Bicycle Trailer Hitch and Fishing Rod Holder Combo




About: I'm an Emu. As a young chick my parents use to feed me watermelon and I loved it so much everyone nick named me, you guessed it, watermelon. Now that I have moved away from home I rarely get to eat any water...

Have multiple applications you want a single project to serve? Here is an example of a single project designed to accommodate two uses.

I had many sources for inspiration including one of the instructables' examples that uses a plastic bin, hose, spring and a quick connector. The first trailer I built went for minimal parts count using a piece of one half inch thick sheet of scrape plywood u-bolted to a seven sixteenths diameter axle and tires from a stroller. The hitch was made from a piece of bicycle tire wrapped around the rear basket handle and bolted onto the top and bottom of the end of a piece of conduit, that was u-bolted to the plywood. (see last picture below)

For the second trailer I also used a one half inch thick piece of plywood (three quarter inch next time) u-bolted to a one half inch axle and tires from a wood carrier cart, and a two inch caster wheel.

My original plan was to bolt the conduit to the metal frame running perpendicular to the axle (see first picture of last step) but I decided that I wanted only the trailer axle to carry 95% of the load. Put another way... I decided not to build a semi-trailer where a large portion of the load is carried by the rear tire of the bicycle. I used the half-inch plywood (new) to start with because it was handy, only needed a trim and was light.

The u-bolt arrangement permits the plywood to be leveled without bending the conduit permanently. The first piece I used had enough contact area together with a slight offset angle to keep it from slipping when the u-bolts were tight. I put a carriage bolt through the second piece of conduit (which had a straight end to fit through the PVC pipe) because it was too short to provide enough contact area with the plywood. Even though attached in a small area I expect the conduit will bend before the plywood will break, especially when I replace it with three quarter inch sheet. If the conduit bends or the plywood breaks from too much weight then I have not done my job in balancing or securing the load.

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Step 1: Two Out of Three Ain't Bad...

I try to avoid using the dropout with any carrier/trailer project since wheel realignment can sometimes be a pain. Instead I use the fender mount bolt holes above the dropout to keep axle and carrier adjustments and maintenance separate.

In most cases even If I use the dropout hole an adapter is required to match the frame bolt holes with the holes needed for the carrier. In this trailer project I decided to use a 2 inch diameter caster wheel to keep the cost very low since I found a good one at the flea market for a dollar and a caster wheel provides two of the three required axis of rotation.

To mount the caster wheel to the frame I thought I would need to make an adapter but then the idea hit me that all I really needed was to cut parallel flats on the caster wheel and drill holes to match the fender mounts.

This initial design resulted in a hitch design that worked only if I did not stray from level ground, rest the bike on the kick stand or let it fall over. It soon dawned on me that a good trailer hitch design required provision for all three axis consisting of yaw, pitch and roll. Since I live in a hilly area with many bumps, gulleys and inclines this setup, which lacks roll, was not good enough to get me past the driveway so I started thinking about a way to add roll at very low cost..

Step 2: Adding Roll

The first trailer hitch redesign borrowed from the original hitch design by again using a folded piece of tire bolted to the caster wheel base plate to form a loop in which to insert and hold the conduit tubing. This worked very well to provide the trailer with roll and I did not need to go further, but went ahead and replaced the piece of tire with a piece of PVC. Note that the one inch PVC has to be notched for the three quarter inch u-bolt to fit. Either configuration depends upon the materials at hand. Even other materials like upholstery strap might do or a washer with a large enough hole for the conduit to slide through, just the u-bolts. To be honest I liked the feel and fit of the piece of tire much better and will probably use it again. If I do I'll add it to this instructable.

I used a couple of u-bolts to secure a piece of one inch PVC pipe to the caster wheel base plate through which I ran the end of the three quarter inch piece of conduit tubing connected to the trailer. Bolts are run through the conduit at each end of the PVC (or loop of a piece of tire) to keep the conduit from sliding back and forth in the tire or PVC. I used wing nuts and washers to secure the bolts which did not have full threads. To keep the bolts and washers from rattling I added a piece of bungee cord.

Update: Since my next project incorporated a hose quick connector I decided to modify this project (at the expense of loosing my fishing rod holder) to incorporate a quick connector too. If you need more pictures and description than the picture shown to make the modification just ask for more pictures and I will provide more pictures and a full description too.

Step 3: Other Uses...

Sometimes I like to head off without the trailer and go fishing since I live a short distance from the river. The PVC makes a very nice holder for my fishing rod and may have some other uses.

Step 4: Total Cost:

1- 2" caster wheel ($1.00)
2- 3/4" u-bolts ($0.88)
1- 3/4" x 10' conduit ($1.49)
1- 1" x 3" PVC (Free, had some left over from galvanized water supply pipe replacement.)
(optional: use piece of bicycle tire from six inches to nine inches long folded and bolted to the caster wheel base plate with a one inch loop to accept the conduit like the PVC - also free from a discarded tire that had a bad bead.)
2- fender mount machine screws and nuts 1/4"-32 x 1.5" ($0.37)
2- 1/4"-20 x 2" hex head bolts, washers and wing nuts ($0.76)
Brain power and mechanical engineering and assembly skills, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk ($0.93)

Grand total: $6.31

(This does not include the conduit-to-plywood mounting hardware which consisted of 2- 3/4" u-bolts and a 1/4"-20 x 2" hex head bolt not shown. Note: this u-bolt arrangement is used to level the trailer after which a hole for a hex head or carriage bolt can be drilled through the conduit and plywood. )

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    23 Discussions


    Question 11 months ago on Step 1

    Hola Sandía:
    Estoy pensando en hacerme un remolque y me ha gustado tu enganche, por lo ingenioso y sencillo que es.
    Me gustaría hacerte una pregunta: ¿no le falta girar en uno de los tres ejes que necesita?; es que yo sólo veo dos ejes de giro; no obstante, nadie mejor que tú para decir cómo funciona tu enganche ¿es suave en la conducción?.
    Muchas gracias y ¡enhorabuena por tu diseño!.


    2 years ago

    I just see pictures of the finished project. Where are the pictures/steps on how to put this thing together?


    9 years ago on Step 2

    I like the modification of using the quick release. Can you send me some more pictures of how that is all connected? Also, for what it's worth, you mentioned losing your fishing pole mount, but it seems to me you have two available holes on the caster mounting plate still. You could use a single u bolt and bolt on a single piece of pvc, vertically, to still hold your fishing pole. Don't forget to throw a cooler on your trailer to bring the fish home in! :) Anyway, I'd love to have some more pics of that whole junction with the quick release.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    I am totally new to this site but think it's great. I'm trying to create this hitch but am confused why you say this design doesn't allow for roll. Wouldn't the cut castor wheel allow for horizontal movement and the bearings of the plate allow for vertical movement? Thx

    2 replies

    if the fishing pole could rotate withing the grip of the U-bolts, then the trailer would probably perform better while simultaneously turning and starting up or down a hill


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Its easier to strap a piece of PVC pipe with zipties to somewhere on the bike to hold a fighting pole...I've got one on my 4wheeler


    11 years ago on Step 3

    I am trying to figure out how to adapt your excellent fishing pole holder into a forearm style crutches holder. Originally I was going to slip the ends of the crutches into a cut off plastic bottle and wire the bottle to the bottom of the bike rack supports. The crutches are only about 30" long. I thought I'd just bungie them to the top of the pannier rack where they touched it. Your device looks good. I've been making do so far with a "quiver" type arrangement with rubberbands and an old luggage strap but for a long trip thats pretty annoying. Do you have any thoughts for a better way to do this? I'm going on a 6 day tour Monday so it needs to be a quick weekend project or I'm back to the quiver carrier.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    you have the whole trailer weight supported by one little bolt through the fender eyelet, i think? seems like it might be a little weak, no?

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    (Previous reply info added to the Instructable) I must have been thinking about the conduit/plywood attachment rather than the fender mount when I replied to your question the first time. Veuillez m'excuser. On this bike there are two one quarter inch fender mount eyelets instead of only one. If you do the math the total cross sectional area is only a hundredth shy of the axle cross sectional area. Most likely the dropout or frame will bend before both of these bolts break at the same time. I have never had any problem with the weight they can carry. If you only have one eyelet then you can always make an adapter plate and include the axle for support. In fact, due to the strength of this connection, I have a remote disconnect planned for an Instructable in the future. No point in having your loaded trailer pull you with it off of the cliff.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    ah-ha - didn't know how the previous answer related! ok, i see, this makes more sense. i did see the two bolt arrangement, but figured it was just to make a bigger plate, didn't realize there was a double eyelet on the frame. definitely much better.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, I must have been thinking of my own immediate concern for the possible weakness of the conduit/plywood junction, having long since dismissed any concern for the strength of the dropout eyehole bolts. With only one eyehole though I would definitely include the axle or some other type of clamp mechanism to the frame. You'll see shortly in an alternate configuration of the caster wheel how the thickness of the adaptor plate by accident is way overkill. One eighth thickness would have been lighter and still thick enough (same thickness as the dropout) to work. Normally I like to go overboard on material strength for things on which personal safety depends but in this case safety may depend on weakness. I may end up cutting a weak point as a break-a-way so that in the event of a mishap, such as a truck hitting the trailer, that the trailer will not take the bike and me bod with it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    always wanted one of these, maybe illl build a little dog house on it and bring my dog if i get one again if i go bike riding :-)