Introduction: Trailer for Vespa Scooter

Picture of Trailer for Vespa Scooter

I enjoy my Vespa (GTS250ie) a lot, I use it both for professional transportation, as well as for personal use.
Downtown, traffic is often congested, parking is always expensive or problematic, and the Vespa is a very effective solution to both.
On holiday trips, I started to realize it is actually one of the best vehicles to discover the world :
* riding on a motorcycle (or bike) allows to experience the landscape and scenery in a more intense way (compared to car, bus, train,..)
* it's speed is slow enough to be able to experience everything, yet fast enough to make some progress through the day
* it's not too expensive

The only disadvantage or problem is that you can't really take a lot of luggage with you : there is a small rack at the back, but it only accomodates a small bag. In front of the driver is a hook, which will hold a small rucksack.
I really needed more storage, either for equipment on profesisonal jobs, or for camping gear during the holidays.
After seeing some examples of single-wheel trailers for bikes and scooters, I decided to make a multipurpose-trailer for my Vespa

Given the complexity of this project, and the safety (and road-legal) requirements, this was going to be a project which would take several months. Your needs and capabilities are likely to be different, and so you probably won't be able to build one yourself simply following this instructable. Still I hope that this story may help and inspire you to build one, some day.

Good luck & Hope to meet you on one of my trips one day !

Step 1: Requirements - Parts List - Tools - Costs

Picture of Requirements - Parts List - Tools - Costs
Requirements
  1. Meet legal requirements. They differ from country to country. Google is your friend, as well as the forums of local scooter or motorcycle clubs
  2. Safety : strong construction for worry free rides.
  3. Durable : must withstand Europe's roads and weather conditions.
  4. Payload : >100 liter of volume, and about 40 kg of weight. Legally, the trailer has a maximum weight of 50% of the vehicle towed by (150kg), so that means a total weight of max 75 kg. This led to the option of building it in Aluminum.
  5. Comfortable ride : should not limit maneuverability of the Vespa itself. Ideally it should feel as if there was no trailer being towed/
  6. No permanent modifications made to the scooter. (in case I want to sell it some day.)

Parts list
  1. 12" wheel : I managed to buy one on ebay for 25 euro
  2. Faes Cases Defender Aluminium Case. I used a FA-74 type of 990mm*450mm*380mm (162 liter of volume)
  3. Aluminium tubes : 40mm*20mm*3mm
    1. 2 * 1050 mm
    2. 2 * 400 mm
    3. 2 * 360 mm
    4. 2 * 150 mm
    5. 2 * 380 mm
    6. 1 * 220 mm
    7. 2 * 255 mm
  4. Plywood : 980 mm * 440 mm * 12mm
  5. 2 x 4-function light block (rear light, braking light, turn indicator, license plate light)
  6. 3" caster.
  7. 2nd license plate

Tools
I can't be 100% exhaustive on the list of tools, but here are the most important ones
  • Tape-measure, Caliper
  • Steel carpenter's square
  • Disc grinder
  • Drill press
  • AC TIG Welder
Costs : total 500 euro = 650 $
  • Case : 300 euro
  • Aluminium tubes : 70 euro
  • Argon (TIG Welding gas consumed) : 20 euro
  • Plywood : 5 euro
  • Lights : 40 euro
  • Caster : 15 euro
  • Wheel (second hand - ebay) : 25 euro
  • 2nd license plate : 25 euro

Step 2: Google Sketchup Model

Picture of Google Sketchup Model

In order to get the dimensions right, and to solve several design challenges, I made a google sketchup 3D model.

I know Instructables.com is a fan of AutoCad, but hey, Sketchup is free and it does the job.

Step 3: The Frame

Picture of The Frame
The frame consists of Aluminium tubes, welded together.
I decided to go with Aluminium for a number of reasons :
  1. the case itself was also aluminium (and also the wheel had an aluminium rim)
  2. it would reduce the weight of the trailer itself, yielding more useful payload
  3. no extra protection agains corrosion is needed
  4. it is a bit easier to handle than steel for cutting, grinding, drilling holes, etc.
But there are some drawbacks as well :
  1. It is not as strong as steel (although strenght per weight is )
  2. It is more difficult to weld than steel.
I didn't have any experience welding aluminium, but I had the right Welder, and I definitely wanted to learn to weld Aluminium.
So I decided this would be my first real Aluminium welding project. (I did practice on some leftover pieces first)
I also designed the trailer in such a way that if I made big mistakes in the frame, I could still make another one, and reuse all the other parts. The frame itself costs under 100 euro

The biggest challenge here was keeping all angles and lines straight : welding joints tend to shrink when cooling, and that often distorts the thing you're building. During preparation, I was extremely accurate about all parts. Still after welding not everything was perfectly straight or square. I need to improve my skills in this area. But the result (let's call it a prototype) was certainly good enough for real use. (the welds were strong, but not always as estetic...)

Lessons learned : Welding ALU needs practice, especially fillet welds are still hard. Thermal distortions are a real problem, so you need to design with that in mind !

Step 4: Coupling

Picture of Coupling

The trailer coupling was another DIY challenge. As the trailer has only 1 wheel, it needs to rotate on 2 axes, but not on the third : no rotation along the length axis of your motorcycle.

At first I planned on using a Cardan coupling from a car's steering wheel transmission.
But after giving it some more sleep, I found a much simpler, cheaper and stronger solution : a caster wheel

What is important here is that a caster has nuts and bolts along its 2 axis, which are adjustable. This way by adjusting the nuts, the whole coupling can be adjusted to have absolutely no space or clearance along the third axis.

Furthermore, a caster has a nice base-plate allowing it to be easily connected to the rear rack of the scooter with only a few extra welds

I decided to make things a bit more compact, and drill new holes for the up-down axis. Then some unused metal could be cut away, making the piece a bit smaller, but same strength and functionality.

Lessons learned : when welding on the caster, decompose it to its pieces, then do the welding and reassemble.

Step 5: Light - License Plate

Picture of Light - License Plate
I wanted to have the electrical cables for the lights inside the frame tubes. This is safer and cleaner.
You can't however have them there during the welding, as the heat of the welding proces will melt the insulation of the cable.
So I used a copper wire (leftover piece of 1.5mm2 solid core electrical wire) and pulled the final cable in once the frame welding was ready.

As for the connector, I thought the standard 7 pins connector was a bit bulky for a scooter, so I took a 5pin XLR connector and assigned lights as follows : 
  1. Earth (or ground)
  2. Rear light and license place light
  3. Brake light
  4. Turn indicator Left
  5. Turn indicator Right
In Belgium, a trailer needs a separate license plate, and furthermore it needs one that is conform to very detailed legal specifications. So I ordered one from a shop that was certified to make replica license plates :http://www.nummerplaat.be/dyn/oude-nummerplaat
It was not that easy, as motorcycles have/had different kind of license plate, but only rarely need a 2nd copy for a trailer.

Lesson learned : weather-proof XLR connectors exist. I had better used one of those.

Step 6: Test Drive

Picture of Test Drive

How does it drive ?

General driving : very smooth. On good road surfaces, you don't notice the trailer at all : No sounds, no bumps, vibrations at all. On bumpy roads, you will feel to some extent the bumps hit by the trailer. The center of gravity of the trailer is quite low, (in fact it is on a line from coupling to 3rd wheel) so the Scooter is not being pulled in any direction in turns.

Maneuverability :  The trailer is the same width as the scooter, so any gap the scooter manages to get through, the trailer will follow. Furthermore the turn radius isn't constrained by the trailer : it will happily follow the scooter when turning minimum radius curves

Load : until now I have loaded it with a maximum of ~ 30 kg. At this load, the handling was still perfect. However it is designed be loaded with 50kg. After having done more test-driving, I will load it with this maximum load and report back.

I will post a video one of the next days.

Step 7: Oh, and One More Thing

We are trying hard to get a Techshop in Belgium, so if you are from Belgium, please follow and support us on :

website : strooom.be
twitter : @techshopbe

Who knows, one day you'll build your own Vespa Trailer in TechShop Belgium :-)

Thanks for reading and Enjoy the ride !

Thanks to Guy (VespaShop.be), Marc (Aluminum), Dirk (Mentor), Ivek & friends (Mentors), Testas.be for their advice and support !

Comments

marzio (author)2017-10-02

I enjoyed your project very much. In fact I have read it and viewed the photos many times! I have a Vespa LX 150 ie and I thought a trailer like the one you made would be great. I have a 2007 Vespa 150 front wheel. I'm not sure how to mount it on an axle as the Vespa axle is not a single dimension/width. I think I have to install a couple of different sized bearings. You didn't go into much detail about the wheel you used, but it looks similar to the Vespa wheel. Thoughts?

strooom (author)marzio2017-10-03

Hi, the wheel I used was bought for 25 euro on eBay... It's a front wheel from a scooter, but not a Vespa.
Mounting it was very easy because it has one large bolt which serves as the axis. I only had to drill two holes in the rear fork

_-_I_-_ (author)2017-08-27

Thanks alot for the idea. When my trailer is welded, I will post pictures.

I make all metal profiles (and small mod on your plans) and I found somebody who can do the tig-welding.

Groeten uit Antwerpen 2060 ;-) Hoe zit het met de plannen voor de Techshop ?

strooom (author)_-_I_-_2017-08-29

Er is helaas geen verdere interesse van Techshop voor Antwerpen, maar er is ondertussen wel Faber Makerspace : http://fabermakerspace.be/

_-_I_-_ (author)strooom2017-08-29

I will keep you up to date with pictures when the construction is finished.

I am gonna make a mono spring suspension trailer with 125cc dax \ monkey parts for the rear suspension.
I'm going to buy everything new, so the price goes up a bit.
Trailer is for my replica dax 125cc for camping, fly with RC planes and other tests to be able to go outside the city where there is still space.

It is good to thank the people that help you and to inspire others!

Thanks voor de extra info kan handig zijn voor toekomstige projecten.

Ik
heb weinig tijd maar wel bezig en heb genoeg kennis ivm metaal en kunstof
bewerking,goede basis CAD->CNC, goede basis C++,draaibank en frezen,mechanica,elektromechnica, elektronica en telecom\informatica.

Techweenie made it! (author)2017-08-09

I love this project. So much so that I made one myself with a few modifications. I added a quick disconnect for the trailer hitch, a rear suspension and a kickstand. The caster idea was a stroke of brilliance. Love it. Here are some pics of the mods I made.

strooom (author)Techweenie2017-08-10

Nice! Spread the Vespa love!

audihenry (author)2015-09-10

loved the way you repurposed the caster for two axis movement, very ingenious!

astropapi1 (author)2015-09-08

That's beautiful!

Looks really professional but simple at the same time. Less is more, as they say. :)

martinkentish (author)2015-06-04

Brilliant! Sketchup model was really helpful in being able to cut the tubing to the correct size, and also as a base to modify the trailer. One question relating to wiring, where did you connect the wiring to on the Vespa (I suspect to keep it simple you may have taken feeds from the existing indicators etc..)

JON-A-TRON (author)2015-04-02

Well done! You've got skills man.

randall.tinney (author)2015-03-19

Have you considered making this trailer for order? I would buy one tomorrow if I could!

zman1204 (author)2015-03-17

IT IS A GEEK MOTORCYCLE TRAILER. A BARNEY DAVIDSON. I LOVE IT!

Et_in_Arcadia_ego (author)2014-12-08

The simplicity of the design goes well with any scooter or motorcycle. Very cool.

josh (author)2013-12-11

Very good! The caster wheel idea for the coupler is a great idea!

palombo5050 (author)2013-06-13

I absolutely love this. I have been wanting to build one for my "Sachs Madass"! I haven't built one because of the expense of the coupling. I love the caster idea and the simple design. Talk about having tail gate party. Great instructible. Thanks for sharing

espdp2 (author)2013-06-12

Very nice execution. I really like the trailer connector. Since the whole thing is longer, do you have any trouble parallel parking, or do you usually just use a normal parking lot space?

KROKKENOSTER (author)2013-06-02

Necessity is the mother of invention they say! I think that this will need to be copyrighted as some factory may be interested to build and sell this thing

vincent7520 (author)2013-06-01

Very nice pic of the scooter with the brick wall behind.
Congratulations

strooom (author)vincent75202013-06-01

Thanks. The building is the 'museum aan de stroom'. Just google images for MAS to get some more pics.

vincent7520 (author)strooom2013-06-02

Have a nice time with it this summer (if weather permits !)

obaa (author)2013-06-01

Great work, and the caster wheel idea is pure genius

veruca_salt890 (author)2013-05-27

That is so cool!! I dream of having a vespa. I'll definitely have to build this if I ever get one.

valkgurl (author)veruca_salt8902013-05-30

We built a pull-behind our motorcycle trailer based on a Harbor Freight small trailer frame and a SCARGO car topper. We have a large bike--1500 cc--and we don;t even notice her back there.

We made the trailer a bit narrower to make it the same width as the bike---something I am VERY happy to see addressed here as I got a fairly BIG argument about it!

We are planning on making our own version of a tear drop or other shape soon--the SCARGO is OK but not the most sturdy and things have a bad tendency to SHIFT in there---we made some internal baffles out of ply wood that fit into the "ribs" of the trailer and also put some crates in to seperate things. This also helped us learn how to BALANCE the load for the highway--several re-packs sent us off to a road side Wallyworld for crates and bungies!

But for the cost of the trailer frame--something like $200 or less with coupon and sales--and a $10 used SCARGO and a few nuts n bolts; some lights--ditch the Harbor Freight trailer lights as a bad deal and just do yourself a favor and go to PEP Boys or even Walmart and get BOAT TRAILER lights for less than $50---better made; better wiring. much much brighter--you DO want to be SEEN--right??

Harbor Freight has RE-STOCKED their small CARGO TRAILER that is much like the one we built.

We did several over nights as "Shake downs" and then trailered across NY State from Eastern border to Buffalo for our sons wedding--then dropped down to West Virginia and Ohio--and we LOVED how we were able to take what we needed and not have to lash things to the luggage rack--already occupied with a trunk bag!--or spend all our evening fumbling around in the saddle bags.

Since I am handicapped we were very pleased to be able to haul my "equipment" also.

Encourage ANYONE to buy build or borrow one to see what a great thing this is!
And consider that a purpose built motorcycle trailer--plain or fancy--STARTS at something like $3000----You can even find plans to make one of the cool fold out CAMPING TRAILERS---Not that hard once you know how!

And LOVE the Vespa job!

skwoorl (author)valkgurl2013-05-31

Does the trailer you built have 1 or two wheels? Does it have a suspension?

fmasi (author)valkgurl2013-05-31

You yanks are sooooo great!!!

I love how easy you can approach road legal things. I have been in DC, NY, NE, NV, AZ and CA. Wherever I have traveled, I have often seen stuff riding (or driving) down the road that we could only dream of, here!

Cheers!

fmasi (author)2013-05-30

Nice, nice, nice!!!

The only things I could think of worrying about are not about your trailer:
- that chromed Vespa rack, while it's beautiful, doesn't look up to the job of supporting the hinge of the trailer ... are you sure it will keep up with full load and bumpy roads?
- that's a variable speed drive Vespa ... will the belt keep up well with the extra weight?
- I see a brake disk there but I guess it's just a spacer for the wheel; how much is the extra weight felt while braking? The distance of the hing from the "middle" axle is not much, and it's very high, so it could possibly even add weight to the front wheel ...

Thanks again for the SUPER instructable!
Please, drop a note if you pass by Verona or Venice!

strooom (author)fmasi2013-05-31

Hello 'fmasi',
* the rack seems to be OK until now, but you are right, it is something to be monitored.
* there is little extra drag, as far as I can feel. I think riding with a passenger is more load to the Vespa than riding with trailer. Of course riding with passenger + trailer is an extra load.
* yes, the trailer has no brakes. Legally it only needs brakes if > 500kg. also in braking I don't really notice. Still I have only loaded 30kg until now. Still need to testdrive with 50 kg.

When I manage to get Vespa and Trailer on the train to Bolzano, I will make a trip through the Dolomites and visit you :-)

fmasi (author)strooom2013-05-31

Great!

I know very well (very close to be a relative) the vicepresident-secretary of the Vespa Club d'Italia.

I am sure that a lot of people would be very happy to have you as a guest in any Vespa event, if and when you plan to pass by while it's happening.
Check www.vespaclubditalia.it (Italian only, sorry) for calendars and addresses. Just in case you want to add some random fun to your trip!

Cheers.

shuggiemac (author)2013-05-31

I have a couple of the original motorcycle trailers called PAV made here in the Czech Republic, so am very familiar with the concept. I was intrigued to see your instructable and all I can say is VERY well done. The use of the caster wheel housing is quite and ingenious to the two axis coupling question. I am sure that you shall keep the bearing in the caster well protected from moisture. I would love to give this a go myself, just for the hell of it but there are funny in this country about putting things on the road that are home made and even a small trailer must have its own documents. Then again on the other hand the police are not exactly rocket scientists. So again very well done.

windshadow (author)2013-05-30

PRETTY AWESOME . I love the adaptation of the multi axis castor for the trailer attachment .

fmasi (author)2013-05-30

Mate, my envy is really shooting through the roof ...
Because there's no chance they will ever let this marvel be road legal down here in Italy.

Thanks for giving shape to dreams.

troggo (author)2013-05-30

Fantastic project and you did a real great job on it too. Thanks for posting it.

MTJimL (author)2013-05-30

Did you bush the vertical axis pivot? Seems as though one could incorporate the wheel itself by flattening one section of the circumference and strapping it to the hitching tube.

Noitoen (author)2013-05-30

Could have used a little suspension with a small shock absorber. I've built a small bicycle carrying trailer to tow with my Prius with motorcycle wheels and independent suspension with shock absorbers and it handles like a charm even on Lisbon's "Roman like" stone streets.

bahi (author)2013-05-30

Amazing! Looks great!

MikeGonemissing (author)2013-05-30

This is beautiful in every way! You might consider adding a safety strap or cable between the scooter and the trailer. Just in case, since you are asking a lot of the pivot point on that 3" castor.

grapenut (author)2013-05-30

great instructable; love the coupling

The Wapusk (author)2013-05-30

Functional and beautiful, well done.

Be careful or you may have to start a garage company building these for all the EU Vespa riders.

Zuum1950 (author)2013-05-30

Nicely done; I think about doing something like this for my motorcycles and bicycles.

jcurran3 (author)2013-05-30

It's unclear where the caster wheel goes.....

skylane (author)jcurran32013-05-30

The tongue of the trailer gets mounted into where the wheel was.

Excellent idea!, Using the swivel castor to gain your dual axis!

See step 4. The caster is there. The wheel gets tossed.

greg44289 (author)2013-05-30

Beautifully done!

mhayes5 (author)2013-05-30

Yeah. Ball bearings tend to catch on fire while you're welding them.

druidrat (author)2013-05-30

Very nice execution, VG instructible. a few things I will change, but I intend to follow your model.

rint (author)2013-05-30

this looks professional bood work!!! if i had a vespa or any other thing i want such a thing, it looks Like a great project,

stresssolutions (author)2013-05-30

that is an amazingly simple, yet brilliant idea

ckorfanta (author)2013-05-30

Wow!. I think the use of the castor wheel is brilliant!

tinpusher (author)ckorfanta2013-05-30

I agree! The entire project is amazing but I think the castor wheel was the smartest design and construction element. I love when people find new-and-improved uses for common items!

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