Bicycle trailers improve your load carrying capability. They are available in many shapes and sizes. There are even some that are powered and/or have solar panels mounted on top. The advantages of towing a trailer on your bike is that you take the load off the bike or sometimes what you need to carry is too large to fit on the bicycle. The disadvantages of attaching a trailer is that it is something else needs to be maintained and stored.
There are two basic categories of trailers: single wheel and double wheel. A single wheel trailer has the wheel mounted at the back. Some of the higher end models will have shock absorber suspension for the rear wheel. Typically, double wheel trailers have the wheels mounted on the side. Although it would seem that double wheel trailer offer more stability, they are actually more prone to tipping over and do not handle as well on rough surfaces. Single wheel trailers following the line of the bicycle wheels and are much better at balancing the weight between the bike rear wheel and the trailer rear wheel. They also follow narrower paths and disappear behind the rider. On the other hand, if the trailer is very long and the load is heavy, double wheels may be the only choice.
Bicycle trailers can used to carry many types of loads and be used in many applications. The most popular applications are for child carrying; multi-day touring; in-town cargo carrying, such as grocery shopping; and overnight mountain biking.
There are many types, uses, and makers of bicycle trailers. Most are made by small companies or individuals that originally just wanted to build something for them selves then found that there was a market demand for their creations. Some are still looking for funding.
Here are a couple of examples of home made bicycle trailers used for camping. They are completely covers sleep quarters providing overnight shelter from the elements.
These are heavy duty flat bed trailers offered in three different lengths in multiples of 32 inches. They are easy to assemble and capable of carrying very heavy loads. They can even be coupled together to form trains pulled by the bicycle.
One wheel bicycle trailers typically are low to the ground, have lower capacity, but are more stable. They are attached to the main bicycle's rear axle.
Most good quality one wheel trailers are priced above $200USD. Above $300 you can be assured of the highest quality build available. Choose these if you are going to use the trailer extensively, such as on long distance touring trips. On the other hand there are some one wheel trailers priced well below $200 and even below $100. These tend to be of poor manufacturing quality with skimpy welding and loose axles. Choose these if you trips are short, infrequent, and you have handy man skills.
Two wheel bicycle trailers resemble a chariot, having the wheels mounted on either side of the trailer. They typically are wider and have higher capacity, but can tip over easier than single wheel trailers. They also may not fit on some narrow bike paths. They come in many sizes and are designed for many applications. From freight hauling to child riding to grocery shopping they can replace a car for many local uses.
The type of two wheel bicycle trailer you choose just depends on the way you want to use it. For most urban commuters that need to take a brief case or lap-top PC to work, but also want to pick up groceries in the evening or weekend, a smaller inexpensive trailer should work. This trailer should be no more than 24Lx22Wx14H inches of cargo space.
There are many, many web pages and youtube videos devoted to bicycle trailer building projects. If you can build a table, you can build a flat bed trailer. And with the surplus of old bicycles available its easy to use recycled parts.
Building your own trailer simply involves making a support frame and attaching a board on top, wheels on the side, and a hitch. Here is an example of bicycle trailer construction simplicity.
You can mount solar panels on your trailer to charge batteries. You wouldn't use the solar power to drive the bicycle directly, because it would not be large enough to generate the needed power. However, with reasonably sized solar panel (say 30 watts) and a few supplemental components you could recharge small device batteries such as a battery powered light, a cell phone, or an MP3 player. If you are riding an electric bicycle and you have a sunny place to park the bike for several hours, you could use the solar panel to recharge the bike motor battery.
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