I have to admit that when BRP asked me to try out the new Freedom Trailer, I wasn’t at all enthused about the idea. After all, I really loved my RT622 trailer, and couldn’t see any reason to want to switch to the cheaper, smaller “Freedom” unit. But this is my job, and I don’t always get to choose what I want to do.
The new trailer arrived just before Cherrie and I were to take off on a 7,200-mile trip from coast-to-coast, including a side trip up through Canada and around the northern edge of the Great Lakes. The first good news was that my previous hitch and wiring assembly were fully compatible with the new trailer, so switching over only took a matter of seconds. The first bad news was that the new trailer used an entirely different kind of lock cylinder, so the trailer couldn’t be keyed to match the bike. From now on, I would have to carry an extra key.
Of course the biggest selling point for the Freedom Trailer will be the price point. At $2999.99 for the base model and $4199.99 for the Deluxe, color-matched and chromed unit, the Freedom costs about $1000-$1200 less than the RT622. What do you lose for the savings? Well, the afore-mentioned matching lock cylinder, the chromed wheels, the double-opening lid, carpeting, and most importantly—approximately 30% of your total packing space. Do you gain anything? Actually, despite my misgivings you actually do. As the Freedom is lighter, lower and more aerodynamic than the RT622, I found that over the long haul that I actually got an average of 2.5 more miles per gallon towing it fully-loaded as I did the RT622. In addition I have to admit that backing-up maneuvers were considerably easier with the Freedom, and there was less input to the frame of the bike on rough roads. Simply put, I could always tell the trailer was back there when pulling the RT622, but sometimes completely forgot the Freedom unit was even attached.
Two things surprised me: First, I thought I would really miss the carpeting, but I don’t. The hard-shell sides and heavy rubberized floor may not look as nice, but they sure are a lot easier to clean than the carpeting was. A couple of times my carpeting got really wet and mildewed, requiring its removal, scrubbing and deodorizing, not to mention hours of drying out. But when the new trailer got wet and/or dirty inside, I just used a high-pressure hose on it and was ready to go in minutes. Secondly, I was very concerned about losing so much of my packing space, but now have to admit that I am really not missing it. What it has actually done is to make me a better organized packer. You see before, I had so much space to play with that I pretty much just piled stuff in and slammed the lid. These days, I have to have a carefully thought-out plan for just where everything goes, but in the end I am able to pack almost exactly the same amount of stuff. The only exception has been in giving up the medium-sized cooler we used to carry, and replacing it with a soft-sided, collapsible one. Not a huge compromise.
The one thing I miss the most however, and will probably never get over, is the extra lid in the front of the trailer on the RT622. It made packing so much easier, and access to the items packed in the front a simple matter of popping the lid, and I loved it. Because the front section of the Freedom is “buried” under the nose, accessing it to pack or unpack requires a long-limbed and limber individual, which I am definitely not. I have hurt my back more than once just trying to put things way up in the front. Because of this, I have learned to only pack things in this section that I will seldom need, but the bottom line is that it is a real pain in the ass—or back.
A few random thoughts and opinions—
Personally, I think the Freedom Trailer actually looks better behind our RT than the RT622 did. It is more streamlined, lower and less bulky, and to me at least, just looks more like it belongs. Though I have yet to see one behind an ST or F3 Spyder, I’d be willing to bet it looks even better with them.
The new outer nosecone treatment can take a lot more punishment from flying rocks and debris without chipping the paint.
Though the Freedom still has a fully-adjustable suspension, it is a total bitch to adjust! Don’t expect to be doing this every time you change load weights. It took a qualified Spyder mechanic about 45 minutes, and trying it at home alone, it took me over an hour.
Let’s be brutally honest here—I get my trailers for free. With that as a given, and given my choice, I would probably go back to the RT622 for simply convenience sake. BUT, if I had to PAY for my trailer, I think I would probably opt for the new Freedom Trailer. Not just because it costs less and handles better, but because I also get better gas mileage with it, and I like the looks of it.
Now the REAL bottom line: Comparing the Freedom Trailer to the RT622 is actually a fruitless exercise, as the RT622 simply isn’t made any longer. Your only chance of buying one even if you wanted to would be if you could find a dealer with a leftover from last year, or to buy a used one from a current owner. Therefore, the only comparison that really matters would be against any other, current bike trailer on the market. And in that respect, the Freedom is a hands-down winner in features and performance offered at this price.