Introduction: PVC Bike Trailer

Picture of PVC Bike Trailer

This is fashioned after the bamboo bike trailer, with the addition of a seatpost mount and PVC instead of bamboo. I used the instruction for the wheel mounts, something I need to modify in the future to accomodate heavier loads to relieve axel flex. The PVC is 1" and the trailer bed is 12" wire shelving left over from a home remodel. The wheels are 20" front wheels with bolt-on axel. These are about $24 a piece unless you run a bike shop..hint,hint. The seatpost mount is made by and sells for around $15. My total investment was around $60 for this brand new trailer.
I left the bed flat to acccomodate various uses. We have mounted our dog crate, two plastic crates for groceries, and an athletic bag so far. Maximum load weight tested so far around 50 lbs. The trailer itself is very lightweight.


ChrisR351 (author)2016-09-19

updated link for the bamboo trailer,

uscjones (author)2015-01-26

Thanks, gave me great ideas...another couple ideas.....I'll attempt a build with these improvements and post mine here when I'm finished.

To simplify the seat post mount....maybe try going to McMaster Carr (or might be available at some hardware stores) and getting a properly-sized ball joint rod end (, bolt that with some washers through a threaded PVC end cap, and then using one of these: ...this way you also get the 3 degrees of rotational freedom generally required by two-wheel trailers, improving your handling characteristics while riding. The towbar you linked to is meant to constrain the rotation of the tow vehicle in roll, so you lose the ability to bank your bike into turns. A 2-wheeled trailer needs to stay level while the bike banks, so roll independence would help.

Also, you could get a huge strength increase by adding a second level of PVC tubing six inches or so above the first one, creating a truss structure for the wheels to bolt to, along with cross-members at the front and rear on the same level. You'd want a plate or other structural member running between your top and bottom tubes on the sides that you could bolt your wheel axles to. Maybe try using a single flat plate vertically on either side of the wheel, then a u-bolt assembly top and bottom on each plate to attach to the tubes, with a hole in the middle for the axle. This would have the added benefit of allowing you to adjust the front/back balance of the trailer, which can affect tracking, as well as lowering your platform to below the axles, which lowers your center of gravity and improves stability.

...Not sure if my explanation makes any sense in writing, but like I said, I'll build one and post my own. It'll be a bit heavier and more expensive, but I think it'll yield a significant increase in weight capacity and ride stability.

bogie7129 (author)2013-11-26

For anyone wanting to build a bamboo trailer and not wanting to spend the money on bamboo, do as I did. Put an ad on Craigslist saying you will come and harvest someone's bamboo for them for part of it yourself. I got a 4' X 8' trailer full, with some of the pieces exceeding 12' long. All free. I used it to make a greenhouse.

BUT, I like this trailer OddJob has made much better. It is much better crafted using PVC and shelf material and looks much neater. The Habitat Re-store Store always has pieces of wire shelf available in various lengths and very inexpensively. Look around while you are there and see what else you can find to use in your project. Good luck. I will build my trailer as a fishing cart similar to one I already have, large enough to hold two tackle boxes, two coolers, two beach chairs, my bridge net and eight rods. I'm going to use PVC I have left over from another project I did (a chicken coop.)

deslok (author)2013-01-18

very good design. for my use i would extend the length and maybe use metal pipes for larger load capacity though. just a thought

Yard Sale Dale (author)2012-11-14

That is pretty cool. I think that is a nice alternative to using a conventional rack and bags/crates. I like bike trailers. I rarely haul more than 50lb with mine, so a light-duty trailer should be a really nice thing to have. Another cool thing about trailers is that some stores will let you walk them inside as shopping buggies. When you shop, you know when to stop, and when you check out, you're ready to hook up and go.

marosi (author)2012-08-19

I have quite an interesting quesstion :D : does the pipe fit in - slide inside - the fittings or it needs a melting gun that does the welding and everything?

How did you put your trailer together? Glue?


OddJob (author)marosi2012-08-20

Thanks Marosi. The pvc pipes do fit inside. Typically, the dimension of the pipe is the same length as the inserted portion. i.e. 1 1/2 " pipe would slide into the coupling / corner piece 1 1/2".

The first thing to do with any pvc pipe project is to "dry fit" all the pieces together to get the proper fitting / angles. This is critical, as once it is glued there is no turning back! Make marks on all the joint spots so you can line it up correctly during the gluing process.

There is a special glue that is used to secure the pipes together. It is a two step process. The first is a cleaner that leaves a "non slippery" surface for the glue to adhere to. It is usually purple in color. You spread the cleaner on the inside of the receiving pipe. Then spread it on the end of the pipe that will be inserted. Be careful not to drip or get the cleaner on parts not to be glued. It is basically like a dye, and will penetrate the pvc and not come off!

Next apply the glue to the inside receiving portion and push together. The glue sets up EXTREMELY FAST! I mark with a marker on the pipes where they should line up before gluing so that my angles are correct.

One last note. It is important to get a straight cut on the pvc for the best results. My technique is to measure to 4-5 points on the pipe, then join the points together with a continuous line (so it looks like a stripe going all the way around the pipe) and cut on the line. I usually just do a surface cut all the way around and then the saw will follow as you turn the pipe in one hand and saw with the other. Making a "cradle" to guide the pipe on it's path is also a good idea. I use a hacksaw rather than a wood saw, that has a small tooth size as the pvc is quite dense material wise.

marosi (author)OddJob2012-09-18

Very interesting!... i bought some PPR pipe - been told that is one and the same with PVC just that people can't tell the difference... - but they do not fit together.

I asked a friend of mine - plumber - and he advised me to use heat. So I "cooked" them over stoves open flame :D And than the tube and fitting came together and stuck. No glue what so ever. Now i just have to get everything together and test the bonds strength, the joints.

Will come back with updates...sometime :)

tipsy4life (author)2012-06-27

Looks great! Question: Does anyone sell them? I need to convert one to pull camping items on a long distance hike. Any suggestions?

rimar2000 (author)2012-05-17

Very good design, nicely done.

reddfraser (author)2011-08-07

Great trailer..... to make one that would be stronger what about galvanized metal electric wiring tubing. Also comes with all the elbows and T's, etc, that make easy assembly.
I'm also curious about solid 45* elbow joint, at front of trailer, to tow rod....over time I could see it tear at its bend, as it would be flexing a lot under load. Maybe a couple of inches of hose between front X fitting and the 45* elbow?a large carabiner? piece of conveyor belt?
What is the metal holding axle onto the PVC? Are axles center of trailer, or offset a bit towards rear end?

ducktape.mac (author)2010-06-07

can it hold a person thats like 150 pounds or so?

OddJob (author)ducktape.mac2010-06-07

I would definately not try to haul anything weighing 150 lbs, much less a person. Even the best bike child trailers have 100 lb limits. And mine was designed to carry maybe 35-40 lbs of groceries or small dog in a kennel.

the pvc bike guy (author)2009-07-26

Very nicely done, but it would be cheaper if you got your material for free just post on crags list. that's were some of my PVC pipe and fittings come from and the city of Seattle, Yelm and Tacoma. for my PVC Bicycles and as to the wheel Problem I had that too but I fixed this to Nice design.

ron69661 (author)2009-05-24

OK so what are the PVC measurements? I am looking at 3' x 3'. Going to use 2' for the platform cuts and 6" for the wheel wells.

ron69661 (author)ron696612009-05-24

OK I changed it to 4" for the wheel wells. Now have to figure out how to mount the wheels.

musicalbee2003 (author)2008-08-02

I've E-mailed the bamboo trailer people several times and asked for directions, but I never get a response. Do you think you could post/send me the instructions? Hi, I've seen their site before. don't know how this "link" button works, but here's a try.

rannulf (author)2008-12-25

Great Idea. Easier fabrication than welding. One suggestion, If you're making this type of wheel arrangement. Get a piece of threaded rod, some nuts and fender washers. Then you can make an axle to hold the wheel mounts in place to align them. It's worth the trouble if you're making more than one.I use it for my welded trailers.

ckrueger123 (author)rannulf2009-01-26

Can you give me some basic instructions on how to "make an axle"? Thanks

Wiredaisy (author)2009-01-17

Another thought would be to use electric pvc conduit. It is a dull grey color and none to exciting. However, the only difference between the white pvc and the grey, besides obvious, is that the grey has greater uv resistance. It is also a little more costly.. Kudos to you!

rmsilber (author)2008-09-14

I've built a bike trailer and I must be a novice at took quite a few weekends to get it right. The easiest part was building the platform. The devilish part was the wheel. To make a long story short, the whole contraption was wobbling left and right and after a lot of trial and error, I isolated the problem to be with the wheel alignment: the axles have to be precisely in line relative to each other AND the individual wheels have to be nearly perfectly straight. So placing the wheel supports on is more than just fabricating them and drilling them in place on the frame, great care must be given to the above or you'll have a very tough time. Just thought I'd pass this one to save someone a lot of sweat and drilled fingers. Cheers!

OddJob (author)2008-09-07

Hmmm, does that fit with the "be nice" policy listed right below where you entered your comment? This is not a constructive and positive comment.

funkisockmunki (author)2008-08-09

Hi! I love what you've done here. Not being a very experienced DIY'er, We're confident that we could figure out the platform and the connection to the bike, but are puzzling over how you hooked the wheels to the cart. Would you be willing to share more photos or info about he exact parts you used to secure the wheels to the platform? The other thing we're wondering is how the connection from cart to bike is handling the torque when you're stopping in a hurry or turning. The bend near the top seems like it might be a possible safety concern. Maybe we're just being paranoid. :-) How has it held up for you with heavier loads? Thank you for sharing! We're psyched to build something that will make us free of the car for hauling groceries, but struggling with a lack of technical know-how.

OddJob (author)funkisockmunki2008-08-10

Thanks for the note. The wheel attachment is described in the instructions on the following link:

As I have said, I would likely double-up on the thickness of this to get better wheel stability. This is probably the weak point in the design. The joint near the seatpost mount is a pretty sturdy PVC connection that hasn't shown any stress so far. Again, I have only had 40-50lbs total on this trailer. Pulling a bike trailer is a bit like trailering with a vehicle, you take more time to stop, wider turns and avoid abrupt braking situations. Remember you have extra length and weight and no extra braking power.

Have fun with this. To increase the bed strength one could add one or two more "cross pieces" to the frame which supports the wire shelving bed. I was trying to keep weight low and this is the prototype version so extensive testing was not yet complete. How's that for a disclaimer? :D

bumpus (author)2008-07-08

i could so make this, i have most of the parts in the garage, very well done

OddJob (author)2008-07-08

Mr. Rig It, the Underdog logo takes me back to the good old days! Thanks for the kudos. Zjharva and anyone else curious about the Trek Lime bike and Shimano coasting: I liken it to a car with auto vs manual shifting. With manual you always know what gear you are in and can gear up or down for the specific conditions. The Lime bikes allow you to just get on and ride. They shift a bit harder going uphill like your auto tranny, shift great on the level, and are in high gear going downhill so no need to up shift when you reach the bottom. Comfy riding position, coaster brakes, light weight alum frame. Oh, oh...think I've slipped into sales mode..

zjharva (author)2008-07-07

Nice trailer! I favorited it! Nice trek lime! How are those bikes? I have a trek 4300 mountain bike, but am curious about the lime auto-shift bikes.

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-07-07

Nice job with your ible it looks great!

OddJob (author)2008-07-07

Thanks for the input guys. I have painted PVC before (made a canoe rack out of 3" pipe that mounted to my pickup) and it stays put as long as you don't scratch it. And Kozz, yes I manage a bike shop, Trek products none-the-less. Might try the cog replacement, although it's quite hilly around our place. I basically cut the shelving unit in half, and yes, the ends should be trimmed. But I was so stoked to try it out; you know the jazz....

shepnstein (author)2008-07-07

Very nice. As long as you aren't off-roading with it I think it should hold up nicely. I've heard that UV rays makes PVC brittle and subject to cracking. Spray painting it could block those rays.

Kozz (author)2008-07-07

Nicely done! PVC is a great alternative to welding, for sure. It looks good on the Lime Lite, too. I work for Trek, FWIW, and you can you can replace the rear 20-tooth cog for a 18t or 16t nexus cog if you want to gear up a little bit. But from your post, I'm guessing you knew that (bike shop guy?). I'd like to see some photos of the underside where you've bolted on the wheels. As for the wire shelving, I could imagine gouging my shins on the little wires sticking off the back. Yowch! Maybe cut them closer to the PVC?

killerjackalope (author)Kozz2008-07-07

I have permanent scrapes up my leg from bikes, they have a habit of getting the shins with the pedals (metal high grip = Knives on pedals)

I imagine the trailer would provide the similar experience to a passenger...

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