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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 04-16-07, 07:01 AM   #1
Sammyboy
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First trailer grocery trip, and ball hitch reliability question.....

Took my trailer out for it's first grocery run this week, and in general, was extremely pleased. Couldn't possibly have got this lot into my panniers and backpack, so that's good news for me. On the downside, I've had some trouble with the ball hitch. This is a cheap trailer, and I'm not expecting perfection, but when I first put it on, it dropped the hitch every time I went over a bump. After some adjustment and the addition of electrical tape, it's much better, but unloaded it still dropped the hitch twice on the way there. Loaded front heavy with about 30 lbs of groceries for the trip home, it behaved itself.

Trouble is, if I go to the other supermarket I frequent, I have a large, fast roundabout, on which I cannot afford to *****foot around. If it drops the hitch and spills my groceries all over the roundabout, I'm screwed. Likewise, we plan to hook this up to our tandem for a camping trip in the summer, but it won't do my g/f's confidence any favours if we spill the camping gear all over the road. There is more adjustment I can do, but I wanted to solicit opinion on these cheaper trailers. Has anyone not managed to get their hitch working reliably enough? On this shopping trip, I was taking things VERY gently, crawling over even dropped kerbs etc. I don't want to ride that way!

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Old 04-16-07, 08:24 AM   #2
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It occurs to me, looking at the angle of the trailer in that pic, that on a smaller frame, this would be less of a problem, because the cup will be tilted WAY further forward. This is a 25.5 frame. The back of the tandem is a 20". That may make a big difference. Still, this is the bike I mostly want to use for load hauling.
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Old 04-16-07, 09:48 AM   #3
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Since a bike moves in several axis at once no ball hitch will
stay put. My suggestion is to cut off the ball hitch and wrap
a strip of tire side wall around your post bolted though the
trailer hitch stem. I've used this set up for decades on my
homebuilt trailer that is a wooden version of your trailer.

The tire strip will twist and turn with the bike but will
NOT let go unless you unbolt it which with wing nuts
is only seconds. See the hitch on this trailer I built......

http://www.motherearthnews.com/DIY/1...e-Trailer.aspx
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Old 04-16-07, 10:36 AM   #4
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Hmmm. That's an idea worthy of consideration. It would save me swapping the hitch around from one seatpost bolt to another with different bikes too. How much weight can that deal with, and how long does the rubber tend to last?
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Old 04-16-07, 10:46 AM   #5
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I think I read the same article tightwad read. I tried to get a strip of auto tire sidewall (my landlord had abandoned some auto tires in the yard) but I couldn't really make that work. I used a length of bike tire tube instead. I drilled a hole through the trailer's hitch-arm, wrapped the tube around the arm at the place with the hole (the end of the arm) and punched holes in the tube to match the holes in the arm, and ran a long bolt through to secure the tube. To attach, wrap the tube around the seat-stay of the bike and then put the bolt through a hole (you'll have to make it) in the tube. To be more secure, wrap the tube around the seatstay again and put it on to the end of the bolt again.
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Old 04-16-07, 07:16 PM   #6
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Do you have a closer look at the hitch?

I think you could :

– use a piece of air hose (or hydraulic hose) on the hitch to "wrap around" the attachment ;

– use a nylon strap (or something like that) as a "safety harness": it would run from the trailer, around the seatpost and back onto the trailer, where you would pin it in place.


Maybe there is just a question of angle. From what I see, you should be able to bolt the post (at the front end of the trailer) many centimetres lower so the trailer would be straight. This would certainly make the loading easier, and maybe the hitch will be at a more stable angle.
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Old 04-16-07, 07:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammyboy
There is more adjustment I can do, but I wanted to solicit opinion on these cheaper trailers. Has anyone not managed to get their hitch working reliably enough? On this shopping trip, I was taking things VERY gently, crawling over even dropped kerbs etc. I don't want to ride that way!
Didn't I answer this same question from you before? Duct tape is still the answer. Used this combo last Sunday to bring home from the store (6 miles) a 25 pound bag of Cat Litter, 3 2 pound containers of yogurt, 4 2 liter bottles of soda, several cans of pineapple and a few other odds and ends. The only thing I slowed down for was my normal easy pace.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Hitch connectionPinned.JPG (71.0 KB, 51 views)
File Type: jpg Hitch connectionUNPinned.JPG (87.5 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg Kynast_wTrailer_50size.JPG (68.8 KB, 43 views)
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Old 04-16-07, 07:56 PM   #8
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If the hitch is like the one used by "I Like to Bike", modifying the hitch position on the trailer to make the bar horiontal should solve the problem.
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Old 04-17-07, 02:16 AM   #9
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You did answer it ILTB, and the tape improved the situation greatly, but I'm still dropping the hitch too much for my liking. A little drill surgery would let me change angles, yes. Maybe that's the next step.
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Old 04-17-07, 10:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammyboy
You did answer it ILTB, and the tape improved the situation greatly, but I'm still dropping the hitch too much for my liking. A little drill surgery would let me change angles, yes. Maybe that's the next step.
Nah, mate. Quit messing with that stinking ball hitch already. Ball hitches work great
on cars/trucks because they only move in one axis at a time. Cut a strip of
car tire sidewall, semi truck mudflap or flat fan belt (it's the cord in the rubber that
makes them so tough) and wrap it around you stem and ride off.

How long will the strip last?? If you choose from my list the rubber strip
will last for..........decades! How much will it pull? I've pulled a 300 pound
load with mine. Is that good enough?
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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 04-17-07, 10:39 AM   #11
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Yes, it is. The only reason I'm hesitant is that it seems to me I'll need to grind the cup fitting off the end of the trailer arm, and it's kind of a one way journey. I ought not to hesitate, since the benefit of being able to hook it up to any of my many bikes would be huge, but I get scared of cutting things other people made!
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