How to Build a Longtail Cargo Bike




Introduction: How to Build a Longtail Cargo Bike

I'm working in Haiti and living in the lovely city of Port Au Prince.

We just made a longtail cargo bicycle from a second-hand Ukrainian mountain bike. It was made in Haiti with a minimum amount of tools and measuring, but it rides well. This bike has carried three adults (400 pounds total) without catastrophic failure. It is currently being tested/abused by the teenager pictured.

Step 1: Find a Bike

Find a bicycle for as cheap as possible then cut the seat-stays about here, and the chain-stays just behind the bottom bracket.

Step 2: Find Some Metal

Find some metal tubing. We found an old TV stand with strong tubing.

Step 3: Lay It Out

Lay it out and mark the tubing for more precise cutting. Aside from the TV stand tubing we also used a tube from a women's bicycle frame to strengthen the rear end.

Step 4: Build a Jig

I'm using the term "jig" very loosely. We found a piece of aluminium U-channel that was long enough and attached the frame to it in order to hold the frame in a straight line.

Step 5: Wire It Up

We used bailing wire to hold everything in place. Clamps would work better.

Step 6: Measure

We used string and a ruler and a nail on the end of the string to build a plumb-bob. The goal is keep everything as straight as possible.

Step 7: Measure More

Measure some more and cross your fingers.

Step 8: Find a Welder

We used this cheap stick welder and used 50-75 amps for all of the welding.

Step 9: Weld

tack weld then measure/eyeball everything for alignment and weld some more.

Step 10: Weld

Weld some more.  

Step 11: Paint It and Name It

We chose the name Cheval which means horse in Haitian Creole. Choose a font, make a stencil and paint it on.

Step 12: Admire It

Our western style font is awesome. 

Step 13: Make a Head-badge

Every bicycle needs a head-badge.

Step 14: The Whole Thing

We left out a lot of small steps because we used mostly found items and we lack some basic tools but hopefully this is enough information to get you started. A few things not previously mentioned are the board above the back wheel. To attach the board we pre-drilled holes through the wood and metal and then put nails through which we bent over underneath. We used fork blades welded to a metal tube as a support going from the end of the board to the rear axle. We added an extra chain to make it long enough but we are not using the large chain ring on the front of the bike so we made the chain long enough for the middle chain ring. We also welded foot pegs on the rear chain stays.
Most new rear derailleur cables should be long enough to reach, I didn't buy a new one but used a small bolt and nut to join a scrap of cable to the original to make it long enough. I did buy a new brake cable and it also works fine.

Step 15: Ride It

We are in Haiti so for $2.50 we bought the woven pannier which are made for a horse or mule. It looks great and works. The bike still needs a good kickstand.

2 People Made This Project!


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6 years ago

Great instructions and a big inspiration! I can't weld so I extended a mountainbike frame with wood, epoxy and carbon fiber tow. You can watch a short video of how I made it here or by serching for "DIY longtail cargobike mads" on youtube.

Hey, thanks for the design!

I want to pick your brain a little bit--I pretty much need this bike, plus platforms and a heavy-duty kickstand so it won't be exactly the same...

First, do you have any concept of how much extra weight this put on the bike? i.e. are we talking five pounds or fifteen?

Second, have you tried making a sturdy kickstand for it? and if you have, what are the chances of you putting THOSE plans up too?

Thanks again :-)


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Hi, I didn't add a kickstand. I don't have this bike anymore so I can't weigh the bike but I'm guessing this modification added 10 pounds to the bike. Goodluck.


12 years ago on Introduction

 just built a bike like this based on this instructable, even used the same welding machine.  turned out great!  Thanks for the write-up/inspiration.


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

That's awesome, I'm happy to hear it.


Don't let that 'chicken' into my coop! The cox comb doesn't fool me: the beak and head belong to a raptor. A great bike!


12 years ago on Step 9

cover those legs and arms not only against the sparks.I have the scars to prove that but the UV light  and use a mask


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

i was reading about a guy who was restoring his car and used a welder for prolonged periods (a few minutes at a time within like a few hours) he ended with a tan with tan lines the size of his goggles!


12 years ago on Introduction

Great build--nice chickenhead welding mask, too.