I make a lot of trips to the grocery store on my bicycle and can only fit so much in my messenger bag or a backpack. I wanted to be able to carry more groceries without having all the weight on my back. Also, I wanted to start getting into doing more multi-day rides and haul my own camping gear, supplies and food. So last summer I decided I’d get a trailer. You can spend anywhere between $1,000 to $100 for a trailer. If you have the right equipment you can even weld one yourself. I didn’t want to go the homemade route but I wanted something as cheap as possible. I found one at Nashbar for just over $100. It is made out of chromoly steel and looks pretty sturdy.
The assembly of the Trailer was fairly simple. There wasn’t too much to it. All I really had to do was put the wheel, fender, and reflectors on. There’s also a flag that comes up. At first I didn’t think the flag was necessary but After I took it out on the street and realized how much length was added onto my bike with the trailer attached, I figured the flag would probably help cars see me. I also added a blinky to the back of the fender just as a precaution. Most cars aren’t used to seeing a bicycle pulling a trailer so anything you can do do be seen will help.
After several rides with the trailer you’ll notice a few things that differ from regular riding.
- It’s harder to make sharp turns. You need to account for the extra 5 feet or so in length that the trailer adds
- It requires more braking power to stop. You have the momentum of the trailer from behind pushing at you when you hit the brakes.
- When you are stopped and off the bike, standing the bike up against something can be difficult.
The trailer has a 50 pound weight limit and of course I had to push the weight limit to the max on my first trip to the grocery store. If you throw a storage bin in the back of the trailer you can carry quite a bit of groceries in the back. Essentially I was able to pull the size of approximately 4 standard grocery paper bags. The only issue was that the 4 bags I loaded up were a bit on the heavy side if not over the 5 pound max. Probably not a good idea to stock up on pop, canned foods and liquids. Save the heavier stuff for lighter trips. I think I had too much because the bike felt really unstable like my rear axle was going to snap or like if I leaned too far to one side the bike would topple over. I noticed it is also quite difficult to accelerate with a full load.
Last summer I took the trailer on a short bikepacking trip to test it out for carrying camping gear. I was able to pack a sleeping bag and pad, medium sized tent, tools, a small stove, food and water, and extra clothes and raingear no problem. Pulling the trailer for 30 miles didn’t even seem to be a problem. There’s a 80 miles one-way trail that I am going to try and tackle next.