Thread: Surly Trailer
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Old 01-17-11, 08:11 PM
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my two bits

Iíll offer my two bits on the cost issue re the Surley trailer.

Full disclosure - I make and sell trailers you can find out about them here: Clearly I make them on a much much smaller scale but the issues are the same.

Iíve been watching the Surley trailer a while since Steve Flagg (head of QBP) mentioned to me that Surley was developing one. In addition to heavy duty it was, the thing that jumped out at me was the hitch. When you decide to make a trailer you quickly encounter the wide variety of ways that seat stays and the chain stays meet at the rear dropout. You also have to decide if you want the trailer permanently attached or if you want it to come on and off quickly. I developed mine around being affordable and decided to come up with a hitch clamp that would work for MOST bikes. From the look of it, Surley made a hitch clamp that will work on ALL bikes. Once you commit to that you are in for some complicated and expensive engineering.

Their trailer is commercial duty. I designed mine with a casual cargo hailer in mind Ė mostly groceries and other errands. 80 lbs is plenty Ė once you get past that you start upgrading you bike to handle the weight and itís not pleasant to ride. The only reason I can think of to haul that much weight around regularly is a commercial enterprise. When you engineer around that kind of target weight youíre going into more expense.

The cargo trailer market is small. Currently itís not the first thing people think of when they contemplate using their bike for hauling stuff. The 1st option is racks and panniers. There are also all the old Burleys and such floating around on Craigís list that you have to compete against. (I suspect thatís why they made the thing so heavy-duty Ė to stand out from all the used child carriers) Because of this itís hard to apply the magic of mass production to bring the price down.

Theyíre trying to sell these in bike shops. The footprint of a trailer takes up more space than a bike. If a bike shop is going to give up floor space for a small market item like a trailer theyíre going to want a substantial part of the price. When I briefly tried to sell my trailers even through consignment at bike shops they doubled the price. I run a business too, so I understand why itís like that, but it makes it very hard to sell trailers at a reasonable price.

Surley may be worried about poaching theyíre own sales. Would they rather sell a Big Dummy at X profit or a trailer for a smaller profit? What would they like that spread to be? That kind of thinking probably isnít the sole driver of their thinking but itís got to be part of it.

In any case thatís my two bits about why that particular product costs that much.
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