Build a 2-wheel Cargo Bike





Introduction: Build a 2-wheel Cargo Bike

as promised in my last instructable, here's my attempt to build a 2-wheeler. why? i got infected by the bike-building virus. especially cargo bikes are just awesome vehicles: you meet lots of new people ("hey, what's this?"), you can transport nearly everything you need on a regular basis and it's better than a car if you live in a city like me (no parking fees, no searching for space to park a car, no insurances, taxes, gasoline, healthier & better for the environment,...). so go on and build your own, it's not that hard ;-)

Step 1: Donor Frames

(sorry no pic) i got myself two donor frames from the local dump: an old 26'' mountainbike (hardtail) and a 20'' kids bike. the kids bike is just needed for the front fork and wheel, so if you find one where everything else is rusty and broken - take it! the other bike is used as a whole.

Step 2: Bulding the Frame Pt.I

after disassembling the bikes completely i took the bigger one and welded two tubes (construction steel, 34x2mm) to it as shown in the picture.

Step 3: Frame Construction

now it's time to decide how long your bike should be. after that i suggest to draw the front construction 1:1 on some paper and put the rear part beneath it. it helps a lot to see if everything fits together. after that use it to weld the pieces together.
some technical notes:
- be careful to have the main tube to the front parallel to the ground. this means to measure exactly as possible the dimensions of the front wheel and fork and the center of the back wheel (see drawing)
- for the steering angle of the front wheel i used 75°

Step 4: Steering

take the fork from the bigger donor bike and cut it in three pieces as shown above. then weld the top two pieces to another steel tube (something that fits inside the head tube (by the way, a good source to learn bikeframe vocabulary is here: )) and extend the bottom with a piece of steel.

Step 5: Fork

add a piece of metal to the fork in an angle of 90° as shown in the pic. a better position would be to move it more to the top (see annotation). that gives the wheel more space in left turns.
be careful to have the same distance from wheel center to the hole for the steering axis and from he center of the head tube to the hole for the steering axis. if these are different turning the handlebar doesn't result in the same turning of the front wheel.

Step 6: Mounting the Steering

the steering axis is screwed to some ball joints and connected to the two holes where it should rest. added is also some support to the bottom tube (see pic).

Step 7: Putting Everything Together

Step 8: Disassembling and Cleaning

everything is disassembled and all metal parts are cleaned from rust and old paint. what you also see in this picture is the support for the load-box, made of steel tube and welded to the frame. the stand in the background is also made of small steel tube and was a pain to construct. next time i will try some motorbike kickstands, maybe that works out, too.

Step 9: Painting the Frame

Step 10: Putting Everything Together

it's done!

3 People Made This Project!


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What was the angle of the tube that meets the fork steer tube?

2 replies

hi, that angle depends on a few factors. i don't know the angle anymore, sorry. but i would recommend to draw the front in 1:1 scale to get that angle. the fork angle should be somewhere between 73 and 75 degrees (the more degrees the more stiff is the steering). then add the tube going down so that it doesn't interfere with the wheel (or the fender if you have one).

hope thathelps!

Yeah, I figured it depends on the rake of the fork. My plans of 73 degree angle, but I haven't been able to find any specs on cargo bikes to verify that this is anywhere close.

If you can get a donor cheap mountain bike with a dual crown fork the tubes slide into the steerer! So by cutting the steerer you can braze the stanchion tube form the shock and braze the rest of the steere to the top. The rest of the bikes tubes can finish the external parts.Ill post a photo soon. Do you have your plans for the box?

1 reply

sounds good, though i'm not sure i got everything what you wrote :-) a photo would be great! re. the box: unfortunately not. it was a build on the go - i took material i had lying around and built without planning. sorry!

Beautiful! Im considering trying this build, I will post it here if I do:-)

1 reply

yeah, please do so! thanks!

this is very good i would like to build a few and pass them around.

1 reply

thanks! passing them on would be a great idea - so people could actually experience on their own how it is to live a less car-centric life without having to make an investment beforehand :-)

That is cool! I plan on making one like this but from a 3-wheel bike, so I have front and rear cargo space!

2 replies

sounds great! if you're done with it a pic of your work would be highly appreciated. thanks!


Brakes--The weakest point of the two bakfiets I've built are the brakes. I'm one use a cantilever on the rear and a BMX side-pull for the front. The other uses old MAFAC racers front and rear--I've found that with a full load and going down a hill brakes are weak. On the next build I hope to use discs, especially on the the front.


4 replies

yes, i can confirm that. though my cantilevers at the back are good enough, but the ones in the front are definitely too weak. the best solution would be disk brakes i guess.

Hey, so I'm pretty far along with my bike, coming along pretty well, and I'm going to attempt to go with disc brakes!! My biggest question for anyone out there is: how did you all engineer the kickstand to stay up when not in use? I'm assuming that professionally built bikes have some kind of spring mechanism, but not sure how I could build this?

Thank you very much, that's exactly what I was needing!!

Fantastic build dude. I knocked one up myself recently with the help of a marine engineer mate who himself had made one first. Here's some stuff we learned.

Rod end bearings for both ends of the steering rod offer superior resistance in hard knocks [running into curbs/walls under load, etc]

a variation on the bucket style cargo area is the "deck" or "tray" style area with sides that fold down to make a totally flat tray for awkward loads [like old bike frames that have been chucked out ^_^] which can be more versatile. We were initially worried that without sides loads would slide out in corners, but the strange property [and vastly superior nature] of two wheeled cargo bikes is that they'll lean in the corners and most loads, if not really light, will stay right where they are. Of course if you have young children then that all goes out the window.

We also found that using a ladies mountain bike frame meant that in the [no doubt extremely unlikely] event of falling over sideways, the top tube of the frame doesn't tend to take you with it.

On the notion of moving the steering mount point higher on the front fork, it *does* allows your hard lock left to be a lot further left but we needed to do SO much readjusting and fine tuning to make sure that it would clear all the various bits that are so close together in there [we ended up cutting a groove roughly the circumference of a tennis ball into the front of the cargo deck] having said that, I've never ridden a bike without the clearance, and I would imagine it's pretty constricting.

Anyway, as I said, awesome build, it looks really schmick and it's always great to see another nutter on the cargo bike convoy.

Well done.

1 reply

I'd love a pic of what you did for the steering problems you mentioned!! I just started building one of my own!!!