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  1. #1
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Do Child trailers make good freight haulers"

    I am keeping my eyes open at garage sales for retired bicycle child trailers like Burleys. I am thinking that they could really ratchet me up a notch for being able to carry groceries, building supplies, etcetera.

    Is a bicycle child trailer the way to go for this type of use? Any suggestion what to look for? For example, I see some with a full plastic shell bottom. Are these more practical than the ones with a cloth bottom?

    Any suggestions for the way it connects to the bicycle?
    Mike

  2. #2
    Arrgghh me hearties! damian_'s Avatar
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    If you find one, let me know how it goes. I've been looking and second-hand child trailers seem to be a lot more common than freight trailers.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with adding a light plywood bottom and sides to a kiddie trailer for cargo hauling. I used an old Cannodale bugger for years. Had several different types of "cargo" holders adapted for it. One was a plywood box that held my carpentry tools that could be easily removed, so the soft bag for groceries or the kid cabin could be placed back in it. IIRC the Bugger was rated for 75# to me that would be the only limiting factor.

    Aaron

  4. #4
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    I use Burleys Encore trailer extensivley with my two children. It has a large rear storage area that we carry food and the like back home with. It is very well suited to haul nothing but cargo, but is limited to a 100# restriction. I have used other trailers with inferior hitch systems, and I can honestly say, the Burley hitch system is absolutely amazing. I do not have to worry about it working loose in a hard uphill jaunt, or flying off in traffic. It is very stable too, wont rock back and forth like some others I have used when loaded to capacity.

    If you are looking to carry extremely large items, or very heavy items on a regular basis, you might want to look into an xtracycle attachment for your bike. It is by far one of the most ingenious devices designed for utility cycling.

    If you decided to go with a child trailer, then some modification will likely be needed as wahoonc suggested.

  5. #5
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Most people, even if they shop with a car don't shop for more than 100lbs of groceries, nor do they shop for more than can fit space-wise in a two-child trailer. (However, if you want a little bit more space for bulky stuff it doesn't hurt to bring a backpack grocery shopping.)

    If you're talking about building supplies, it really depends. Child trailers aren't so good for 10-ft lengths of pipe, 8ft boards/planks. I suspect furniture (ready to use, or flat-packed like IKEA) will usually be out of reach for a child trailer.
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    My typically bicycle grocery shopping expeditons will fit in 2 paper bags. I used to do a heavy monthly shopping for the staples and for a family of 4 with 2 dogs it never went over 100#. There are ways to carry long lumber, but my reccomendation is to shop somewhere like Lowe's where they have a truck you can rent for $20, haul your stuff to the house and be done with it. or if the load is large enough have Lowe's deliver it for you. With the neighborhood I used to live in we would all get together and use one guy's truck and make one large trip to Lowe's about once every 3 weeks for the big stuff. At the time there were 4 of us all restoring houses at the same time. IIRC he paid $750 for the truck and it got about 60 miles a month put on it All of us cycle commuted, it was quicker than driving.

    Aaron

  7. #7
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    WE seem to need to define our terms a little better here. I do not see "freight" in the same catagory as kids (fragile - roll cages) and groceries (fragile - small loose pieces). The connection is a separate matter needing a secure connection, able to pivot in two dimensions, and stiff enough to transmit steering and braking forces from the bike. To me "freight" means mass and size. Multiple bags of cement, sheets of gypsum board, 4 by 4s, and pipes. Years ago a two person recumbent at an HPV event pulled a 4 wheeled flatbed trailer loaded with one ton of people. That would be serious freight to me. Wahoonc had it right. At some point you have to get the right tool for the job. I have a "freight" trailer that is built much like a shopping cart. I could carry up to 200-300 pounds of anything that would fit in a shopping cart. Plywood or kids call for other tools.
    This space open

  8. #8
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    we use a modified burley. took off the top, loaded a large plastic snow
    sled into the frame and bolted it down, and we haul firewood, 2 people,
    chain saws...etc, all over the woods on some private land building trails.

    been doing this for 3 years now still going strong, even after multiple
    wipeouts and dumps on steep off-camber trails with 150lbs of stuff.


    all you need to worry about is your gear inches. the trailer will haul anything
    up to 500lbs no kidding. of course 500 lbs the trailer won't last doing
    that every single day for a year...but no worries. the burley trailers will haul
    loads and loads of weight and the bike is entirely controllable.

  9. #9
    Embrace the weirdness. primaryreality's Avatar
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    I bought a well-used Burley kid-hauler at a garage sale for $25, took out the child seat and removed the top cover, and have been using it very happily to haul large loads of groceries, small pieces of furniture, whatever. It works great. One of my best purchases, I'd say, in terms of overall utility.

  10. #10
    Conservative Hippie
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    I sometimes use my daughter's Burley Solo instead of my Burley Flatbed to haul stuff back and forth to work. It works fine and has the added advantage of having the load covered. The stock Solo won't work for bulky loads, though.

    Both these trailers have fabric floors.

  11. #11
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    I see plenty of homeless and marginal folks around Portland hauling all their worldly goods or otherwise huge loads in child trailers that have not been retrofitted in any way. They do just fine.

  12. #12
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    I use Burleys Encore trailer extensivley with my two children. It has a large rear storage area that we carry food and the like back home with. It is very well suited to haul nothing but cargo, but is limited to a 100# restriction. I have used other trailers with inferior hitch systems, and I can honestly say, the Burley hitch system is absolutely amazing. I do not have to worry about it working loose in a hard uphill jaunt, or flying off in traffic. It is very stable too, wont rock back and forth like some others I have used when loaded to capacity.

    If you are looking to carry extremely large items, or very heavy items on a regular basis, you might want to look into an xtracycle attachment for your bike. It is by far one of the most ingenious devices designed for utility cycling.

    If you decided to go with a child trailer, then some modification will likely be needed as wahoonc suggested.

  13. #13
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb
    I see plenty of homeless and marginal folks around Portland hauling all their worldly goods or otherwise huge loads in child trailers that have not been retrofitted in any way. They do just fine.
    I'm sure there are folks that do it and it works fine. What I meant was, with the Solo there's a limited amount of interior space and have the cover fit properly, vice the Flatbed with no cover, where I can keep piling stuff on until I become concerned about the stability of the load.

  14. #14
    Senior Member likeakidagain's Avatar
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    I have been thinking the same way..buying a child trailer at a garage sale..and modifying it to use for cargo..mainly laundry/groc..but perhaps camping.
    one thing I would think is they get more respect then say a reg cargo bike trailer..as cars may think your hauling a kid? what u think?

  15. #15
    Year-round cyclist
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    I had one problem with the Chariot: the frame has a vital structural part at the top, meaning that even if I were to remove the fabric at the top, a bicycle or another similar bulky item would not fit because of limited vertical clearance. I could also fit large items like bags of earth, except I found it bad for my back. It was great, however, for groceries
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  16. #16
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by likeakidagain
    I have been thinking the same way..buying a child trailer at a garage sale..and modifying it to use for cargo..mainly laundry/groc..but perhaps camping.
    one thing I would think is they get more respect then say a reg cargo bike trailer..as cars may think your hauling a kid? what u think?
    That is a whole 'nother issue In light of the attitude of a lot of the drivers around here I would seriously doubt it. FWIW I saw a local statistic that nearly 30% of the drivers on the road in NC were either unliscensed or uninsured with nearly an additional 25% being underinsured! Talk about lack of enforcement

    Aaron

  17. #17
    likes avocadoes
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    If you are serious about routinely carrying medium to heavy stuff around in a trailer, I can't recommend blue sky highly enough. ( http://blueskycyclecarts.com/ ). I'm a co-owner of a cargo biking company that owns four of these and uses them every day. The standard configuration is very handy for almost anything, but they can also be seriously upgraded. One of our routinely carries over 300#. The hitch is very handy, too, as it allows for a full turning radius and easily detaches when not needed.

  18. #18
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by likeakidagain
    I have been thinking the same way..buying a child trailer at a garage sale..and modifying it to use for cargo..mainly laundry/groc..but perhaps camping.
    one thing I would think is they get more respect then say a reg cargo bike trailer..as cars may think your hauling a kid? what u think?
    I have found that I am given more room on my left by passing motorists when I'm pulling any kind of trailer, whether it be a kid trailer, flatbed utility trailer, or canoe. This in combination with my default road position means that nearly all motorists pull completely into the oncoming lane to pass, just as if they were passing another car.

  19. #19
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    Our daughter now insists upon the Trail-A-Bike, but the InStep Turbo Elite trailer soldiers on as a grocery getter.

    Paul

  20. #20
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    I posted this earlier for another cyclist. This trailer WILL haul
    up to 300# ...IF.......you build it of OAK as I did.

    I built this trailer 20yrs ago and use it yet today. All of
    the materials were salvaged from jobs here at home.
    Even buying new materials the cost wouldn't be that
    bad for a really robust durable bike trailer. My cost
    20 yrs ago was $20 today might be about $80 with new
    wood.

    The plans call for 27" wheels but I used 20" wheels from
    an old kids bike to be more stable and extended the neck
    up a bit to compensate the difference. I strongly suggest
    that you find and use an old OAK shipping skid for the frame
    to pickup the strength of seasoned oak instead of plywood.

    Enjoy!!

    (see my later post for a good link to plans)
    Last edited by Nightshade; 05-09-06 at 10:33 AM.

  21. #21
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    I know the question was regarding child trailers, but the specification seems to be freight hauling. I am a confirmed xtracycle enthusiast, and would recommend it for most carrying applications over a trailer. My unloaded performance is not significantly degraded over the old bicycle -- I really don't notice it's there, barring the stabler ride and wider turns (both subtle and easily learned). I have, in the month it's been attached, carried:

    a twenty gallon shop vac

    six bags of groceries

    a full-grown adult with two pieces of airline luggage

    tabla set and a djembe with two soft briefcase 'saddlebags' (30 miles)

    more is yet to come. It's always there and has risen to every challenge except two full-grown adults, which taco'ed the stock wheel which I have now rebuilt for strength. Consider this option strongly, as it will do most any freighting, grocery getting and passenger hauling (children and adults) you might consider doing, while allowing you to attach a trailer if something really fun and special comes up like a bike-powered move. At that point you're guaranteed to max out your hauling ability before you run out of space to haul.

    Fossil Fool is eloquent on this topic:

    http://www.xtracycle.com/subvtrailer.php

  22. #22
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atman
    I know the question was regarding child trailers, but the specification seems to be freight hauling. I am a confirmed xtracycle enthusiast, and would recommend it for most carrying applications over a trailer. My unloaded performance is not significantly degraded over the old bicycle -- I really don't notice it's there, barring the stabler ride and wider turns (both subtle and easily learned).
    While I'm really glad that the Xtracycle is out there it will not do some jobs as well as bike & trailer can.
    It's kinda like a PU truck vs an SUV for carrying ability. Each has it's place.

  23. #23
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    I would suggest that 90% of people who have fewer than two children and don't regularly haul construction materials, straw or the like would do better with an xtracycle than with a trailer. I am glad trailers are out there, in all their variety; I'm also glad I can hitch them to my xtra.

    Also, there's a category of jobs for which an xtracycle is the clear winner, namely hauling long loads such as 8 and 12 foot lumber, kayaks, and surfboards; adults tend to be a drag to carry in a trailer, also. I can picture myself, with a couple reinforcing straps, carrying two fifty-pound bags of dog food on either side and two fifty-pound bags of concrete on the top, which is the rated capacity of the xtracycle. If one has a trim road bike, turning it into an xtracycle is either a drag or impossible, while hitching a trailer is likely to still be straightforward; not everyone is going to want a long bike all the time, even though most of us turn into raving fanatics about ours once we have them up and running.

    If it gets you hauling your personal freight by bike instead of by motor, it's awesome.

  24. #24
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atman
    I would suggest that 90% of people who have fewer than two children and don't regularly haul construction materials, straw or the like would do better with an xtracycle than with a trailer. I am glad trailers are out there, in all their variety; I'm also glad I can hitch them to my xtra.
    Ah yes, xtracycle AND a trailer!! THE ultimate combo!! (if you can pull it. )

  25. #25
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    tightwad- your link in post #20 is no good.

    We can't get to the linked article if part of the URL is replaced with "dot dot dot".
    Last edited by cerewa; 05-08-06 at 11:32 PM.
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

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