Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I'm doing some research on bicycle trailers for medium and long
distance touring in somewhat remote locations, and saw your page about bamboo trailers.

Would this be useful for this application?

There are two key things to keep in mind about touring bicycle trailers. Firstly if it aint reliable you will learn to hate it. Secondly the efficiency gains offered by a two wheel trailer are only valid if the trailer has good tyres, and both wheels point in the same direction(ie the track is true).

Both of these considerations are very important on deciding whether a homemade trailer is a wise choice for a tour.

If the two wheels are not pointing in the same direction then the tyre's slide slightly sideways as well as rolling forwards, this grinds the tyre tread to nothing very fast and uses your energy to do it. This is not a serious issue for local cycling, but for touring the extra effort/expense soon adds up. This is true with whatever trailer you end up using, but home made trailers are particularly tough to get the wheels lined up on. The plans for the bamboo trailer do detail how to true wheels so they track straight, but our Y-Frames wheels are near perfect out the box, and the reduction in hassle/energy loss may offset the pain of paying for something that is easy to make.

Same comments apply regarding the reliability of a trailer. The first City by necesity was homemade. I built it using aluminium display sheet and wood, and fencing wire. I pulled the trailer all the way across Europe, but I was forever having to tinker to keep it on the road, and this was only bearable because I was seeking its faults. Something that works well without question is a wonder when touring. Thats what you pay money for, peace of mind.

A home made trailer will be easier to repair in the field, especialy the bamboo trailer, but it will also be much more liable to go wrong. In a money no object world i'd choose a Y-Frame with a Chariot hitch fitted to it, and Schwalbe big apples, as the best touring trailer. This is a bomb proof and reliable set up if ever I saw one.


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