Reader Shu Sin emailed us recently with a cool trailer hack incorporating a discarded jogging stroller. All text and pictures are credited to Shu Sin.
I found a three-wheeled jogging stroller with 20in wheels on the side of the street last year and grabbed it not knowing what I would do with it. One day I saw a bicycle trailer... and it came to me. However, living in NYC one is always limited with space, so i wanted to be able to fold the trailer when not in use. And while i don't jog, or run (I just hop on my bike when I want exercise), I thought it would be nice to be able to use it as a stroller if I need to 'run' with my daughter if we have to get someplace quick without a bicycle.
With my parameters set and after some research, I modified the stroller by taking the quick-release front wheel off and chopped one handle off at the point where it joins with another tube. I drilled a hole at the top of the remaining handle of the stroller and ran an eye-bolt through it.
I bought a pressure-hose connection for about $3, drilled a hole through the female part and ran another eye-bold through that. I then opened up one eye of one bolt, connected the two eye bolt and closed it back up. This set up allows for rotations in every direction, and in fact it helps a lot with cushioning the ride when having to stop quickly, or when hitting a ubiquitous pothole because the eye-bolt on the female part swings like a pendulum when connected to the bike.
For the connection to the bicycle, I attached the male part of the pressure-hose by running a 1/4" bolt through a triangular opening just above the axle of my Raleigh Sport. After making sure there would be no interference with the wheel, and that the hose connection engages without a problem, I sawed off the end of the bolt that was sticking out.
You will notice I put two nuts on the end of the bolt, one of which is a lock-nut. On the inside of the bike frame there are a couple of washer to make sure bolt does inadvertently come out. I installed the same set up of the male part on my wife's 5-speed so she can use the trailer as well. I have removed the back wheel of the bicycle without a problem, even though in the photograph it looks like it would create problems.
Initially, I tried using the trailer with the fabric on it and just loaded small items where a baby would normally sit. I had a few mishaps with this set up because the center of gravity was high enough that if one wheel hit a bump, it would flip the trailer over. This problem completely disappeared when I started using the milk crate. Also, having the milk crate in the frame stiffens the trailer quite a bit. I once loaded more than 200 pounds of soil for my garden and the trailer held up (even though the stroller has a warning on it to the effect of not loading more than 40lbs on it. But that's just lawyer talk).
Engaging and disconnecting the trailer is so simple that I can hold the bike with one hand and connect/disconnect with the other hand. I have been using it for more than a year with no trouble and no maintenance, aside from pumping the tires occasionally. I find that the shape lends itself very well to hauling things because the frame allows for multiple places to attach things.
For example, if I have a particularly heavy load, I will attach a canvas shopping bag to the back of the trailer and load it with items so that the trailer is balanced enough so it does not put too much weight on the connecting arm of the stroller. To test if the trailer is balance enough, I lift the stroller arm while it's not connected to the bicycle, and when the arm is about the height of the connection to the bicycle, i feel the weight and see if it wants to go up or down and then adjust it accordingly.
One last note on the clearance: I have had no trouble with turning at all. But I do keep in mind that I can make narrower turns when turning left (or in the direction of the connecting arm of the stroller), while I have a limit when turning right because eventually the back wheel of the bicycle will hit the arm of the stroller.
My advice to anyone wanting to do a similar hack is to make sure that the back wheel of the bicycle clears the stroller in tight turns. Ensure that the center of gravity is low enough that you will not have a trailer that turns over easily. When riding with the trailer, especially when it's loaded, remember that it will take you longer to come to a complete stop, especially if you ride a bicycle such as mine with steel rims, and especially in wet conditions.
If your load is heavy, you have to 'feel' the ride when you hit bumps or potholes. My technique is to never brake at the moment I hit a bump because that makes the trailer swing a little, then when the trailer hits the bump, it swings the opposite direction and that put unnecessary load on the connection. The best is to brake before you hit the bump and then ride it through, but without pedaling, until the trailer clears the bump or pothole. And finally, the larger the diameter of the wheels of the trailer, the smoother your ride will be.
Oh, and when I need to lock my bike and the trailer, it's really easy to fold the trailer and u-lock it through the frame of the bicycle, which is a great added bonus!
I would like to note while one photo shows the trailer completely loaded and my daughter's bike seat attached, my daughter was not in that seat until I unloaded the trailer and disconnected it. I don't like to have her on the bike when the trailer is attached.
Have you repurposed something into a trailer? Feel free to let us know.