Flatbed Bicycle Trailer




About: Lifelong interest in making and learning new things.

A bicycle trailer is a great way to increase the carrying capacity of a bicycle. This tutorial will show how to create a flatbed bicycle trailer using recycled items without the need to weld.

Step 1:

Step 2: Repurpose Items Destined for the Landfill

I picked up an old baby stroller that was well used but no longer functional. I instantly knew that I wanted to make a bicycle trailer with it. I also was able to use parts off of an old golf caddy to make the arm that connects the trailer to the back of the bicycle.

It is always a bonus to make things using discarded items and give them new life.

Step 3: Remove Unneeded Components From the Stroller

To create the bed of the trailer, start by removing the handle from the stroller and then remove the footrest from the handle.

The footrest is attached with rivets. To remove the rivets, I used an electric drill and a self-drilling sheet metal screw to drill through the rivet head. It works just as well as using a drill bit and it saves my drill bits from wear. With just a small amount of drilling, the rivet head falls off as seen in Photo 1.

Next use a small punch to drive the rivet body into the tube and free the footrest from the stroller handle (Photo 2).

Remove the cushion grip from the stroller handle and remove the hook and loop fasteners from the handle as seen in Photo 3. The handle will be used to form the frame of the trailer bed.

Step 4: Attaching the Outer Frame to Trailer

The next step is to attach the handle to the trailer to form the outer rim of the trailer bed.

At this point you may wish to cut off some of the end of the handle to form a shorter flatbed trailer. For now I left the handle as is to see how well I like a longer flatbed trailer.

Use four screw clamps large enough to clamp the handle to the existing part of the trailer frame (Photo 1).

Start with one leg of the handle and clamp it to the short outer portion of the frame using two of the screw clamps. Once attached, connect the other leg to the opposite side. Ensure that the screw heads are placed on the underside of the trailer bed as seen in Photo 2.

With the handle firmly attached to the short segments of the trailer, drill two holes .25 inches (6.5 mm) diameter through both tubes on one side of the trailer (Photo 3), insert bolts in the holes then secure with a nut as seen in Photo 4. Repeat for the other side of the trailer bed frame.

The outer frame of the trailer is now complete as seen on Photo 5.

Step 5: Attaching the Inner Supports to the Frame

Now that the frame is in place use a threaded rod to connect the two inner supports to the frame. The size of the threaded rod will depend on the hole size of the fittings. Mine allowed me to use a .25 inch (6.5 mm) diameter threaded rod.

Starting from one side, insert the threaded rod through the plastic fittings and place washers and nuts on either side of the plastic fittings as you insert the threaded rod (Photo 1).

Once the rod is inserted through the inner supports and the frame, tighten the nuts and cut off the excess threaded rod as seen in Photo 2.

The trailer bed supports are now united.

Step 6: Making the Arm That Connects the Trailer to the Bike

The arm that connects the trailer to the bike is made from the leg of a nonfunctional golf caddy (Photo 1).

Start by removing the leg from the golf caddy and remove all unneeded components as seen in Photo 2.

Take a .75 inch (19mm) conduit support (Photo 3) and use a hammer to flatten the base of the support so that it appears as shown in Photo 4. Do the same for a 1 inch (25 mm) conduit support. Flatten one more of both sizes.

Attach the arm to the outer rim of the trailer frame and secure with the flattened conduit supports. Use existing holes or drill new holes into the edge of the trailer arm as seen in Photo 5. Insert the smaller of the flattened supports and insert a .25 inch (6.5mm) diameter bolt, 2 inch (52 mm) long, through the flattened support and then into the trailer arm (Photo 5). Next place the larger of the flattened supports directly on the top of the smaller flattened support as seen in Photo 6 and secure with the bolt. Place a nut on the bolt and tighten. Place a second set of flattened supports midway along the arm.

Use a U-bolt, placed on the arm at the farthest point possible to connect the trailer arm to the trailer frame as seen in Photo 7.

The arm is now attached to the flatbed trailer frame.

Step 7: Making the Trailer Hitch

The trailer hitch is probably the most interesting and challenging part to create so as to provide a secure but flexible connection. Thanks to the many authors on this site, and elsewhere who shared their creations and ideas, I was able to weigh the pros and cons of the various types of trailer hitches and eventually settled on a hitch that uses two casters to make a trailer hitch. This type of trailer hitch allows for three-directional movement and is ideal for trailers with two wheels as it allows for better handling over uneven terrain and for making turns.

Start by removing the wheels from two casters as seen in Photos 1 and 2.

One of the casters is attached to the bike frame and the other is attached to the arm of the trailer. The casters are attached to each other with a hitch pin as seen in Photo 3.

Step 8: Attaching the Casters to the Bike Frame and the Trailer Arm

Attach one of the casters to the rear of the bike on the left side as seen in Photo 1. I was fortunate in that existing threaded holes on my bike matched the mounting holes on the caster. If necessary, drill holes in the base of the caster to match mounting holes on your bike. Use existing holes in the caster and drill only what is needed. Attach with the appropriate-sized bolts that match your bike. I used bushings as spacers to keep the caster mounted in a level position.

Take the other caster and use two .5 inch (13 mm) conduit support brackets to connect the end of the trailer arm to the caster (Photo 2).

Finally use a hitch pin to connect the two casters together as seen in Photo 3. The hitch pin allows for a quick and convenient way to connect and disconnect the trailer and bike.

The three-directional movement of the hitch allows the bicycle and trailer to move, sway and pitch without greatly affecting the other. As seen in Photos 4-6, the bicycle can lie on the ground, on either side, while the connected flatbed trailer remains unaffected and upright.

Step 9: Attaching a Safety Catch Cable Between the Bicycle and Trailer

A safety catch cable is connected to the bike frame and the trailer and is designed to "catch" or constrain the trailer if the hitch should come apart. A hitch may come apart if the fastener fails or the hitch pin was improperly connected.

The stroller did have a cable-activated side caliper brake, as seen in Photo 1, which is perfect for making the safety catch cable. Disconnect the caliper brake but leave the brake lever in place as it has a mounting bracket that will be used to mount the cable to the trailer frame.

The best way to contain the cable itself is to locate it within the trailer arm.

To do this, enlarge an existing hole near the end of the trailer arm (Photo 2) and run the cable through the hollow trailer arm and pull it out of the trailer arm through the enlarged hole (Photo 3).

As seen in Photo 4, cut about 4 inches (102 mm) of the cable housing to expose the cable.

Use a cable ferrule to create a loop in the cable and crimp the ferrule with a crimping tool as seen in Photo 5.

Loosely wind the looped cable through the end of the trailer arm and attach to a steel carabiner that is attached to the bicycle frame (Photos 6 & 7). Ensure that the cable is loose enough so that it does not interfere with the movement of the trailer hitch.

Attach the other end of the cable to the bicycle frame as seen in Photo 8.

The safety catch cable is now in place and ready for inspection (Photo 9).

Step 10: Making the Wooden Flatbed

In keeping with the underlying theme of reusing discarded items, I chose to use wood salvaged from unwanted oak pallets to make the wooden flatbed.

You will need enough boards to cover the length of the trailer frame. In addition you will need three shorter boards for supports.

Start by separating suitable boards from a pallet free from oil or other contaminants as seen in Photo 1.

Sand the boards and lay faceup with a space of about .5 inches (13 mm) between the boards. Place one of the short support boards underneath the long boards roughly 2 inches (51 mm) from the top of the long boards, oriented perpendicular to the long boards as seen in Photo 2. Draw lines where the boards intersect and label as needed.

Flip the boards facedown and reposition. Drill holes through the short board into the long boards below taking care not to drill completely through the lower boards. The hole should be just slightly smaller in diameter than the diameter of the screw you are using to fasten the boards together (Photo 3).

Once you have the short board fastened to the top of the three long boards, place a second short board at the bottom of the long boards just as was done with the first short board and fasten as seen in Photo 4.

Finally place the third short board midway between the two short boards and fasten (Photo 5).

To further strengthen the flatbed, I drilled holes through the boards and attached bolts .25 inches (6 mm) in diameter and 2 inches long (51 mm) long. I used two bolts per board at each place where the board was supported by the short board as seen in Photo 6.

As seen in Photo 7, I made sure to place the location of the bolts so that the bolt would also secure the fasteners which secure the flatbed to the trailer frame.

Step 11: Adding Reflectors

To finish the trailer, add reflectors to the rear of the trailer. Start by cutting a board 14 inches (356 mm) long and attach it to the end of the flatbed trailer with a hinge as seen in Photo 1.

Flip the flatbed rightside up and place two reflectors and secure with wood screws as seen in Photo 2.

Photos 3 and 4 show how the reflectors add visibility during the day and night.

Step 12: Securing the Flatbed to the Frame

Place the flatbed on the bicycle trailer, and align into its final position on the trailer frame as seen in Photo 1.

Secure the wooden flatbed to the frame with .75 inch (19mm) and 1 inch (25 mm) conduit supports (Photo 2) to fasten the wooden platform to the trailer frame.

The Flatbed Bicycle Trailer is done!

Step 13: Safety Considerations

It is a good idea to practice towing the flatbed bicycle trailer, making right and left turns and braking. It is best to ride in areas with bicycle lanes or roads with wide shoulders.

The flatbed bicycle trailer is made primarily for loads that are lightweight. I made this flatbed trailer without sidewalls to keep the weight down, relying on straps to secure the load.

My plan is to use it to primarily haul groceries, lightweight building materials and recycling/garbage items.

Hauling loads that are too heavy would most likely be damaging to the aluminum frame. The wheels have steel rims but again, the original design was a stroller for a young child. All of the fasteners used to construct the trailer are steel but not rated for use in constructing a trailer.

Hauling anything too heavy could result in failure of the trailer, fasteners and connectors. Any failure while in motion could result in injuries and damaged goods.

Hauling heavy loads would also affect handling of the bicycle while in motion and increase braking distances.

Step 14: Maintenance

Keeping up with trailer maintenance is another way to stay safe.

Because this is a no-weld project there are numerous fasteners with screws and bolts. While lock washers and lock bolts were used for most fasteners, the vibrations from riding on smooth and rough roads may cause some of the fasteners to loosen over time. Therefore it is important to check fasteners periodically and retighten as needed.

Maintaining proper air pressure in the tires is important as well.

Step 15: Final Thoughts

The Flatbed Bicycle Trailer is easy to make using hand tools and an electric drill. Using discarded items keeps costs down and allows us to do our part in reducing contributions to the landfill.

Best of all, the Flatbed Bicycle Trailer allows us to expand our use of the bicycle in that we can transport lightweight items that are large and bulky. Using our bicycles instead of cars whenever we can is always a good thing.

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    28 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I have a very similar old jogging stroller that I want to convert to a bike trailer, so this is good to see.

    I'm glad to see caster hitches are getting used more! I used one on my first bike trailer project (kid-to-cargo conversion, which I plan to finally post in a couple of days ;) ) and it works extremely well. I'm planning to use them on all of my trailers, and maybe even on both ends of each trailer, so I can do a train. I did my hitch a bit differently, though.

    What's the weird bike frame?

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello Ian! Glad to know that you are a fan of the caster hitch. I look forward to seeing photos your trailer/s!

    The amazing bike you saw in the photos is my Montague Paratrooper!! It is a folding bike, and was used by paratroopers who would leap out of airplanes with the folded bike and parachute to the ground. Once on the ground, the bike was unfolded and ridden to the next destination.


    I don't leap out of airplanes with it but I do take it with me on the train as carry-on luggage. When the train arrives at my station, I leap out of the train, unfold the paratrooper and ride off to my next destination.



    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi chuckstake! The hitch is amazing in its own way. It is facinating to watch how it instantly adjusts to the movement of the bike and trailer. When I first hitched the trailer to my bike the hitch instantly rotated 180 degrees when I released my hold. The laws of gravity and physics operating faster than the eye can see!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello arvevans! Thanks for checking this out! I agree with you on the great ideas that others have posted. It seems like there are so many creative ways to do things.


    1 year ago

    One question. What prevents the hitch from rotating about both ends until the hitch pin is horizontal? Going around a corner then would be disastrous. Perhaps the oscillations in normal use return it to vertical?

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello sconnors! The hitch is very dynamic and is constantly in motion as the trailer and bicycle are rolling down the road. The three-directional movement of the hitch along with the weight of the trailer arm seems to return and keep the hitch pin in a vertical position. I have made left and right turns with no problem.


    Reply 1 year ago

    It looks like a properly done caster hitch to me, as far as the arrangement of axes goes. The 'vertical' axes of the two casters are perpendicular to each other when the trailer is behind the bike. Only when turning left sharply will they be close to in line, and nobody turns so consistently that it would have time to rotate much, if at all, before the 'vertical' axes were no longer in line.


    1 year ago

    Nice build. Your project mirrors a project that I did as a teen 40 years ago, except back then we used a couple old bike wheels and lumber. Our connection point was to a universal joint connected just beneath the seat. This allowed us to make sharp left or right turns.

    I used to use the trailer as as my friends and I toured the construction sites after hours collecting beer bottles left by the construction workers. We'd score about two cases of 24 a day during the summer. Then we were off to the beer store for the refund.

    These trailers are terrific for hauling lots of different things and are certainly an eco friendly solution for those that want to leave their pickups in the driveway. And it was surprising how much of a load we could actually haul. Of course we made sure our brakes were in to notch condition before setting out.

    Hats off to you for creation! Good job.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello COREi64! What a great story about your 70's Teen Trailer! It's fun to read about the things we did as teens to earn money. My teen effort to make money was to collect worms at a worm farm to supply the local fishermen. I collected thousands and thousands of worms that summer. I even dreamed about them at night. It was worth it to me though because I made enough money to buy a new 10 speed bike!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Great story! My wife had a good comment about my story when I told her about it. She was surprised that the construction workers building houses would drink all day long. In my youth I recall the workers building houses ALWAYS had a stubby beer bottle or wine bottle in their hands. We'd pick up wine bottles and beer bottles by the case every day.

    Funny how what was apparently acceptable behavior (for them I guess) back then is not acceptable behavior today! For us it was great pocket money!


    1 year ago

    Like "Corei64" I also built one back in the
    early 1970s. I used two front forks from junk Stingray Bicycles ( who knew they'd be collector items?) and my
    trailer hitch was a piece of flat stock steel bent so it could attach to my rear
    heavy duty rack. I was 12-13 years old then and I had not one, but 2
    newspaper routes with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. One was in my
    immediate neighborhood and the other was several blocks away. I used the
    trailer on Sundays when the paper was thickest. I was able to load all
    of my papers at once instead of having to make multiple trips back home
    to refill.

    Your idea of using the stroller was great! But for
    those of you who can't find an old "jogging" stroller, check the local
    thrift stores for small toddler-size bicycles, then use the front forks
    and wheels. But get the junk/damaged ones and leave the Star Wars and Princess
    ones for the kiddies :).

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello Cliffystones! Another great 70's teen trailer story!! As teens without cars, our bicycles were our best friends! They expanded our horizons and were foundational to our schemes and plans. Your bike enabled you to take on two newspaper routes while mine took me to the worm farm (see below)! Thanks for sharing.


    1 year ago

    NIce job! I made something similar for a motor scooter. I used wheelbarrow wheels. I also made the attachment high behind the seat so that as you lean the scooter into the corner it helped to steer the trailer in that direction. Not 100% it helped though.
    PS I think you have a very cool upmarket land fill compared to ours in South Africa :-)

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey Spike! Your trailer sounds interesting as well! Did the wheelbarrow wheels hold up well following your scooter?


    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes they did. They carried a lot of weight but did not do huge distances. The trailer and 50cc scooter were used to carry 4 or 5 20Lt cans of diesel around the harbour on Corfu for re-fueling charter yachts. If you were to do a higher mileage then it might make sense to fit them with proper ball bearing races. It was some time ago now - I wish I could find a photo!


    1 year ago

    I agree, the flexible joint to the bike is the most complex part having to accommodate the relative bike movement but at the same time carry the load. Also attachment to the bike is also important so as not to stress or warp the bike frame. I am quite jealous of the quality scrap you have there! I did not have any luck finding reasonably sized spoked wheels locally.

    PS Dude! Oil that chain! ;)