The Majestic E-Bike Trailer

I bought a bicycle trailer! Let me tell you all about this majestic addition to the urban homestead. Here we are on the trial run this morning, with a light test load:

Let’s be honest: I’ve done well enough over the years carrying silly things (small appliances, rugs) on my motorcycle and more sensible things (groceries, furniture) in my partner’s car. My bicycle has a front rack and small panniers, and that box of apples that I hauled last week didn’t fall off, so you could say that I don’t really need a trailer.

Once I had the idea in the back on my mind, though, I kept seeing moments where a trailer would make all the difference, allowing me to run errands, stretch my legs, and be out in the sunshine. Hauling wood to build planters, or hauling tools to help a neighbour build their garden? Hmmm… a bike trailer would be excellent. Ferrying plants from my balcony to be transplanted in my community garden plot? From experience, the small, bouncy, windblown front rack is a rough experience for the plants, but an encloseable trailer could be much more pleasant (and I could carry more than three plants). Carrying too many groceries to walk, but I’m only a few blocks from the store so the motorbike seems wasteful? You guessed it – bike trailer!

Know what convinced me, though? The steps that I’ve been taking to reduce my impact and make daily choices to live a human-scale, community-scale life. Buying a trailer that was made in another country and shipped from the retailer to me clearly isn’t community-scale …but what if I buy this and pay off the ecological expense by reducing my impact in the years to come? What if I leave my motorcycle behind more often? What if I use this for my eventual dream permaculture business, helping folks to heal the land that they steward through rich soil and clean waterways? What if I buy a trailer that I can repair in the future and use for the rest of my life? I started to research.

The market is full of designs, and from my perspective they can be grouped as follows:

  • Fairly unique designs, like a single wheel with a large pannier on each side (we bought one fifteen years ago for what would have been a cycling trip around Ireland, if only our bicycles hadn’t been destroyed on the flight. Turns out the trailer was perfect for the friend who inherited it.)
  • The single-wheel, flat-bottom, V-style attachment type of trailer like the Bob Ibex: iconic, right? The newest model has shock absorption to reduce rattle and bounce, and seems pretty fabulous. Similar trailers have two-pronged kickstands and turn into wheelbarrows.
  • The steel-bottomed, steel-caged, two-wheeled trailers that will probably last forever but are heckin’ heavy. Rumour has it they’re rattly. I haven’t heard one myself but I don’t love the idea of waking the neighbours and terrifying the deer as I cycle past.
  • The fabric-body, metal-frame, lighter-weight with sturdy carrying capacity, style of trailer like the Burley Nomad. This and their open-ended trailer are impressive and I looked into buying one, but they seem to be sold out …everywhere. COVID year is a weird year, and I wish the Burley factory folk continued health; hopefully they’re just selling out faster than they can make trailers.
  • Hats off to the many homemade trailers out there. 🙂 Plywood and boards, PVC pipes, metal pipes, rattan: I had a lot of fun exploring ideas and reading peoples’ experiences, considering how I might build my own from recycled bike wheels and various parts. High five to everyone who has shared their plans online!

I realized that I was getting a little obsessed, so I took a break and observed real life for a while. This is what they say, right? That you put out your intention, then sit back and wait for the right thing/person/opportunity to arrive? One day, by luck or fate, I stumbled across a new trailer and it had all of the features and specifications that I was hoping for: Everyday Bicycles Cargo Trailer. (This blog isn’t sponsored: I’m just sharing my experience.) It has a couple of cons which I’ll identify, but I ordered it and am overall quite pleased. I took the majestic bike-and-trailer combo for its first 44km ride this morning and will be taking it to its first fruit-sorting event with LifeCycles later this week.

Fog on the fields this morning, just after dawn, during the test ride out to my little community garden plot.

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble, wheels pop off for storage, light enough to hang on the wall if you’re into vertical storage.
  • Steel frame with removable cloth body (rubberized on the bottom).
  • Folding rear wall so you can boldly carry longer items.
  • Beautifully balanced and turns smoothly.
  • Six attachment points for straps or bungee cords, a cargo net, or the optional weatherproof cover (which I totally purchased – it rains here).
  • A spring hinge in the tow bar to allow for a smoother ride.
  • The tow bar has two dedicated positions: trailing behind a bike, and trailing behind a human. If I bring a load of plants to the garden, I can unhook the trailer from the bike, adjust the tow bar, and walk the plants to my plot in one trip.
  • Advertised to carry up to 100lbs.
  • The company sells replacement parts, and there’s a complete parts list (with ID numbers) in the manual.
  • I’ve towed this over gravel, broken concrete, lovely paved roads, and it’s all been easy and smooth.

Cons:

  • The company doesn’t publish the dimensions …? That’s so weird. It’s 18″W x 25″L internal dimensions, plus 5″ on each side for the width of the wheels.
  • The axles pop out along with the wheels, which sounds sensible, except that to allow for the sprung bearings at the end of the axles that hold the wheels in place when mounted, the inner ends of the axles rub against the fabric body ..? The trailer has harder plastic patches on the body behind the axles …but it appears that when the trailer is loaded, the fabric body sags a bit and the plastic patches are no longer aligned. I imagine I’ll be patching that someday, or finding a preventive reinforcement option.
  • There’s nowhere to store the cover …? I’ll add a pocket, which isn’t a big deal in my mind, but I imagine folks who don’t like to alter their purchases would be disappointed.

You know what, though? I’m down with this trailer. I’m going to use the heck out of it, and it’s going to last a lifetime, even if I have to get a little creative in a few years to replace the cloth part. I’m okay with creative, and honestly, learning from a designer’s best guess is a great place to start. Let the adventures begin!

Update: I took the majestic trailer out today for a 52km ride, and it performed admirably! Hauled many pounds of squooshed fruit (for homebrewing fruit wine: it would have been composted otherwise) from the LifeCycles fruit sorting extravaganza, and two things were immediately apparent: I couldn’t have hauled this home without the bike trailer (there was too much and it was too juicy) and the rubberized bottom on the trailer is a total win! Kept the juice contained so I didn’t leave a leaky trail through the hallway of my apartment building when I wheeled the sodden, delicious-smelling load up to my apartment. There was even room for a harvest from the community garden, which I visited on my way home. Rad! Mmmm, now to get some brews going…

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