Fast Handling Bike Trailer

Our family ride bikes regularly. We have an old 70's era Burley tandem that we added a tag-a-long bike to for outings. My two boys enjoy riding about anywhere. Their longest ride to date is about 27 miles. During the summer as gas prices spiked, we decided as a family to do some of our errands on our bikes. We added racks and baskets to all the bikes. However, for a grocery store run you need more holding power. So one day while puttering in the garage, I thought up a way to use the existing tag-a-long hardware to rig up a trailer. I looked at the assorted store bought trailers and the Instructables offerings and used the best of all the worlds. As with most builds like this, hind sight is 20/20 and I would do things a bit differently if I did it again. I am currently collecting parts for the next trailer that will allow me to carry even more.

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Step 1: Material List

Material list:

1 qty old bike fork
1 qty storage container of your choice. I used a 27 gal. Rubbermaid one from Costco
1 qty old bike wheel. The smaller the diameter the more it will tend to bounce over bumps
6-10 tech screws or any screw suitable for attaching your bin/container
1 qty child tag-a-long bike hitch. These are easy to make but so easily available why bother
? qty of wood for deck. What do you have laying around. I had a scrap of 3/8" plywood from another project
? qty of conduit, pipe, tubing or misc. metal. I used about 3 and 1/2 feet of 1/2" EMT electrical conduit and 3 and 1/2 feet of 3/4" EMT electrical conduit. I also used a small length of 1" square tubing because I had it and ran out of EMT. Use what you have.
4 qty pre-bent 90 degree elbows. You could weld straight 90's or use a tubing bender. I was going for maximum convenience in this step. They are pretty cheap from the hardware store.
4-6 qty bolts variety of lengths. I used some bolts to strengthen all the joints. I found misc ones that fit snug in the pipe, cut them to extend a couple inches into the joints and welded them all the way around. (probably over kill).
2-4 qty of plate steel. I used some scraps from my junk bin. They were brackets off some old equipment. The pieces I used were about 1/8" but you will need to use metal thickness based on the loads you intend to carry. There will be flexing at the joint if you go too thin.

Tools Needed:

Hack saw
Tape Measure

Step 2: Prep and Assembly

The fork was cleaned up and squeezed down to fit a child bike wheel. The fork originally came off a 70's era 10 speed.

To be safe I drilled some holes in the end of the fork and added some axle retainers (optional).

You will see from the picture I laid it out with 3/4" EMT to start (single tube). It was WAY to flexible so I added a second row of EMT and it worked perfectly. In hind sight I would have used two rows of 3/4" vs. the 1/2" and 3/4" combo. I also would have borrowed a bender and saved myself the welding. The dimensions will vary depending on your bike, fork and the wheel size. I eyeballed it to the frame so that it had generous wheel clearance for turning and camber changes. My goal was to keep the floor of the trailer level at rest. Go low so it handles well, but not so low it hits all the time. Mine is a little over 4" from the ground to it's lowest point.

If you had a tubing bender and new pipe this would be snap but I had to weld all the junctions together.

Step 3: Final Assembly, Paint and Storage Attachment

Once it was all welded together I attached a piece of plywood deck for the storage area. I was not sure what I was going to use for the bin, so you can see it is not cut to any final size. This allows for it t be used as a flat bed too.

I used a 6mm bolt and some self tapping sheet metal screws to attach the wood deck. Then the bin was screwed on using self tapping sheet metal screws.

Finally some reflective tape and reflector added for visibility

Step 4: Test Drive and Handling Review

After I got it all together it was time for some test drives. I loaded it up with an assortment of items varying in weight and size. I started with some blocks of wood and worked my way up to a 50lb. bag of concrete and my 4 year old son. It worked great with all. I even stacked it with a load of ebay stuff over 5 ft. tall. Note: With the 5 ft. load it had a noticeable sway and lean around the corners

Some general observations and general notes about towing a trailer on a bike: If you have never towed a trailer with a bike, keep in mind how much more room you need to turn and stop. Your turning radius greatly increases with a rig like this. Also depending on how heavy and how high you load you may notice a top heavy feeling in cornering and stopping. I have found that up to about 40 lbs and under the lip of the storage container it handles great. The low center of gravity makes it almost unnoticeable. When you go very heavy (50, 60 lbs.+) you can notice flexing over the bumps. When it is empty or loaded lightly you get some bouncing over misc road bumps (not bad).

Over all I am very, very happy with my creation. We use it all the time. It takes seconds to attach and holds plenty. It is the perfect running errands trailer. I have only used it behind my tandem. It may handle even better behind a standard bike. We have a curvy down hill by our house and we scream down it on a regular basis with the trailer and it handles perfectly.

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    18 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 3

     well i now have the way to move all my fishing gear with me instead of taking my car thanx 


    10 years ago on Step 3

    Where did you get the tag along hitch? How much did it cost? Great build, thanks for the ideas!

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    i was always trying to find a way to sell soda with having to carry it everywhere.


    10 years ago on Step 4

    thank you so much for this add i just built on almost exactly the same i just have to attach the wheel and connect to my bike

    1 reply

    I would love to see your version of this trailer. I am in the process of building a more heavy duty version for larger loads. I have not had much time lately so it will not be posted soon. But I will eventually get an instructable on it.

    The child stoker set up is actually a factory Burley item. The frame is a mid 70's and I bought the stoker cranks on Ebay and cobbled the rest together. The stem is an adjustable stoker stem from Ebay. Burley no longer makes them but several other do, such as and It would be pretty easy to make with a bottom bracket and some welding skills. If you want I can add some pictures to show the detail?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    What is unclear to me is how the container/ flatbed stays horizontal. It seems there is only one straight tube running underneath, from the hitch to the fork. Can you explain what kind of construction to keep the flatbed at a straight angle from the wheel?

    5 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I think the fact it overlaps the fork is what prevents it from rotating on the straight tube to the fork. I don't see anything else that would prevent it from tipping over if it was just on the tube and not resting on the fork head and tubes too.. I think he should have bolted it to the tubes of the fork he is using to hold the trailer wheel and maybe added some sort of bracing to it from the top bend or vertical section of the main tube. You are right, he is not very clear about that part of it..


    You are correct, the flatbed portion of plywood does overlap the crown on the fork. I noted in the dialog box but did not show a picture (my bad). There is actually a bolt through the fork crown. The bolt uses the brake caliper hole and has washers. As for bracing, the second tube of EMT on the bottom makes it very stable. As noted in my test drive and handling it works great. For heavy duty loads I have another trailer under construction now. Good insightful comments thanks.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The concept is the same as the U-joint on a car drive shaft, it has one pivot that allows up and down motion and one pivot that allows left to right motion. The result is a hitch that allows fluid motion but not twisting. Look closely at the pictures is shows both halves of the hitch. The part that bolts to the seat post has a pivot bolt vertically and the trailer has the quick release which is the horizontal pivot bolt. If you like I can take more pictures.


    I think he was asking about how you attached the chipboard to a round tube and expect it not to twist the fasteners out when you load it. How the seat post mounted connector works is plain enough.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    That would be the hitch. I allows movement up/down and left/right but not to twist.

    Those are the stoker pedals for my 4 year old. Nobody rides free in this family. Everybody pedals. They are bolt on kid pedals from Burley the company the built the bike. They are direct drive to mine.