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  1. #1
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    Bike Camper Design

    I just finished designing this idea I had for a small bike camper trailer.

    I think it would be comfortable enough, considering that I actually like being closed in when I'm sleeping. I can definitely understand though how it would make some people very uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

    I was thinking that the wheels and seat-post mount would come off with some form of QR, so that it could sit flat on the ground.

    I know it will be pretty heavy, (as it's drawn now, it's made mostly from 1/2 inch plywood) but do you think it will be too heavy? Would another material be lighter with adequate durability? Would it be expensive?

    It still needs some additions (such as Paint, sheet metal, or some other covering to keep the wood from rotting so fast), and I haven't actually figured out exactly how I'll run the axle/ axles or the seat-post mount, but let me know what you think. Any suggestions or criticism are openly accepted.









    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  2. #2
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    How about making it a pop up camper? It would help reduce the weight of the trailer and you would have less wind resistance. Also are you planning on using aluminum or steel for the frame? I would recommend using steel for the frame. A one inch angle iron would provide enough support for you to sleep on. You can use a 1/2 square tubing as a cross bracing. Talk with your local welding shop, they will be able to provide you with more weights on the different metals that would be feasible to use.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member blaise_f's Avatar
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    http://bygonebicyclist.com
    Penny-farthing adventures, touring & collecting

  4. #4
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    I was actually thinking of using a section of an aluminum extension ladder for the base below the plywood floor, and probably something like 1.5 inch square aluminum tube for the rest since it
    would only be bearing the weight of the empty trailer itself during the ride, and would take no strain when the trailer was being used for sleep, because it would have the wheels removed and
    would sit flat on the ground. I don't know much about the strength of the 2 metals though, does that sound like it would be strong enough?
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by blaise_f View Post
    I've seen all but the last one in the last few days researching this idea. I love that last one! Do you have a link?
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  6. #6
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    What counts as "too heavy" is very flexible. I have pulled about 100lbs behind me on a bike once without any problems, and you can certainly make this lighter than that. Hell, I've seen pictures of people towing refrigerators on bicycles. However, I doubt very much that any engineering cleverness will make this lighter than a tent + BOB trailer. What is the advantage that a camper trailer has over a tent?

    If you do go ahead and build this, it might be worth it to make it possible to remove the camper from the trailer chassis so that you could also use it for general cargo purposes. If you have the money, you could look into Bikes at Work trailers for the chassis.

    Another question I had concerns the disc brakes that are shown in your design. I've never seen brakes on a bike trailer before and I'd be interested to see how you control them.

  7. #7
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    Have you seen BikesAtWork.com? They sell bike trailers that would make an excellent base for your design. Even if you don't want to buy an entire trailer, they sell their hitches separately, which could solve your problem of how to connect the bike to the trailer.

    Another option you might think about would be to use a metal framework or mesh, covered with Tyvek or some other lightweight tarp-like material. I suggest a mesh because it could keep the walls stiffer and less likely to billow in the wind. It would be quite a bit lighter than half inch plywood.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lshiva View Post
    Have you seen BikesAtWork.com? They sell bike trailers that would make an excellent base for your design.
    Jinx :-)

  9. #9
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    I drew this in Google SketchUp, and knew I didn't have the skills to actually draw wheels, so I downloaded some mountain bike wheels that happened to have disc brakes on them. So ignore those. =P

    I really like the idea of the top coming off to form a flat-bed trailer, maybe I can figure out a way to do that.

    I guess the only real advantages over a tent are: Not having to set it up, staying totally dry, and somewhat more warmth i suppose. Mostly I just like the idea of having a self contained unit that I can keep set up with my sleeping bag and stuff all the time. I'm not sure if I can really justify this over a tent, but I like it.
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  10. #10
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    Using a ladder as the frame would work. The problem with using aluminum is if breaks. Welding it take specialized equipment that not all welders have, and where as steel any ****** can weld it. You can always bolt it together, so if a bolt was to break its not too catastrophic. Go to
    http://www.metalworldinc.com/
    The have information on all the different types of metals, and the weights of them. That will give you more of a clue of what it will end up weighing.
    On the plywood, if you are going to use tin or something to cover it, you can probably get away with a 3/8" plywood, or maybe thinner.
    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey getting there.
    Competitors work until they get it right, but champions work until they can't get it wrong.

  11. #11
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    I'm checking out the site now.

    I'm not sure what you mean with the mesh idea though..? For the walls?
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  12. #12
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    I'm on a pretty low budget, so I think I'll go with the original ladder idea.
    Since I can't weld anyway, I was planning on bolting it all together and possibly locking up the threads with a bunch of JB weld so I don't have to worry about it rattling itself apart.
    Going with the thinner plywood sounds good, especially for the walls.
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  13. #13
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    The trailers on Bikesatwork.com look awesome.... but not for +$400. Yikes.
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  14. #14
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    Dont use JB Weld on the bolts. Use some BLUE Loctite thread locker. Make sure you use BLUE. If you use red, you will not be able to get it loose and then your going to visit someone with impacts or a torch. the Red Loctite will come in a blue bottle also, so dont get them confused.
    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey getting there.
    Competitors work until they get it right, but champions work until they can't get it wrong.

  15. #15
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    I'd be concerned about ventilation in this design. People exhale a considerable amount of water vapor and that's going to collect on the cooler interior walls during the night. Small tents usually have large mesh areas with a separate waterproof 'fly' over the top to allow for free air circulation overnight.

  16. #16
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    Ok, Blue Loctite it is.

    I was worried about ventilation too. In the design right now, I just have the one small vent. With a gasket on the door, this thing could quickly turn into a coffin if I'm not careful.
    Quote Originally Posted by jim-bob View Post
    Any time i have to walk the bike more than a few feet, I flip the hub over to the freewheel side.

  17. #17
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    If you don't mind spending a lot of money, you can buy this ready-made off Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Kamp-Rite-Bush...9404572&sr=8-1

    41mmAe%2BoRGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

  18. #18
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    This has been posted before, but check it out, too.


  19. #19
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    You can always put in windows that you can open up. The possibilities are endless. Look at craigslist and you can probably find the majority of your building materials for free. No doubt that you can make it work. It may take a few times and a few design changes but it will work out.
    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey getting there.
    Competitors work until they get it right, but champions work until they can't get it wrong.

  20. #20
    Senior Member blaise_f's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaifilms View Post
    I've seen all but the last one in the last few days researching this idea. I love that last one! Do you have a link?
    I don't have much info, or a real link for that matter. The article was dated 1940, give or take, and this is all I've ever really found on Mr. "Chet Jr".

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  21. #21
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    Other than the ventilation thing for the moisture that has been brought up my concern with your triangular design would be the lack of elbow room. One could really feel bound up in your design. I have the Kamp-Rite cot for sleeping next to my car at MTB races and it gives a bit of a confined feeling but at least I can roll over etc in it.

    Here is the Cot:
    kamp-rite cot.jpg

  22. #22
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post
    If you don't mind spending a lot of money, you can buy this ready-made off Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/Kamp-Rite-Bush...9404572&sr=8-1

    41mmAe%2BoRGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
    This looks like the way to go
    Why not just carry a light weight tent?

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  23. #23
    Senior Member gerald_g's Avatar
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    Here's some additional links. I'd be thinking even 1/4 or 1/8" ply for the walls.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/saholm/...n/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/saholm/3928532665/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/saholm/3757328570/

    Or just go to his photostream and browse around...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/saholm/

  24. #24
    Senior Member Oscuro's Avatar
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    Honestly, I wouldn't use wood for the walls if someone was holding a .45 to my skull.

    Unless you get it free of course.

    I'd look into lightweight plastics such as coroplast. It's kind of like corrugated cardboard but made of plastic. It would need a couple bars of reinforcement on the inside, but it'd save a lot of weight over 1/2" plywood.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscuro View Post
    Honestly, I wouldn't use wood for the walls if someone was holding a .45 to my skull...
    Seemple boolets have no effect on meee...


    Seriously, that's how I'd feel in a rigid sided chamber like that.
    I'd at least recommend the attempt a trial sleep in a similarly dimensioned box before going to the trouble of engineering something roadworthy.

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