My Bicycle Trailer—Reworked for Smart Traveling.
Even as cargo bikes gain massive popularity, bike trailers have been around for years. Many use them to haul the kids or pets, yet just about anything can be moved with them. There are many styles, long or short, narrow or wide, covered or open, 2 or 1 wheeled. Mine is older and a very low-end one, in fact I actually got it for free. It was a Craigslist find from many years ago. The owner threw in the bike that was hooked to it, which in turn I sold for the asked price of the trailer.
I have used it now and then through the years with some of our bikes, yet realized a long time ago that pulling it with an E-bike was the best way to go. When I did my ULTIMATE project I finally got to start using it on a steady basis. I did some basic reworking then, but this month I finished it up to what I had envisioned. It is short on looks (in the daytime at least), but way long on usefulness. Last year I nicknamed it “My Rig”, and that name that goes even further now.
I have been tempted many times to hook it to the parade of E-bikes that seem to come and go, yet I was resistant to enlarging the axle mounting hole on the hitch to fit them. That is a reason it matched well with the ULTIMATE, that was a regular bike converted to E-power, with a (more or less) standard sized axle diameter. After winning my new Pedego E-bike last month, I knew the time had come to grind the hole bigger with my Dremel tool and fit it to this cool E-bike. What a perfect combo.
This is one of those big-box store trailers that is of OK quality. The newer ones of this brand have plastic (?) rims and I am sure have more modern features. It was in kind of sorry shape, but the tires held air and all the pieces were included. After returning the eRAD kit from the ULTIMATE to Lectric Cycles I thought maybe my trailer convenience was done, so I hung it back in the garage rafters. I had used it for group rides and Costco shopping (my biggest thrill to date, as we live on the mesa and the store is closer to sea level). I was so glad to get it back down and once again in service.
Although I can’t do much for the looks and faded fabric, I took care of the mechanical issues and spruced it up some. Cleaning and regreasing the wheel bearings was combined with truing and tensioning the spokes. The rims and spokes are kind of rusty, but no problem I guess. A pair of thorn-resistant tubes and 2 HD (E-bike specific) tires got levered on. I added some Velcro on the top panel to replace the damaged and rusted snap grommets, and replaced a couple nylon straps for the seats (yes I can sew, in fact I was a sewing machine technician for 20 years). I purchased an antenna pole and flag to add some extra safety on the road. And of course I gave it a one-over to make sure all the fasters were tight and it is ready for the long rides.
Nighttime safety took a major jump with the addition of LightMeUp Safety Lights in each corner, on the sides and on the wheels. Not only do they make sure you are seen, they garner tons of hoots and hollers from most anyone that see us ride by. They are mostly red, white and blue so when we rode the busy coastline this 4th before the fireworks started, hundreds of people took photos and cheered us on. You kind of need to check the photos and video to really see how much these inexpensive LED lights add to the trailer.
I did some custom work with these. I soldered a couple strings together on the wheels to allow them all to run from one battery pack. I did the same with the strip lights I put on the heavy steel frame. I sewed the light strings on the side panels as I saw no other alternative there. I wrapped a set on the antenna pole too. I added some bright front and rear lights from Serfas to round out visibility at night (I use those in the daytime too). All-in-all, this is the most lit up trailer I have seen to date.
In the trailer I have a canvas bag that holds some basics. It has a spare tube, tire changing tools, and a tube repair kit. Some bike tools are in there. A few maps and a roll of t/p make sense to have along during a ride. I keep a few bucks and spare change in there too. There is a spare hitch clip that I doubt I’ll need, but it came with the trailer so why not? A flashlight and tire pump could come in handy, so I keep those in the bag with the other stuff.
You can spend hundreds on a new bike trailer. Some mount like mine to the wheel’s axle, some to the rear bike frame, and others to the seat post. Each type of trailer has its own special features and uses, yet with a little imagination they can really be versatile. Just to add to this, the couple RideKick trailers I have tested have a full electric motor conversion built-in, so they convert your regular bike to E-assist with no modifications (and carry your gear). You can spend a lot or a little (like I did) as you explore your bike trailer needs.
Another goal I have with this, is to take my electric R/C model planes to the local flying field (at sea level) for a great morning. It is about a 15 mile round-trip (down and then up the mesa) so I normally just drive. Now with all the mods and my new E-bike pulling the trailer, I expect to add this use on a steady basis. There are so many plans I have for my new rig. A couple times this last month we packed cold drinks, snacks, and our two folding chairs to a outdoor movie and couple free outdoor concerts. Such biking excitement, I can barely contain myself.
I know many that use their bike trailers quite a bit on their regular (non E-bike) bikes and they love them. Our local bike coalition recently moved to a new office spot, and used bikes to move everything. Online I see so much more. If your bike won’t haul what you need on its own, then a bike trailer could be perfect for you. Mate your bicycle with a trailer, it makes so much sense.
Haul that load, Turbo Bob.
“I’m lazy. But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn’t like walking or carrying things.”—Lech Walesa.
Here are a few related videos I have posted on my You-Tube site.
Here is a link to the LightMeUp Safety Lights.
You can find the Serfas lights here.
And while we are at it, check out the RideKick E-trailer.