Make Your Own Handcart/Bike Trailer

This is a lightweight handcart that can also be used as a bicycle trailer. The design shown is fabricated from steel sections that are generally available at comparatively low cost, angle section for the base frame and reinforcing bar for the upper frame.

Most of the load will be carried by the central cross-member of the base frame, which therefore needs to be strong and rigid—a box-section is preferred; the one shown here is formed by welding together two lengths of angle section.

If the floor panel needs more support, then additional cross-members may be added, in which case a single angle section may be used for the central member in order to reduce weight.

The floor and side panels should be as light as possible. Possible options are:


1.2mm to 1.6mm thick sheet steel (for example scrap sheet from an oil drum); 3/8”-thick plywood; wooden slats about 12 to 15mm thick.

Sides and Ends

1/4” plywood or wooden slats may be used but these are relatively heavy— the preferred option is welded wire mesh (for example, 12g wire x 25mm mesh size).

The base frame has outrigger members to support bicycle-type wheels. Standard wheels are suitable for loads up to about 120kg when operating on fairly smooth tracks, but for higher loads and/or rough tracks some form of strengthened bicycle-type wheel is needed. Bicycle tyres and axles give low rolling resistance and low friction respectively, thus minimising the effort needed to pull the cart, which is essential if it is to be used as a bicycle trailer.


This second diagram shows details of a simple hitch arrangement which enables the cart to be coupled to a bicycle. Rubber discs cut from a scrap car or truck tyre fitted over a pin on the trailer sit inside a socket made from water pipe which is welded to a bracket for bolting to the rear stays of the bicycle below the saddle.

Alternatively, strips of scrap inner tube may be wound onto the pin to form a ball which sits inside the pipe socket. This arrangement damps out impacts and provides a quiet, smooth ride.

A number of other simple hitch arrangements are also possible. The basic requirement is that the hitch should be strong and rigid in the direction of pull, but flexible in other directions to allow for cornering and up and down movements of the bicycle and trailer when travelling over uneven ground.

Diagrams and text from the book “Low-Cost Load-Carrying Devices,” page 80-81


One Comment

  1. travis.westbrook
    Posted 14 February, 2012 at 16:48 | Permalink

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