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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 03-31-07, 07:30 PM   #1
davidmcowan
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Need help with my trailer.

I just bought a Bell child trailer on craigslist for $40. It has a replacable front wheel which gets me stoked cause I can bike it or I can walk it to the nearest store. It still has the cloth and stuff for kiddos (which I don't have), I'm wondering if you kind folks can give me some ideas to convert it so I can use it to do ALL of our grocery shopping and other similar errands. This is one step closer to convincing my wife that a car isn't necessary so I want to make a super useful trailer. Suggestions on how to convert?
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Old 03-31-07, 08:00 PM   #2
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I'm interested in your responses as I am looking for suggestions how to cart around the frozen goods from the grocery store.
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Old 03-31-07, 09:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickel
I'm interested in your responses as I am looking for suggestions how to cart around the frozen goods from the grocery store.
Same here too. especially since I'm keeping an eye out for a new bike and a trailer would really help me live car-light big time. (Still have only biked in the last month and are waiting for my uncle van to be sent to me soon. Though I would only use that for large amount of grocery and outdoors activities such as camping.)
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Old 03-31-07, 09:26 PM   #4
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Is there anyone with advice?
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Old 03-31-07, 09:33 PM   #5
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Not about retrofitting the trailer, but about frozen goods - get one of those soft coolers with some blue ice and keep it in the trailer.
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Old 04-01-07, 06:37 AM   #6
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I assume the frame of the trailer is aluminium. I would suggest removing the fabric that wraps around the back and sides, and bending, and cutting the aluminium to create a more low profile look. You can then cut and reattach the fabric, still having a covered trailer, but more aero and more suitable for cargo.

I have the whole image of the end product in my mind, but it is hard to articulate.
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Old 04-01-07, 06:44 AM   #7
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David,
What are you wanting to do with the trailer? If you want pure cargo strip the cloth off and use a sheet of exterior grade plywood for the bottom and plop Rubbermaid containers on it. Or you could leave the fabric, fabricate a 1/4" plywood insert and still have the weather protection. After taking another look at your picture, I would take the sling seat out and the upper fabric off. Use the plywood insert, but leave the fabric around the bottom for spray protection. I am not familiar with that particular trailer. The last one that I had and used regularly was a late 70's vintage Cannondale Bugger And it was a totally different sort of beast.

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Old 04-01-07, 07:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmcowan
Is there anyone with advice?

Not to be a smart pants here.........

Are you sure that this Bell trailer is robust enough to haul any real weight??
FWIW, Bell, schwinn et.al. that are *mart trailers are not made robust enough
to be useful for much or for long.

Consider this trailer I built in 1981 using simple hand tools. I subsituted solid oak
for the frame instead of plywood/pine with 20" wheels to be able to haul 300# with ease.
I've used this same trailer for all these years with only one new paint job for weather
protection. My cost to build from scraps & salvage......$25.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/DIY/1...e-Trailer.aspx
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-01-07, 08:18 AM   #9
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I'd leave it exactly as it is and see what I could haul with it. I imagine these trailers are rated to about 100 pounds, but I'd weigh out 50 pounds of something, put it in the trailer and try dragging it on some safe streets.

When you feel comfortable with it on the back of your bike, try the grocery store. But do try a small load.
By the time you have made a dozen or so trips for groceries you will probably have a pretty good idea of how to modify the trailer. I suspect you won't need to do much, but please keep us posted.
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Old 04-01-07, 08:37 AM   #10
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According to the guy who bought it, the trailer should haul 110 lbs. I can't imagine that even the Xmart brands would sell a trailer that could kill a kid. Two kids should weigh more than my groceries, right? I'm not looking to haul chain saws or anything, mainy groceries anything I might pick up on a target trip or maybe to pull a cooler to the park.

If I pulled the fabric and put plywood with rubbermaid does anyone think it would be a problem?
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Old 04-01-07, 08:49 AM   #11
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Why do you need to take the top off? It seems like great rain-proofing.
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Old 04-01-07, 09:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tightwad
Not to be a smart pants here.........

Are you sure that this Bell trailer is robust enough to haul any real weight??
FWIW, Bell, schwinn et.al. that are *mart trailers are not made robust enough
to be useful for much or for long.
You know, I would have thought the same thing except the local homeless around here get a hold of these trailers and haul an amazing amount on them. They may retrofit them, I'm not sure, but they are holding up under more abuse than I think David would give his.
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Old 04-01-07, 09:44 AM   #13
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I would do a weight test on it. Hop in and see if it can hold you, and I want to see pictures.
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Old 04-01-07, 10:15 AM   #14
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i have a burley took out the seat now its a great enclosed cargo trailer
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Old 04-01-07, 02:39 PM   #15
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I have a similar trailer, it's a fisher price I think though. It also is supposed to have a 100lb weight limit. I've stripped the cover and cloth bottom and if I ever get around to it I'll attach some sort of a crate to it. I'd like to do it in such a manner I could still carry something BIG, like a bike box or dresser or whatever. So I'm about 1/2 converted I guess, if I ever do anything with it I'll post it on here.
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Old 04-01-07, 04:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickel
I'm interested in your responses as I am looking for suggestions how to cart around the frozen goods from the grocery store.
Cooler?
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Old 04-01-07, 04:24 PM   #17
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I have a Burley D'Lite, which I use to haul my son around, and my daughter soon as she's old enough. I've also done our grocery shopping in it. $130 bucks worth of grocerys 4 miles, mostly uphill. No modifications needed, just load it smartly so the weight is evenly distributed.
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Old 04-01-07, 04:53 PM   #18
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I've written about my BOB trailer in other discussions. I use a Rubbermaid bin for groceries, and just put the frozen stuff in with everything else. No problem. Now, about your trailer: For 40 bucks it's a great deal! I'm not sure that, personally, I'd do much of anything to modify it. If you really want a cargo trailer, maybe you can sell the current Bell trailer and get a 'real' cargo trailer. OTOH, the Bell looks like it'll haul groceries just fine 'as is'. Perhaps cloth grocery bags?
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Old 04-02-07, 11:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmcowan
According to the guy who bought it, the trailer should haul 110 lbs. I can't imagine that even the Xmart brands would sell a trailer that could kill a kid. Two kids should weigh more than my groceries, right? I'm not looking to haul chain saws or anything, mainy groceries anything I might pick up on a target trip or maybe to pull a cooler to the park.

If I pulled the fabric and put plywood with rubbermaid does anyone think it would be a problem?
David, the reason I asked about robustness is that 99% of these trailers are made in China
using inferior quality parts. The design is fine but unless the parts are up the job parts failure
is a real problem. Burley and a couple of other bike trailers are built to a higher quality standard.

The wooden trailer I offered is up to the job because by using Oak and Plywood carring capacity
is no problem. This trailer is designed and built for strength not light weight. That is the difference
between the trailer you have and the wooden one I suggested. You do as you will but.....ride safe.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-02-07, 12:54 PM   #20
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I suggest you don't modify it. If you take the cloth off it's possible the trailer will be somewhat weaker, and if you intentionally bend any frame tubes it'll almost certainly be a lot weaker. If you don't do any of that ill-advised stuff, the trailer can probably handle more weight (in normal groceries) than it has space for. As long as you don't fill it to the top with canned food and liquid-filled containers alone. You should also check that none of the bolts, quick-releases, or rivets are loose and that the frame and cloth cover are neither ripped nor visibly cracking.


If you want more capacity, you can carry a backpack (possibly an overnight-camping backpack). You might be able to tie plastic grocery bags to the outside of the trailer or a backpack too. I find it to be plenty safe provided the bags are strong enough (meaning heavy stuff should be doublebagged as usual) and the bags can't get near a wheel. (I never put bags on the handlebars because then they usually can swing far enough to catch the spokes.)

A cloth floor of a child trailer could be damaged by canned goods or sharp packaging, and in that case you might want to put corrugated plastic or cardboard on the bottom of the trailer. Make sure the corners of your corrugated plastic are a bit dull.

I've ridden home from the grocery store with frozen stuff in 100-degree weather, over a ride that takes just over 30 minutes. It wasn't a problem for me.
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