Nov 232007

Shifting to Canberra this year has given me the opportunity to increase my bicycle usage. I routinely ride to university, and Clansi and I have begun cycling to buy groceries. This year I have accumulated over 1000 kms on my cycle-computer odometer.

Tasks such as buying groceries, while clearly more healthy and eco-friendly when done on a bicycle, are fraught with difficulties. Hanging shopping bags on the handle-bars is the most intuitive, but least effective, technique. It makes control dramatically erratic, and the bags are typically destroyed as they brush against the front wheel. A slightly more exotic solution, one which we currently use regularly, is to take a back-pack in which to bring home the groceries.

A trailer that could be pulled behind a bicycle would, however, be the most satisfactory solution. They exist, and for a while now I have been observing the various designs that are available.

Of course, a well-designed trailer would be good for a lot more than simply shopping. I have wanted to do a cycling expedition for many years now, and one of the challenges is finding a way to carry tents and camping gear. Riding a bike while wearing my Macpac Cascade is something I’d rather avoid.

So I think I will build a custom bicycle trailer, and will attempt to keep notes here on my progress.

  5 Responses to “Bicycle trailer – motivation”

  1. You may wonder, as I did, why so many cycle tourists go for panniers rather than trailers. It cannot be cost because my four Ortlieb panniers were dearer than a trailer. The reason is that the panniers are more versatile. You can sub divide your load and still get easy access to any item; the weight is carried within the wheelbase of the bicycle which is where it belongs for stability; and you do not increase the length of your machine as you do with a trailer.

  2. wouldn’t panniers affect your balance if you didn’t have them evenly weighted?

  3. I guess that seems obvious but in fact they only need to be near even and I guess that you compensate by body weight. I can’t say that it is something that I have noticed. As I said, look at how many cycle tourists use panniers rather than trailers.
    A jack knifing trailer will certainly upset your balance.

  4. billy,

    Your perspective on panniers is useful, and you are right to point out that my not mentioning them was an omission.

    I guess I have to admit that part of my reason for wanting to build a bicycle trailer is that it will be a fun design project. But I’m sure I will find it useful for at least some of my requirements. Its true that the ability to sub-divide a load for easy access is an advantage that panniers offer; but it makes them less suitable for carrying loads that are not easily divisible.

    I also suspect that for short journeys with awkward loads (such as groceries), the benefits of a trailer become more significant than some of its drawbacks.

  5. Do you know of this site?

    Free plans.

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