I currently use my pedicab in Austin, Texas. As of 9/8/08, it's fully licensed by the city of Austin. Woohoo!
Before we get started, let's define pedicab:
-Check out the Wikipedia articlefor an overview
-Look at Pedaltek's tow-behindfor a good example of the trailer type I built
-Read the comments on my Make posts describing the experience so far (hereas well as here) to hear engineering concerns commenters more intelligent than I have raised
Step 1: Plan and Experience
-What requirements (insurance, permit, etc.) does your local government impose for pedicab companies?
-What's the terrain like in the area you'd like to serve? If there's a mega-hill separating the only 2 popular bars in town, that could be a problem...
-What should you learn before undertaking a project of this size? How much easier would welding skills, etc. make your project?
-Do you have the time and energy to invest in building this?
-Are you confident enough in your abilities at making things to strap unsuspecting bystanders onto your creation before darting into traffic?
And, it's a very good idea to consider gaining some riding experience for another pedicab service before endeavoring to create your own. This isn't like normal biking, no matter how quick you might be on your chosen style of cycle...
Step 2: Design, Plan, and Then Keep Designing and Planning
You can download the SketchUp model here.
Key considerations to think about:
-Weight distribution, in front of and behind the wheels
-Strength of tongue (connection between pedicab and bike)
-Most importantly: stopping ability!
Again, it really helps to ride for another service or otherwise establish an intimate familiarity with existing pedicab designs before jumping into this.
Step 3: Make Mistakes, and Learn From Them
Check out the pictures and comments to learn from my design flaws...
Step 4: My Specifics: The Parts
Here's what I used to make this monstrosity:
-50-some feet Telespar (perforated galvanized steel tubing). You can read about its structural properties here.
-~12 feet 1.75" Telespar, to reinforce the Telespar between the pedicab and the bike
-60-odd bolts, mostly grade 5. ~45 of length 5", 5 @ 2.5", and ~10 at 7". Diameter 3/8", except for 2 9/16" grade 8 bolts used on connection to pedicab
-60-odd locknuts, same diameters as bolts
-~150 flat washers, 3/8"
-bright orange paint
-bright green duct tape
-bright blue pool wacky foam float things
-zip ties, for securing pool things
-female rod end, for pivot point between bike and trailer. I used this one(if link doesn't work, type in 'tf7' to load the product info page)
-high-visibility red blink lights
-screws, staples (size unimportant; use washers with screws to prevent from screwing through hole)
-outdoor fabric, a couple yards
-mildew-resistant stuffing, 2" thickness, couple yards
-spray paint, old molding (kind you'd put along a floor), and stencil (to create dirtnail sign)
-overly-priced non-slip tape (city regulation, for the floor)
-slow-moving vehicle sign (ditto)
And, I suppose wheels are helpful:) If you don't have bureaucracy to navigate in your metropolis, scavenge some strong wheels from a BMX bike. After getting shot down trying to get Craigslist wheels to pass inspection, I found the bike shop at which another local pedicab company buys wheels and ordered the same ones. At ~$130, the wheels were the most expensive part of this project.
I sourced the Telespar from a local safety sign company for ~$1/foot, and everything else is available between hardware stores, megamarts, and fabric shops.
Step 5: My Specifics: The Tools
-Various metal grinding wheels. The most useful was the 10" one that worked with my cut-off saw. Careful with the sparks!
-A mask and an outdoor work environment. Breathing vaporized zinc, a product of cutting or welding galvanized steel, is a really bad idea. After reading this account, I particularly realize I should have worn a real tiny-particulate-filtering mask.
-Various vice grips and wrenches, mainly 3/8" and 9/16"
-drill with various bits, sized from below diameter of smallest screw to slightly larger than diameter of 3/8" bolt head
Step 6: My Specifics: Making The Structure
Instead of welding, I basically just had to cut my Telespar to desired sizes and then use 2-3 bolts (with locknuts and washers) per intersection to create stable joints. To make this process doable, don't tighten any of the nuts until you've got all the bolts and nuts of an intersection inserted.
For sizes, open the Sketchup model from step 2. Note that this version allowed an unacceptable amount of bending between the cab and the bike, so I revised this tongue in the final version.
Step 7: My Specifics: Notes On Tongue Design
My first designs bent so much that one actually bottomed out when I tried to brake, which would not have made for a very customer-friendly experience or me-friendly tip.
So, to arrive at the final product pictured, I found a couple of books on car trailer design (specifically, volumes 1 & 2 of M. M. Smith's "Trailers: How To Design & Build"). You can also check out what trailer hitches look like or just reason through some of the key points:
-load is spread between multiple attachment points to trailer
-tubing that bears the full weight of the pedicab is reinforced
-multiple grade 5 bolts secure each part of the tongue
Experiment with design on this part, and let me know what you come up with!
Step 8: My Specifics: Attachment To Bike
Step 9: My Specifics: Aesthetics
-3/4" plywood painted with exterior latex paint is more than strong enough for the floor, seat, and back surfaces
-outdoor fabric is stapled to the board on one side, stuffed with 2" thick mildew-resistant foam, and then stapled to the other 3 sides. pull the fabric taut around the foam to give this a nice overstuffed look
-zip ties with bits of pool foam covered the ends of the metal well enough for the city of austin's standards
-green neon duct tape makes the design louder and covers the edges of the plywood
Step 10: Next Steps
Here's what I'd call the current 'gold standard, the Velotaxi:
Sure would be nice to have an open-sourced version of that, huh?
Good luck; let me know if you build your own pedicab!