Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tranquillity of trailing the trailer on a green forest trail :-)

  Greetings from Lubo Ebiker to all my blog readers and visitors!

   Let me congratulate everyone with the beginning of a new 2011 e-riding season we all were patiently waiting for so long and can finally enjoy it after another extremely long and cold Canadian winter :-)  

   EbikerLubo.BlogSpot flips a new page for this wonderful season to keep you inspired and well informed on the latest trends in e-biking here in Canada, particularly in Toronto and GTA as well as in the whole world.

   Because of a substantial interest, on demand of my fellow Toronto e-bikers from Ebikeriders.com  for those, who is not a member of that excellent forum for TO e-bikers yet, I decided to post few pictures here of my improvised trailer I made myself last year from a regular heavy duty dolly, heavy duty caster wheel base as a hitch and a wire fence clamp to reliably keep them together that could  be all  readily and easily purchased  in Canadian Tire  or Rona here in Canada anytime or anywhere in the North America in Home Depot or Lowe's stores.

   Here are few words I have published recently at EbikeRiders.com as a quick review of daily usage of such a trailer out of my personal experience.

   "A big heavy duty wheel caster from Home Depot or Canadian Tire bolted upside down without a wheel on top of the rear rack, a heavy duty dolly (not a P-handle) for $50 from Canadian Tire plus a fence clamp to piece it together - works fine as an improvised trailer for me for the second season already.

   Cost-wise it's much cheaper than bicycle trailer for kids and much more convenient and versatile just like any other dolly would be. Removes easy from the bike by removing only one nut and bolt. Lets me easy bring batteries to an apartment on the 6th floor or bring half of a skid of bricks from a nearby construction site, takes 3 times more load than e-bike can handle :-)

   Speaking of the way to attach the trailer, there are pros and cons for all of them. For instance, if you extend the rear fork on one or both sides and hitch the trailer flat, then it doesn't block stop light, but it's harder to extend the fork and you can not take longer loads, also there is more load directly on the already heavily loaded rear wheel yet bypassing shocks, which soften the extra load and stress on a bumpy road. If you attach under the rack, the load might block rear lights and there is a good chance to damage the plastic when backing up with the trailer at sharp angle. So the best way for me so far is when hitch is installed on the top of a rear rack, but I have to extend my rear lights and remove the trunk box, which is ok for me, but might not work for somebody else. The best way I guess is to make the hitch easily removable too using some wing nuts and attach it in a way that is the best for a particular application or task.

   Now, word of caution. Out of my experience 350W bike is good only for up to about 100 lbs and when it's cold outside and no steep hills just for short trips. I successfully fried yesterday my smaller scooter's motor controller halfway to that exhibition, which is sad, though not a big deal for me, since I basically was waiting for the controller to die so I can finally replace it with a full size 12 FETs much better Daymak controller like I did on my first bike last year, but if that was my only bike I would have to shell out about 150 bucks to fix it and wait for a couple of weeks for repairs.

   For safety I also tie it with a cable and lock to the bike rack. Another thing to mention, speaking of safety are brakes, they better be disk brakes, but drums are sufficient, provided that they both work fine.

   Frame also flexes alot even with only 100-200lbs trailer on bumpy roads of which there are many here in TO, so some plastic might come off prematurely or even crack where it locks. Yesterday actually I got my trailer flipped for the first time when going at full speed on Willson Ave east of  Dufferin St, the road there was worse than in Ukrainian village :-) The bike was ok though, the hitch allowed enough freedom  for the trailer to flip on it's side without flipping the bike along with it. I just had to hold  the handlebar firm to still keep the scooter upright, so it's better to slow down on a bad road to some 15-20kmph, though it's easy to get used to going at full speed with the trailer behind after a while like with the car.

   Police never stopped me so far questioning the trailer or hitch design, so it probably does look solid, well done and reliable from their point of view.

   Speaking of drivers, some hesitate to pass or drive slowly behind staring at  the trailer, slowing down the traffic behind them and then blaming blocking of the road on us, especially ladies, so I must watch my mirrors and encourage them to pass safely time to time, even though the trailer is not any wider than the bike's handlebar, but  that's often the case even without the trailer for some mysterious reason. Some cheer up laughing and yelling jokes, when I'm moving big loads, others stop and admit that it's good idea worth to remember, trying to have a better look at the hitch, etc.

   Future improvements - wider wheel base to avoid flipping and maybe larger wheels for better coasting plus installation of light reflectors, red-white strips or even perimeter lights for safe riding during the dark, use bike flashers. Also it makes sense to extend the rear and front plastic dirt deflectors and make sure there is one on the dolly as well, otherwise dolly gets dirty quite fast. For the controller I'm going to install a fan or two with a switch to keep it cool when towing heavy loads at lower speed uphill during the hot summer day. Bolt removable big plastic box or two to the dolly to haul the small stuff, etc.

   For straps, those ratchet straps from a Dollar Rama work fine for me. The color is bright orange which I didn't quite like initially, but it definitely does add to the overall safety and visibility on the road :-)"

   That's all for now. If there's going to be even more interest here, I'll continue to post on that topic and eventually write more in depth review of my trailing experience here in TO. 

   If anyone has any questions, ideas or suggestions regarding my trailer, I'll do my best to answer timely them all here as well, so questions are welcome.

   Now here are some pics I took at my e-bike with the trailer attached, they are pretty much self-explanatory. You can click on them to enlarge for a more detailed view or right-click and open in a new tab for your convenience...


   All said above is not to encourage anyone to make a trailer the way I made, using my hitch design or ask me to make one  for them, even though I can do it properly thanks to my extensive personal experience, or even to promote trailing at all, because obviously I cannot take responsibility for everyone's actions, safety or driving habits, except my own. 
   This blog article serves rather as an overview of my own two years long experience of towing the trailer  with an e-bike which I would like to share with all fellow e-bikers around the world who feels confident and seasoned enough to use my experience properly, carefully, safely and securely for their own good, and at their own risk to make their life easier and e-biking more practical and popular, giving the world another chance to live cars at home and e-ride instead, thus keeping the air cleaner, road safer and living  - greener.