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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 05-14-08, 08:17 PM   #1
Novakane 
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Trailer Reactions

I recently acquired a typical child-transporting trailer - the kind that bolts to the rear triangle, covered in canvas and folds.
The canvas was long gone by the time it reached me, since my neighbor who was about to throw it out had already removed it. They where planning to build a bottom on it and use it to haul groceries. Instead they left this to rust and bought an SUV. Something went wrong with that plan...

Anyways, I had some pine shelving that happened to be just the right size to lay down a platform on the frame, and some copper pipe-hangers which where just the thing to attach it with. I removed all unnecessary parts, and took it out for a test-ride.

I saw a couple in their late teens / early twenties walking by and I heard him remark "that's the coolest thing ever..." to his girlfriend. I got a few smiles and quizzical looks from older folks. A girl, maybe about six, on her tiny bicycle was flabbergasted by this contraption. She got very excited and started questioning her nearby parent as to what I was doing with that thing - although she understood right away that one could carry a lot with it.

I stopped at my girlfriend's house to show her my new geeky toy, and the six year old was going around the block and every time she passed she slowed down and just stared at me and the trailer.

My general plan is to make some Rubbermaid bins bolt on with wing-nuts for waterproof trunk storage that can be easily removed should I need part or all of the platform. I can only imagine what kind of reactions I'm going to get then.

Anyone have strange reactions the first time (or every time...) they rolled their trailer out?
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Old 05-14-08, 10:05 PM   #2
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I have a converted child trailer that I use for groceries and whatever. When I show up at my kids school with it (to carry backpacks and a trombone) all the little kids gather around and gape at it.

Then again, at the grocery store, everyone thinks I am a DUI perp since I don't drive.

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Old 05-14-08, 11:04 PM   #3
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I think pretty much every person in a car on any of the 45 mph roads I ride along gape at me no matter on the xtracycle, pulling the bob, or even just on the road bike. The tandem always gets quite a reaction, which I always find kind of surprising.
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Old 05-14-08, 11:59 PM   #4
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I'm really looking forward to building/converting a trailer this summer. I want to see the reactions at the farmer's markets when I unload my stuff and "park" right behind my table (vendors parking can be limitied and there's always crankiness. They should love me for not taking up a spot!)
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Old 05-15-08, 05:34 AM   #5
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I think I'm spoiled; around here, bike trailers are not the exotic wonders they are elsewhere. I'm more likely to get nods of approval or complements, but no jaws dropping. I've done the same as the OP and used a piece of plywood to make a cargo bed where the seats used to be, but I still have the fabric and upper frame in place. Here it is in action:
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Old 05-15-08, 06:38 PM   #6
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I think I'm spoiled; around here, bike trailers are not the exotic wonders they are elsewhere. I'm more likely to get nods of approval or complements, but no jaws dropping. I've done the same as the OP and used a piece of plywood to make a cargo bed where the seats used to be, but I still have the fabric and upper frame in place.
I still have the upper frame, I'm just not certain I have need for it. There was only a few tatters of the canvas left when I got the trailer. It has a funny history - I live in a basement of a townhouse I rent from a single mother. She used to use the trailer as a grocery getter herself, but later gave the trailer to the neighbor. As previously mentioned, said neighbor had good intents that went badly and ended up becoming an SUV.

Rather than plywood it's actually a piece of IKEA shelving I've put on. I bought the original unit with the plans of expanding the shelving, and IKEA promptly discontinued it for a less robust model that was completely incompatible with what I had. I trimmed two levels and stuffed it in an odd shaped nook in the basement and was left with two sets of shelves made of 2x1/4 boards on 1x1 braces. I just totally lucked out and found that it was the width of the trailer bed.

I had the copper pipe-hangers as a back-up in case my rack-mounting solution for my Axion rack didn't work. I don't think these trailers are a rare item here in Ottawa, I just lucked out that one was available free within 10 feet of my front door!

I've been totally rebuilding my Miele Mercury MTB as a commuter / trailer hauler. I've been blessed (once again) with people throwing out similar sized MTB's of various quality that I can pull some parts from and build a decent rig. I'm not sure where the horseshoe is hiding, but I'm glad it's there.
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Old 05-15-08, 06:43 PM   #7
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I was talking to my dad on the phone the other night and he was telling me about seeing one of the kid trailers being used. As best I could tell, he had never seen one in use, and had never seen one for sale or advertised anywhere- didn't know they existed. He lives in a smallish town with big-city traffic, so it's not the best place for those trailers, but still, that sort of surprised me- they don't seem THAT uncommon.

Ride a unicycle and you get similar reactions. It's amazing to realize there are people that do not know what it is called.
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Old 05-15-08, 07:28 PM   #8
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Ride a unicycle and you get similar reactions. It's amazing to realize there are people that do not know what it is called.
Oh, I know what one's called. I just don't think I'm good enough with my balance to ride one! It amazed me when I saw Surly was making a 29" unicycle with fat tires for going downhill. If you can ride one, kudos! (although I do wonder how you're gonna haul groceries... )
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Old 05-15-08, 07:31 PM   #9
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Although back to my original post - the unicycle made me think of this - is it so normal seeming to us because we set out with a goal in mind and said "Jeeze, if I only had a trailer this would be even better..." and started thinking along those lines?
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Old 05-16-08, 10:19 PM   #10
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We took some recycling the other day with my double trailer set up. It just so happened to be the same day as a local road bike race. I saw a few racers doing quite the rubbernecking. http://www.flickr.com/photos/25503503@N08/2397218797/
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Old 05-16-08, 10:35 PM   #11
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Double trailer, NICE!

I mentioned my trailer plan to one of The Boy's gamer friends and he informed me politely that I was insane. I suspect I will be hearing that rather a lot.

Found some plywood the right size, now to get a couple of bike wheels and the hitch attachment... I am using the trailer plan from Mother Earth News that someone here linked me to.
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Old 05-16-08, 11:28 PM   #12
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I almost always get stares and questions about my TW Bents trailer. Trailers are pretty common around here to haul kids, but cargo trailers are very rare and I seem to be the only one with a single-wheel trailer. And I sprayed it with reflective paint so I usually get comments about the fact that it sparkles.

I get more attention for this trailer than my old kiddie trailer, too. This one is considerably smaller and less obvious. And yet, our new neighbors were all out today asking me about it as I worked on my bikes. They were fascinated by it. Well, and a little confused that I fill my half of the garage with bikes and not my car.
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Old 05-17-08, 12:20 AM   #13
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And yet, our new neighbors were all out today asking me about it as I worked on my bikes. They were fascinated by it. Well, and a little confused that I fill my half of the garage with bikes and not my car.
My roomate (the single mom I rent the basement of this house from) always gets a laugh at sitting on the front porch (when the kid is at the dad's) having a beer and watching me return several times - each with a different bike carcass on garbage days. She's pretty chill about the fact that "the guy who lives under the stairs" is a bike nut.

Most of the other people in the area look at me like some kind of kook. Wait until I start hauling the trailer around on Wednesday nights to gather ALL the bikes I see rather than just the ones I think I might be able to roll/ride home.
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Old 05-17-08, 10:17 AM   #14
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Just rode my reverse trike in the Richardson Wild Ride- nearly 2,000 people there. Got a fair number of comments on it. "Did you make it?" (asked by two different people).

I finished ten minutes too soon. I rode the 16 mile route and took about two hours. About 10 minutes after I got in, people started coming in from the 40 mile route. I should have waited till some of them were coming and zipped across the finish line out of breath and said "Whew! That was a long 40 miles!"
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Old 05-17-08, 11:15 AM   #15
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Trailers are common enough around here. The only time I get a reaction is when I'm pulling one while also wearing a dress.
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Old 05-17-08, 07:38 PM   #16
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I got extremely disturbed stares just when I had my Wald giant delivery basket on the front of my bike, I can't imagine how folks would react if I had a trailer. Hopefully I'll find out.
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Old 05-17-08, 07:51 PM   #17
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Mine is the only trailer in these parts. I get lots of room when I'm towing it, shocks the hell out of folks.
They don't honk very often though.

In the store a while ago:
"Hey, you're the son of a--the guy with a trailer."
"Yeah, I'm that s.o.b. that's blocking up traffic."

Of late I've been having more people ask about it, and cycling in general.
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Old 05-18-08, 01:02 AM   #18
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The only time I get a reaction is when I'm pulling one while also wearing a dress.
Duly noted
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Old 05-18-08, 04:10 AM   #19
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The trailer I have that gets the biggest reaction is my canoe trailer.



But it also attracts attention when I'm on the water.



I know another cyclist in the area that has a kayak trailer. But to the best of my knowledge, there aren't any others with trailers around here.

CJN, are those Burley trailers? I have a Burley Solo and a Flatbed, and have, not very seriously, considered connecting them in tandem like that. Can you post pics of how you connect yours? Thanks.
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Old 05-18-08, 04:50 AM   #20
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The trailer I have that gets the biggest reaction is my canoe trailer.
That IS an awe inspiring sight, seing a biker pulling a load triple their length! Very nice display of efficiency by not having to resort to driving the canoe with an enviro-blaster SUV!
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Old 05-18-08, 01:27 PM   #21
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Commuterrun I'll get some detailed photos this afternoon and put them on my flickr page. There is one on there of me hauling a freezer to a friends house, that got a few looks. The kids are in an INSTEP brand trailer and the flatbed is a Wal-mart special. Both are rated for 100#.
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Old 05-18-08, 03:33 PM   #22
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Here is the link to the pictures of the hitch. Just a piece of angle iron and the portion of the hitch that would normally be on the bike axle. http://www.flickr.com/photos/25503503@N08
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Old 05-18-08, 03:58 PM   #23
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Thanks, CJN. I take it the bolts attaching the angle iron to the forward trailer are U-bolts around the trailer frame?

How did you determine the height of the angle iron? Just whatever it takes to make the rear trailer ride level?
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Old 05-18-08, 05:36 PM   #24
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I have the same Master Cycle trailer as mstrpete and it works great as a utility trailer (groceries, etc). Today my wife and I were at the local garden center and with the trailer folded flat we loaded three six foot wooden trellises and two flats of flowers on it. We did get a fair share of stares.
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Old 05-18-08, 06:33 PM   #25
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Here is the link to the pictures of the hitch. Just a piece of angle iron and the portion of the hitch that would normally be on the bike axle. http://www.flickr.com/photos/25503503@N08

The simplest ideas are often the best!
Although I haven't really had the need for a dual trailer yet, I was wondering how to do that simply. Now I know. Thanks.
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