Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is an online cycling magazine. It is intended for writers and riders who want to share their on the road cycling stories and pictures. Submissions that follow our guideline are gratefully appreciated. See the appropriate page in the site menu. Will publish the best of the best each month. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @PicosCycling.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Homebuilt Bike Trailer


By Pico Triano
Photo: Pico Triano

This is not a story of how to go about building a family bicycle-touring trailer. It’s more a story of sheer determination to do so in spite of not have the where with all to buy proper equipment.

This trailer was built from two out of date front wheel fork assemblies, some two by threes, a sheet of the cheapest plywood I could find, a slow moving vehicle sign, a chunk off an old car tire, two hinges, a hasp and a can of yellow paint. The parts were cut with a handsaw. The only power tool used was an old Black & Decker electric drill my father-in-law picked up at a flea market for next to nothing.

The design was a box with a frame. A roll bar was incorporated along with assemblies to support the forks holding the wheels.  The hitch assembly included a joint using a chunk of old steel-belted radial so that it could flex in three dimensions. Crude and heavy, but it did work. The hitch assembly bolted to the towing bicycle’s frame low to the ground.

The good points were that the hitch while heavy worked like a thing of beauty. It was rugged. It was crazy visible. If necessary it could also be disassembled. The cargo carrying capacity was also impressive. It could have probably carried a five hundred pound load.

The bad were that it was way too heavy and I doubt if it offered anything resembling safety for the passenger. That roll bar was little more than a heavy decoration, but the thought was there.

It served us for some short family rides and one tour, which will be detailed in another story in this, same issue. After that it was used to carry cargo, which it did very well. During its life it underwent a few modifications. We reduced the width from four feet wide to three and a half. There were handles cut in the box portion to make it easier to handle. It was also cut out behind the slow moving vehicle sign in an attempt to save some weight.

In 1998, six years after building it part of it was destroyed during the infamous ice storm that struck the area. The wheel assemblies and hitch were under the eaves of the apartment we were renting and when that eight inch thick slab of ice came off the roof they were crushed. The box served as the family toy box for the kids for almost another decade.

I’m not proud of the design. I do think it was a testament to our determination to enjoy cycling as a family. Our next two trailers were purchased and served in our tours admirably. We did get our money’s worth out of that first one though.

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