bike2bike towing device
First the short story:
My son Jacob is 7, and he loves to bike to school. I ride with him in the morning and my wife usually picks him up after school... but she doesn't bike. The problem started when Jacob moved to a bigger 20" bike, which wouldn't fit in the car trunk. I was sure I could buy some bike2bike towing device on the web, but to my great surprise I couldn't find anything except trail-gator tow bar, which is only suitable for smaller bikes (also Jacob’s bike frame construction would not fit a trail-gator receiver)
Eventually I built such a device on my own and use it every day since.
a. it can tow any 20” or 26” kid bike
b. loading of the towed bike is very fast (~30 sec) and easy - no bolts involved
c. when folded this device works like a regular cargo rack and it installs exactly like a cargo rack
Cargo carrying mode
I was wondering if such a system can be of use for other people. I’d greatly appreciate your feedback.
If there is someone who really needs it now, I can possibly build few more at a cost of material :)
Small typo. It can tow 20" or 24" kids bikes and installs on regular 26" adult bike
Are there any issues with the front wheel being free to rotate? (I'm willing to believe it just naturally tracks where your going).
There is an adjustable bungee cord connecting the handlebar of the towed bike with its seat post. This way the front wheel can pivot, but it will always return to the straight line after turn is completed. Without this towed bike swings too much. There are also few tricks in suspension which make ride smooth even on a bumpy road. It took me quite a few trials and errors to figure all this out, i even patented the system, just in case :)
Clever enough, but a tow system like the FollowMe carrier that allows the child to ride the bike while being towed seems to offer a critically advantageous element, though yours is attractively compact.
Like you, I've had the desire/need to haul an empty kids bike, though rarely, and never desperately, at least not desperately enough to make me want a contraption like this. My gut says most people would not be interested in this kind of product, or at least not if they had to pay a meaningful amount for it.
If you could reserve the child's bike so that it was rideable, now that would have real appeal, I think.
Thanks for the feedback!
I'm afraid that it's not really feasible to make child's bike rideable unless it's 16" or smaller. Bigger bike+rider will simply be too heavy. Besides older kids are less likely to need help during rides.
I agree that this contraption would not be appealing if you don't use it more or less regularly. From the other hand it should not be that costly - I estimate $65-70. Regular cargo racks start from ~$30, so it's not a very big expense.
The FollowMe accommodates up to 20", but is a significantly bulkier piece of equipment than your design. Whether yours could be developed to accommodate ride-along towing (like the TrailGator or FollowMe) I don't know, but I just think if you were inclined to explore that, you might come up with something really neat and with broader appeal.
Originally Posted by bennyw
Had you considered a design, just for towing, that utilizes a rack-mounted wheel cradle off to the side? I'm thinking of the way the bags on an Xtracycle allow another bike's front wheel to be strapped in for towing, but something positioned a bit further back (for heel clearance on std length bike) and hard mounted to the rack, almost like a Thule wheel tray:
I built something similar out of PVC for my wife to tow my two daughters bikes at the same time from school to home then back to school to pick them up. One of the bikes was a 20" and the other was a 24". It was actually very easy to use.
Yes, JB, that's exactly the type of setup I was thinking of! Did the girls ride along on that? Now if something like that could be trimmed down a bit and made more discreet, I think that'd be neat.
I also like the TrailGator, but the execution is so base and unappealing to me. Some creative, custom designed mounts and nicer hardware would deepen the appeal to me, and I'd happily pay more for that, too. Ooh, wouldn't a carbon fiber boom be sweet?!
1. I considered a design like JB's but eventually ruled it out because it would be far more difficult to make it compact/foldable. Definitely it makes much more sense if you need to tow 2 bikes at once! JB, btw if you're only towing one bike, is ride still comfortable or asymmetric connection pulls you sideways?
2. Going back to the main problem. I can't make child's bike rideable. It requires rigid front wheel connection and i don't think i can make it any better than Trail-gator or FollowMe :)
However there may be another solution - i can easily install seating platform and handlebar on the rack itself, so during towing child will sit on the rack.
If you think it's appealing, i can make this addition in a day or two and send a picture
I used to just use an inner tube to tow my buddy coming home from the Santa Monica mt.'s on PCH (north back to oxnard) headwinds always got him. But that require attention by both parties.
for kids, I think something that removes the front wheel and attaches to tow bike… issue would be storage of front wheel. For long rides we use a Weehoo still.
Trailgator makes sense to me
Thanks guys for the good words. No the girls rode their own bikes to school then the wife would tow them back home, then back to school to pick them up. Tried to make it as compact as possible but the 24" wheel was the deciding factor. Yes, the wife took only one bike many times with no problems. She liked strapping the backpacks to the center portion. We bungied the front of the bikes to the inside so it kept it nice and centered of the system. What was nice was that it was so easy to remove when we all wanted to go biking and then reinstall.
You know, that could be a really neat solution! I do have to say, though, that I'm not particularly in the market for such a thing right now, so don't mock one up on my account. It may be that, if I could find a really attractive solution to the tow/ride problem, I might pick one up, because my 7 year old isn't quite up for some of the trips we make, but could ride solo once we get to the event/destination, and so something that could handle that situation would be a welcome addition.
Originally Posted by bennyw
Right now, I handle it by strapping her and her bicycle into the trailer, and I just live with dealing with the trailer-- either locking it up somewhere or towing it empty-- when it comes time for her to ride on her own.
I've got a 2yr old coming up, too, so I can see having need in the future as well.
Thanks, Chaad. Here is the result. My son (who bravely agreed to test it) asked to add footrests.
Attachment 357231Attachment 357232
Let me know what you think. I only need your opinion and advice.
Btw, even with added parts the whole system weighs only ~5lb
First, I honestly think you're onto something here! Your solution to what I think is a common issue-- i.e. what to do with the child and their bike when they can't keep the pace, are tired, or conditions are unsafe, etc.--- looks simple, effective, and unique.
Furthermore, that you've managed to acheive those things and a competitively light weight using basic materials and manufacturing (it appears; correct me if I'm wrong) really augers well for continued development for commercial purposes, I think.
I would really like something like that if it looked right (sophisticated, finished), worked well, was built well, and was easy to install/remove. Of course it would need to be priced right, too, which is probably somewhere in the $100 -$150 range, but that's just an off the cuff number based on a few, gross assumptions. If it turns out that there are additional features like the ability to fit standard panniers, or maybe a proprietary luggage system that allows bags to be moved off the rack to the child's bike while towing, the value assessment may be higher.
In sum, wow! Great work! Now the question is one of where to go from here. If your inclined to consider the possibilities, it may be worthwhile to seek a patent for starters. That'd be handy in just about any scenario, whether you manufactuer on your own or want to license the design.
Finally, if you are interested to develop the idea, I'd be keen to help and offer feedback. I don't have much to offer in the way of capital investment, but perhaps having someone to help test, purchase a couple of prototypes to help defray costs, and provide some thoughtful feedback would be helpful. Message me if you'd like to talk about any of that.
In any case, I'd love to see more on how you put this together and how it works. Could you lift the front wheel into the carrier rather than the rear?
Thank you for the nice words and offer to help!
I've already patented the device. I totally agree with you on both accounts - to be appealing for a broader public it has to have a more "industrial" look and be priced right. When i was designing this contraption i had in mind guys like myself, i.e casual bikers who whom more sophisticated (but also expensive and bulky) FollowMe device would be an overkill.
I'll send you more details in direct email. Let's keep this thread alive if other people want to comment or interested to take part in testing of the prototype.
Btw, Happy New Year!