Reader Garrett has a DIY project he is working on, and he has asked for input from the BikeHacks audience. Readers with ideas, experience, thoughts please feel free to comment.
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I have a dilemma, and I need some input for a DIY trailer. I've hacked myself up and assembled all the necessary parts and have a "rolling chassis" if you will, for a bob style tandem bike trailer. My problem: what to do to be able to carry cargo?
I'd like to get the cargo bay as close to the ground as practical. In the pictures, it's not at an accurate distance it would be from the ground, it sits lower when it's bike mounted, so the bottom of the frame sits about 5 to 6 inches from the ground.
My other criteria is weight, obviously, the lighter the better. I have thought of a few ideas, but I am welcome to any new ones, any changes and/or additions to mine.
Keep in mind, I don't have the resources to weld aluminum, I'd like to keep a $25 cap on the project, and I am interested in the idea of using recycled materials to make the cargo bay. I can also add, I have had the chassis on a bike, and jostled my weight around on it to see how much everything flexes. I would feel safe with loads up to 100 pounds, as long as the cargo bed is beefy enough to handle it, i know the frame would.
My first idea is to rivet a "fancy box" out of old aluminum siding (the Florida room is no longer porchy feeling anymore ;P) this would work well, because I already have the material for it on hand, and I could extend the back end of the trailer past the tire easily by boxing in a wheel shroud. Doing that, I could center loads on the trailer tire, much like a trailer for a vehicle would be, and that would put less weight on the bike's back wheel, which I like.
The downside: sheet aluminum is tweaky. It's really hard to keep in the shape you want. Even with bending over edges to create a sturdier ridge, it bends. A lot. And I doubt I could keep the cargo bay in one shape for any amount of time without more underframe.
Idea number two: Wood. I am good with wood. (HEY! no chuckles from the peanut gallery!) I would have no problem knowledge wise using packaging crate wood to upcycle myself a cargo bay frame, a flat bed, or something in combination like having removable sides. The downsides: wood is heavy, wood is bulky, and that makes it a bit of a novelty for this application, because who wants to try to do a 100+ mile daytrip with a bulky, heavy trailer?
Idea three: wood and aluminum? Sure, since wood would have superior rigidity, it is feasible to make a combination of a wood frame, sheathed with the aluminum siding. So far, less downsides than anything else. But what more ideas can I come up with that would work entirely better?
Idea four: Paper mache. Go ahead, laugh again. You're think "paper mache? this kid's a fruit." I've made ovation style guitars with paper mache, and have a lot of experience working with it. I could make the cargo space any shape I want, I could easily give it some kind of aerodynamic edge, make the whole thing one sealed piece that would simply just fit like a glove on the frame, and make the whole thing rigid with a layer of wire too. Downside: time. It would take FOREVER. not that I'm not patient but, who wants to spend a month or two making an "aero trailer" unless it was really worth it to you? I don't usually see track racers, or velomobiles hauling stuff around, so it'd be a bit silly. But be SO COOL.
Idea five: The storage container. Okay, yes, this would be an easy, cheap, and quick to make. Just go get one, and slap it on there, but dang, it'd look a wee bit tacky. And not to mention, unless I cut out holes for the wheel and siliconed in another perfectly shaped container for a wheel shroud, most likely i'd be stuck with a really small cargo space. Who wants a trailer when they could have a TRAILER? I don't want to cave and do this, but it's still an idea, and all ideas are worth considering, maybe mentioning this could inspire an actually good idea!
So there's my ideas, feel free to shoot them down, tell me to stop being so picky and do one of them already, bring better ones to the table or ignore it and leave it for someone else to take time over. Comment with which idea you like best, or better ways you invision it to be carried out, whole new ideas, or don't... either way, any and all feedback will be greatly appreciated!
Thank you again! namaste.
Reader Matt has power tools, space, and the will to use both. He both completely transforms one object and tweaks another for bike purposes. The text and pictures below will whet your appetite, and his blog has videos and pictures that document both the repair stand and the trailer.
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I have two hacks: I created a bike work stand using pallet wood and my work bench vice, cost $0.00. Also I created a bike cargo trailer. I bought an old burley child trailer for $50 on Craig's List. I took it apart and made a cargo container using old closet shelving, garage door opener track and other items. Total spent: $50.00.
This . . .
. . . . was turned into a repair stand.
. . . . was transformed for a small human carrier to a small stuff carrier.
Reader Jorge contacted us and stated that he likes to write and has a bike. He built his bike from scratch and writes about his rationale in choosing his build and shares some of his hacks. Enjoy!
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Hi. This is my bicycle. It rocks. I'll tell you some of the reasons why... and share a handful of my very own bike-hacks.
First. Well, it's a bicycle, right? If you are reading this you already know... I hardly need mention that a bike can be an object of respect and lust; both sexy and utilitarian, sleek and rugged, and above all, it can be a tool that bestows on its user many great powers… powers that are just a few watts shy of super-powers. We may not fly. But we can bunny-hop. We may not be able to dead-lift one car to save a baby. But we can pass a dozen as they slog toward a traffic light. And while we are at it, we can make funny faces at the occasional back-facing baby.
I built my bike from scratch and christened her Golondrina. It’s Spanish for swallow (the bird, not the verb)… It comes from this famous old Mexican song in which the author considers the little black migratory bird and wonders longingly “where could she be heading, so fast and exhausted?” That seemed like a good motto for my new bike… and I upon it. They know not where, but go fast and exhausted!
When I moved to California last year, I found myself temporarily in urgent need of a means to commute 6 miles to work until my truck and motorcycle arrived from Rhode Island. A bicycle might do the trick. Since I already owned two bicycles (also, for the time being, on the wrong coast) I wanted to keep my investment cheap bordering on disposable while hoping to avoid the Walmart look. For $150 I got my hands on a used fixie.... It came with cyclo-crossish tires, which urged me to venture out on the dirt, and soon I was loving all the new found trails, and my new found lungs... and the cheaply made crank-set was falling apart, and the wheels were showing signs of irreparable damage. So I decided that I would build myself a new bike.
This would be the first time I built a bicycle, and I decided it should be the last. What I mean is that when you get to select every bit of bike... from stem to rear hub, from spokes to handlebar tape, you have time to think… what is it that matters to you?
My own answer was easy: durability… toughness, resilience, permanence, if at all possible (without going into Titanic territory) indestructibility. My new bike – I decided before I tightened the first nut – should be built to be my last bike.
I’m not that original. I got the idea for my project from reading the book “It’s all about the Bike” (http://www.robpenn.net) in which the author lovingly describes the process of building his dream bike. By the way, I am in no way affiliated with him. But as a fellow lover of the bicycle, I wish him well. May he sell lots of books! At any rate, I suspect other self-described bike-hackers will probably enjoy the read as much as I did.
Anyway, as I was saying: durability. This to me meant two things.
Number one. Stainless steel. Wherever possible. Frame. Crank-set. Chain-ring. Cog. Spokes. Hubs. Even my water bottle is stainless. But it’s not a perfect world so, if something must be aluminum (rims and handlebar), then double walled, reinforced, and extra thick, if you please.
My stainless steel frame is a Surly 1x1. So, you never heard of a Surly? Well, a year ago, neither had I. But once I heard about them, I started hearing more… like, check this one out, a Surly on its way to the South Pole.
Number two. Simplicity. Simplicity is awesome. Simplicity means there are few things that can break. Simplicity means that, should you somehow contrive to break one of them things anyway (because, like, you were careless, and dropped your bike from the third floor window) you can probably fix it with a crescent wrench and a hammer.
And what – dear reader – is simpler than a fixed gear bike? (except perhaps a unicycle) No gears. No derailleurs. No brakes (optional). And thus, no cables. Not even a freewheeling rear hub!
So, you say a fixie is not your cup of tea? Fine. But I'll tell you something, I have ridden bikes for 30 years. I rode my first fixie only this year... and I’m never going back to gears. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis thing… trying to hipsterify myself at 40. But whatever the cause, it got me to fall in love with pedaling, all over again. I can't quite explain it, but if you are fixie-curious, just give it a shot... you'll see what I mean.
Fine, you say, a fixie may be good enough if you intend out of it nothing more consequential than strolling harmlessly about the neighborhood. Or even (if you dare), doing crazy brake-less street tricks. But a single gear is not for serious long-distance bicycling. Ah. Yes. Well. They forgot to tell this guy riding to Everest on a single speed.
It took me a few months to build Golondrina: the bike that is good for everything, if you intend everything to be hard. On any kind of a long descent, my legs turn to blenders. On any respectable climb, I find myself standing, cursing, vein-a-popping, grunting, snarling, and inexorably, walking.
And yet somehow... I've never once missed my old gears! Especially when I'm pedaling alongside my wife... her steed clinking and clanking and chain-skipping, while Golondrina hums along in perfect stealth silence.
Ah. But is seems I've gone astray and written way long, and I haven't mentioned a single hack. So let me... um, change gears, and share with you my humble contributions to the universe of bike-hacking.
Browsing through the bike isle at REI I came upon my answer. A little (stainless steel) “incredibell”. It fit perfectly (well, kind off) in the hollow space where the rear-brake lever used to be. And there was even (arguably), a certain logic to the unusual arrangement: should I find myself about to rear-end some unfortunate pedestrian, I have two options: a) slam the front brake and probably flip rear-hub-over-head, or b) give them a courtesy “ding-ding!”
2. I don’t know why, but the mounts that came with my fenders, did not hold the fender close enough to the tire. This looks goofy, and probably defeats the point. So, I provided a solid but flexible mounting point for my rear fender using a wine-cork, 2 zip-ties, and an appropriately sized doohikie (I used a plastic dry-wall anchor, I’m sure a pen-cap would work fine). See Figure A for a better explanation.
3 & 4. I provided additional solid but flexible mounting points for my front and rear fender using pieces of braid-reinforced hydraulic hose like the one shown in Figure B. I simply bolts (stainless steel) with nuts and washers to attach the fender to a cut-to-fit length of hose.
5. I mounted my trailer hitch (for towing two hooting monkeys… aka my offspring) onto the rear disc-brake mount (where, as previously discussed, no brakes will ever live). My axle bolt was not long enough to engage all the threads of the trailer hitch nut… and I’d be damned if I was going to mess with that rear wheel after I spent several hours lovingly threading each spoke myself!
6. After a brief and terrifying experience wherein my right shoelaces were chewed in one side of the chain ring and spat out the other (while my ankle bent in an unusual direction)… I came up with this one. Both ends of my shoe-laces now come out on the “outboard” side of my shoes. When thus tied, my shoelaces are less inclined to ever want to kill me again.
7. A few yards of camouflage gorilla tape, wrapped around my top-tube… Why? Because you never know when the zombie apocalypse is going to hit… and if you don’t have some duct tape handy, your chances of survival are significantly reduced!
8. Presta or Schrader? Yes. Figure C shows a Presta valve with a Schrader adaptor. This way I get all the pros (Presta is easier to hand-pump and the small diameter penetration through the rim means… you got it, durability. But of course, Schrader is in every gas station, ready to do my bidding) none of the cons (All my life, I kept breaking the stupid lock-nut doohikies on Presta valves… maybe I’m a slow learner).
My bike rocks.
And so (I’m sure) does yours.
Reader Adlar from Stamford, CT submitted the following hack.
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As a person who solely relies on his bikes for transportation, one of
the issues I have had is transporting everyday luggage. I currently own a
bike trailer that does the job but I did not feel comfortable leaving
it locked at the train station with my bike. The challenge was to attach
my suitcase without a trailer and have it survive the 2 mile ride.
The first picture shows the difference between the D-lock and Kryptonite locks used.
It is important to note that with the D-locks used, there was too much play between the attached handle. This led to tire rub on both the handle and the suitcase. I suppose this could have been alleviated with smaller D-locks, but then I saw my Kryptonite disc locks and figured they might work just as well. Using the disc locks kept the suitcase at a safe distance on both my 700c single speed and 26 inch folder.
We have featured many posts on DIY bike trailers, but recently I witnessed an easy (but perhaps not the safest) solution to the sometimes difficult problem of hauling stuff. I was commuting over the Mass Ave./Harvard Bridge and a gentleman was simply using his hand to pull a shopping cart while he rode merrily along. Probably one of the the most simple, but noisy, hacks one could come up with.
Bike trailers rock. If you want to run errands or go biking camping, trailers can be a great assist. Tom, or istomtom on Flickr, sent along a set of pics on a trailer he built himself. I especially like the fenders/wheel wells to protect from side swiping various stationary objects. For the full Flickr set, go here.
A comment from one of his photos states:
In response to comments: MIG welded thinwall EMT. I got the tires for free so I'm not complaining. I haven't decided on a floor yet, maybe steel mesh, fiberglass, fabric, or a slatted wood bed like an old style pickup truck.
Reader Tim contacted us and sent along a great hack he came up with to haul stuff with his recumbent bike. All text and pics are Tim's. Thanks Tim!
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This is a bike trailer I built using used walkers I bought from the Goodwill Shop for $5 each. One walker makes up the main frame and parts of a second walker were used to close in the bottom, which then became the front of the trailer. I built it specifically to pull behind my recumbent trike, but left a short arm on the left lower front end should I wish to adapt it to an upright bike in the future.
Scrap aluminum was used for the hitch mount on the trailer and the trikes rack as well as to enclose the rear of the trailer. The wheels were left over from another project. It would be nice to have used a set of lighter bike wheels, but part of the purpose of this project was to see what I could do with what I had on hand. The bed is a piece of scrap luan drilled out for weight and held on with zip ties. Left over webbing was used front and rear to save weight.
Aluminum sides hold the axles which are bolts running through blocks of scrap oak. These are of aluminum sheet salvaged from an old stop sign. The only thing I purchased for this, besides the walkers themselves, were some nuts and bolts and the hitch. The hitch is a 3/8 inch Ball Joint Linkage Quick-Disconnect from McMaster Carr, $7. I do not have any pics of the trailer in progress, but it is not too difficult to see how it goes together just from the photos.
The weak part of the design is probably the rack on my trike. It is not the strongest rack on the market. Too much forward weight on the trailer and the rack could bend. A stiffer rack would work better.
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Peter from beyond1200.com sent us the following:
Spotted this custom bike trailer on my way home from work the other evening (Nangang, Taipei). The push cart was just wrapped onto the rear rack. I'm not sure what the extra pole on the right on the rack is for though. Maybe a stabilizer.
I can imagine that with those small, hard wheels on the back, it must be a quite a symphony of sound to listen to as the rider pulls the trailer along.
Reader LuMax has at least three things going for him -
1) He likes to sip frosty beverages outside
2) He cruises on his bike to places where he can sip said beverages
3) He is a very patient person
Evidence of #3 can be found in the fact that LuMax sent his hack along to me some time ago, and it got buried under my life. However, he patiently waited and sent me a follow up email. After feeling guilty for a little while, I soothed the emotional pain with a frosty beverage and then got to posting.
Some of the best hacks are when you can take a product and modify it, while keeping somewhat true to the original intent. LuMax took this used Burley he found on Craig's List . . .
. . . and turned it into this bad ass beer hauling trailer.
Dogs and biking also go well together as evidenced by the sheer joy of the dogs in the hand crafted basket.
The whole themed set up is super sweet, and as noted, the basket was made from scratch, and even has an 8 ball light on the front.
All the steps and gory details can be found in a series of awesome entries LuMax posted on BikeForums.net. Thanks LuMax! And for others who have submitted ideas that have yet to get posted, keep hope alive, and bug me if you feel like it =)