The majority of my bike hacks definitely fall into the "practical but ugly" category. My hacks do not get a lot of style points, but reader Rory submitted a hack that is practical, stylish, and is bound to get tons of comments from anyone who see it. He sent us the story of how he came up with not just your average cycle trailer. Check out Rory's blog for more of his design projects. All text and pictures below credited to Rory!
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Off the peg bike trailers tend to be designed for function, which is fine when you're just carting your dog or kids around. But what about if you want to do the weekly shop by bike? Sure, you can use panniers, but then you have to carry them round whilst you are shopping too, and what when you need more room. The best option is a trailer. However they are not going to help you score, or get any “cool” points.
I wanted something to pull along with some style, without looking like I am going on an expedition every time I need some milk. I also wanted to option to use panniers so not to limit my options with how much I could cart around.
Knowing building the right trailer straight off was not going to be possible I built a super quick prototype to get a feel of what geometry I wanted to use to get a good ride feel whilst pulling the trailer. Built from some bent aluminum tubing and MDF I strapped on some weight and took it out for a ride to see how it rode. Despite the flex, it actually didn’t ride too bad. A couple and tweeks and I had some angles to work with.
So after the first prototype I thought I should build something a bit more sturdy and brazed up another quick prototype, this time with a pannier rack I made with a pivot at the rear. Once again I tested the ride and thought on how to further improve it.
I finalised the geometry that I wanted to use and set about making the real thing, in both the prototypes there was copious amounts of flex in the frame so I made sure to build in some bracing into the frame. Also around this time I realised I probably should get a 2nd opinion on what I was doing, so I pinged an email over to the man who introduced me to the bike industry, Nick Larsen from Charge Bikes.
To get the storage compartment I created some jigs to get the bends I wanted and screwed and glue the wood together. It took a lot of filler, paint and polish, but I managed to get a nice smooth finish on it.
The final trailer with the storage compartment mounted and a disc wheel cover.