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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 01-11-07, 07:19 AM   #1
Cyclaholic
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What sort of reactions do you get?

I get all sorts of reactions from people when I roll up to the supermarket towing my DIY shopping trailer. I usually lock the bike/trailer to these rails right next to the main doors of the shopping complex where there's lots of foot traffic.

I've heard people say "oh my god, he has a trailer....a trailer!", and "wow, he's shopping on his bike!"
I've been asked "how can you possibly pedal with all that weight?"

My all time favorite was to come out to find an elderly retired couple, he was pointing to the hitch and explaining to her how it all worked. I just said hi and just started loading my groceries, we got talking and it turns out that he's a retired mechanical engineer and was most impressed by my design and that I built it.

Lots of local kids come around and check out my trailer, I often get a bunch of questions, mostly the same ones over and over but thats cool, I always take the time to build friendly rapport. I feel as though its working because my gear is never messed with and often the 'juvenile delinquent' looking kids recognise me and say hi.

Adults often look at me like I've landed from another planet, they rarely say anything. What's sad is that they often drag away their kids as if rescuing them from danger when the kids show the slightest bit of interest.

What have you experienced?
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Old 01-11-07, 07:45 AM   #2
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Interest, indifference, scorn and pity...just to name a few I don't use a trailer very often. I have 3-4 different bikes that I ride to the store depending on what and how much I am getting and the time of day. My Raleigh Compact draws the crowds, they can't believe that someone 6'-2" is riding something like that, much less hauling groceries on it (my wife calls it my clown bike ) The other that seems a crowd favorite is the Raleigh Superbe, I guess people are used to seeing the beater X-mart mtb's and never really think about seeing something like the Raleigh. They are always amazed to find out that it is 35 years old. I just started using my Staiger it is better suited as a grocery getter than the Compact. It is the one I will grab for an early morning run or late evening run because it has the best set of lights on it.

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Old 01-11-07, 08:17 AM   #3
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Found out the crew at the SuperMart near my workplace has nicknamed me "SuperBiker" just because I commute year round & sometimes shop with my touring bike & panniers.
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Old 01-11-07, 11:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
My all time favorite was to come out to find an elderly retired couple, he was pointing to the hitch and explaining to her how it all worked. I just said hi and just started loading my groceries, we got talking and it turns out that he's a retired mechanical engineer and was most impressed by my design and that I built it.
Ok. I give, now you have to post a picture of it.
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Old 01-11-07, 11:29 AM   #5
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I'm a familiar character in my neighborhood because I'm out every day where I can be seen. I have lots of brief positive encounters with people.
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Old 01-11-07, 12:13 PM   #6
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On the coldest day of winter so far (and one of the few cold days this year in Ottawa), I still saw plenty of cyclists and had a hard time finding a rack spot at the office. People here sometimes are a bit surprised at the thought of biking with a trailer, but most have seen them. I do get surprised looks in stores sometimes, when I buy stuff in large boxes. They always say, "Oh, ok" when I mention the trailer, that's old news to them. The only real surprised looks I get are when I bungee things to the bike. (Large boxes, 6' blinds... )
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Old 01-11-07, 12:16 PM   #7
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The problem with my DIY trailer is that *I'm* the one staring at it, wondering if it is going to fall apart. I think I need to do some more work on it. I really need one, though, or some large panniers. I have been in the habit of hanging cloth shopping bags off my rear rack. Last time I did that, the bag somehow connected with some spokes and I spend an hour trying to straighten the wheel and re-tension it.
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Old 01-11-07, 12:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv
The problem with my DIY trailer is that *I'm* the one staring at it, wondering if it is going to fall apart. I think I need to do some more work on it. I really need one, though, or some large panniers. I have been in the habit of hanging cloth shopping bags off my rear rack. Last time I did that, the bag somehow connected with some spokes and I spend an hour trying to straighten the wheel and re-tension it.
I'm just glad the surgeon didn't have to spend an hour straightening one of your bones!
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Old 01-11-07, 02:34 PM   #9
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I want a trailer! Are trailers harder to tote around on a fixed-gear?
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Old 01-11-07, 04:00 PM   #10
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I usually get strange looks. I take my bike everywhere and most places aren't set up for bike "parking", so I tie my bike to a tree, or a building post right in front of the windows. Then, everyone inside gets to the see the nutter who rode up on their bike and I get even more strange looks.

Occasionally, I'll get a "Right on! Good for you!" But it's usually from someone around my own age.
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Old 01-11-07, 09:34 PM   #11
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I'm just glad the surgeon didn't have to spend an hour straightening one of your bones!
I was thinking about that. I'm all for making do and re-purposing and all that. But a nice set of large panniers would be very handy. Not to mention a lot safer.
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Old 01-12-07, 05:56 AM   #12
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I got a good facial expression out of an Ikea clerk a couple of years ago. Having done all my shopping I went to the logistics desk and asked if they had bike trailers to rent (at the time they had a couple of trailers for cars, plus the usual rental vans). At first she wouldn't believe I was being serious.

Later, I submitted the same question as feedback on their web site. Got a response from a real person, saying "we'll look into it". I'm not holding my breath, seeing that the car trailers are no longer available either...

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Old 01-12-07, 11:25 AM   #13
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If I ever get any reaction out of motorists, it's honks. Back when I had my silver-finish Marin hybrid with signature Marin-shaped tubes I got a couple of "Nice bike!"-s - but since I switched to a trusty but scruffy-looking black Miyata - no more. Most of my riding is in Toronto, and in Toronto (especially downtown Toronto) it's just not anything special. (boohoo! )
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Old 01-12-07, 03:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artkansas
Ok. I give, now you have to post a picture of it.
Sure, you can check it out here....

My new homebuilt shopping trailer

and here.....

Evolution of the shopping trailer

you're welcome to more details if you're interested in building one, just ask.
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Old 01-15-07, 10:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youth
I want a trailer! Are trailers harder to tote around on a fixed-gear?
Ofcourse you can't gear down to compensate for the weight and drag of a trailer. But I do it all the time without a problem. I do recommend running a lower gear than what you may consider ideal for riding without a trailer. You should also have 2 brakes.
I've pulled my daughter and a load of groceries several times, abet much slower than without a trailer.
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Old 01-15-07, 11:42 AM   #16
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Cyclaholic:
Do you take this thing into the stores? I'm thinking that with minimal modifications (perhaps adding just one center wheel in front that could be removed easily), you could make this trailer look VERY similar to a grocery kart and just shop with it inside the grocery store.

It's really convenient to have your trailer in the store so you can just dump stuff in there while you're at the cash.
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Old 01-16-07, 06:11 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenyBen
Cyclaholic:
Do you take this thing into the stores? I'm thinking that with minimal modifications (perhaps adding just one center wheel in front that could be removed easily), you could make this trailer look VERY similar to a grocery kart and just shop with it inside the grocery store.

It's really convenient to have your trailer in the store so you can just dump stuff in there while you're at the cash.
The idea has been floating around in my head, I have a few design ideas.... just that there's a myriad of other projects ahead of it in the que, like my new (almost finished) texas style slow smoker bbq built from a 55gal drum and some 1/8" steel plate I had hanging around and there's the saltwater aquarium I'm in the process of setting up - I have the silicone, just waiting on the glazier to cut the glass panels, and the tomatoes are just about ready to harvest, and...... I need a 9 day week!
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Old 01-16-07, 06:17 AM   #18
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heck. I get to watch their jaws drop when I tell them I do all errands possible on my bike. Use of my bike probably causes the car not to be used 4-5 times per week. Often my errands will take me up to 20 miles one way. Have not tried my trailer yet, but just filling up my panniers shocks them.
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Old 01-16-07, 10:37 PM   #19
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I enjoy the momentary confused hesitation at the grocery checkout after they ask "Paper or plastic?" and I answer "Neither". They look to see if I've brought my own cloth bags. They've spotted my bike helmet, but they still can't imagine that I just rode through a blizzard to buy food. Their parking lot is devoid of cars, as even motorists are afraid to venture out. As I stand by the automatic sliding doors with a cart full of unbagged groceris (my panniers are outside on my bike) putting on layer after layer and topping it off with my helmet, I see families trying to figure me out. Nobody shops here on their bike (although I've seen employees ride here in warmer seasons).
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Old 01-22-07, 02:54 PM   #20
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do you have some pics? I would be interested in seeing it...
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Old 01-22-07, 03:28 PM   #21
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ignore me, I hadn't read the whole thread yet...
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Old 01-22-07, 04:34 PM   #22
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This is grocery and laundry cart. The grocery store and drop off laundromat are so close that I usually don't take the bike. When I do I just grab the handle and pull it slowly beside me as it has no brakes.
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Old 01-22-07, 04:49 PM   #23
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Yesterday as I was fighting with the loose snow on the road I had a pickuptruck pull up next to me, roll down his window and yell "yippie-kai-a-m*****-f******" He then rode off. I got more looks at the store when I excavated a hole in the pile of snow surrounding the bike rack to lock my bike to it. Mostly people just think I'm strange. One night it was about 5 F and I was using my trailer (chariot kid trailer)due to a big load I needed and had a woman yell at me that what I was doing was child abuse (obviously assuming there was a CHILD in the child trailer). I told her that the ice cream was actually quite happy with the weather, but that I was a bit concerned about the fruit freezing. The look on her face was priceless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
Sure, you can check it out here....

My new homebuilt shopping trailer

and here.....

Evolution of the shopping trailer

you're welcome to more details if you're interested in building one, just ask.
This looks somewhat similar to cycletote trailers. I think I'd just pay them to do the welding etc. for fear that my DIY work would be sub-standard.
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Old 01-22-07, 07:04 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogBoy
Yesterday as I was fighting with the loose snow on the road I had a pickuptruck pull up next to me, roll down his window and yell "yippie-kai-a-m*****-f******" He then rode off. I got more looks at the store when I excavated a hole in the pile of snow surrounding the bike rack to lock my bike to it. Mostly people just think I'm strange. One night it was about 5 F and I was using my trailer (chariot kid trailer)due to a big load I needed and had a woman yell at me that what I was doing was child abuse (obviously assuming there was a CHILD in the child trailer). I told her that the ice cream was actually quite happy with the weather, but that I was a bit concerned about the fruit freezing. The look on her face was priceless.
Beautiful, Dogboy!
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Old 01-22-07, 09:58 PM   #25
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I regularly have people stop and stare as I load a half cart or slightly more worth of groceries into the panniers and onto the rack on my bike. Tonight I grabbed the heaviest load yet... it had to have been 90 lbs on the back. Made the bike very wobbly but I made it the two miles from the store to my house.
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