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Bicycle Caravan/Camper

Old 04-16-20, 09:44 PM
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ricrunner
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Bicycle Caravan/Camper

I am thinking of building one. It's design style will be of a Teardrop camper. I can see a lot of advantages, in doing so, things, like being able to get in it, when caught in a bad storm, something that has happened a fair few times. I hate being soaking wet and cold because of it. Being able to just pull in and sleep with out putting up the tent all the time. And cooking in it in bad weather. As I always tour with my dog, giving him something more comfortable to travel in. Being on a 4 inch mattress instead of a 3cm one on rough ground. Being a bit more safer in it, as apposed to the tent in dealing with feral dog packs, at night , which has happened twice here. I also know the downsides, like weight issues, a much bigger footprint whilst on the road, especially narrow ones, hill climbing will be much harder, more strain on the drive train, a lot more wear issues on that gear. I am wondering whether their are any other downsides that I have not thought of, Can you guys enlighten me?
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Old 04-16-20, 10:23 PM
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Can I suggest getting a small RV and doing day rides instead? You and your dog will be much more comfortable and happy.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:24 PM
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I think this picture was take in Germany. This fellow did not look very happy even on flat ground. However, looking at the front hub, he may be riding an ebike.


Last edited by Doug64; 04-16-20 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:28 PM
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Wind is not your friend at the best of times. That being said, you could design some kind of lightweight pop up camper. With maybe a thin foam mat and a thicker self inflating one. But doggo ain't gonna fit in that.
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Old 04-16-20, 10:51 PM
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Yeah, not so much, the current trailer, is a bit on the small side, for the odd narrow roads that I do travel on. My main problem with it would be the bulldust that I currently ride in in the outback. It is quite thick, so doing those type of trips would require me to forgo the camper, and just take the dog trailer and tent. But for all other trips the camper would be OK maybe. I do see windage an issue, especially when heavy transport passes me, I do get most of them giving me a wide berth, because I have a largiss sign on the back that says "Baby In Board", and would add that to the camper as well. The mattress isn't going to be 4 inches but maybe 2-3 inches. I do currently have a car that pulls a caravan, but do not do as much holidaying in it as I do on the bike, much more expensive doing it that way, as am on limited retirement income.
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Old 04-16-20, 11:28 PM
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I saw a video of someone a long time ago that made a camper out of coroplast and zipties. Probably wasn’t too heavy or expensive. Still, you are never going to get around the weight and windage issues.
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Old 04-17-20, 02:02 AM
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How about making a smaller version of something like an old wagon? You could make it light weight, with bicycle wheels. You could have storage in the bottom, and the top could fold down, or be removable, to minimize wind resistance. Think of a clever way to fold the top down.

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Old 04-17-20, 05:02 AM
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One video on YouTube. Search “bicycle caravan.”

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Old 04-17-20, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
One video on YouTube. Search “bicycle caravan.”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tFoBKfmSYWg
Interesting video. It seems like a number of those rigs were in Germany and the cyclists were using ebikes. As ebikes become more popular you might see more of those campers.
Too heavy and poor aerodynamics are going to limit their popularity with conventional cycle tourists.
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Old 04-17-20, 08:57 AM
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I think with creative design and the right materials the weight could be gotten down to a level that isn't too far out of line with what some folks tour with any way. Even then it doesn't appeal to me, but I can see where it might to some. That still leaves the aero issues unless it pops up or something.

In the age of ebikes i think we will see more and more of this type of thing.
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Old 04-17-20, 09:54 AM
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As a hobby project or creative exercise it's interesting. I've thought a few times about trying my hand at it. One could really geek out on some ideas and have fun with the building process.

Practically, it has some drawbacks as noted. Oddly, for me it's not weight or aero - I can see ways around that. Mostly I see the width being an issue for traditional road touring as there are so many times a wide trailer would be sub optimal in terms of shoulders, guard rails or rumble strips. But if the right road or trail system were available it would be a novel, though slow, experience. Certainly a conversation starter.
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Old 04-17-20, 10:04 AM
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Sorry to be negative.
I believe your idea whilst very attractive on paper, is likely to fall down on aerodynamics.
I've clocked up some decent miles with a flatbed trailer (Carryfreedom Y-frame)
https://www.wiggle.co.nz/carry-freedom-y-frame-trailer/
with a plastic 90 litre box strapped to it.
The issue I found wasn't so much weight up hills (you get off and push) but rather the slightest headwind.
A breeze that you'd barely notice with just panniers could turn your ride into something most unpleasant.
My least favourite touring memory was such a ride across the Hay Plains in Australia where a steady headwind put me back some days due to not being able to pedal into it even in my lowest gear (around 15 gear inches, so very low).
I can't imagine towing something more wind catching, like any of this threads included photos, even on very flat roads, into a breeze.
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Old 04-17-20, 11:25 AM
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Consider building a pop-up style camper. It would be low, and fat while riding, and could be opened up quickly once you stop. Your dog could ride on top, and you could make a canopy for the dog making it not much different than the trailer you currently use for your dog.
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Old 04-17-20, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
As a hobby project or creative exercise it's interesting. I've thought a few times about trying my hand at it. One could really geek out on some ideas and have fun with the building process.

Practically, it has some drawbacks as noted. Oddly, for me it's not weight or aero - I can see ways around that. Mostly I see the width being an issue for traditional road touring as there are so many times a wide trailer would be sub optimal in terms of shoulders, guard rails or rumble strips. But if the right road or trail system were available it would be a novel, though slow, experience. Certainly a conversation starter.
It could conceivably be only a few inches wider than your shoulders, but I doubt that would appeal to the folks who would want a trailer like this.
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Old 04-17-20, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
It could conceivably be only a few inches wider than your shoulders, but I doubt that would appeal to the folks who would want a trailer like this.
I was thinking I could make one 3' wide that would be livable and not just a concept. My one man tent is 3'x7' and about 3.5' high or so (I can just sit up in it). A slide out design could reduce that but I figure that's about the smallest interior space I would want.

I'm going to sketch out my idea.
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Old 04-17-20, 06:30 PM
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Old 04-17-20, 06:56 PM
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When things are wet and miserable during the day we do 3 things, find a shelter, put up our nylon tarp or if there is nothing around to tie to, put up the outer of our tent and sit under that.

Having a huge trailer would limit touring so much unless you were on bike highways somewhere. Otherwise the compromises and hassle would suck the fun out of it. Trying to cross roads, not being able to ride on sidewalks, off road being ruled out, getting stuck behind bollards and those sheep gate traffic control things would be the worst...

The easiest thing would be to get a small trailer for the doggo and get a nice quality tent that has an External Pitch feature. ie you can quickly pitch the outer fly without the inner. This gives you the ability to put it up during the day if needed and if it's raining when you camp you put up the outer and then put up the inner inside where it's dry.

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Old 04-17-20, 10:46 PM
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Happy Feet, that is pretty close to it, but in a Teardrop shape., Phughes, I will put some thought into your idea as well, that idea has a lot positives, so long as I can give a comfortable ride to my dog.
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Old 04-17-20, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
Consider building a pop-up style camper. It would be low, and fat while riding, and could be opened up quickly once you stop. Your dog could ride on top, and you could make a canopy for the dog making it not much different than the trailer you currently use for your dog.
I could see a really well thought out design like this working well and had thought about it. Last year when I toured we brought a child trailer, originally it was supposed to hold a few items and a kid if they got tired. Since my wife didn't get the concept of packing light it ended up with all the cook ware, extra dishes, 5 sleeping bags, the tent, tarp, a cooler with extra stuff, souvenirs, and enough stuff that the top didn't fully enclose it. Although it was heavy and had all the aerodynamics of a brick wall it still wasn't that bad to top along. I could image a 3' wide trifold base that extends it out up to 9' long with built in base legs that fold out like a folding table leg. Maybe give it 9-12" sidewalls so it has some internal storage for cookware, air mattress, pillow and sleeping bag. Using Aluminum tubing, and fiberglass reinforced plywood panels I bet it could be kept to under 60lbs letting the whole thing stay under 90lbs with portage, probably about what I was carrying anyways. and would have a lower profile. One thing I'd really put some focus on is the wheels I'd use, with thru-axle being so common I'd make a custom axle and use a pair of xt front hubs built to 24" wheels with maybe 24spokes to reduce weight, they won't be carrying that much during the day for that few a spokes to hold up and the heavier weight at night would be static, along with a 1.5 smoother tire it should roll nice, the cheap cart hubs of a kid's trailer is a drag. But even with 65mi days pulling that trailer wasn't that big a deal and we were near the ocean with winds. Biggest issue will be getting the canopy made and I'd assume a sail boat place could do that.
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Old 04-18-20, 04:24 AM
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Russ Roth, even another idea for me to think about, will be putting some serious thought into the design, taking everything on board, all the pro's and con's. Thanks fellas.
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Old 04-18-20, 07:19 AM
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I've wondered that a 6-7 foot BoB type trailer (with that genius member's double kick stand for the trailer front) wouldn't be a minimalist dream? Tarp/canvas with enough slack to use a tranverse fiberglass rod to make an ersatz tent at night.
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Old 04-18-20, 08:09 AM
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No matter what type of trailer caravan you get or build make sure it has LOTS of ventilation if your dog is going to be in it whilst you are travelling. It's all to easy for a dog to overheat on a hot day in something as small as a bicycle caravan.

Good luck and cheers
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Old 04-18-20, 07:46 PM
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Be ruthless in your weight cutting.
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Old 04-18-20, 10:48 PM
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Think about this. Ditch the bike. Make a 4 wheel vehicle, where you sit in the front and pedal. Make it electric assist. Make the roof from solar panels, so they charge the batteries whenever there is sunlight. Have waterproof storage in the bottom. Have the sides open so it catches little wind, but with roll up curtains that you can let down when it rains, or when sleeping.

You could even use it to go shopping. Just park it in a car space. There will be plenty of room to carry home what you bought.
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Old 04-19-20, 01:33 AM
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Miele Man, that is the reason why I wont be having more then one solar panel on the roof, this camper will have enough screened opens for my dog, as well as an exhaust fan, and low wattage , high volume blower fan for him.. I currently have a smaller version in the dog trailer, for when it is raining, and I close the top of his trailer, but he doesn't get enough cooling that way, and I usually pull up and put up the tent. He is one of the main reasons why I will be doing this.
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