180 comments

How to Carry Major Appliances on your Bike

Right around the same time I bought this new fixer-upper house, I bought a special piece of equipment to help make the project more efficient.

With the new house a five minute walk from the old one, commuting time was not an issue. But with the hundreds of trips carrying tools and materials required for a project like this, I didn’t have the right vehicle.

On foot, although I try my best I am simply not badass enough to drag a table saw and miter saw along with a stack of 2x4s for much distance down the street. My old Burley bike trailer will easily carry a load of cordless tools or a few weeks worth of groceries, but does not have the capacity for real construction work. But my construction van,  a 1999 Honda Odyssey with seats removed and a plywood floor, is overkill for minor daily hauling. This is a luxury construction rocket, a leather-appointed 220 horsepower Rolling Cavern. It is well-suited to carrying thousands of pounds of goods or people on multi-state voyages at 75MPH, but I would be a wasteful car clown if I used it to haul a tool belt and a compressor up and down the small hill in old-town Longmont*.

So with your entertainment in mind, I acquired this extremely large and badass bike trailer from a small Iowa builder called Bikes at Work:

96a

These things are highly configurable due to the modular design. Lengths range from 32 to 96 inches, width is 19 or 27 inches, back wheel can be mounted in various spots to accommodate an overhanging load up to about 15 feet (such as a canoe), and you can even get a Duallie version with two wheels on each side that will roll 600 pounds.

I picked the longest 96A model but skipped the “wide” and “heavy” options since this still provides plenty of space and I figured 300 pounds is plenty of capacity. The empty weight of my 96A is 47 pounds – very trim given its size.

The idea was to test both the trailer and myself over the duration of my fall/winter/spring construction season and see how well we perform together (measured by just how much duty we take away from the big Honda). And I can now say that the results are very positive. A few shots of the trailer in action:

patio_set

A complete patio set including 4 chairs, a 6-person table, and an umbrella (250 lb)

radiant_heat

The kit for my radiant heat system (2000′ of PEX pipe, plus various pumps, tanks and valves)

old_range

The old electric range that came with the house, on its way to be donated to the recycled building materials store .

Note that for some of the loads pictured above, I used the trailer in bare form – no load floor. But for strapping down smaller items, you’ll want to cut and mount in a piece of 1/4″ to 3/8″ plywood to create a flat surface more like a pickup truck. Another option is to just get a few 17-gallon Rubbermaid bins with lids – the trailer is designed to hold these perfectly and they barely need to be secured.

What I Like About This Trailer

These Bikes at Work trailers are solidly made and trouble-free. That would make them ideal for the owner of a bike-based business that needs performance without maintenance downtime. There is also some nice Bling in the form of well-finished fenders and a beefy curved aluminum hitch arm.

The trailer shipped with a bountiful set of the best bungie cords I’ve ever used. Plenty to strap down almost everything, although you’ll want some racheting straps if you are carrying really awkward items (like last week, when I brought my gas barbecue up from the old place:)

barbecue

Plus a few spare propane tanks, added after this picture was taken.

A trailer like this also comes with some unexpected prestige. People tend to smile when they see you riding by, the unfortunate drivers of jacked up F-250 farm trucks stare in envy, and cool people inquire earnestly about the features. In mid-December, I was strapping down a Christmas tree and a bunch of ABS drain pipes in the Home Depot loading area as a crew of bearded carpenter/snowboarders was preparing their own cargo for a work trip to Vail. They strolled over to see the setup.

“Kudos Dude, that is awesome”, was their assessment. And while I had become pretty accustomed to the trailer by this point in my ownership, the comment reminded me that yes, it is pretty awesome to be able to carry large stuff around town without a car or truck.

Things That Could Use Some Improvement

The most glaring problem with Bikes at Work stuff is that it is expensive. At $750, my 96A trailer cost me more than twice as much as my bike. Financially speaking, I’d need to displace at least 1500 miles of van driving before this trailer pays for itself, and this will take me about 5 years given the current rate of use.

On the other hand, a more casual carpenter or homeowner could use a trailer like this to completely replace a pickup truck or SUV, and live with only a small car (or no car at all)  in which case it would pay for itself instantly. When I finally finish building my current house, I may sell my own van and reap the life simplification benefits.

Plus, measuring the benefits of biking in strictly financial terms is a foolish exercise. We are comparing sitting on your ass pushing some power-assisted pedals and levers to pulling some fucking major appliances up a steep hill using the power of your own bulging quadriceps. This is the difference between a slow passive death and a long vigorous life. Obviously, any time you can replace driving with cycling, there is some powerful winning involved.

The other thing that really needs re-engineering is the Bikes at Work hitch connection system. They provide a sturdy welded stainless steel bracket that clamps to your bike frame, but installing and removing it is a fussy and haphazard affair. Let us compare their hitch installation to the excellent one that comes with a Burley brand kid trailer by taking a look at this picture:

hitches

Although “several minutes” sounds like a fussy thing to whine about, it is a significant issue for me because I switch between the two trailers (and riding with no trailer) on a daily basis depending on the size of my cargo. Luckily, with the power of Welding, I can create a new hitch for the big trailer that installs quickly. I’ll update this article once I get it built.

A Clever Upgrade

The obvious drawback of a huge cargo trailer is the huge amount of human energy required to pull it any significant distance. This isn’t much of an issue for me, since my building supply stores and the recycling yard are all within 3 miles of my house, and the elevation gain from the lowest point in town to my house is only 100 feet. But for larger cities or those days when I’m in a rush and tempted to drive instead of cycling, an electric bike conversion kit** (or a complete electric bike) would make an ideal companion for a trailer.

A Frugal Do-it-Yourself Alternative

Close inspection of the Bikes at Work trailer reveals that it looks an awful lot like a half of an aluminum extension ladder, with a hitch and axle bolted on. While not completely trivial, a handy person could make a trailer like this by combining an old ladder with some reused and reinforced parts from a Burley trailer. In fact, one reader wrote in to share his own photos of such a project here. Or you could mix various home-sourced parts with components from Ebay or the Bikes at Work parts list. Complete trailers also very occasionally show up on Craigslist, but as a very niche product, this is a rare occurrence.

My hope is that as we move the United States further towards its inevitable future as a Badass Utopiaeveryone will need a good bike and a trailer or two. Pickup truck sales will drop by 95% as they return to farm-only use, and bike trailer prices will drop as the market grows.

Here's the new place in its current state, seen from a guest's vantage point as the summer party season begins.

Here’s the new place in its current state of construction, seen from a guest’s parkside vantage point as the summer party season begins.

 

* I can only imagine how embarrassed people must be to use one of these Odyssey behemoths to drive 50-pound kids to school, and yet it seems to be the most popular vehicle for this task.

** I’ve been pondering the systems at EBikeKit for inclusion in a follow-up science experiment. I even contacted the company with the hope of getting them to send me one for evaluation purposes so I can share the results with you here. But they never wrote back. If some of us click that link to let them know how interested Mustachians are in learning about electric bikes, it might get their attention and they could send me an email :-)

Update: that did the trick. Company founder Jason Kraft got in touch right after publication to rave about an unprecedented rush in  traffic to his site. Thanks Mustachians! Now we have some great plans in the works for an E-bike experiment in August, when I get back from the upcoming trip to Canada.

  • Mark Ferguson June 23, 2014, 10:19 am

    I have to commend you on this article. That is a really cool trailer and you do go the extra mile to drive less. This may be a bad time to mention I bought the Lambo?

    Reply
  • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 10:37 am

    Speak of the devil I was just looking at that trailer website last night, as I was looking at possible replacement wheels for my kid’s trailer that serves dual-purpose as a cargo hauler in its folded down position, with a piece of plywood and plastic box on top. I had just left the grocery store yesterday when one of the tires exploded, had to call the wife to come pick up the (cold) groceries, fold up the trailer in her car, while I rode the rest of the way home. Later that afternoon I put a new tube on, which promptly exploded in the living room after sitting there an hour or two! I think it was user error, whether or not the plastic rim or tire is a POS, remains to be seen.

    And yeah the trailer prices are a little nuts. Take that 8′ trailer up to the DUAL WHEEL model (dually bike trailers man!!) and it’s up over a grand! That’s more than I paid for my brand new Felt road bike 2 years ago!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 10:47 am

      I don’t know much about bicycle brands, but $1000 sounds like a lot for a road bike too!

      ;-)

      (I do realize that many of us spend several times more, but part of my mission here is to reduce the Unnecessary Bike Elitism that is part of our culture too. If you win races and get paid to ride, go for the pro gear. If you haven’t even paid off your mortgage yet, I want people to consider postponing the Lance Armstrong gear for a decade or so and be amazed at how well a normal bike can still perform).

      Reply
      • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 11:13 am

        Believe me I looked and looked for a suitable road bike locally that would fit me, but nothing came up at a price I was willing to pay. My road bike was in a LBS about 200 miles away, for several hundred bucks off retail due to it being a previous year model.

        I have an older MTB that I changed to hybrid status, but it just didn’t suit my type of riding. And now that I’m commuting over 60 miles per week (31 mile round trip twice a week) a road bike really is more suited to that duty. I did it once on the hybrid MTB and it was awful.

        Reply
      • James June 23, 2014, 7:16 pm

        My wife is of Dutch descent, and we’ve been over to visit Holland a few times. Everyone over there rides bikes, in all kinds of crazy configurations. Our relatives say they have two categories of bikes: bikes for riding and bikes that get stolen. ;)

        Needless to say, mine is of the former class. It’s my dad’s old bike, and is nearly as old as I am. My summer project this year is to take a busted old trailer that a friend found, strip it down to the frame and turn it into a cargo trailer. Total cost: ~$30 for a new hitch.

        James

        Reply
      • Kevin June 24, 2014, 8:17 am

        Oh boy! This is the first time i get to disagree with MMM.
        I think there is a place for the higher end road bikes. Spending around $1,000 is necessary for someone like myself who bases his social life around group rides. I ride with some very strong riders 4 days a week. With these guys it takes everything in you to keep up. At 22 mph average you could never keep up one a lesser bike.
        I will agree that you don’t need the $10,000 carbon that some of these guys ride, but without sufficient gear my social life would fade away.
        I compare this to the much more expensive social hobbies and it seems cheap. This year I have 60 rides under my belt with only $10 in maintenance costs. My bike is 2 years old which brings the cost of each ride so far to about $20. This is only going to get less with each ride.

        Signed,

        Bike Snob

        Reply
        • James June 24, 2014, 11:19 am

          “Spending around $1,000 is necessary for someone like myself”

          Sounds like you’re an exceptional case, not a typical one. 99% of people who bike don’t need even what you do, most likely. I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with what he said.

          Reply
        • George June 26, 2014, 9:35 pm

          I’ve raced bicycles on the national level and worked in a bike shop. I know you can get a great NEW bike, race or commuter worthy for $450. The trick is to go into the bike shop, or check craigslist, in January or February. Bike shops have honest blow outs then on the previous years model. I found a beautiful “cyclocross” bike that is perfect for commuting due to the fender clearance and ruggedness of the bike. I traded out the tires and cranks, and it was perfect.

          Reply
        • Lina June 27, 2014, 12:29 pm

          I could not buy a road bike for 1000 USD in Sweden or it would be with basic components. To get a decent bike (Shiman 105 component) you have to pay 2000 USD. I have been thinking about buying a middle range bike and it is about 4000 USD. I am visiting Hawaii in december and if the prices are much lower in US it would make sense to buy a bike when I am visiting.

          Reply
          • rob in munich June 27, 2014, 1:51 pm

            I live in Munich and had the same style of bike as MMM but found the leaning over too hard on my arms and shoulders so we went with the old fastion stlye city bikes. we choose to focus on quality rather than just what was cheapest and I love our bikes. One problem we did face was it is the size (29 inch wheels) makes them impossible to fit in the car and a hitch would have been too expensive (plus the hassle and cost of buying storing a bike carrier) We do have the option of good public transport bit it’s really expensive, (anout 20€ round trip) instead I decided to buy a good folding bike as the wife already had one. In this case any under a 1000€ you’d be wasting your money (know from experience.

            One thing I still do is use the car for groceries, I did look at a bike trailer but everything I need is within a city block so really it makes no sense to spend a couple of hundred on a bike trailer (couldn’t find anything used) plus the hassle of storage (we live in an appartment).

            BTW for an American that is real kick ass setup, but I’d love to see how you manage to haul your trailer to the lake:)

            Reply
        • cvand July 7, 2014, 12:46 pm

          I ride >5000 miles per year and my steel-framed Schwinn bike was found outside a dumpster for free. I have to buy somewhat expensive tires every couple of years to make it reliable and have used $60 saddlebag set.

          I find it silly how many people have >$5000 that probably ride less in a year than I do in a week. Granted I do not bike for speed but I am certain that with my current level of endurance I can keep up with an Orbea etc.

          Reply
      • Jason June 24, 2014, 9:24 pm

        What is a specific bike you would recommend around $300?
        I have that much saved up for a bike right now, but have heard even on this website that to get a decent entry level bike you are going to be spending $300 used or $500 new.
        I don’t really know enough about bikes to feel I could get a good deal on Craiglist, and also don’t want to deal with repairs.

        If you know a place locally I am in Loveland and would love some advice on a bike.

        Reply
        • Patrick June 25, 2014, 11:18 am

          I heard Giant are doing crazy rebates on their entry level hybrids this year. A quick google search showed “Breakaway cycles” to be the Loveland dealer for Giant.

          I’m not a frugal cyclist, I own a face-punching $1500 bicycle, but my daily commuter is this thing:
          http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/450ht_new_xii.htm

          If you can manage a couple YouTube videos on derailleur setup and threadless stem adjustment, you can assemble this bike.

          Here she is on the beach:
          http://i.imgur.com/HBMIVGS.jpg

          (With rack, fenders added of course, those can be saved up for later no matter the bike you buy).

          If you’re young-ish and Loveland is flat, consider maybe a singlespeed bike to save money:
          http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/sst_steel.htm

          But first, I’d recommend checking local shops and asking for the cheapest, bare bones, entry level hybrid, maybe even a previous year’s closeout model, you might be able to get pretty close to $300. I’m not exactly familiar with US prices though. Usually cheaper than Canada.

          Reply
          • rob June 27, 2014, 2:12 pm

            just curious but have dynamo hubs made their way over there, pretty much standard on all bikes in Germany now, pretty amazing you have light with no batteries or drag. Secondly all tires have built in reflectors.

            Regarding Canada prices are way higher there, difficult to get a bike under a grand, not once you add kick stand lights fenders etc…..

            Reply
          • Andres June 27, 2014, 5:10 pm

            +1 for BikesDirect. My non-cargo bike is a fixed gear Mercier Kilo TT that cost $350 (including shipping) from there. I’ve been riding it for a few years now around the hills of Seattle, and it’s worked great. I didn’t even bother to change the el-cheapo stock Kenda tires, though it’s probably about time (I’ve just about worn through the tread).

            The other place to go is your local hippie reused/recycling bike shop. In Boston, that’s Bikes Not Bombs. Here in Seattle, it’s BikeWorks. They take old donated (but still perfectly good) frames, fix them up, sell them, and use the profit to teach kids how to repair bikes and stuff. I’m not sure if there’s anything like that in your area.

            Reply
            • Jason July 1, 2014, 11:46 am

              Just to follow up and close the loop on this.
              I got a 2014 Diamondback Insight 2 at Dicks for $330.
              http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=26709026
              They are having closeouts on alot of bikes right now if you have one in the area and I had $100 gift card so it wound up being really cheap.
              This one is online only but it’s being shipped to the store and they assemble it for free.
              I don’t know if it’s the best bike, but I talked to some people who know more about bikes then me, and said for the money spent on it it’s pretty good and better then what I could get at Walmart for not much less money.

              Reply
  • Jennifer Roberts June 23, 2014, 10:38 am

    I suspect I wouldn’t be able to get the bike to budge loaded up like that, but it is very cool. We don’t have a trailer hitch on our car, and hauling bulky items has presented a conundrum on more than one occasion. Around here I’ve seen people repurpose those baby bike trailers to haul things like bottles and cans around town, so you wouldn’t be completely out of place, just more hardcore.

    Reply
    • steve June 24, 2014, 3:06 pm

      I was more concerned with how you would get it to stop, especially if you are lucky enough to be going downhill toward a busy intersection :)

      Reply
    • Mr. 1500 June 25, 2014, 7:41 am

      You’d be surprised what low gearing will do for you. It will help you get moving and that is most of the battle.

      Reply
  • Erik Y June 23, 2014, 10:38 am

    I love it. You continue to push the boundaries of badassity!

    Reply
  • cambridgecyclist June 23, 2014, 10:39 am

    These are great! Although as you’ve pointed out the hitch needs some work. If it’s useful, I’ve found the hitch design from Pedal People to install quickly and be strong enough to haul a few hundred pounds:

    http://bikecart.pedalpeople.coop/gallery.html

    I’d be interested in seeing how your hitch fabrication efforts go, as we have access to a Bikes At Work trailer and are always looking for more robust designs. Ours was rear ended and the plastic wheels proved to be the weak point in this design — they splintered apart. Best of luck!

    Reply
    • Jordan Read June 23, 2014, 10:51 am

      Great link. I really liked some of those setups, and they seem to have a blast. Kind of makes me want to move entirely by bike…

      Reply
  • Brandon Curtis June 23, 2014, 10:42 am

    Three hundred pounds?! That might even be sufficient for my Costco run!

    I picked up a decent trailer last month from an undergrad moving to a Real Job and it’s been meeting my needs so far (small grocery pickups, softball gear, free street finds), but man, what I could move with a 300lb limit…

    Anyone in the Bay Area willing to trade for welding lessons?

    Reply
    • Brian Leyde June 23, 2014, 12:45 pm

      Your university may offer welding lessons for free or at reduced prices. Particularly if it is ‘necessary’ for a project. Other wise local hacker spaces?

      Reply
  • Bruce June 23, 2014, 10:52 am

    Like the Trailer. Cant wait to see your design using the ladder, makes sense. Sell it to your local Bike Dealer or Coop and rent it when you need it.

    Reply
  • Jordan Read June 23, 2014, 10:58 am

    I’ve been wondering when this badass monstrosity would make it’s appearance in a post of it’s own. I’ve recently been looking into trailers and really just want to build one myself. I had to take the pups to the vet last week, and almost jumped on the bike…until I realized that the dogs would have to run next to me, about 35 miles round trip.

    I’ll have to take a look at this guy when you do the Longmont Meetup.

    Reply
  • Eldred June 23, 2014, 11:11 am

    Ok, that’s pretty cool, even from someone like me who will never be badass enough to pull 300 lbs on a bike trailer…

    Reply
  • Justin June 23, 2014, 11:15 am

    I like the concept but I’m not sure if the financials make this a wise choice for many people. A clown car has a steep fixed cost but smallish variable operating cost ($0.20-$0.30/mile). So for a couple of bucks, I can make a multi-mile trip to haul something from somewhere to somewhere else (like the hardware store to my house). These bike trailers cost $650 to $1000+ which means I would need to use the trailer hundreds of times to break even on the purchase price (ignoring the opportunity cost of the $650 to $1,000).

    For a casual shit hauler like myself, it wouldn’t make sense. It would look pretty bad-ass though to roll down the street with a kitchen full of appliances trailing behind you.

    Reply
    • Moonwaves June 24, 2014, 5:19 am

      That’s where the power of community might come in to play. To me, this would be the ideal piece of equipment for a group of neighbours or friends to purchase together and share. I used to live on a road that ended up with a small piece of goes nowhere alleyway. Rather than have it become an attraction to cider-swilling teenagers the residents’ association buillt a tool shed. And stocked it with the type of things you might not need on a regular basis. Like drain rods and really big ladders. They had a few lawnmowers, too and then people could volunteer for a few hours on the two days a week the shed was open and hand stuff out to and take back from the neighbours. Great way to get to know people, too.

      Reply
      • Patrick June 24, 2014, 6:57 am

        Or for someone who doesn’t own a car at all, the $1000 purchase really isn’t bad and is potentially worth the carrying capacity. Even if it isn’t financially superior to just renting a cargo van when cargo space is needed, it’s worth it just for the badassity.

        Reply
  • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 11:19 am

    Another thought, I have noticed that when I have my trailer hooked up to my hybrid MTB in cargo format that I get lots of kids pointing at it, saying hi, asking about it, etc. Anyone else ever notice that when they’re out and about hauling stuff by bike? It’s pretty neat.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xap1/t1.0-9/10458390_10152451461843363_6567216576097833791_n.jpg

    And also my road bike in commuter format:
    https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/t1.0-9/10325757_10152391191728363_5241775471072752432_n.jpg

    Reply
  • Chuck June 23, 2014, 11:28 am

    Nice writeup. While not made in the USA, this Surly trailer comes with a better mounting system that is easy to take on and off ( http://surlybikes.com/bikes/bill_trailer ). Around the same price too.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 1:34 pm

      Thanks Chuck – I hadn’t heard of those trailers but the design looks good as well.

      Reply
  • John June 23, 2014, 11:32 am

    This post brings back font memories of my college days in Ames, Iowa.

    Bikes at work started out as a bicycle delivery service, eventually adding bicycle powered recycling services for the local Ames community. As MMM has noticed, sight of a biker with a cargo load of recycling material always brought a smile to my face.

    The proprieter saw a need for bicycle cargo trailers and eventually started selling selling trailers based on the custom built designs he was using for the bike powered recycling service.

    You can read about the history of the company here:
    http://www.bikesatwork.com/about/history

    The recycling aspect of the business (since sold to new owners) is especially inspiring:
    http://www.bikesatwork.com/bicycle-delivery-service/recycling-service.html

    Reply
    • TheDude June 23, 2014, 11:53 am

      I worked at Bike World during College. I remember him coming into the shop a few times. You used to see him all over Ames. Super cool product.

      Reply
  • SirSalty June 23, 2014, 11:43 am

    Thanks for continuing to push the boundaries (and write about it). You inspired me to start riding my bike to work around Christmas last year. Just as I start feeling comfortable with that success towards badassity, you point out other areas to stretch for improvement & fun.

    And you halfway joke about the Badass Utopia, but I will say that this sort of living definitely seems contagious. I have several friends who have tried commuting via bike even since I have been doing it. At very least, it’s always a conversation.

    Nice work.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Yeah! I noticed the same thing: a friend of mine was helping me with some construction here last week, and we decided to have some beers and make a dinner party of it afterwards.

      So he invited his wife over, and she biked across town and up the hill to meet us here with the two kids in tow (a 5-year-old on his own bike and a 1-year old in a trailer). She also brought tools, clothes, and food for the barbecue on her rig. We had a great time and then they rode home in the dark afterwards, with proper lighting and good spirits.

      This was a happy surprise, because while that type of party attendance is normal for us, I realized these people were not cyclists just a few years ago. Gradually the spirit of other cyclists (they also started reading this blog) wore off on them and they have attained full badassity.

      Once you start traveling to your local parties by bike, there is no going back. It is the good life.

      Reply
      • rob June 27, 2014, 2:23 pm

        Been meaning to ask for a while but how do you keep the winter from wrecking your bike? My brother in law is a serious kick ass cyclist, 30K or so each way plus a 100K or more on the weekend but the moment the winter hits he parks his bike as the salt would ruin it. plus the winter they had last year made it all but impossible to bike.

        Reply
        • alistair June 28, 2014, 10:06 am

          I think he might just be being a bit prissy. A lot of more serious cyclist run a second older bike as the winter trainer which is a decent option.

          The other is to have a hose on stanby and just give it a rinse when you get home.

          Reply
        • jeff July 6, 2014, 2:40 pm

          A hybrid can easily be ridden all year round if you’re still in the bike buying phase. Things that will help for the winter are:

          aluminum and painted surfaces versus exposed steel (and rust-buster chain),
          a single speed or IGH,
          studded tires,
          teflon coated shifter/brake cables, and
          wide fenders.

          If you have decent fenders you shouldn’t even have to hose it off more than once every couple weeks. My Kona “Dr. Good” hybrid has seen 40-80 miles/week for two Chicago winters and has no rust (that I’m aware of!).

          Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache July 31, 2014, 9:19 pm

            Jeff has got the right strategy there, and I did the same thing when growing up in Canada. Here in Colorado there is no real winter to speak of and they don’t use salt even when it does snow. So bikes and cars live a long time. It is one of the reasons I moved here!

            Reply
  • Al June 23, 2014, 11:45 am

    Whoa! This is unbelievable! What’s the max weight that you’ve been able to pull with this thing? Have you ever maxed it out?

    Reply
  • Paul June 23, 2014, 11:45 am

    You are way more badass than I’ll ever be!

    Reply
  • Patrick June 23, 2014, 11:47 am

    As a car-free, small apartment dweller, I splurged on the Burley Travoy trailer. It’s incredible for groceries and even some fairly large boxes too. I use it very often. And it folds TINY and fits anywhere.

    I love your big trailer. If I ever live in suburbia with a garage to store it, I’ll own it. But I tried living car-free in Suburbia before, and it really isn’t fun at all. I guess your suburb must be an exception to the rule.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 12:17 pm

      It is partly because I don’t live in a suburb – my place is right next to downtown. But it is a smaller city where housing types are mixed even in the center.

      I’ve always found even the bigger suburbs to be highly bikeable – lots of concrete and low traffic. But in a super-sprawl megacity the 60 mile distances from one suburb to one at the opposite one could get old when pulling an 8-foot trailer.

      That Burley Travoy looks pretty cool when you need to be as compact as possible. I do find my bike and trailer collection takes up a lot of this expensive downtown space.

      Reply
      • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 6:26 pm

        Man you should see the town where I live. About 30K people outside the city of Memphis, no proper downtown or town square area, and Z-E-R-O bike infrastructure. Very few sidewalks, even fewer crosswalks. There’s one place with a couple hotels near the interstate where you have to get in your car and DRIVE 1/4 of a mile across the main road to get to all the restaurants on the other side. Otherwise you’re dodging NINE lanes of traffic with no crosswalk or crossing signals. It’s really quite depressing.

        Reply
    • MikeW June 23, 2014, 8:44 pm

      We bought two Burley Travoys: one for us and one for our daughter. We live in a small town, while she lives in Chicago. They are wonderful! There are now zero reasons to take the car to the grocery store. The Travoy holds a ton of stuff, can be easily loaded, stores in very little space, you can still use your panniers with it attached, and it is a snap to attach.

      Reply
      • Patrick June 24, 2014, 7:03 am

        With my two Ortlieb Back Roller classics and a Travoy full, I can easily carry 120lbs of groceries (30lbs in each Ortlieb). Unfortunately the space limit is usually more limiting than the weight limit.

        I’ve also carried cases of beer, and soon will be carrying two cases of wine: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/01/30/how-to-make-wine-in-canada/

        I wish I had the space to store a larger flatbed trailer, though. One of these days…

        Reply
  • Ron Byrnes June 23, 2014, 11:53 am

    M3, your challenge to simplify cycling may be greater than you realize. My cycling enthusiast friends have separate bikes for different purposes—road, rain, mountain, commuter, etc. Some of their garages look like bike shops. Truth be told, albeit to a lesser degree, I’m guilty of the same. Bike purchases are especially easy to rationalize. “So wholesome. I’m getting healthier. Far less than a car.” A friend adds, “I don’t play golf or poker.” Preparing to duck because I can feel the face punch coming.

    Reply
  • Mortgage Free Mike June 23, 2014, 11:53 am

    Bombshell: Mark bought the car! LOL. Kidding aside, I think this is amazing. I’m just imagining the looks I’d get hauling that thing, but I guess that’s just “part of the lifestyle.” On a side note, I always wondered whether dishwashers were Mustachian or not?

    Reply
    • Miss BNE July 5, 2014, 7:06 pm

      Well, you’d get some looks from me and I only wish there were more moustachians in Australia. Might be something to do with the idea of someone using the “power of their bulging quadriceps” and pure badassity that is so appealing! :)

      Reply
  • David June 23, 2014, 11:56 am

    So do you have to ride around in first gear the entire trip in order to pull this stuff or can you get into any higher gears.

    This is a really amazing thing you have figured out how to do!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 2:15 pm

      On flat terrain, I find you hardly notice the weight and you can cruise along at 15-20MPH even with a 200-pound load. But on the steep hills, you need to up the ante and I sometimes find myself doing about 7MPH while standing up on the pedals and running low on lung capacity.

      Reply
      • Eldred June 23, 2014, 2:26 pm

        Hell, I can’t cruise at 15-20mph on flat terrain with just MY 200-pound load… And I’m on a ROAD bike…oy.

        Reply
      • Woodrat June 24, 2014, 8:47 pm

        Wow! That is not badass, it’s ironman! Maybe it depends on how steep “steep hills” are, but on our PNW steep hills, I find myself doing 3 mph with just a water bottle on board. I tip my helmet to you, sir.

        Reply
  • Mt Tahoe June 23, 2014, 11:59 am

    One thing not discussed in the article is brakes. With that kind of a load, it is fine in a flat city. but if you have to deal with any kind of serious hills, i would imagine trailer brakes would help or have a bicycle with disk brakes. for that kind of price on this trailer, I would expect some kind of braking device.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 12:13 pm

      I haven’t noticed any braking issues. Bikes usually have much more powerful brakes than they need anyway – they can send you over the handlebars if you aren’t careful. However, a mattress delivery contractor living in San Francisco will go through brake pads/shoes faster than average with this thing. With a fully-loaded 600 pound model, I would start to look into MacGyvering some trailer brakes.

      Reply
      • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 7:08 pm

        Hadn’t even thought of that, and not really sure how you would set up brakes on a bike trailer.

        Reply
        • anonymouse June 24, 2014, 5:46 pm

          They’re usually automatically activated. There’s some kind of mechanism such that when the trailer pushes on the hitch (i.e. when the bike is slowing and the trailer is not), the trailer brakes get applied.

          Reply
      • Neil June 24, 2014, 11:51 am

        I have carried somewhere into the 300 lbs range, using nothing but rim brakes. I wouldn’t want to do any hills like that…as it was I made sure to keep my speed in the single digits so as not to have too much inertia.

        Lack of on-trailer braking is definitely a minus. The wheels don’t have good rim surfaces for mounting a macgyver solution onto either, so adding something on would likely take a fair bit of modification. There’s a certain point at which modifying a stock trailer is probably more work and more costly than building a trailer from scratch.

        Reply
  • Free To Pursue June 23, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Brilliant!

    I’ll be discussing that fine piece of gear with my better half this evening. He’s made his carpentry tools pretty mobile as an on-demand handyman, but that would complete the solution. Love it.

    Reply
  • Sam Stockwell June 23, 2014, 12:25 pm

    You should consider these hitches, they are very strong and quick to install and remove.

    The usual website is http://www.cycletrailers.co.nz, but as it seems to be down for maintainance right now, there is an archived version at http://archive-nz.com/page/2685620/2013-08-22/http://www.cycletrailers.co.nz/html/hitch.html

    My friend steven makes the trailers, the bracket for the hitches is made here in New Zealand and the hitches themselves are from the USA.

    Reply
  • Richard June 23, 2014, 12:40 pm

    Neat!

    What kind of grade can you manage with that trailer? The hills in my town (you know it’s a bad sign when the neighborhoods are all named Something Hill!) are steep enough that even a fairly fit guy like me has to get off and push, so alas bicycles aren’t yet a regular feature in my erranding. Next move, though…

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 2:06 pm

      You need to discover “gears”, my man! A bike can handle a much steeper hill than any car – see the Slickrock trail outside of Moab, Utah for examples: https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1376&bih=898&q=slickrock+trail

      Reply
      • Tyler in Seattle June 23, 2014, 5:28 pm

        Absolutely love Moab and can’t wait to get back. Saw some insane biker taking on Lion’s Back on his bike.

        Reply
      • frank54 June 29, 2014, 8:05 pm

        >A bike can handle a much steeper hill than any car

        I disagree. A car or truck with a big engine for its weight at full throttle can go up a 60 percent grade (6 feet up for every 10 feet forward) and do so for miles on end (at least if the cooling system holds out). Few people can pedal a bike up something like that. Even pushing a bike up a 60 percent grade is tough. Dirt motor bikes can kill a bicycle on rugged ground. Dirt motor bikes can go up and down hills that a human can’t even walk up and down without getting onto all fours.

        Where the bicycle kills motor vehicles is conditions that cause stalls, such as deep sand or deep snow or deep streams. Just pick the bicycle up and carry it over the obstacle. Whereas get stuck in deep sand with a car or even a dirt motor bike and you’re in trouble. Ditto for breakdowns. Bicycles can be pushed for many miles in the event of a breakdown (other than something like a bad taco of the wheels). Whereas pushing a motor vehicle for any distance is impossible.

        Reply
      • Sam June 29, 2014, 9:37 pm

        One trick that can be used is swapping out cassettes to change gear ratio – road bikes tend to have small back sprockets (e.g. 11-22). I swapped mine out with MTB cassette with large sprockets (32 or 33 teeth) to be able to climb hills better. Also, you can mix and match sprockets (given that you found matching cassettes for a given chain type which can be a pain) to put together a cassette that matches your needs.

        Reply
    • Ken Wetherell June 25, 2014, 10:10 pm

      Appropriate gearing + electric assist are the best solution for carrying cargo weight in areas with challenging hills. I’m a big fan of long-tail cargo bikes augmented with mid-drive electric systems. These systems drive the cranks, so you get the benefit of your gearing for the motor’s output, in addition to your legs’ output. Electric motors like gears too! Hub motors are figuratively “stuck in one gear” and therefore have lower performance watt for watt than a comparable motor/battery combo that delivers power through the drive train. They cost more than hub systems, however, and the purchase consideration must be made carefully to weigh all factors. Hub motors can be awesome for some and I am not anti hub motor. We run both types to complement our majority human-only long-tail rigs for our bicycle-based delivery business.

      All this stuff costs money — and as discussed already, this wonderful technology will come down in price as volumes and adoption increase…in time. I’m of the opinion that as relatively early adopters of utility cycling in North America, it is worth the price of admission to badassity to set the example and lead the way.

      Awesome post and discussion!

      Ken
      Portland Pedal Power

      For some pure long-tail cargo bike and mid-drive electric porn, here is a great write-up with plenty of technical details and the story of a very long haul with a young family and a pair of these well-appointed cargo rigs. http://clevercycles.com/blog/2008/08/10/family-bike-trip-portland-to-breitenbush-and-back-again/

      And huge props to Ross Evans and the good folks of Xtracycle in California for pioneering the long-tail cargo bike. My good life would be less good without my Xtracycle (fitted to a Surly Disc Trucker) http://www.xtracycle.com/#cargo-bicycles

      There is a pretty wide price range on these bikes from a non-electric entry level one at around $700, ranging to $4,000+ with the type of bike MMM would scoff at and very high performance, leading edge electric systems with Li-ion battery. But the amount of additional utility you can realize from one of these is simply amazing. Setups like these, even without electric assist, have helped countless of families here in Portland to go carless or car-light.

      Reply
  • Kaye June 23, 2014, 12:50 pm

    Super cool. And if prices stay high, what about sharing with like-minded neighbors? (Or maybe by the time that we all have enough like-minded neighbors, the prices *would* be down.)

    Reply
  • Million Dollar Ninja June 23, 2014, 12:53 pm

    This is pretty cool but I hope you never hit a big hill with that much weight behind you! It is cool to know that we have tools available so we don’t have to rely on cars or trucks. It’s a little pricey at $750 (I’ve seen cars cheaper than that) to only use every once in a while, but nice to know that it’s out there.

    Reply
  • George June 23, 2014, 12:53 pm

    It is neat in that it is a pioneering item promoting more biking but the practically of this particular design leaves a lot to be improved some of which you mentioned.

    First the price is just crazy, i would never spend $750 for a bike trailer even if it is badass. IMO I find it really annoying when companies exploit the fact that they have a pretty unique, niche item on the market so that just jack up the price to crazy levels based on the lack of other options. This kills its own practically and wide spread adoption. This price appears to go way beyond the material and labor costs of making it. I definitely agree with you on making a homemade version of this. In contrast, I got my Nashbar bike trailer for the reasonable price of $100, has a cargo weight limit of about 100 lbs, and it works great for my grocery trips.

    Also, one thing that strikes me with the “bikes at work” one is the combination of (1) it being low to the ground and (2) with the back end sticking out so far from the back axle. If you drove this on hilly terrain across the bottom of a valley or dip area in the road, the back end of it this would scrape across the ground. They need to probably cut the end off, it does not need to stick out so far.

    Lastly, there is an issue I noticed in biking up large hills using a loaded bike trailer. If I am hauling 50 lbs or more, you feel the increased force and torque being pushed against the pedals as you bike. Sometimes I feel like the structure of my bike itself is being strained from the action of hauling groceries or another large load. I worry that one of these days, I am going to bust the pedals right off or snap the axle in which they rotate around due to the increase power and torque forces of pedaling for that extra power to get up the hills. I would note however that so far this has not happened, just some creaking in the bike itself.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 2:03 pm

      I wouldn’t call the price THAT crazy. Remember this is a low-volume product manufactured in the US using expensive metal and a lot of human labor. The Nashbar trailer is made by the thousand in a Chinese factory with cheap labor. Both are great choices, but for different needs.

      Higher volume could probably bring a trailer like this down to $200, but I suspect Bikes at Work is not getting rich off of their margins right now.

      The low design is great – that is what allows this thing to carry a range around corners without tipping over. It does scrape as you exit a steep driveway, but that is a small price to pay for an 8-foot cargo bed. The smaller models would be less Corvette-like in their valley scraping.

      As for breaking your bike with the awesome power of your own legs – you must be a much stronger man than I to have such concerns :-)

      Reply
    • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 7:15 pm

      Creaking usually means your bottom bracket is starting to go out, or possibly the pedal bearings.

      Also with this particular trailer you can change the wheel position based on where you need to place the weight of the load. And since it’s modular you can make the bed shorter if you desire.

      Reply
      • George June 23, 2014, 7:37 pm

        thanks for the counter-points, another idea is to add some wheels (i.e. some casters) at the end of to prevent the scrap from driveways;

        I have to admit I have not been gentle with my bike after putting a lot of miles on it, plus I found out a little late that the winter salt residue also did a number on it.

        On the bright side fixing or even replacing a bike is always so much easier and cheaper than with cars

        Reply
  • Dave LaLonde June 23, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Wow, I really do admire your radical touch in mastering the art of mustachianism! You just seem to keep going!

    Reply
  • Glen June 23, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Ha-Roo! Mr. Money Mustache, that is a badass trailer. Your legs will be fantastically huge and admired by all. I thought my neighbors looked at me funny for flipping a tire up and down my driveway, but you may turn heads all the more. Happy towing!

    Reply
  • Derek June 23, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Wow – and I thought I had seen it all. MMM, you never cease to amaze me at new ways to save money, stay fit, and pollute less. Simply awesome!

    Reply
  • AlmostThere June 23, 2014, 2:25 pm

    If you’re in the Portland area, there’s one for sale on craigslist: http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/4533783246.html

    Reply
  • Ross June 23, 2014, 2:39 pm

    I like how this thing gives you a mental and physical challenge too. Sometimes life seems a bit too cushy and convenient these days. As you mentioned, there are many benefts to a bike apart from saving you some moola! Something else it also gives is a sense of accomplishment (especially after you have pulled some fucking major appliances up a steep hill using the power of your own bulging quadriceps) :)

    Reply
  • insourcelife June 23, 2014, 2:44 pm

    250 lbs of patio furniture looks very impressive sitting on that bike trailer, but I gotta ask – is it all new? Was there nothing to be found on Craigslist, in the spirit of this blog? I’m sure there’s something else going on here and you are not creating additional demand for China-manufactured goods like most of the new Homeowner Clowns out there :)

    Reply
  • Thorsten June 23, 2014, 2:52 pm

    Nice idea but unfortuntely not allowed in Europe. Police would stop you immediately due to dangerous conditions.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 23, 2014, 3:38 pm

      Wow, that would certainly suck! Can any other Europeans confirm or deny this? The police in my area seem to pay absolutely no attention to cyclists, and that is one of the great benefits of the sport/lifestyle.

      Reply
      • Fred June 24, 2014, 4:01 am

        Not sure which bit of Europe Thorsten’s referring to – it’s certainly not true here in Cambridge UK. We pull our 1yo kid in a trailer and you see a lot of other parents doing the same. There’s a local cycle-courier company who have a bunch of riders pulling cargo trailers around the city too and I’ve never heard of anyone being stopped by the police because they’re pulling a trailer.

        Reply
        • egghead July 6, 2014, 3:31 pm

          Germany. Any vehicle must be confirmed by TÜV. One can buy vehicles confirmed by TÜV but it is uncertain you will geht it for selfmade ones. Too much rules. It’s even difficult to get a simple bike likely to the rules. My bike is 20 years old, the backlight stops light when i stop. This is not allowed. Police would charge me and force me to walk. The other side is we have the most safe vehicles. Accidents will not happen caused by rechnical Errors .

          Reply
    • PatrickGSR94 June 23, 2014, 7:18 pm

      Say what? I just saw some photos on another website of bikes pulling various trailers in Europe. Even saw a guy on a bakfiets (extended cargo platform and box up front) also pulling a cargo trailer behind it, and the pic said it was from the Netherlands.

      Reply
      • Suus June 25, 2014, 12:43 am

        Bakfietsen are indeed very much allowed here in the Netherlands. With or without trailers. I carry my own 50 pound dog in a trailer sometimes, always get positive reactions. Maybe Thorsten refers to the specific lenght / weight of the trailer? Never heard any rules about that.

        Reply
    • Christof June 28, 2014, 3:03 pm

      Not in Germany, as long as you only carry cargo. For kids you need to follow a few rules which any bike trailer sold here does.

      Reply
      • Thorsten July 7, 2014, 1:58 pm

        I found maximum length 2m
        Maximum total weight 40 kg if trailor has no separate brakes 80kg if having.

        Reply
  • Jason Kraft June 23, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Jason here from Electric Bike Technologies (E-BikeKit™). Just wanted to chime in to say thanks for the opportunity and for all the Mustachians coming to checkout our site today. Special thanks to Craig for giving us a heads up about MMM. I’ve never been here before but I’ve been checking out the site since connecting with Mr. MM and I dig it. Converting bikes to electric with kits (instead of buying complete) seems to be along the MMM vein of saving $$$ by making smarter decisions. Looking forward to contributing to an MMM e-bike that’s both badass and useful.

    Reply
    • m June 24, 2014, 7:41 am

      I bought a used electric bike last year and it’s simply awesome! I get about 200 km per charge. And this baby’s fast and responsive. Feel like Lance Armstrong but it’s my bike that’s juiced☺

      Reply
    • Ken Wetherell June 25, 2014, 10:22 pm

      My battery for my electric bike was supplied by Jason and E-BikeKit. It has been a reliable product and the personal touch I received from these guys was great. Thanks Jason!

      Reply
  • Wilbur Ince June 23, 2014, 3:12 pm

    I’m a big fan of you Mr MoneyMustache, and our lives seem to be similarly patterned. I’m a little surprised that you went Buy instead of MAKE.

    We looked at the BikesAtWork trailer, but instead made our own trailers using bed frames, 2×4’s and BMX wheels. We created a hitch that will accept BAW trailers or our trailers, all we needed to by were the tie-rod ends from the Granger catalog. Everything else came from neighbors trash or the local hardware store.

    The price difference is huge, we built 5 trailers for about $150 in cash outlay. The biggest difference is that we can do any kind of modifications without feeling like we have to protect a huge investment. If we need more holes or to add something on, we do!

    Here’s our trailer in action, on my SECOND move by bike. We moved everything including a queen size bed, glass top dining room table, oak desk, 11.5 foot neon liquor store sign, home brewery, everything!
    https://plus.google.com/photos/+WilburInce/albums/5893962887597187953

    Here’s another of the trailer with materials for my compost bin, that’s two pallets, and four sections if sideboards:
    https://plus.google.com/photos/+WilburInce/albums/5893962887597187953

    We try to haul everything by bike!

    Reply
    • George June 23, 2014, 7:44 pm

      Nice work, in my opinion you are definitely bad ass for constructing your own. You could even spray paint the sides (the wood portion) of it to make it look even more bad ass and sleek; a high gloss black color would like nice.

      Reply
    • HealthyWealthyExpat June 24, 2014, 10:16 am

      Wow – that’s truly BADASS, Wilbur. Love the variety of both trailer sizes and the bikes hooked up to them. This whole post is completely eye-opening!

      Reply
    • Lauren K June 24, 2014, 10:47 am

      Might I also add that you’re wise to use those McDonald’s boxes! Their frozen food boxes are double-insulated and extremely durable, in addition to being the perfect size to lift and carry. And they’re FREE.

      Reply
  • ael June 23, 2014, 3:29 pm

    Looks like a great idea for someone not quite as old as I am. One comment on width though. A wider trailer (the 27 inch model) will let you position bulky items partly between the wheels. You can then balance the load better front to back. Ten percent weight on hitch minimizes trailer handling issues and also is less likely to overload that rear wheel of bike. I am a (semi-retired) farmer who pulls tractor trailers, etc. so I can justify a pickup. Handling issues is a euphemism meaning you don’t want a 2000 pound trailer and 6000 pound tractor “whipping” behind your PU.

    Reply
  • Kristy June 23, 2014, 3:35 pm

    Love love love my cargo bike with electric assist. Just sat night put 2 laundry baskets Full of stuff a 10 yr old and a six year old on back and went to the free movie night at the community center. Here in Seattle were nothing is flat I really appreciate that electric assist.

    Reply
    • Derek June 24, 2014, 6:57 am

      Cool! What setup are you using? My wife and I have bionx powered big dummy and edgerunner down here in Olympia :)

      Reply
  • Sarah Shaw June 23, 2014, 3:39 pm

    That is totally badass…….. I love my Big Dummy but this is amazing!
    I take my twins everywhere…
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151606472791907&set=pb.98282786906.-2207520000.1403559497.&type=3&theater

    Reply
    • Chris I June 26, 2014, 2:29 pm

      Another shout-out for the Big Dummy. I’ve used mine for bike camping, riding around town, and hauling everything from full-grown adults, multiple children, multiple large dogs, orchard ladders, home brewing equipment, etc. It’s amazingly versatile with the right Xtracycle accessories.

      Reply
    • Miss BNE July 5, 2014, 10:45 pm

      Wow, that is amazing, but that would totally not be legal here in Australia. My understanding is you must have a separate seat for each passenger, and I don’t think that fits the bill. :(

      Reply
  • TommyVee June 23, 2014, 3:42 pm

    As a veteran of many years of bike trailering, starting with kids and continuing on to grocery shopping and rental property maintenance,etc., I love bike trailers and currently own two, a Bob single-wheel and a folding Burley which no longer hauls children but instead miscellaneous cargo. My neighborhood also has an electric-assisted Bikes At Work trailer, although I have not used it yet (it has a big battery and an on-off switch on a long wire, not too fancy).
    The impact of trailers on bike frames is real. I have broken 2 bike frames over the years, both in the rear triangle on the hitch side. Before I became a software geek I was a mechanical engineer and both seemed to have tensile fatigue failure from the asymmetric loads between chain on one side and trailer hitch on the other.
    So nowadays I mostly trailer with an old touring bike (Trek 520) that has a beefed up frame designed to haul loads, plus has nice loaded behavior and powerful brakes. I live in Boulder on top of a hill, so climbing and descending puts big loads on the bike. On flat ground, most of the loads come from inertia, which can be reduced tremendously by riding style, but that does not work so well on hills.
    So I think people getting into bike trailers should think about using a bike with a sturdy frame, rather than a lightweight road bike designed for the Tour De France but not hauling refrigerators.
    Luckily old touring bikes and mountain bikes are easily available on craigslist, getting cheap once the paint is scratched despite many years of remaining usable life.

    Reply
    • Andrea June 24, 2014, 8:39 pm

      This guy. Voice of reason.

      Reply
  • Derek June 23, 2014, 4:08 pm

    Cool!!

    I have the same trailer and have hauled all kinds of things and even been in a xmas tractor parade!
    Heres a shot of my setup I use when my wife wants to have coffee with a girlfriend and show her around town :)

    http://thatsrubbish.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/20140118-104324.jpg

    Overflowing with trash in a citywide cleanup I organized

    http://thatsrubbish.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/20140118-104355.jpg

    Picking up goods for the needy and homeless around town :)

    http://thatsrubbish.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/20140118-104140.jpg

    Reply
    • marciaB June 23, 2014, 5:13 pm

      Derek – fabulous photo of your wife and her friend…hilarious! Gotta love those Adirondack chairs, very clever of you. Gold star award for combining exercise, making your wife happy, and all-around badassity!

      Reply
    • HealthyWealthyExpat June 24, 2014, 10:18 am

      Derek, the pic of your wife and friend is uber-cool. I think it could win some kind of photo/design competition!

      Reply
  • dave June 23, 2014, 9:27 pm

    Interesting web site. But I see money from a slightly different perspective. Money is is basically an exchange of energy. It circulates like all other energy. If you worry and hoard money to be secure, you stifle the energy around money. If you have a mentality of lack, that is what you will create. So while many of the ideas on your site are good, I feel it’s a bit overboard and tends to further a mentality of lack. Just my observation

    Reply
    • TomTX July 21, 2014, 6:23 am

      My money is circulating as part of every major company in the USA. My money is not just blown on crap.

      Reply
  • CTY June 23, 2014, 10:56 pm

    AWESOME!!!
    And I thought we (the Better Half & I) were cool when we moved from our apt to our first house and walked the family heirloom anvil by hand truck the 6 blocks.

    Oh & Derek– love the chairs & bike tour. What fun!
    You could make some good money offering tours.

    Reply
  • Jess June 23, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Really a gas grill? I thought you were cooler than that. Charcoal/ hard wood is the way to go!

    Reply
  • MrOneWheelDrive June 23, 2014, 11:08 pm

    Nicely done.

    I made a similar trailer for about $150, see
    http://ottawacyclist.com/my-home-made-bike-trailer/

    I used it to get 250 pounds of furniture from Ikea, Costco runs every two weeks, to carry a mini fridge, bar stools, you name it.

    Biking with a trailer is so much fun, it feels like a train. At first it is slow chugging out of the station but then as you gain speed you can motor right along.

    Reply
    • Eldred June 24, 2014, 6:44 am

      You have THAT many routes free of intersections/traffic? Around here, stopping/starting with a couple hundred pounds on a trailer every other block would get old, QUICK.

      Reply
      • Patrick June 24, 2014, 10:41 am

        Wouldn’t get old, it’s free exercise. Muscle over motor, any day and every day.

        Reply
        • Eldred June 24, 2014, 12:19 pm

          You’re a better man than *I* am… That’s one of the things I don’t like about trying to bike in this area – no place to ride without worrying about traffic. Sure, I could drive about 40 minutes with the bike on the car to a MetroPark to do so, but that’s a drag as well. I’ve done it before, just to try to train on some hills for a yearly charity ride. But it seems like a waste…

          Reply
  • Bob Today June 24, 2014, 1:24 am

    Pretty cool!
    One suggestion on the Baddass Utopia, where “everyone will need a good bike and a trailer or two”: there is a growing Sharing Economy going on and I believe a trailer would fit excellent in this movement.
    So instead of everyone owning one or two trailers, only several people need to own a trailer and others can use it for a small fee. This can be facilitated on online sharing platforms, just like what is happening with cars (snappcar), appartment (AirBNB) and all other stuff (Peerby).

    Reply
  • Mario Adventuresinfrugal June 24, 2014, 3:49 am

    That’s pretty fantastic. It’s amazing what people out there have been able to come up with for bike accessories — and otherwise– when the need has presented itself. My last move here within New York was similar in its lack of car use, although I might have looked pretty ridiculous pushing my desk chair stacked high with clothes onto the subway…

    Reply
  • Jim G, Bikes At Work June 24, 2014, 5:00 am

    Thanks for posting your experiences with the trailer. Glad to hear you are finding it useful.

    If you want to use both your Burley and B@W trailers on the same bike without having to take off either hitch, you can either 1) use our axle-mounted hitch (http://www.bikesatwork.com/store/product/axle-mounted-bicycle-trailer-hitch) instead of the standard hitch that came with the trailer, or 2) replace your Burley “classic” hitch with their newer axle-mounted hitch (http://www.burley.com/page_175_200/forged-standard-qrnutted) and simply swing it out of the way when you use our trailer.

    The “classic” Burley hitch you have is admittedly faster and easier to mount than our standard hitch, but it is arguably not as strong nor as secure a mounting system. It also won’t fit many newer bikes on the market (e.g., it won’t fit most bikes equipped with rear disc brakes), which is why I suspect they now use an axle-mount hitch instead.

    Reply
  • DutchMustachian June 24, 2014, 6:09 am

    Mr Money Mustache,

    The bike trailer is really cool, but 750 dollars?!?!? I can’t see how this correlates to “learning skills” like welding etc. so that you can create your own? I think the thing can be build in 10 hours for als little as 100 dollar when using second hand stuff. That would be an hourly wage of 65 dollars if you did it yourself!

    I’m sure there is a rationale here (as with everything you do), my question is -> why make the decision not to build one yourself or perhaps make a couple so that you can sell them as a side gig?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 24, 2014, 10:13 am

      You have a good point there, Dutch Mustachian. If you read the post again, you’ll note that I did suggest that you could build a cargo trailer yourself pretty easily.

      But since I’ve been building a house for the past 8 months, it has sucked up all my hobby time for making stuff and I have shifted the equation more to buying certain life tools instead of making them. Given a surplus of money and a shortage of time, this is a reasonable strategy for some people, and many readers find themselves in this situation.

      I’d rather have a busy attorney or doctor go out and buy some good brand-new bikes and trailers and start riding them immediately, rather than have them put it off for years because the rules of Mustachianism forbid you from buying any expensive life tools brand new.

      Heck, a high-income reader just wrote to me and said he bought a high end Stromer electric bike ($2500) to replace his car habit for a 30-mile daily roundtrip drive, and it has completely changed his commuting life. I wrote back and said “hell yeah!”.

      Reply
      • DutchMustachian June 25, 2014, 4:58 am

        Hi Mr. Money Mustache, I see the rationale now with respect to your decision. I guess it’s a custom Business Case for every individual and a balance to what extent one wants to go in order to become more Mustachian :-)

        Reply
        • rob June 27, 2014, 2:43 pm

          Wow really burning up the comments section today, but my Wife and I aren’t the most mustchasian people out there but I really took the clown car habit to heart, when we moved I planned everything as if we didn’t have a car, everything we need is literally within walking distance. Up to knee replacement surgery we never drove the cars during the week. being off my bike for almost 6 months (due to surgery) we got back in the habit of driving everywhere but even then we rarely use more than one tank a month. and yes it is wonderful being pain free and back to biking.

          Reply
  • Joel June 24, 2014, 6:14 am

    I had been looking at these–much cheaper but less blingy–standard size bike cargo trailers from Aosom: http://www.aosom.com/C3-Cargo-Trailers/l-230-233-284 . They don’t specialize in bike trailers, and I have no experience with them, but I think it would hit the spot for groceries, or maybe one power saw at a time.

    Edit: Found on amazon, for cheaper and with 5-star reviews: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0083JHEG8?ie=UTF8&at=&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links

    Reply
    • Brian June 24, 2014, 10:55 am

      I bought one of these about 6 months ago, and find it perfectly serviceable for grocery getting. Worth it for the price. The cargo is held in place by a canvas cover, and loosely packed but heavy contents (like groceries) can slide around and cause the canvas to bulge out the side and impact the tire, which can cause the canvas to tear. So I strapped some wooden dowels to the metal frame, lengthwise along the sides, to provide more support and prevent that from happening. Was a cheap and easy fix.

      Also, when I bought mine, the prices on Amazon weren’t cheaper once you factored in shipping — might be different now.

      Reply
    • The Olive Presser June 28, 2014, 10:12 am

      Joel,

      I have an Aosom too — this one: http://www.aosom.com/d-2404/Aosom-Bike-Bicycle-Cargo-Trailer-Yellow.html. I love it. Sturdy trailer for a low price.

      I second MMM’s call to haul more goods by bike trailer. My Aosom trailer purportedly carries 180 pounds. I want to strap a lawn chair to it for New Belgium’s Tour de Fat this year and test it’s load capacity I live about an hour north of MMM, in a similar environment. Can’t recommend bike trailers enough.

      To respond to some of the commenters about hauling a heavy trailer, stopping a bike trailer loaded with several boxes of wine, groceries, and a vacuum cleaner is not a difficult task, and towing it is not difficult either, especially if your bike has a set of gears. My bike is a single speed, and it’s still manageable with my scrawny computer nerd body.

      Reply
  • Eldred June 24, 2014, 7:39 am

    Question: How can a neophyte choose a good cargo configuration for his bike? Just checking out the Nashbar site, I see these:
    Panniers:
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_166967_-1___
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_563350_-1___
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_572720_-1___

    Racks:
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_120260_-1___
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_559579_-1___
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product2_10053_10052_568049_-1

    So how do I know which bags work with which racks, and what combination works best on each bike? There didn’t seem to be many reviews. :-( I wouldn’t be putting these on my road bike, but I have a cheap department store special that I could use. Like a $150 Murray mountain bike. I wouldn’t trust it for a 50-mile trip, but for 3-5 miles it should be fine.

    Reply
    • Patrick June 24, 2014, 10:50 am

      Complex question. Does your walmart special have eyelets on the dropouts and on the seat stays for racks? If not, you’re pretty much out of luck and you’ll need a seat post mounted rack. They suck really, really bad. The weight limit is pathetic. If the bike has rear suspension, you’re also forced to use a seat post mounted rack.

      Another option is to use the Axiom Streamliner Road DLX rack: http://www.axiomgear.com/products/gear/racks/streamliner-series/streamliner-road-dlx/

      That rack would likely fit your road bike, it mounts on the wheel skewer and the brake bridge.

      You may be able to improvise the Axiom Journey Uni-Fit series racks to fit your WalMart bike, assuming no rear suspension. It mounts similarly to the Road DLX rack.

      Just a note that fitting racks to bikes is not usually very simple, there’s often some amount of jimmy-rigging. Unless you get a commuter bike that is made to accomodate a rack, of course.

      As for bags, usually they are much more universal. Any bag will do, likely, but once you have your rack fitted you could visit bike shops and try on the pannier bags to make sure.

      Reply
      • Eldred June 24, 2014, 12:27 pm

        Thanks for the tip on the Axiom racks! I don’t think my bike has any extra eyelets – I’ll have to check when I get home. I also got another mountain bike off Freecycle, but I have to fix the rear wheel. The bike was involved in an accident. Looks like the derailleur got caught in the spokes. That broke a couple of spokes, bent the axle, and bent the rim. I replaced the axle already, and I’m hoping that if I can straighten out the rim that the derailleur still works. That bike may have better mounting points for racks.

        Reply
  • Little House June 24, 2014, 8:19 am

    That looks like a pretty awesome bike trailer. I haven’t had the need to haul such heavy or large stuff, and I’d probably get run over by an angry driver if I did (I live in Los Angeles – carcentric indeed!), but I might have to investigate these things a little more.

    Reply
  • Rosewind77 June 24, 2014, 8:59 am

    Inspiring…..I’m just starting on my way to a truly thrifty life. Did’nt think things like this were possible. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Shawn June 24, 2014, 10:16 am

    MMM – If you decide to undergo the E-bike conversion project I would definitely suggest you go all out and build your own battery pack. You can save yourself a huge portion of their cost by going with the motor-only kit and purchasing your batteries from All-battery.com. I’ve built several hobby projects with their cells and always been pleased. You can build their 13Ah battery pack with relative ease for <$500. It also means you can make it configurable since you may find that you don't need all 13Ah or need even more than the 20Ah they offer.

    Reply
  • sara June 24, 2014, 11:06 am

    This might be a dumb question, but how do these trailers handle potholes? A person on a bike alone can steer clear of potholes, but I don’t see how you could do that with a giant trailer like this.

    Reply
  • Parker June 24, 2014, 11:08 am

    This is what I call being a ‘bike-clown’ or using a bike for a few tasks that could easily be accomplished much more efficiently with the car and with little gas, but with the intent of proving a point that it can be done. I’m all for bike transport and errand running and have lived car-free at times, but sometimes you have to say this is a task that is deserving of car transport. Now if you were hauling appliances 2 miles on a daily basis, then it might make sense, but for once-in-a-while use, I don’t quite see the appeal. Not to mention, going downhill on a bike with several hundred pounds pushing you…seems like a potential for a badass wreck! Use the Honda MMM, we don’t want to lose you!

    Reply
  • Neil June 24, 2014, 11:09 am

    I love Bikes at Work trailers. Given the price, for most casual users, collective ownership is a good option, and where I live, the bike co-op has several (5, I think). If you have a bike co-op in town, you might want to suggest to them that they have a few available to borrow/rent. Although I own a small car, there are occasions when I want to carry larger things, and grabbing a bike trailer to do it is far easier and cheaper than renting a truck.

    As far as hitch design, I’m not sure the alternative you’ve shown would be up to the kind of weight that you might put on a BaW trailer, so it’s hard to compare the two. The cheap/easy replacement of the hose clamps are also a plus when sharing ownership…if someone screws up and breaks something, the whole hitch doesn’t have to be replaced.

    Reply
  • Andrew Esposito June 24, 2014, 11:12 am

    It would be great for road surfing too.

    Reply
  • Mark Gershfeld June 24, 2014, 11:13 am

    Hi Pete,
    That’s a fantastic trailer! I have had my eye on these for a while:
    http://surlybikes.com/bikes/bill_trailer
    I recently traded my cross bike for a Surly Ogre that can carry way more weight on itself. And it has built in mounts in the frame for their trailers. But I really miss Panda’s old trailer for serious errand running. We recently moved into a house with only a shed, no garage. One it’s organized, I will be looking for a new trailer and try to cram it in there.. All of our essentials are in Basemar and Table Mesa plazas so there’s no reason to fire up a car.

    Reply
  • former player June 24, 2014, 11:27 am

    The bike trailer is fine. The window configuration on the back of your new house is awesome.

    Reply
  • Crass Cash June 24, 2014, 3:02 pm

    Jesus you are hardcore! Keep up the posts, I never would have gone to that extreme.

    Reply
  • Jen June 24, 2014, 9:07 pm

    New favorite phrase, and oh so true :)

    This is the difference between a slow passive death and a long vigorous life.

    Reply
  • Innkeeper77 June 24, 2014, 9:31 pm

    That is awesome!

    A note on electric bikes: You may find a e-bike kit like you linked does well, or you may find the opposite. Those hub motors are usually set up for lighter loads, and flat terrain. Although not cheap, or set up for your bike, mid drive motors that drive the bike chain, and therefore can use lower or higher gears, should have a much easier time. One example of this is the stokemonkey, at http://www.ebikes.ca

    *My wife and I are considering such a kit and a cargo bike as a car alternative. Even if it isn’t the best financial sense, we believe that the lifestyle improvement would be fantastic, and cheaper than running a car!

    Reply
    • Ken Wetherell June 25, 2014, 10:42 pm

      Ah! I didn’t see your post before making mine in reply above (sorry… late to this thread). I should have just said, “What Innkeeper77 said!”

      With many 1,000’s of miles on my Stokemonkey + Surly Disc Trucker + Xtracycle, I can say with my hand over my heart that the Stokemonkey is a ‘beautiful system’. You and your wife will not regret it for it’s ability to make a car much less necessary. In the spirit of the Sharing Economy, perhaps you can go in one with some of your neighbors.

      Reply
  • Scott June 25, 2014, 12:04 am

    Hello, Recently discovered your blog and have been attempting to implement some of the principles to my life. Ironically, I have been debating purchasing an electric conversion kit for my bike and wondered if this would violate the MMM ethos, given the price of these kits and the fact you could use your muscles….
    Nevertheless, as an avid road rider, mountain biker, and commuter for 30 years now, my lower back is beginning to fail me. My justification, then, is if the electric kit will allow me to stay on the bike and not in the car, then the expense should be acceptable….
    Nevertheless, I have been leaning toward the BionX pedal assist system and now that I know you are considering a kit, I am wondering if you have researched this one relative to the one you mention?
    Really enjoy your blog. Apologies if mentioning the BionX is deemed to promotional (I have no association). Please delete me, if so.

    Reply
    • Chris I June 26, 2014, 2:39 pm

      The BionX system is top of the line when it comes to e-bike conversions. If I had the money for a kit, I would go with that one, personally. I have ridden a Surly Big Dummy built up with a 350W BionX system, and it was fantastic. The power application is seamlessly integrated into your pedaling effort, and it can even utilize regenerative braking on the downhills.

      Reply
  • Ladia June 25, 2014, 1:11 am

    Man can be suprised considering how big load is capable take by bike. Try also my favourite way of transporting things by bike. Xtracycle. It is smaller than your trailer but practical. It has still one track only so is able to cut through traffic easily and is able to pick up peope also. I ride it with my son to school regularly and with my wife occasionally. Check these examples
    Windsurfing board https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi8IdsO345U
    Two boys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK9JQyj7uZQ
    Child trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXBijjNRKO0
    Basic info https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXBijjNRKO0
    Made by http://www.xtracycle.com/
    What I use is basic steel mountain bike with FreeRadicalKit plus WideLoaders, LongLoader and Footsies.
    Ladia

    Reply
  • win June 25, 2014, 6:10 am

    Have you written an article on what kind of bike to buy?

    Reply
    • Eldred June 25, 2014, 6:22 am

      I’d like to see that as well, just in case I look for another one…

      Reply
      • Jason June 25, 2014, 8:21 am

        Ditto

        Reply
  • Songbird June 25, 2014, 10:33 am

    I am very intrigued by this concept. During the school year, I am an itinerant music teacher, traveling to three different schools around town. As you can imagine, this sometimes means that I am carrying around a wide variety of instruments, paperwork, and other assorted apparel. What would be an ideal bike configuration for this sort of thing, especially as a fair proportion of this material needs to be in a waterproof carrying environment? If at all possible, I’d like to do at least some bike commuting once the school year starts up again in August.

    Reply
  • Thiago June 25, 2014, 11:08 am

    The best hitches I’ve seen are the ones by Wike Cycles Trailers (Made In Guelph, ON!). You can see them in this short promotional video (” Connecting your Bicycle Trailer: Quick Release”).

    http://www.wicycle.com/index.php/products/child-trailers/wike-premium-double-bike-trailer/

    Because the hitch has this rubber part a lot of trepidation is absorbed, so you get a more comfortable ride. And it’s pretty easy to connect and disconnect.

    I carry the kid to daycare and commute to work everyday on one of those. It cost me $250, used from Kijiji, and I estimate that it saves me around $36 a week only in gas,. So it pays for itself in less than a year, without mentioning the other benefits.

    And BTW, if your quads are burning too much, you are probably doing it wrong ;-). Try to use some glutes!

    Reply
  • Nicola June 25, 2014, 11:16 am

    Wow, you are so cool! I’d smile at you too if I saw you riding along pulling that – you also have to be quite fit to manage big loads of materials. What will it be like in snow/ice?

    Reply
  • Bartell June 25, 2014, 2:01 pm

    While I’m not sure about the mustachian-ness of my latest venture, and I am embarrassed about the exorbitant cost of it, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my electric bike. Mine is not just a kit or any normal bike but a pretty fancy contraption called an ELF (Electric Light and Fun) made by Organic Transit http://www.organictransit.com
    I need to be able to get to work (12 miles from home) with a load of stuff (books and lunch and work out clothes etc.), and this does an awesome job for me. I was recently thinking to myself….why would anyone chose a car of this….this is fun, and a car is a waste of time and energy and pollution! Kudos to this blog for convincing me that we need to start thinking of the cost of car ownership. At 6 grand, I know it will take several years for my ELF to pay off in terms of cost, but I’ll take that bet, and my health will improve the whole time too. And the kids think I’m the cool dad – its my version of a sports car!

    Reply
  • Joe June 25, 2014, 7:22 pm

    I’m not familiar with that ebike conversion kit but will look forward to the review. Have you seen new products like the Copenhagen Wheel https://www.superpedestrian.com/ or FlyKly Smart Wheel http://www.flykly.com/smart-wheel ? They are rear wheels that convert any bike into an ebike, and the battery/motor/everything else are all contained in the wheel – seems like a more elegant solution, though I haven’t tried them. Includes things like regenerative braking, connects to smart phone, etc. It’s not quite the same as a full ebike, it’s more like assisting your pedaling, but hey, muscle over motor, right?

    Reply
  • Enginer7006 June 25, 2014, 8:14 pm

    I wonder how quickly such a setup would cause metal fatigue in a bike frame? I’ve seen bike frames fail a coujple times in the past on my old roomates bikes, but he was putting 2000-3000 miles a year on his bikes and weighed in the upper 200lb range.

    Reply
  • Credaholic June 25, 2014, 10:27 pm

    Can I ask what kind of windows you went with at the new house? We’re doing a similar style house right now and debating whether to go with vinyl or splurge on aluminum.

    Reply
  • Dan June 25, 2014, 11:22 pm

    wow! thats a nifty looking trailer, and a lot more sturdy than I figured it would be. But $750 like others said is pretty pricey, although for you MMM I guess it isnt much $$. I suppose it depends on how much use you’ll get out of it.

    ” I can only imagine how embarrassed people must be to use one of these Odyssey behemoths to drive 50-pound kids to school, and yet it seems to be the most popular vehicle for this task.”
    I had to lol at this. I dont think any of these people are embarrassed at their vehicle choice. I dont think it even crosses their mind that they should be embarrassed. I know it certainly doesnt cross mine when I use my 4 cyl SUV as a daily driver. I only drive around 25,000 km a year, pretty much nothing compared to everyone else i know. Thats $900 a year on gas, not bad at all for an SUV, and certainly better than the 454 cu v8 truck I used to own. I applaud those who follow the full mustachian way of life, but you’ll pry my car from my cold dead hands!

    Reply
    • Chris I June 27, 2014, 4:26 pm

      You can’t just calculate gas as your vehicle cost. You need to factor in gas, depreciation, wear and tear, maintenance, etc. For a vehicle like you described, you are looking at $0.25 per mile, roughly. If it is newer, depreciation will be higher. Bicycles have very little depreciation, and maintenance is cheap and simple. Operating costs are closer to $0.01 per mile.

      Reply
  • jestjack June 26, 2014, 5:08 am

    Well….You are the “real deal”…Your bike trailer makes my attempts at frugality in construction and destruction by combining trips and hauling full loads in my Ford Ranger(4 cylinder)…inadequate. As the Home Depot guys said….”Kudos to you! “

    Reply

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