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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 03-19-09, 07:27 PM   #1
Tony N.
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Anyone Pulling A Wagon?

I know TrailerOn Co. is out of business but I still occasionaly would like to pull a 4 wheel wagon like the ones sold at hardware stores and Garden Supply stores. Have any of you figured out a way that works for you?
Thanks,
Tony
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Old 03-20-09, 09:13 AM   #2
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Sorry, but 4 whl wagon pulling at any speed over a walk is just to damn dangerous to do.
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Old 03-21-09, 02:55 AM   #3
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Did not try, therefor I am guessing: I think if I wanted to try this it had to be with a "stiff connection" to the bike, not with the normal "hinge" near the seatpost or rear hub. This way that hinge effect would be at the front axels steering bolt. Hope this makes sense.

Anybody tryed this? I guess an advantage could be to get all the weight on the trailer and therefor remowed from the bike. Disadvantages would be the strain on the towbar, especially if a long one is used to attach to the seat tube.

Maybe with a specially made atatchment to the bike like for the BOb trailer or extrawheel trailer.

Last edited by badmother; 03-21-09 at 02:57 AM. Reason: Spelling / language
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Old 03-21-09, 01:22 PM   #4
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Did not try, therefor I am guessing: I think if I wanted to try this it had to be with a "stiff connection" to the bike, not with the normal "hinge" near the seatpost or rear hub. This way that hinge effect would be at the front axels steering bolt. Hope this makes sense.

Anybody tryed this? I guess an advantage could be to get all the weight on the trailer and therefor remowed from the bike. Disadvantages would be the strain on the towbar, especially if a long one is used to attach to the seat tube.

Maybe with a specially made atatchment to the bike like for the BOb trailer or extrawheel trailer.
Still not a good idea. The hings will have to allow the bike to lean in turns. Also, have you ever driven a car next to a gravel truck with trailer? They wiggle around quite a bit, when at speed. You'd be better off with a single or two wheeled cart. IMHO.
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Old 03-21-09, 01:36 PM   #5
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I also see it as not a good idea/I use a Roades trailer with 27"wheels now and for load balance and height it works good /inless you were hauling something like stovewood I dont see the need for four wheels./Kenneth
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Old 03-21-09, 01:42 PM   #6
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If you have a wagon, try running with it. You will see why it isn't done.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:20 PM   #7
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I thought "Pulling a Wagon" was a euphemism for some sort of kinky sexual activity.
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Old 03-23-09, 10:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tony N. View Post
I know TrailerOn Co. is out of business but I still occasionaly would like to pull a 4 wheel wagon like the ones sold at hardware stores and Garden Supply stores. Have any of you figured out a way that works for you?
Thanks,
Tony
You'd probably have to figure out the proper kind of Ackermann steering mechanism to get the front two wheels to track whatever was towing them correctly.

But then again, I notice that the TrailerOn website is still up. If your heart is set on that, grab the images and use that to show yourself how to build it. It appears to be a section of pipe with two carefully drilled holes.



Or you may be able to find it on eBay or someplace like that.
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Old 11-26-12, 12:31 PM   #9
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To me, a proper hitch and attachment system would be the most important factor. I've seen videos on YouTube of people towing a wagon with a bike using rope (not a good idea). Of course, I've seen others of wagons being towed flawlessly, and I've asked how they hitched them together, but I never get a response...

I'd love to tow a wagon if I just knew exactly what to do. Chances are that both the bike and the wagon would require some sort of custom work.
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Old 11-26-12, 01:36 PM   #10
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I had experience doing this as a kid. The wagon is too unstable, wheels are too close together and a sharp turn at anything considered speed will tip it over and if not carefully "hitched" somehow to prevent it - torque the bike over and possibly pitch you off. The front wheels are typically connected via a solid axle that pivots and makes it unstable in most ANY turn. Small solid rubber tires (unless you get a beefy garden cart type one with pneumatic tires) will also bounce and jar everything you carry in it.

I had a massive load of stuff in mine, tore off down the block went around a corner and it flipped and since I had it cinched up tight to the back bars of the rear banana seat stays it took me down with it. Still have the scar on my knee 40+ years later to prove it.

And as already pointed out they can oscillate if you reach just the right speed to create a harmonic and the thing will not stop doing it till your damn near stopped dead. It would be better to try a 2 wheel garden cart or a proper bike trailer, maybe a converted kiddie carrier trailer.

They're alright for pulling it if Wally and the Beaver are hauling groceries home from the corner grocery store at 5mph but anything higher may be a disaster.
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Old 11-26-12, 02:20 PM   #11
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Maybe, if you fabricate a connector like a BoB trailer.. to the front wheel dolly
then I'd want at least Surge brakes
to keep the load from pushing the bike over, on downhills..

load still has high CofG.

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-26-12 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 11-26-12, 02:45 PM   #12
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Transfer it to a horse and four wheel cart. You have the two stiff bars, one on each side of the horse ina fairly "stiff" (some give in the harness) connection. Piviot point in the middle of the front axel, under the front end of the cart. You can go quite fast with them as long as you go straight forward or take a big open turn, not a narrow sharp one. I guess the rest is about center of gravitym how wide and how high the cart is and the weight.

Maybe look into extending the lenght of the axels to make it more stable?
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Old 11-26-12, 04:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badmother View Post
Transfer it to a horse and four wheel cart. You have the two stiff bars, one on each side of the horse ina fairly "stiff" (some give in the harness) connection. Piviot point in the middle of the front axel, under the front end of the cart. You can go quite fast with them as long as you go straight forward or take a big open turn, not a narrow sharp one. I guess the rest is about center of gravitym how wide and how high the cart is and the weight.

Maybe look into extending the lenght of the axels to make it more stable?
Yes, a two tonged fork type attachment that attaches to the rear axle on each side will work for modest loads pulling a wagon. Been there, done that when I was a kid. Brake slowly and smoothly starting sooner then you normally would and take wide smooth turns. Used two lengths of electric conduit pipe with holes drilled in there sides to "snap" around the protruding axle bolt ends on the back of my BMX bike when I was a kid that were duck tape strapped to either side of the wagon handle handle stem. Strapped them tight and then pulled the two ends apart to fit around the rear wheel of the bike and the spring tension trying to pull the ends back to center kept the ends with the holes drilled on the inside edges of the tubes around the stub ends of the axle bolts on the outside of the frame. Haven't tried it since I was a kid (moved on to bigger and better trailer set-ups) but it can be done that way.
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Old 11-26-12, 04:23 PM   #14
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This is the wagon I have, I no longer use the cover as it became torn and useless. It's larger than a typical Radio Flyer.

These are the product specs.

Weight Capacity: 250 lb
10 in. pneumatic tires
Product Width: 23-1/4 in.
Product Length: 46 in.
Product Height: 40-3/4 in.
Product Weight: 42 lb.
Material: Steel

I feel towing a wagon opposed to a bike trailer can be comparable to towing a trailer with a motor vehicle. Speeding is not advised, as trailer sway can occur, more attention is required, you can't take as sharp of turns, and I've heard several stories of campers and horse trailers that have tipped over, partially due to poor attachment and/or driving.

Seat post hitching is not possible for me personally, as I have a pannier rack that prevents this. I don't think hitching a wagon real high is a good idea anyway. It should be attached lower, though a custom hitch behind the bike may be required.

Have you seen the attachment system used for the tag-along bike trailers? The attachment between the hitch and the trailer allows fairly flexible maneuvering. Via the trailer, only up and down movement is possible, while via the hitch, it's left and right. Put this down lower and put a wagon to it. A bike could tip over and hardly effect the wagon. Again though, custom work might be needed.

So unless you or someone you know is good at doing custom work on a bike, you'd have to be a little desperate to tow a wagon "safely" (Like me). :-P
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Old 11-27-12, 02:54 AM   #15
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Think about the Dolly under the front of a set of doubles ,
Rear trailer, on a Heavy Goods Vehicles, aka Truck or Lorry.

that is a Model ..
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Old 11-27-12, 09:22 AM   #16
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Think about the Dolly under the front of a set of doubles ,
Rear trailer, on a Heavy Goods Vehicles, aka Truck or Lorry.

that is a Model ..
Or something known as a dog trailer in which the wheel setup is similar to a wagon, the front wheels turn, as well as the connection between the truck and the trailer tongue. Those trailers turn sharper than a wagon too, heavier, and capable of moving faster because of the tow vehicle, but they are road legal anyway.

The biggest issue I see with a bicycle towing a wagon is a proper hitch system.
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Old 11-28-12, 09:55 PM   #17
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the wheels are sloppy on the axle. more than a walking speed will make the whole thing rattle badly.
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Old 12-02-12, 02:01 PM   #18
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Even if the hitch was perfected, are those wheels able to sustain long term abuse? Axles and bearings on those things generally aren't the greatest
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Old 12-03-12, 03:34 PM   #19
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Okay, because I wanted to show off, I broke the rule of not using improvised hitching, though I did manage to achieve a "stiff" setup while still being able to remove when need be.



I have never tried it on pavement, only rough gravel. I like wagons because they have more space than a typical cargo trailer, weight capacity is not my biggest priority. I wouldn't necessarily haul anything heavy anyway, especially not with the current method I use to attach it. Handling is not effected, but there is a fair amount of drag.

I would say that wagon towing is most ideal for mountain or commuter bikes, which aren't as fast as road bikes. Wagons are heavier than cargo trailers and they don't go as fast, but they can carry a lot more stuff. It depends on what's most important to you.

I wouldn't tow the wagon all of the time, or any trailer for that matter, they would just slow me down if I don't need to use them.

This guy has a less secure attachment than I do, and he's even hauling live cargo.

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Old 12-08-12, 08:35 PM   #20
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My 1984 Grand Touring bike has a "hard point" for a full trailer. I use a full sized pan Radio Flyer "Travler". It was originally purchased as my (at that time, now a pre-med student) baby girl's "stroller". Since she has out grown her stroller, I will never out grow that Radio Flyer. I used 25 calibre casings and built a McPherson strut type suspension to go along with the big tires. This full trailer arrangement can run a good 10 mpg with over 100 pounds that would be dangerous or hostile to a fabric semi-trailer. I can do 6 with 200 pounds.
OFF the bike, this Radio Flyer is used to bring Type I and Type VI motors into the house for engine work. The VW Typ I weighs in at 257 pounds. The Porsche Typ VI weighs a bit more, however, it comes into the house on the same Radio Flyer.
A wagon properly "floated" on a suspension and with proper tires does have very real possibilities.
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Old 12-13-12, 06:24 AM   #21
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There is no reason a 4 wheel trailer must be unstable. As has been mentioned ( in British English) multi- trailer semi trucks are done at freeway speeds.

There are some practical considerations that hurt stability:

-The bed often has to be quite high to clear the steering motion of the front wheels. Horse drawn wagons often have smaller front wheels than rear so as to lower the weight.

-Tho tongue on simple solid axle steering needs to be fairly long, or the steering ratio becomes too high. A kingpin arraignment can use the lever ratios to slow the steering

One big problem not mentioned is braking. A two wheeled trailer adds weight to the rear wheel of the tug, increasing traction. A four wheel Trailer has zero tongue weight. Without brakes on the trailer, it will be easy to skid the rear wheel, which is likely to jack-knife the combo. Even if the rear brake is not used, enough weight shift can happiness to cause th rear wheel to become light enough to lose traction.
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Old 12-22-12, 02:47 AM   #22
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There is no reason a 4 wheel trailer must be unstable. As has been mentioned ( in British English) multi- trailer semi trucks are done at freeway speeds.

There are some practical considerations that hurt stability:

-The bed often has to be quite high to clear the steering motion of the front wheels. Horse drawn wagons often have smaller front wheels than rear so as to lower the weight.

-Tho tongue on simple solid axle steering needs to be fairly long, or the steering ratio becomes too high. A kingpin arraignment can use the lever ratios to slow the steering

One big problem not mentioned is braking. A two wheeled trailer adds weight to the rear wheel of the tug, increasing traction. A four wheel Trailer has zero tongue weight. Without brakes on the trailer, it will be easy to skid the rear wheel, which is likely to jack-knife the combo. Even if the rear brake is not used, enough weight shift can happiness to cause th rear wheel to become light enough to lose traction.
Good point there, but I feel someone would have to be going fairly fast, not to mention emergency braking, for that particular scenario to happen. The drag from a wagon, even unloaded, would make a high speed pace over flat a little difficult (but there's always steep descents).

Between a wagon's drag and a cargo trailer's wind resistance, I think I prefer the consistent slow down, rather than to be pedaling happily at 12 mph and then have a strong headwind slam into me, forcing me to work harder to maintain speed. Often I succumb and gear down. I just don't suffer that with a wagon, though I'm not going as fast either.

What would be better than both would be a large flatbed. Very little drag or wind resistance, and one could always add rails and it would pretty much be a wagon on two wheels. Of course, that may require some customization, which is personally far from my ability.

Besides a big flatbed, a wagon would be my next choice. Other bike trailers (to me anyway) sometimes feel like riding with an open parachute. Anything smaller than that just don't offer the cargo space I like to have.

That wagon I showed does have a suspension system.
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Old 12-23-12, 12:34 AM   #23
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Take a look at Bikes at Work trailers. They can carry a lot more than your wagon and are safer.
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Old 03-23-13, 08:09 PM   #24
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Well I for one have given up the idea of a wagon.
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