Recommendation request: Towing application

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Last seen: 15 years 8 months ago
Joined: Friday, August 15, 2008 - 09:50
Points: 8
Recommendation request: Towing application

Hello - newbie here (gasp! another one...)

I've been reading quite a few posts and getting familiar with things here, but haven't seen much on this topic so I am hoping someone who has been around perhaps can either answer this or point me to older posts where it has been discussed...

I'm looking to add a motor to my bicycle or perhaps get a bicycle and put a motor on it (not sure what I'll have to do there) that will then be used to tow a trailer with a child in it. Application is to drive this rig approx 11 miles with child in the trailer, drop off at school, then drive another 11 miles to work. I actually can do this pull now w/o power but am recovering from a leg injury and won't be able to do it this fall, thus here I am.

I have an older road bike (27" slick tires) all steel frame that I have been using to pull. When it is just my older daughter I will only be pulling about 40lbs. My own weight is around 160. So, from my reading it seems that this is within the range of what many of the WE hubs can handle - given that some posters have discussed their 300+lb frames being pulled along.

So here are my questions:

1) Front vs Rear wheel drive - I am drawn to the simplicity of front wheel installation, but wonder if perhaps towing may make the front a bit to light on the tread (?) and thus prone to slipping. Has anyone towed and experienced this?

2) Wheel size - I see 700c 26in... sold, but no 27" - hmmm... if I'm towning maybe I need a new bike with a smaller tire for more torque? I need to maintain average speed close to 20mph to keep on schedule so I don't want to go too small on the wheel.

3) Range/batteries - I plan to charge at work once I'm there to return home. But return trip doesn't require towing weight and distance is only 5 miles unless I have to do an early pickup from school. However, I don't want to leave batteries out all day. Thoughts on easy removal from bike/weather concerns etc would be apprecaited.

4) Cost - I want to keep my cost as low as possible (of course) but don't want "would have should have could have" regrets - i.e. I'd rather get it right the first time without serious overkill. So, what would you folks recommend?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/recommendations you folks may have and share!

reikiman's picture
Last seen: 1 year 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sunday, November 19, 2006 - 17:52
Points: 8447
Re: Recommendation request: Towing application

I used to be a tow truck driver ..and.. I use a trailer on my bicycle for grocery shopping.

As a tow truck driver the only time while towing I had issues with the front wheels being light on the road and affecting steering -- the only time this happened was while towing a vehicle which outweighed the wrecker I was driving. Specifically one tow truck (wrecker) I drove was on a 3/4 ton Toyota pickup bed, and I had a call to tow a 2 ton utility company truck with a big tools locker on its bed. So long as I kept the speed low I could steer which made for a looooong ride back to the shop.

Front wheel drive could help with that by having some weight on the front of the bike to counteract the weight from the trailer. The other issue with weight on the trailer is where is the trailer connected? My trailer hitch is low on the frame but I think some trailer hitches are high such as at the seat post, and I think the geometry of a high trailer hitch might facilitate the front wheel raising off the ground.

I've collected a bunch of links to bicycle cargo trailers here, some of which are useful for hauling kids:

I thought I'd seen hub motor kits for 27" wheels..

A good idea for batteries is using a rack/bag like the ToPeak rack. It can easily detach and be carried inside for charging. It is best to charge batteries quickly after use.

Last seen: 15 years 8 months ago
Joined: Friday, August 15, 2008 - 09:50
Points: 8
Re: Recommendation request: Towing application

I really appreciate your insight!

My trailer attaches very low - right next to the axle and actually a tad in front of it, so I imagine it is about as good as I can possibly get in terms of weight distribution. I have had no problems with steering or front wheel traction so far in pure manual mode, but with two kids (approx 75lbs) in the back I can tell the front is a tad lighter in a relative sense (when walking the bike I can tell, have not noticed while riding). I just imagine a lot of torque on the front wheel wanting a good firm hold on the road to avoid slipping, especially if I am running road tires (not knobby ones).

Nice thing about the trailer is that I imagine I can put my batteries in it as long as my wires are long enough...

davew's picture
Last seen: 8 years 3 months ago
Joined: Monday, November 20, 2006 - 20:13
Points: 85376
Re: Recommendation request: Towing application

I too do my shopping with a trailer. It's a Townie Electra with front hub motor and a one-wheel trailer from Bike Nashbar. With up to 100lbs in the trailer I haven't noticed any lightness on the front end or difficulty steering. I think this is because the predominate weight, me, is still split between the wheels on the bike. You mentioned, however, that you'd like a removable battery. This will limit your choices somewhat. I know Bionx batteries easily detach. I think iZip batteries do as well. I'm sure there are a few others.

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

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