Lighten up

Well the holidays are behind us, and we’re moving forward on the Bike Cart project.


It stands to reason that the lighter the trailer is,  the more cargo you could carry,  if you don’t compromise durability, or weight capacity.  That being said, how much difference will a couple of pounds of trailer make?  There is no doubt a point of diminishing returns, where you’ve increased the likelihood of  a structural failure.

A lot of people are going to fill a trailer to capacity whether  it’s feathers or compost, when it starts spilling over the top that’s when it’s full.  I think that has to be taken in to account when you build a trailer.  Design elements such as the shape and flexibility of  the supporting frame members can increase strength,  a lot more than adding weight in most cases.

The first thing we are trying is leaving the wheels assembled.  A spoked wheel has a lot of  strength. When it’s turned horizontal instead of vertical it’s not as strong,  but the design shown above was able to support my winter weight of around 180 lbs, or so, with no problem.  The tongue of the trailer, the part that connects it to the bike,  is made with a 27″ rim split in half  and fitted together. Initially this seems to have too much flex, but we think we can eliminate that problem by bolting it together more securely, or maybe stacking the rims vertically instead  of fitting them together horizontally.  we’ll see how that goes.

There will be a lot more on this subject later.  As I said before this process will be reported on as we proceed. Check back often for updates. Input is always welcome.

Suggestions for creating a cart out of salvage bikes

The world is full of landfills full of bikes, here are some thoughts about alternative ways to utilize a salvage bicycle.

If we use the seat tubes, frame elements, head tubes and drop outs, for the connecting points. And seat posts, Stems, handle bars, crank arms, pedals, hubs, and bar ends for the connectors, we won’t have to machine these elements and it will make a bolt together assembly a lot easier and cheaper to create.

Using salvaged expanded metal, wire shelving, shopping carts, and other metal storage bins for the cargo areas will add to the strength of  the cargo area and in some cases be the whole cargo area ready made and already designed around standards in boxes, baskets, etc for a variety of uses.

Designing a standard main frame on wheels, that can be expanded to allow for various cargo platforms, makes production more efficient and less costly

Possible way to break up frame
Partial list of possible uses for various elements of salvaged bicycles
Wheels, mounting brackets, and cargo platforms
Frames, and connecting brackets
Handle bars:
Connecting pieces, cargo support, handles for wheel barrow like use.
Seat Posts and stems:
mounting posts to connect frame elements together
Crank arms: mounting brackets to support cargo areas
Handles, steering mechanisms, connectors to connect to other vehicles
Mounting points to connect forks to bicycles and other vehicles, Power take off point utilizing belts or gears and chains, rotating mounting points for folding cargo area and main frame elements
Bottom Brackets:
Mounting points for cargo area, drive element connectors,
Rotating joints for folding frame or cargo elements.
Crank arms:
Drive mechanisms, both hand and foot, rotating positioners to adjust dimensions and alignment of accessories

An Existing Prototype

Here are pictures of a cart that I made out of an old
Coos Bay Flier ( originally designed by Don Harse) style recumbent trike I had built in Cleveland.
This Cart proved itself reliable and useful in a variety of difficult terrains.

I suggest that  this design be adapted to utilize the rear triangles from old bicycle frames and standard bicycle wheels instead of the cantilevered Phil Wood hubs that are used in the existing cart. Although the cantilevered wheel design is simpler,  the wheels will be harder to find and costly if we have to purchase them.

Cart filled with pig weed

Cart with tub from wheel barrow and boulder

Bike Cart Project Begins

Cart is adjustable to fit different bikes, people, and loads

Salvage Bicycle to Cart Project

The idea is to produce a low tech no weld cart using salvaged bicycles,  and other salvaged  materials.

Some of the specifications of these designs are:

  • Utilize minimum amount of salvaged bicycles and other salvaged materials
  • Low tech no weld construction, that can be taught to relatively un skilled workers, in a low tech environment.
  • Versatile design to allow for loading of diverse materials
  •  User friendly ergonomics
  • Low cost, somewhere in the $100 to $200.00 range retail.  Eventually developing custom configurations, to fit specific uses.

In the future we will be  developing vehicles with Power Take Offs, and accessories, that would be for various tasks such as milling, grinding, mixing, blending, sweeping, cutting ……..

All designs developed during this process will be free for anyone to use
Please keep in mind that this is a rough draft of the concepts.

We will expand on these concepts with accurate drawings, specifications, and production methods, as we develop the ideas presented here.

This work is being done in cooperation with the Ohio City Bicycle Coop

Ohio City Bicycle Coop is a community-supported 501(c)(3) corporation, and as such is always happy to accept donations.
If you enjoy the materials presented here and would like to support this project please contact
them via the web site or just click the donations link above. Please let them know it’s for the Bike Cart project.