Introduction: Tow a Boat With a Bike

Picture of Tow a Boat With a Bike
If you live near a lake but not on the lake; a bike boat trailer is the way to tow your small boat to the neighborhood lake. This trailer is made from black iron pipe and wheelbarrow wheels. It uses standard threaded pipe fittings so there is no welding involved.

The boat is 9 feet long and weighs over 100 lbs by itself (and the trailer of steel pipe is not exactly light weigh). You can see in the video it maneuvers nicely, and is not a problem to tow (though I wouldn't want to take it up any steep hills!)

Step 1: Trailer

Picture of Trailer

Step 2: Gimble Joint

Picture of Gimble Joint

Note: the center joints are "loose fit" (not fully tightened). This allows the for the 6 degrees of freedom required for the joint to rotate along the X,Y,Z axis.
(Darn Rust - it has held up well over the last 5 years since it was built considering I didn't paint it)

Step 3: Wheels

Picture of Wheels

Pneumatic wheelbarrow wheels provide the suspension to absorb road bumps and at bike speeds there is no worry about burning out the bearings.
The axle is a 3/8" steel rod with holes drilled in the ends for cotter pins (with washer) to hold the wheels on.
There is a reducer pipe fitting on the inboard side of the wheels to reduce the diameter of the 1" pipe to provide a better fit for the 3/8" axle.
Note: a joining fitting is required at the center of the frame to tie the two side of the trailer frames together.

Step 4: Roller

Picture of Roller

Urethane roller used on big boat trailers. I got this one at a sporting goods store.

Step 5: Connection

Picture of Connection

The connection to the bike is made by partially unthreading the fore/aft connector pipe. As it is being unthreaded from the trailer side make sure it is being threaded into the top elbow on the bike.

Step 6: More Photos

Picture of More Photos

My two tow vehicles side by side.


PitsM (author)2016-05-04

I had a dream last night that I was towing my boat with a bicycle. I had to check it out and see if it had been done. In my dream my boat fell of a bridge and people were laughing at me.

KeithM9 (author)2016-03-18

What is the approximate weight of the trailer by itself?

n_reeder14 (author)2015-09-15

How much did it cost in total?

Jackylee (author)2015-07-17


tsmith106 (author)2013-08-18

This is great, a very practical instructable and easy to understand.

bailzbigmac (author)2012-12-20

that is really cool i am going to modify one for my small 12ft tinny and see how it goes fingers crossed it works if it does ill think about adding it to this :) thanks

onemoroni1 (author)2012-07-15

I like this instructable. The idea and concept is very adaptable and open to design upgrade. As for the hitch, there are a 1000 ways to do it, yours is a K.I.S.S. design that has not failed. Thanks for sharing it. Peace

bikinearly (author)2011-12-21

As a rider who has towed 100+ pounds on occasion my hat's off to you. It's a great looking invention. Must get a lotta looks in the neighborhood. Good luck

pmn9393 (author)2011-12-13

that awesome. i cant help imagining the irony of pulling a paddleboat though

richardsan (author)2011-06-26

...this connection worries me, just a little.
why not use a union and a couple nipples to make this "loose" connection, and make it able to dis-attach...?

this is really a cool DIY project...i'm also looking for something i can rig for my vespa...came here first...thanks for forging this idea!

richardsan (author)2011-06-26

that fitting is called a "union"...;)

Evox_Rider (author)2010-06-22

Awesome project! I am putting together one for my Sportspal canoe, but its 14 feet long. I would like to find a little boat like yours, it would be a perfect one person fishing boat!

chiefredelk (author)Evox_Rider2011-03-01

You can make a small wooden boat..VERY cheap.. google Puddle Duck.. or contact me for help.. Use Luan and Titebond II glue. Staple the boat together with an air compressor. Paint it with Latex house paint. I made mine for less than 100 dollars..

cbooms (author)2011-01-18

awesome! i have a pelican 10E and it is a pontoon style boat. do you think it would still work or would i have to make the trailer a little differently? awesome idea!

sdhardie (author)2010-07-06

How could this be modified to tow a kayak or two? Awesome idea!

ubercurious (author)sdhardie2010-10-07

hmmm.... narrow the distance between the supporting rails, raise the v-section towards the front to support the keel, make the back part with the roller adjustable in length to support anything from river to sea kayaks, use pvc instead of metal to lighten up the whole shebang, etc etc. I've been wondering the same thing!

White_Wolf (author)2010-06-30

I love it.... wish I had a bike now..... I have a 10 foot Livingston tho... This looks like about a 6 or 8 foot right? My only suggestion would be to use a pipe coupler instead of screwing in one side while unscrewing the other. It seems like it would be safer and less likely to come loose. :0)

Jimstructables (author)2010-06-28

You should get a stainless steel water bottle. ;-) P.S. Cool idea. I could imagine that being quite a workout on anything but level ground.

coppeis (author)2010-06-25

That's really cool but what is that boat called(and name) please and thanks

lsmith254 (author)2010-06-14

Fabulous. Balance, ease of use, maneuverability-it's all great! My only thought was, what about the cooler filled with ice? LOL. What a great idea...I clicked on this one because, of all the bike carts, one that can haul a small boat seemed the most challenging. You nailed this one!

sugeri-instructables (author)2010-05-25

This is probably the VERY BEST instructable I have seen.  The pictures tell it all.

I would assume that if I go to a real hardware store that has real experienced hardware people that I would have all of the fittings when I walked out of the store.

In any case this seems to be a real workable idea to carry my older, tired dog when we bicycle with our 6 month old puppy.

I'd probably make it a little smaller though with a platform and a cage of some kind.

Very good!

lucek (author)2010-03-16

nice idea, but I don't think I could toe a boat the 3 miles to the beach from here.

Dr.Bill (author)2009-12-29

Thats nice with a dinghy. Where is the motor for the boat?

Yerboogieman (author)Dr.Bill2010-02-13

No need for one. Your arms will do just fine.

cnmaine (author)2010-02-13

how much did it callst

jet_ski (author)2009-09-21

This is awesome! I have a much simpler rig for towing my kayaks which use the bow of the boat to provide the rigidity - think i could do something like this with pvc pipe for the yak to give it more protection.

alex the fisherman (author)2009-09-07

cool idea I am going to make one for my boat but I am going to make it out of pvc piping so it will be a little bit lighter

graeme.t.cooper (author)2009-08-19

naration of the video would be nice, other then that, your trailer is AWESOME!

like the goose neck idea

kelseymh (author)2009-08-17

Very nice. This is definitely a project that other people could reproduce. You could improve it (perhaps to a featurable state :-) in a couple of minor ways: Add some text on your step 1. Explain that you're showing the finished project, and maybe discuss a bit how easy/hard it is to actually tow with your bike (steering, stability, etc.). Provide sources for some of the components. If they're readily available at a hardware store, just say so. The boat roller is a slightly special item, so if you can tell us where you got it, that would at least give people a starting point. On the connection for step 5, an interesting modification for safety would be to integrate a "positive stop" on the unthreading side. I need to think about it before I can suggest anything concrete (maybe a small #4 set-screw on the inside thread matched with a set-screw on the outside). Something so that once assembled, you can't (or vibration can't) accidentally disconnect it.

orksecurity (author)kelseymh2009-08-18

Dimensions/parts-list would also be sorta nice. They might not be right for anyone else, but they'd give folks a starting point. Outside of that: Can't argue with success, and the no-welding aspect is definitely attractive for those of us who haven't yet developed that skill. (I agree, though, that some suitable paint would probably be a good thing. And I'd be tempted to add a few more bumpers or rollers just to ensure against scraping the bottom of the boat.) There have been a few other interesting swivel fitting solutions in the other Instructables. Might be worth considering whether one of those might be more robust than your current connection, which theoretically could work itself loose if wiggled enough.

Zaphod Beeblebrox (author)2009-08-17


0087adam (author)2009-08-17

This is a really neat idea; you should get a patent

theRIAA (author)2009-08-16

that is a sweet setup

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