No Weld, Lightweight, Foldable Urban Bike Trailer




Introduction: No Weld, Lightweight, Foldable Urban Bike Trailer

This cargo trailer is super easy to make, requiring no welding, just using nuts and bolts to put things together.

The inspiration for this DIY project is the wonderful Burley Travoy, an urban bike trailer that doubles as a hand truck -- very useful for example when you are out shopping.

I wanted something similar, but at a sub-50 USD cost. (The Travoy retails at 250 USD and up.)

I used the following, all of which are likely available at most hardware stores:
- a lightweight, foldable hand truck (rated to carry up to 60 lbs)
- a castor wheel assembly
- a bunch of nuts and bolts
- a bike chain, or carabiner, or padlock

The bike I use has a rear rack -- this was where I mounted the trailer hitch.

- the trailer is lightweight and foldable (I can even strap it onto the bike rack when it is not being used)
- the hitching process is quite quick and easy
- the trailer is quite stable when loaded and when on reasonably maintained streets

- because of its lightness, and because of the small wheels and relatively narrow base, the trailer is not so stable when not carrying anything and when on bumpy roads
- may not be so visible to cars because of its low profile -- a visibility hack may be in order

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Step 1: Trailer Hitch

The trailer hitch is essentially the only modification of the whole project. The cargo trailer will be attached to the bike via the hitch -- in my case I mounted the hitch onto the rear rack of the bike.

I wanted the hitch to handle well, taking into consideration the bike's characteristics. Since the bike leans into turns, I wanted the hitch to be able to swivel, in such a way that the handle of the trailer/hand truck remains parallel to the ground throughout the ride.

I used a castor wheel assembly to serve as the hitch. I removed the wheel, and replaced the stainless steel nuts and bolt that had served as the axle. The cargo trailer would hitch onto the bolt.

To mount the hitch onto the rack, I "sandwiched" the rack in between the castor wheel assembly and another surface. The "bread" were connected by a system of nuts and bolts. (See picture)

Initially I had connected the hitch where the rack had mounting points for reflectors. However, I decided that the weld connecting that mounting area to the rest of the rack had looked a bit flimsy, so I just mounted the hitch to the rack itself.

Step 2: Connecting Facility on the Handlebar of the Cargo Trailer/Hand Truck

Basically, something has to secure the trailer onto the hitch. I went through three options.

First, I used a bike chain. I just wrapped the chain around both the handlebar of the trailer and the hitch. It worked well enough, but I decided that it was too bulky, and I was concerned about having inopportune slacks especially when pulling something in the heavy side.

Next, I used a carabiner. I just connected the carabiner onto the bar, and whenever I would need to attach the trailer to the bike, all I have to do is hook the carabiner onto the hitch.

Now, I'm using a padlock. It works similar to the carabiner, but is less likely to open unintentionally.

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago

    "on reasonably maintained streets" .... Major limitation is those small wheels. Certainly could not use it on Houston's streets or bike paths.

    I am think that a 'Magliner' two wheel hand truck with 10 inch pneumatic tires might be a good alternative.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I am also car-free, so this matters to me. The added advantage of an "industrial" hand truck is that they have much higher weight limits, always more than I can tow. I have a 2-wheel hand truck with 10-inch hard tires. It is excellent on "well maintained" streets, but we have a twist here. On the one busy street in our little town, cyclists are expected to ride the sidewalk (pavement in the UK), parts of which are not maintained at all. It's rough.The 10-inch wheels bounce when the hand truck is empty, but it stays behind me without flipping. Smaller wheels would never go there without flipping the unit. The 10" peneumatic tires on on of my trailers do better than that. I bought the two wheel hand truck used for $20 USD, but new ones are available at Northern Tool for $40, currently on sale for $32 with pneumatic tires. I used a shackle bolt and a worm gear clamp on the hand truck handle.


    Reply 3 years ago

    "On the one busy street in our little town, cyclists are expected to ride the sidewalk (pavement in the UK), parts of which are not maintained at all."

    Here it illegal for to ride a bicycle on any pedestrian sidewalk .... just as well as they are frequently in worse repair than the roadways.