusually agile when compared to panniers. When you’re distracted from how fast you’re travelling it’s very easy to forget you’re even got anything behind you.
Something I quickly learned was that you need to be a little careful around tight corners. This is because, with the forward pivot, the rear wheel rounds the corners when you turn. Like a big articulated truck takes wide turns in the city, you will need to adapt your riding style to take all corners wide.
Riding between bollards was easy, however, as the trailer is narrower than a bike with panniers.
What About Off-Road Touring?
Off-road is where the trailer really excels.
By letting the trailer take the load, your bike feels light, is smooth over bumps and can change direction really quickly. It’s not ideal for singletrack as the trailer makes the bike really long, but as far as trailers go: the Aevon KIT L80 has got to be the most manoeuvrable.
The rear air shock is a highlight, helping the 16″ wheel to roll over things. While riding you can feel the shock dulling the vibrations and hits coming up from the road. You’ll just need to adjust the air pressure in the shock to suit how much weight you’re carrying.
If I were cycling long distances off-road and needed more capacity than what bikepacking bags could offer, a trailer is certainly my preferred option over four panniers. There will be many sections of my CyclingAbout The Americas trip where I’ll wish I had brought my trailer.
You can watch a video of my trailer in the snow while it’s connected to my fixed gear bicycle HERE.
Living With A Trailer
Unsurprisingly, the hardest places to negotiate with a trailer are cities. I like to split traffic, weave between cars, use the footpaths and turn around on the spot. The trailer made all of these things more of a task than if I used panniers.
I found that carrying my bike over logs/obstacles wasn’t too difficult, however. As the seatpost pivot moves side-to-side and up-and-down, you can lift your bike at an angle that suits you. When the rear trailer wheel hits the log/stairs/curb you can give it a quick yank upwards and the trailer will pull over most things. When dropping down from an obstacle the rear shock will take the majority of the hit.
Removing the bag from the trailer is much more laborious than removing panniers. About 15 heavy-duty velcro straps need to be undone to remove the bag. On my bike trip in Japan, I ended up keeping the trailer bag attached at all times.
As the Aevon 80-litre trailer bag is slow to remove and positively ginormous, I created a system to organise my gear using fabric shopping bags. The different coloured bags stored sleeping gear, cooking gear, clothing, food and spares. Whenever I parked my bike, I was able to pull out all four bags and carry them to my accommodation, leaving the trailer bag behind.
I didn’t realise you could get a quick-release seatpost mount to remove the trailer from the bike when I ordered mine. The fact that mine was bolted to the seatpost mount prevented me from taking it on/off unless I really had to. I would highly recommend freeing your bike from time-to-time using the quick-release kit.
Sorry to disappoint, but the idea was scrapped.
When I ordered the trailer I expected that I would head straight to the velodrome and get some data. But after using the trailer with a test load, my average speed didn’t appear to have increased at all when compared to my touring bike with four panniers. Even if the frontal area of the trailer is a tad smaller than panniers, the extra resistance of the trailer wheel would undoubtedly counteract the aerodynamic gains.
Any Problems With The Aevon KIT L80?
While the trailer generally exceeded my expectation, there were a few niggles:
The up-down pivot on the seatpost mount got creaky the day after riding in the rain. I assume this is due to debris making its way into small gaps between the washers and the trailer frame. I didn’t find a solution to this issue, but it generally disappeared after a few hours of riding in dry conditions.
The sealed bearings in the trailer’s hub lasted just 2,500km. Granted I spent a lot of time in wet conditions, I was still expecting 10,000km+ before needing to tap the bearings out and press some new ones in. That’s certainly been my experience with using the same Novatec hub on a road bike wheel.
The main arm connecting the seatpost mount with the rest of the frame wasn’t quite straight on my trailer. Not by much, but it was noticeable to the eye. This didn’t seem to affect the ride at all but was a quirk of the product.
Even though the bag is technically waterproof, I learned pretty quickly that the supplied rain cover is still 100% necessary when the bag is half full (like in the photo above). This is because water weight on the top of the bag causes it to pool and work its way into the edges of the roll-closure. With a full trailer bag you have nothing to worry about.
Is The Aevon KIT L80 Bear Proof?
This wasn’t part of my initial testing strategy, but I found out anyway. I’ve never felt closer to death than when a 500kg bear decided to launch itself at me… the adrenaline rush was something else!
You hear a bit more about the bear attack in The Japan Long Haul film.
Is The Price is a Bit High?
The Aevon Kit L80 is €795 or US $940. It’s one of the most expensive trailers available. But it’s worth thinking about the price a little differently. A trailer replaces four waterproof panniers and two racks. Assuming you’re using high-quality gear, the gear value would be ~€200 in Ortlieb bags and ~€200 in Tubus racks.
Ok, so that’s still half the cost of a trailer.
Well, perhaps we can think about the cost saving of not buying a touring-specific bike! By using a mountain, road or cyclocross bike that you already it will save you big money. There’s also the argument that you’ll break fewer parts on your bike as a result of the reduced stress on your components…
I think the high price can be justified. 🙂
Would I Recommend The KIT L80 To A Friend?
The Aevon KIT L80 is a brilliant bit of kit. It is one of the lighter trailers available, it folds away for travel, it’s air suspended and it offers a really small turning circle.
There are three ways trailers really excel over panniers. Firstly, the trailer takes the load off the bike, allowing you to use any lightweight bike you like. Mountain bike? Road bike? Triathlon bike? No problems. Secondly, you can unhitch a trailer anytime and have a lightweight bike ready to go mountain biking or road riding, And lastly, rough roads are much better on you and your bike with a trailer.
But the best thing about the Aevon KIT L80 is that you can use whatever bike you currently have as your touring bike.