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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 07-21-14, 03:10 PM   #1
MikeRides
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Custom-built trailers..who's got one?

I'm in the process of buying a small town diner and wanted to put together a bike trailer to get supplies (mainly groceries) with. I've been car free since early May. I do my weekly grocery shopping by bicycle obviously but until now never had the need for a trailer as everything I needed for the week fit on my rear rack and in a backpack. Shopping for a business means buying everything in bulk, something I wasn't keen on doing for myself and obviously my rack and backpack won't be large enough.

I was thinking of a custom built wagon of sorts, big enough to hold at least 60 pounds worth for up to 30 miles on a relatively flat path. How are trailers usually attached to the bike, via the seat post or the frame ? Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:35 PM   #2
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You might want to check in the Utility subforum...people have some really nice DIY builds.

I've seen trailers that attach to the seatpost, though they're generally for smaller loads. Many trailers attach to the axle of the rear wheel with a hitch mounted outside the dropout. This makes it very easy to attach and detach the trailer, since you can leave the hitch in place even when the trailer isn't attached.

I bought a trailer already assembled from Wike, and I've had success hauling loads up to 100 pounds (though nowhere near 30 miles). They also sell parts that you can use on a DIY build (though the parts alone might be a bit on the expensive side).
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Old 07-22-14, 10:53 AM   #3
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I do not have a custom trailer but do pick-up 80 to 100 pounds of groceries every week with my Burley Nomad. The trailer has also hauled about 80lbs. of camping equipment over 100 kilometers each way on a long weekend. I do not have a car so the trailer is used all year even in the snow months. People are amazed when they witness how much the little trailer can hold. Bought it on Amazon over a year ago and it still looks like new.
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Old 07-22-14, 01:50 PM   #4
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I do not have a custom trailer but do pick-up 80 to 100 pounds of groceries every week with my Burley Nomad. The trailer has also hauled about 80lbs. of camping equipment over 100 kilometers each way on a long weekend. I do not have a car so the trailer is used all year even in the snow months. People are amazed when they witness how much the little trailer can hold. Bought it on Amazon over a year ago and it still looks like new.
My bikes at work trailer is semi custom. I did all the assembly and added a plywood deck to it. It will carry 300 lbs. BaW makes a rugged trailer hitch for the bike that lets you attach or detach the trailer right at the rear wheel.

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Old 07-22-14, 02:06 PM   #5
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My bikes at work trailer is semi custom. I did all the assembly and added a plywood deck to it. It will carry 300 lbs. BaW makes a rugged trailer hitch for the bike that lets you attach or detach the trailer right at the rear wheel.

The Burley Nomad has hooks up to the rear axel as well but is much narrower then your trailer. Your trailer looks like it could deliver major appliances. Refrigerator delivery perhaps? Grand piano?
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Old 07-23-14, 04:51 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. That Bikes at Work trailer looks almost perfect, I'd have to heighten the sides a little so I don't have to worry about losing loose contents. I'll check out the utility forum now
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Old 07-23-14, 05:21 PM   #7
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Yes that Bikes at Work trailer is the bomb. But make sure you have lots of gearing if you are loading it up.
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Old 09-28-14, 05:49 PM   #8
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I picked up (literally) a Kidarooz bike trailer FREE that someone had put out by their trash can for pickup (I knocked on their door and asked first). It attaches easily to the chain stay, though I understand their is an alternative hitch arrangement as well. Since it's rated for two kids and the accompanying stuff, I suspect it could handle 80 pounds. It's a lot like the Schwinn trailer I hauled my two kids around in back in the day.

The point is that these kiddie bike trailers are very easy to find cheap or free. They have sturdy frames and you could easily retrofit a platform or box--you could quite probably just zip the front open and drop all your gear inside! I suggest you try this route to see if a trailer even works for you conceptually before spending money on a bespoke rig.
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Old 09-28-14, 08:39 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone. That Bikes at Work trailer looks almost perfect, I'd have to heighten the sides a little so I don't have to worry about losing loose contents. I'll check out the utility forum now
That trailer should serve you well. And, it might be overkill. Look at the Wike link that wipekitty posted. They have a DIY kit that is reasonably priced.

I bought a cheapo factory built trailer because it cost less than what I could get the individual parts for. Kinda like building a whole bike vs. parts one at a time. Anyway, all I have to do is fix a few problems with it. I don't have to start from scratch.
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Old 11-04-14, 12:09 AM   #10
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I converted a Burley Bee kids trailer into a more bare bones trailer intended for strapping a large Rubbermaid storage container onto it. The photo shows only three 1"x4" beams, but I'll be adding another 1"x4" and most likely a 1"x2" for added support in case the container, or any other items that I strap down, slides.

Regarding attachment points, having a trailer attach to the rear wheel axle is best for stability. There are trailers that secure to seat posts, but if the trailer gets wobbly turning a corner, the bike could tip over.
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Old 11-04-14, 12:46 AM   #11
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I do have a custom trailer that I built.

For light stuff, I use a standard kid's trailer pulled behind my Colnago Super (really old steel road bike).

For heavy stuff, I have my custom cargo bike and custom trailer. I can't say it is quite as refined as the one above, and still needs a little work (like everything else in my life).

Here is the Cargo bike. Sorry, photos of the trailer will have to come tomorrow.

Note, direct rear hitch.


So far I've had about 106 lbs cargo on the cargo bike, and 460 lbs on the trailer (on a different trip with only 30 lbs on the bike). That slowed me down a little bit, especially on the hills.

I found the standard spring hitches on kids bikes to be very annoying as they tend to surge. Unfortunately, somehow I've got a little flex creating a vibration in my bike which is also problematic. Perhaps I got it slightly out of alignment..
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Old 11-04-14, 01:19 AM   #12
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I do have a custom trailer that I built.

For light stuff, I use a standard kid's trailer pulled behind my Colnago Super (really old steel road bike).

For heavy stuff, I have my custom cargo bike and custom trailer. I can't say it is quite as refined as the one above, and still needs a little work (like everything else in my life).

Here is the Cargo bike. Sorry, photos of the trailer will have to come tomorrow.

Note, direct rear hitch.


So far I've had about 106 lbs cargo on the cargo bike, and 460 lbs on the trailer (on a different trip with only 30 lbs on the bike). That slowed me down a little bit, especially on the hills.

I found the standard spring hitches on kids bikes to be very annoying as they tend to surge. Unfortunately, somehow I've got a little flex creating a vibration in my bike which is also problematic. Perhaps I got it slightly out of alignment..
Amazing bike and amazing loads! The matte black is a good color choice for a cargo bike--especially with that badass rear wheel and heavy-duty rack.
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Old 12-02-14, 01:53 PM   #13
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Well,
I managed to misplace my camera. Anyway, here is the trailer that goes with the cargo bike above.

Unfortunately I was in a crunch to get it done, and ran out of time. Then once I started using it, I just haven't gone back to finish it off.

It is supposed to have a second layers of rails, then a tailgate in both the front and rear.

This was also my first aluminum welding project, and I found aluminum was a pain to weld. Either the aluminum beaded up on the top of the joint, or just dropped off to nothing. I need a little more practice.

Having the exo-frame around the wheels makes it very strong by supporting both sides of the wheels, and giving a bit of extra protection for the wheels (it is a little wider than is normally designed for bikes), I find posts blocking bike trails terrifying.

I'm using 16x3" wheels from the small version of the Schwinn OCC chopper, and they seem pretty sturdy.

I had originally intended to add mechanical surge brakes, like boat trailers use, connecting to the existing hub brakes. However, now that I've started using it, I'm not sure that they are needed. I'll probably be better off just making sure the bike brakes are working at 100%. With that in mind, minimizing rolling resistance would be important.

Someone mentioned the color on the bike. Both the bike and trailer were mostly made of recycled materials. The rack has a combination of bare spots near the welds, and flat black from a bookshelf that donated the frame. The blue comes from the Steyer and Magna that donated parts. And the black from the Mongoose. I will probably paint it, but I also like the raw look. However, I have a bit of an alignment issue that I need to figure out before the bike is completely finished.

It is hard to estimate the weight rating, but finished, it should be able to easily handle about 1/4 Ton which reaches the limit of what I can pedal. If only I had a tandem to power it, then one might be able to get a bit more once the full truss frame is finished, but one would have to do more upgrades for heavier weights.


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Old 12-03-14, 06:52 PM   #14
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My trailer is becoming more customized as I improvise repairs. The crossbar bolt broke, so I drilled new holes, moved the bar, and added corner braces from a wall shelf. While the fabric bed gradually ripped and shredded, I considered making it a flatbed, but then it would need more work to contain the load, which would be above the axles. I bent a dogcage door and shoved it in there over the fabric. The disadvantage of my no-budget repairs on a cheap kid carrier is now I can't fold it for convenient storage.
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Old 12-04-14, 02:17 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MikeRides View Post
I'm in the process of buying a small town diner and wanted to put together a bike trailer to get supplies (mainly groceries) with. I've been car free since early May. I do my weekly grocery shopping by bicycle obviously but until now never had the need for a trailer as everything I needed for the week fit on my rear rack and in a backpack. Shopping for a business means buying everything in bulk, something I wasn't keen on doing for myself and obviously my rack and backpack won't be large enough.

I was thinking of a custom built wagon of sorts, big enough to hold at least 60 pounds worth for up to 30 miles on a relatively flat path. How are trailers usually attached to the bike, via the seat post or the frame ? Any advice is appreciated.
Build this trailer (from recycled parts if you want. Upgrade the frame to white oak to be able to carry over 300 lbs easy)

Build a Bicycle Trailer - Do It Yourself - MOTHER EARTH NEWS

I built mine using simple hand tools many years ago and I still use from time to time. (Tip: switch to 20" wheels for better control and parts cost. )
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Old 12-04-14, 06:10 PM   #16
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My other trailer is an old Burley with a plastic trapezoid tub. When I hauled something bigger than the trailer, the tub rubbed on the tires, which carved grooves in the plastic. I stopped using it because the tub doesn't hold much, but it has a better hitch. I may remove the tub and build something I can use.
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Old 12-14-14, 03:01 AM   #17
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Here's another photo of my bike... and partly finished trailer. I'll have to get around to finishing it up sometime.



Oh, and that is the basis for my next trailer project.

I'm going to try to build an aluminum frame for the Harbor Freight Trailer Shell. (minus the 25% off coupon this weekend).

The stock trailer is about 150 lbs. My experience is that weight adds up quickly, but I'm hoping that with an aluminum frame, I'll get it down to about 50 lbs.

The covered trailer will be nice as we don't get sunshine every day.
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Old 09-13-15, 12:05 AM   #18
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Look for one of those aluminum platforms which attaches to the square hitch for a Truck or SuV to carry extra cargo like ice chest. Watch and you can pick one up at harbor freight fairly cheap. Take off all of the steel and heavy attachments. What will be left is a very sturdy base to build a trailer. If you find 20 inch wheels with 15 mm axles, ( BMX bike front tires) they are heavy enough to cantilever. Design and bolt the tires to the aluminum frame. Do not bolt the tires in the center. They must be aft of center a good ways or otherwise when your bike goes up a steep incline the back of the trailer will scrape.

As for the attachment to the bike, I have cut the tubing off a broken lawn mower. You can flatten one end to attach to the trailer. Drill holes and bolt. Because it is steel and the trailer bed is aluminum put some old inner tube rubber in-between to stop galvanic corrosion. As for the other end find what is called a rod-end. This is a ball and a bolt-nut combination that allows movement. Big ones are seen in cars like a tie-rod end in steering mechanisms on cars. Anyway this worked for me.

The coupling to the bike must come at the bike at a 90 degree angle to allow the trailer to swing behind the bike with out the tongue touching the rear tire. You can set this length by experimentation.

Anyway this is maybe a days worth of work if that. The neat thing is because it is the size it is and what it is made for, there are all sorts of containers that are made to fit it and I found a water proof square duffel that fit mine really cheap on Amazon.

Word to the wise... keep your load from shifting and touching the tires other wise you will be peddling like the dickens and not going anywhere fast.

Do it this way and all the hard part is done and most of the engineering too.

C-ya

Bill C
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