Bike Trailer and Cargo Bike




Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founde...

Here's my current favorite cargo bike and bike trailer.

The wagon has wheelchair hubs with rims and pneumatic tires from a mountain bike.
The wagon frame is lashed together from hockey sticks and other sticks.
It's strong and easy to change.
It's survived years of heavy scavenging at [ MITERS] and a couple of trips to Burning Man.

The bike's front and rear racks are welded on from pieces of bicycle frames and broken ikea chairs.
The rear rack has a simple cleat that makes it easy to lash the trailer on with innertube.
I hang two milk crates over the front rack.

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Step 1: The Wagon

I used this wagon at burning man.
As many as four people rode on it at once. Even a Polish film crew and all their gear.
It was plenty strong and easy to pull.
To make it more comfortable I lashed an army-surplus stretcher on top of it.

I would bike along on the playa until I saw a pedestrian looking around in a despairing sort of way.
I knew what had happened. They'd gone for a walk. They'd walked and walked looking at all the amazing things, and finally they'd gotten tired. They looked around and realized that it was just as far to walk back, but they were tired already.
I rode up with my wagon and said "want a ride?" They'd say "oh my god yes please!". And I'd give them a ride in what direction they wanted to go. After a block or two I asked if they wanted to pedal. They'd say "yes of course" and then we'd trade places. I'd lie down on the wagon and they'd give me a ride to wherever they were going. Laying on the wagon facing backward made the scenery move in an interesting way. It also put my head closer to the bike, which made conversation easier.
When we got to the destination they'd invite me in to see their art and camp. That was interesting, I saw things I would never have known were there otherwise. People gave me blinky LED things to make my wagon more visible at night and lightsticks that I wove into the spokes.
Several people told me that my bike wagon ride was their best experience at burningman. That made me feel really good.

Step 2: Wagon Hubs

I built the wheels myself using the hubs and spokes from a wheelchair.
The spokes are much thicker than bicycle spokes.
The wheelchair had solid rubber tires. I wanted pneumatic tires so I took the original rims off and put on aluminum rims and tires from a mountain bike. Fortunately I found rims with the same number of spokes as the wheelchair had.

The spokes were just a little too long and would have popped the innertube, so I ground them down with a dremel tool.

I cut the stub axles off the frame of the wheelchair and welded them to a tube from a bicycle frame.

The axle tube wasn't quite as stiff as I expected so I lashed a 2x4 ontop of it.

Step 3: Trailer Hitch Lashing

The tongue of the trailer is an 8 foot hickory stick. It's very strong.

I welded a cleat to the back rack to make trailering easy.

This cord goes through a hole in the tongue. It makes sure the trailer doesn't fall off. At Burningman I didn't have the cord and the trailer fell off a couple of times. The people on board enjoyed it, but it wouldn't have been so good on pavement or in traffic.

Here's how you start the lashing.

Step 4: Innertube Over That.

There are lots of bicycle trailer hitches. I like this one because there's no slop at all and because I can always do it. If there's no rack or cleat the lashing goes to the seat post.

After the cord do a few turns of innertube over the tongue.

Step 5: Finishing the Lashing

After you crisscross over the top, do a few turns around the base under the tongue. While you still have some tube hanging out, put your finger into the lashing.
Use that to tuck a loop of innertube under the lashing.
Leave the tail of the loop out so you can pull the lashing apart easily.

Step 6: Foot Pegs

I welded some loops of rod around the dropouts to make footpegs.
They turned out well, look nice, and don't get in the way.

Great shot Andrea!

Step 7: Bike Features

The bike has rear footpegs for a passenger,
A sturdy rear rack that's strong enough for heavy cargo or passenger.
A strong front rack that's good to hang a couple of milk crates on.
The rear rack has a cleat that's great for a lashed trailer hitch.

Step 8: Milk Crate Saddlebags

I drilled holes in these crates for these loops of cord.
The cords suspend the crates over my front rack.

The rack supports are bent instead of straight so they can flex a little.
Also they support the crate sideways better.

Step 9: Two Years Later...

My parents and I painted the bike. My dad showed me how they used to do it on the farm. We painted it a nice tractor green. We put a boxing glove over the pipe in front. My mom rode this bike that way for a long time and met lots of friendly people. People just love the bike with the boxing glove!
Here's me, I'm borrowing the bike from my mom to take my luggage to the other end of the island. I folded a piece of cardboard over the front rack to keep my bags out of the spokes. I hooked my two bags together and slung them over the top like saddlebags. Off I went!

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    37 Discussions


    3 years ago

    The idea behind this is great! That looks like an accessory any used bicycle could use!


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Hi, What country do you live in??? I like the idea, it is brilliant, but that doesn't look like a a western country "thing", the foot step is awesome. but somewhat very short to put a very wide foot on it, plus not sure how much extra body weight the bike could handle. Very inspiring


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i like this idea. I think i can make a 3 foot long axle w/ some of my rod in the shop and thread the rod and slip the wheels on. the long axle will go through a 2x4 nice and easy to get and i can saw a slot along the length. no hockey sticks for me. i shall make the frame more hi tech. I need this basic type of trailer to haul my rocker box over 5 miles of BAD logging road to get to my placer claim. Bike

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I have so little recources it's hard to do this. Im a twelve year old with very limited money, transportation and junk, but i want to do this stuff soooo bad!(i wish i more junk more than anything!)

    11 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hello Chardster, There are some good ideas below. My suggestion is to also watch when your neighboors put out their trash the night before and look to see if there are things there you can use. This can be made with just about any substitution. The bike wheel can be any wheels (that move lol). So forth. Nice to see younger people have an interest in building stuff :) .


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Look for a store or business that is remodeling. sounds weird but I work for a large dept store. We are in a remodel process right now and we have filled up a 40 yard dumpster 12 times so far in the last 3 months. There has been so much good stuff that my garage is now overwhelmed with "things". people come and pick through every night. Good luck.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    i feel the same way you do..... im in the same situation....... the only person in my house who could help me is my dad(im the oldest at almost13(october)) but my dad can be kinda lazy and/or grumpy.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Convince your parents to take you junkyarding. or ask neighbors and friends from school if they have any of the parts you're looking for.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Just got home with a case of soda plus some other canned goods hanging from the handle bars. Beleive me you do not want to put a lot of weight on the front end cause you always want to be able to turn out of the way fast enough.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    People have personal taste in weigh distribution. I like the weight forward. It helps if it doesn't swing much. I used to carry 20 gallons of filtered water home in four carboys (5 gallon jugs) in front and back milk crates. It lasted too long so I switched to getting ten gals at a a time (80 lbs). I tried it front and back and preferred it in front. Some like the weight in back. One thing I would change, I'd make my next trailer narrower, maybe 27" wide. This one is wide to carry a sunfish sailboat.