Monday, March 26, 2007

A step closer to Motor Vehicle Independence

A couple years ago I purchased a BOB trailer, to tow behind my bicycle. (BOB? "Beast of Burden." I got it at a bargain price, and dreamed of someday using it for some bike trippin'. For example, I'd love to go to northern Idaho, and spend a week riding the 72-mile Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in both directions, camping along the way and taking side-trips.)

Since then, I've used it only a couple of times, mostly to get a feel for how it affects handling, how hard it is to tow, etc. But that has all changed.

I've installed the special quick-release skewer permanently on my bicycle... and will begin regularly running errands using my BOB to haul stuff.

The BOB is good for loads of up to 50 pounds or so. It could easily carry 3 big bags of groceries, for example. So, it's suitable for most errands. (I'll still need the wife's minivan, and sometimes my old beat-up utility trailer, for sheet-rock runs, bringing home a new washer, family day trips, etc.)

(I wish somebody made a BOB-like motorcycle trailer. There's one called the Uni-GO that I would dearly love to have. It's gorgeous, with a nice fiberglass body. But it's $2000+; I'd settle for a "frame"-type trailer like the BOB that I could strap my gear onto, if it were maybe 1/4 that price.)

On Saturday (a gorgeous day in these parts!), I ran my first real errand. I needed a replacement part for my Toro rototiller. (An ancient beast - it was purchased brand-new by my father, when I was a kid. So it's probably 45 years old. It's on its 3rd motor, and could die any time, but as long as I can avoid replacing it, I will.) I hooked up the BOB (a 30-second task), put my old part on board and bungeed it down good... and ran to the Old Mower and Tiller Graveyard in Garden City. I found a suitable replacement part among the weeds, paid my $10, and strapped old and "new" parts on, and rode.

I ran a couple other errands on the same trip - to Circuit City on Milwaukee, and to the Harley shop down in Garden City. (Boy howdy - the Harley shop was FULL of Posers and Poser-wanna-bes. They really come out on nice days!)

I huffed and puffed a bit more than normal, riding up the Curtis hill from Garden City... but the fact that I completed the 12-mile trip with ZERO gas burned made up for it. (Nothing wrong with a bit of huffing and puffing... too bad our culture seems to dictate that physical work is best avoided.)

The replacement part worked just fine. The garden spot is lookin' good! Peas and beets will go into the ground any time... tomatoes and peppers are still at least a month off.


Anonymous said...

I've always liked the look of those BOB trailers, though 50 lbs is a bit light duty. I use a kid trailer now for kid and utility -- sometimes both at once. My son has gotten used to sitting between bags of groceries.... I am in the process of collecting materials to make a bamboo trailer (

Anonymous said...

My daily commuter is a used bike, but I might have to buy one spanking new expensive part for it. It is called an Xtracycle or hitchless trailer. Loaded correctly 200 lb capacity of either people or cargo.

Bikeboy said...

Danielo - I checked the BOB website (shoulda before posting)... the trailer is rated for 70lbs. I imagine much more than that would start affecting handling anyway. (They make 2 models; the other one actually has a suspension.)

Years ago I had a Cannondale kiddie-trailer - bright yellow with rearward-facing seats. My kids loved riding in it, although they always seemed to go to sleep. Must have been soothing to watch the world receding. (Somebody stole the trailer out of my yard. Some world we live in!)

Clancy - is that "Xtracycle" the super-long-wheelbase bicycle thing? That has a long flat carrying surface that extends maybe 30 inches from the seatpost? (Occasionally I'll see an odd "stretch" bicycle, usually on the Greenbelt. But I'm never riding in the same direction, so no chance to check it out.)

Anonymous said...

My son inevitably falls asleep in my trailer as well, even when I look back and he's jiggling around in there!

I like that Xtracycle, I recall seeing those years ago. Like a bicycle SUV of sorts: MORE HERE.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, what I really want is a nice, simple, lightweight front basket setup. Nothing pre-fabbed I see suits me. I think I'm going to have to spend an afternoon in my buddy's welding shop and make something.

wolf21m said...

We have toured on our tandem with all of our camping gear in a BOB. Works great! Before the BOB, we used a two wheel Burley trailer. The BOB can definitely haul as much as the two wheeler and handles much better. I feel comfortable taking mountain decents at speed with the Bob, but not with the Burley.
I haven't used it for errands as I usually walk with a backpack to most places.

Anonymous said...

Yeh they are a kit to add to an existing bike. I will playing Mr Mom next year running around kids and don't want to put a crimp on my bike commuting. Kids big enough to ride on the rear on a daily basis. I look at one this weekend in Seattle and I am hooked.