BOB vs ExtraWheel – a Bike Trailer Comparison

I’ve now got a whopping 200 miles on my new BOB, so I thought I’d write up a bit of a comparison between the two trailers. Keep in mind that I’ve only ridden 200 miles with the BOB, whereas I rode 5000 with the Extrawheel – so my feelings may change as I get more familiar with the BOB. I also used the old style ExtraWheel with mesh pouches for carrying gear. They have since redesigned the pouch system to mount panniers so some of what I say  here no longer applies. Most of it, however, is still valid.
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Maneuverability

The main difference I’ve seen between the two trailers so far is in maneuverability, and I have to say the ExtraWheel wins hands-down. For 5000 miles now I’ve been able to make tight turns and didn’t even notice the trailer was there. I could jockey the bike around in campsites easily. It was rare that I had to ask one of the kids to straighten out the trailer.

The BOB, on the other hand, can’t handle tight turns at all. I have to make wide, semi-truck turns now. If I try to turn too tight, the BOB immediately screams at me by forcing my bike over – making it very difficult to keep it upright. I’ve only ridden a few days with the BOB, but I’ve already had to ask for help more times than I did the whole time I rode with the ExtraWheel.

I suspect I’ll get used to making wide turns in time, but for now – it’s a pain in the rear! I will say that, if I was going to be doing a lot of single-track riding, I would choose the ExtraWheel in a heartbeat!

Tracking

Both trailers track just fine. I don’t find either of them pulling me to one side or the other at all. Once I’m actually riding, I don’t even feel the trailer is there.

Packing

Theoretically, the two trailers have almost identical carrying capacities. However, it seems to me that you can, in a practical sense, cram more stuff into the BOB. The ExtraWheel, with two smaller bags, is harder to cram so full. The BOB, with its one large bag, is a bit easier to pack than the ExtraWheel. I say a bit because there isn’t really much of a difference in ease of packing. One slight advantage for the BOB is that you can pack things that need to remain upright. In the ExtraWheel you pack the bags while they are standing up, but put them in the trailer on their side – so it’s much harder to make sure things stay in one position.

Where the BOB comes out on top, however, is the way you can stack stuff on top of it.The ExtraWheel is limited to only what you can put in the pouches, whereas you can pack the BOB bag full and also strap additional gear on top.

Attachment System

The ExtraWheel comes out on top here. I love the attachment system for the ExtraWheel! It is so quick and easy to detach and reattach. When we pulled into a campground, I could snap the trailer off and run down to the grocery store with just my bike. When I was ready to put the trailer back on – it was on in a grand total of 15 seconds.

The BOB is much more cumbersome to attach. The bike has to be perfectly upright (which means someone has to help me) and it’s difficult to get the forks under my panniers and over the spindle just right. Once I get it in place, I have to attach the pins, which is yet another step. The whole process – as of now – is taking me a good couple of minutes. I might get more proficient at it as I do it more, but right now I miss the quick attachment system of the ExtraWheel.

Portability

Once again, the ExtraWheel wins. With the ExtraWheel, getting into hotel rooms was a breeze. I simply took out the dry bags, popped off the trailer, and I was good to go. I had three easy-to-handle pieces to take up to a hotel room.

The BOB, on the other hand, is much more cumbersome. It’s more difficult to take the trailer off the bike in the first place, and then it’s very difficult to carry up the stairs or to the elevator. The one big bag – even if it’s not too heavy to carry easily – is fairly difficult to manage, and the trailer is long and unwieldy. If I do take the bag out of the trailer to carry it, I have to completely repack it once it’s back in the trailer as everything shifts around.

Durability

I can’t judge from my personal use on this one, but looking at John’s BOB and my ExtraWheel, I think the BOB wins in this category. The BOB has a metal cage surrounding all the soft gear, which protects it somewhat from thorns, branches, or whatnot. My impression is that the BOB is pretty much bombproof – I’m not sure what could damage it.

The ExtraWheel is much more vulnerable. The pouches, while very useful and convenient, are susceptible to getting caught on branches. The nylon strings of the pouch are sewn into the backing, but can tear out quite easily with a small amount of force. The basic framework of the ExtraWheel is solid and I’m sure that part would hold up. I’m just not convinced the pouches (which are critical to its design) can handle the demands of long-time heavy usage. I’m hoping ExtraWheel comes up with something more durable for future models.

Additional Features

A small selling point for the BOB for most people is the idea that you can use the trailer as a kickstand. I say ‘for most people’ because it doesn’t work for me – my bike is too heavy. If you are only carrying your load in the trailer, you can jackknife the trailer a little bit and it’ll serve as a kickstand – a handy feature! If you have loaded panniers on the bike (like me), the bike is too heavy and the kickstand idea doesn’t work. I can use it in the campground at night once I’ve unloaded the bike, but that’s not all that useful – I would love to be able to use that during the day when I take breaks with no place to lean my bike.

Conclusion

So – what’s the bottom line? If I was doing a shorter tour, and didn’t need a lot of carrying capacity, I would take an ExtraWheel. I would also take an ExtraWheel on single track or anywhere I needed to make tight turns. If I was touring in a situation where I frequently needed to unpack my bike (to put it in cars, buses, hotel rooms, etc.) the ExtraWheel would be a better choice.

On our long journey, where we have gear for four people on two bikes (we don’t have much on our son’s bike), the BOB is a better choice. I’m confident the BOB will be able to handle the demands of a 20,000-mile journey, but don’t think the ExtraWheel would be up to the task.

******

edited February 2, 2009 to add: I’ve now hauled my BOB about 1500 miles and I still feel the same about it.  It’s a good solid trailer, but just doesn’t feel as good as the Extrawheel did.  I liken the ExtraWheel to a race car – it’s sporty and nimble and fast, but a bit delicate.  The BOB is built like a tank – and rides like one.

A huge advantage of the ExtraWheel that I didn’t mention above is that it uses the same size tire as the bike.  Now that I’ve got the BOB I have to carry an extra 700c tire and tube, but also need a spare 16″ set too.

The other consideration that I didn’t mention above is the distribution of weight.  One of the major selling points of any trailer is the idea that it gets the weight off your bike.  The ExtraWheel, with all the weight concentrated on its axle, puts virtually no weight on the bike itself.  The weight in the BOB is equally distributed between the rear bike wheel and the BOB wheel.

A commenter below mentioned the idea of packing gear flat – and that is an advantage for the BOB.  Since John loves his BOB, we were able to put anything that needed to be packed flat in John’s BOB and I could take stuff that didn’t matter.  If you are only carrying an ExtraWheel, that could be an issue.

In conclusion, I really miss my ExtraWheel!  I loved the idea that I could put it on and take it off by myself.  I could make tight turns and maneuver around campsites/hotel rooms easily.  If the folks over at ExtraWheel could figure out a way to make the netting system more durable, I would certainly go back.  I do have a few suggestions, so if you have any contacts at ExtraWheel please let me know so I can pass on my ideas!

I’ve also written a couple other reviews of my Extrawheel after using it for:
1000 Miles
3000 Miles

Bike Trailer Shop: The Bike Trailer Experts

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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25 Responses to BOB vs ExtraWheel – a Bike Trailer Comparison

  1. Grand Canyon Harry December 9, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    How is Davy handeling the ExtraWheel? It has been SUPER cold here today. Possibility of some snow flurries are forecast. Stay good.
    Harry

    [Reply]

  2. nancy December 10, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    We’ve found the ExtraWheel has slowed Davy down considerably, so we’ll be ditching it in Alpine. At this point, I’ve moved all the gear we had in the trailer into his panniers and he’s hauling an empty trailer. In addition to being slowed down – he hates it! He loves having just his bike, but doesn’t like having a trailer behind it. Oh well – we tried to see if it was easier or not. We never would have known if we hadn’t tried it.

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  3. Oliver Miller January 18, 2009 at 4:30 am #

    Hi,

    I found your comparisons really interesting. I was touring in and around the Alps and Sardinia last summer with a friend, I was using an Extrawheel and he was using a BOB. To be sure I felt both had their strengths and weaknesses, and in general I would Its agree regarding the toughness of the BOB vs. the maneuverability of the Extrawheel, and that the BOB is better suited to a longer tour.

    As far as packability the BOB seemed to us way better than the stock Extrawheel. Being able to access everthing from the top is a boon, a big advantage for the BOB. The fact that everything can also rest flat is to me a major design advantage. I was much happier not using the drybags that came with the Extrawheel, instead I used two large and two small Ortlieb panniers on either side. That allowed me better organization and easier immediate access to my stuff. I used addional lashing to cinch everything up in the netting, which itself I also found flimsy. Digging around in a drysack is not my idea of fun, and this seemed like a good solution.

    In our opinion the BOB has much better handling stability, which is to me more important than a tight turning radius. Both of us were on old steel racing bikes without additional panniers, and with that setup it was all but impossible for me to ride without my hands on the handlebars. For my friend Isaac it was far easier. The fact that the weight sits lower on the BOB is, I think, also a major factor regarding handling. On long stretches that’s something not to be underestimated.

    On a rough path a dropout also snapped on the Extrawheel, that was very lame. A stick got caught in a spoke and somehow torqued the wheel, also tearing a spoke out of its hub eyelet in the process. I think the materials and fabrication of the Extrawheel definitely leaves something to be desired; when one looks at that dropout its actually quite flimsily built. I was however able to successfully keep going the next two weeks of the tour with a jerry-rigged dropout, though I was always cycling in fear of an immanent failure…!

    As far as the linkages: my friend was able to hook his BOB up on his own, and just as fast as I was able to attatch my Extrawheel…maybe a different generation of the BOB?…or maybe because there were no panniers on his bike. I generally like the Extrawheel linkage, though greasing the ball joints every 2-3 days was a must to avoid squeaking (and undue wear). The BOB linkage seemed fine as well, though, and didn’t need to be greased so regularly. A plus for the Extrawheel is certainly how nicely it pops off, expecially in the event of an accident or just a small spill. Like with a pair of skis its better to detach in the event of an emergency, and the Extrawheel linkage seems safer in this respect.

    A major advantage of the Extrawheel that you didn’t mention is that the wheel itself can be indvidually selected from any 26″ or 28″ front wheel, as can the tire. This is a hgue boon in my opinion, and makes up for many of its clear shortcomings. I therefore had a second hand wheel of very high quality on mine, Deore XT + Mavic mountain rim I think it was. When it broke in the above mentioned stick situation it was of course no problem to replace, which itself proved a point for the case of using a standard wheel sizing. The BOB wheel is pretty junky (as are the standard wheels that come with the Extrawheel). I wonder if the BOB wheels are upgradeable at all, and for sure there’s nothing close to the options one has is upgrading the Extrawheel’s wheel. It basically looks like a kid’s bike wheel, though it may well be something better than that. And can it be fitted with a racing slick? I don’t know, but its highly unlikely.

    My plan now is to mod the Extrawheel with a framebuilder…stretch its wheelbase and build a BOB-style cage wrapping around the sides and front of the wheel, but keeping the linkage. The idea is to stretch the wheelbase, make a platform to rest the seperate panniers on likethe drybag on the BOB, and to keep the weight low to the ground, which I hope should also stabilize the handling. I really want to be able to ride hands-free! With that I hope to get the best of both worlds. In any event the Extrawheel seems like a beta version for now. The BOB is a far more refined product, though its junky wheel+tire is a real negative, and its all quite a bit heavier in total.

    Would really love to hear your further thoughts on the matter. Happy touring!!!

    Oliver Miller

    [Reply]

  4. Thierry May 11, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    You can contact Extrawheel production by mail at biuro@extrawheel.com to submit your ideas. Bikely,

    [Reply]

  5. Don May 31, 2009 at 8:33 pm #

    A friend and I used Extrawheel trailers (the original version) biking through the top of India last year. We covered around 1200kms with a number of passes over 4000m and a few over 5000m. The Extrawheels tracked beautifully over some pretty rough terrain and their weight distribution made them a good choice over panniers – particularly as we were both riding dual suspension mountain bikes.

    Where the Extrawheel did let us down was a) in the netting, which on my friend’s trailer pulled away from the cowling and led to the drybags rubbing on the wheel and b) in the load capacity. While they’re rated for 30kgs my friend’s trailer didn’t handle his 25kgs of gear at all well, particularly in the wet when the build-up of mud on the tyre caused it to scrape incessantly on the mudguard.

    The drybags, while very waterproof, are a pain to get back into the webbing when full (and you can get pretty grubby doing it if you’re on a dusty/muddy road) and the stuff at the bottom of the bags can be difficult to access as with most ‘sacks’. I agree with your comments on the ease with which the trailer attaches to the bike – it’s a dream.

    The same friend and I are planning a trip to Bolivia later this year (he lives in Wales, I’m in NZ) where we’ll be racking up another 1200+ kms. I’ll be taking my original Extrawheel but I suspect my friend will be towing the new version with panniers – should be an interesting comparison.

    [Reply]

  6. nancy June 1, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Thanks for your input guys! I have heard about how ExtraWheel redesigned their trailer to take panniers – and am not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, panniers are great. But they are also fairly small and are expensive as well. One of the advantages of a trailer has always been its greater carrying capacity, so putting panniers on the trailer seems kind of…well, silly, in a way.

    I still wish I had the ExtraWheel for its maneuverability and attachment system. Maybe they can come up with a BOB-like setup, but keep the weight right over the wheel? A dream, I know…

    [Reply]

  7. Funride August 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    Hi Nancy, I just found this post and I want to thank you for the great review you made. I don´t know how much both BOB and ExtraWheel cost over there but over here (Portugal) the ExtraWheel also beat the BOB by far being much cheaper.
    Before having the new ExtraWheel Voyager I had one just like the one in this review. And even though I understand your view about the panniers I must say I am very happy with them. It´s very easy to pack things in and much better to find something inside the panniers without having to take them from the trailer as it happened with the first ExtraWheel trailer and its bags.

    But never stop dreaming… that´s what makes the world go forward ;)

    [Reply]

  8. ebygomm September 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    I read this blog before purchasing the extrawheel and it was very useful. I was lucky enough to get one of the last old style extrawheels in the UK, the new pannier version has far less load carrying capacity so didn’t appeal. I’ve just come back from a 425km trip (so pretty short by your standards) but the extrawheel is still as good as new. There were times when we had to adjust the load a little, either to lift it up because it was hanging down and fouling the wheels or to rearrange a pointy object in the drybags that was pressing into the fabric mudguard thing. We kept drinks bottles upright no problem, just slipping them in the netting. I’d read a lot both here and elsewhere about them being a touch on the fragile side, but that’s not been my experience at all.

    [Reply]

  9. noshortcuts January 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    The ExtraWheel has been fully redesigned and no longer uses nets, but panniers instead. It looks like most negatives mentioned above have been addressed in this “voyager” version. The version discussed here is no longer made.

    [Reply]

  10. Luis Bernardo Monroy Jaramillo January 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    Hi,

    I have made my own trailer , two wheels and an arm that attaches to the rear wheel.

    I put 27 kg on it and ride high in the Mountains. I broke it after 380 km.

    Now I bought a classic extrawheel and your comparison is quite the summary of why I took his decision.

    The trailer is in the way to Colombia, where I live, and I hope to tell you about my experience with it.

    do you know exactly how much weighs the extrawheel, without load?

    Thanx and Keep riding

    [Reply]

  11. andy parmentier March 15, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    i would like to try the extrawheel trailer.

    [Reply]

  12. SuperSonic June 13, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    yo soy deprimida …

    SuperSonic

    [Reply]

  13. Ciprian from Romania June 17, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Hello to uou all

    Your review about trails is very helpfull to me. im planin a trip to countries of Europe and base of your informations i decided to use the BOB because of its resistence and the load capability. im not gona buy one cause i dont have money but im gona build one myself.

    Thank you guys

    [Reply]

  14. traddatz June 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I own a Bob trailer and have enjoyed it very much. I do have to say that I have made a modification to the trailer that has been very beneficial. I added a kickstand that holds up the trailer when fully loaded and the bike (I tested it to the 70 lbs capacity).
    When touring a few years back I met some who used to own a bob and said he would have never sold his if he would have had the kickstand setup that I build and installed.
    I looked at the extra wheel but with what I wanted to do and the capacity difference, I went with the bob and have not had any issues.
    I do agree that the bob has issues such as difficult to manuver over paniers and even the extra wheel, but the ability to back 70 lbs of stuff flat is more that worth the hassle.

    [Reply]

  15. 3Winger July 13, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    Very good dicussion on the subject. I am a Bob Ibez owner who is thinking of trying the extra wheel. Although I love my BOB and travel with it and my folding bike as regular luggage by disassembling it, the reduced weight and same size wheel advantages appeal to me. When biking with my wife I can easily carry both our gear on the BOB, adding stuff on top when necessary.
    Also, I don’t have to worry about volume so I can carry more rugged camping gear and even chair adapters for our thermarests. However, when travelling alone on a long trip I am thinking of the extra wheel but I have one question that maybe someone could answer. How does the Extrawheel handle high speeds? With a stiff frame, I have hit 70 km/hr in the mountains with no loss of stability. How does the Extrawheel compare to this?

    [Reply]

  16. nancy July 13, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    3Winger – I think either trailer could handle high speeds OK, but the ExtraWheel seemed a little bit more stable at those speeds.

    [Reply]

  17. Ilias July 25, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Hola,
    Ya he visto algunos hay …
    Gracias

    [Reply]

  18. Luke August 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    We just got a BOB Ibex a couple weeks ago and wanted to try it out on a 150 mile overnighter. We set off with the trailer loaded with only about 35 pounds of gear plus me and a Camelback (another 170lb). We gave up after 3 flats within the first 7 miles. None of them were punctures, but rather it seems that the tire/tube could not handle the additional weight. I was riding a stock Cannondale CAAD9 5 so the tires were Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick.

    Many of you seem to be trailer experts so I was looking for some advice. Should I give up on trying to haul gear with the CAAD9 or would replacing the Zaffiros with something like the Specialized All Condition Armadillos help the situation?

    [Reply]

  19. Fabian August 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Prior to purchasing my BoB IBEX, i looked at a variety of bicycle trailers. The BoB IBEX was the only system that gave me large storage space, but more importantly, a suspension system.
    This is critically important when carrying electronic equipment like cameras or video camcorders.

    As opposed to the BoB IBEX, the BoB Yak isn’t any better than the Extrawheel because it lacks a suspension system so everything inside the waterproof bag will be bashed to bits when travelling over rough terrain.

    A great benefit of the BoB IBEX is the ability to attach 4 watter bottle cage mounts on the shock tower and frame which contributes to a low centre of gravity, as well as being able to attach a rear pannier system over the rear wheel.
    This effectively gives it the storage space of an Extrawheel as well as the storage space of the large BoB Drysak, plus being able to fit extra bags on top of the trailer.

    I haven’t had any issues with maneuvering the BoB IBEX through tight turns, because you can either take a slightly wider turn or simply be a little forceful in your turn.
    As we speak, my BoB IBEX has traveled 20,000 kilometers and the bike has done 50,000 kilometers in three and a half years.

    Examples of my travels with the BoB IBEX can be found at the following links:

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t208-hill-climb-with-bob-ibex-trailer

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t363-mt-baw-baw-hill-climb-march-2013

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t364-lake-mountain-hill-climb-march-2013

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t373-mt-donna-buang-hill-climb

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t376-warburton-rail-trail-ride-july-2013

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t380-lake-mountain-snow-adventure-august-2013

    and here is a more detailed look at the rear pannier system fitted to the BoB IBEX

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t379-bob-ibex-rear-panniers

    and if you need even more storage space, this is my other bicycle trailer system:

    http://motorizedbikeforum.the-talk.net/t135-multi-combination-bicycle-trailer-setup

    Happy bicycle touring everyone :-)

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @Fabian, We used the IBEX on our PanAm journey. I do like both the suspension and the extra water bottles.

    The old design of the ExtraWheel – the one I used with the dry bags suspended in netting on either side – actually had more suspension than the IBEX. The whole netting pouch was suspended, so there was great shock absorption in the trailer. Now that they’ve changed the design to panniers, nope.

    [Reply]

  20. track-n-road August 22, 2014 at 3:04 am #

    What do you think about speed limitation for EW trailer? 40 km/h max recommended. Is it payment for easy attachment system or something else?
    Another question about stand pedaling. Are you feels any difference between trailers?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Sathre-Vogel Reply:

    @track-n-road, I could never feel my ExtraWheel behind me at all. At. All. It was just an extension of the bike and handled beautifully. With the BOB, you feel it. It’s like a tank. Worth pulling, for sure, but not nearly as quick and nimble as the ExtraWheel.

    As for standing? I don’t know. I rarely stand while touring, so can’t answer that question. Although I would venture to guess there would be no difference.

    [Reply]

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