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I need to move a trailer like this one here but with 4 wheels (two on both sides). I have no access to cars. The distance is about 100km or more, and I am a bit unsure how I am going to move it:

enter image description here

  1. where I should move it on pedestrian way or on car road?
  2. How should I do it?
  3. I am ready to buy any bike to move this type of things so some recommendations for this type of cargo moving with bike? Diamond-framed may not be the best option. I have some friends on the journey so I have considered to hack a dandem or tri-bicycle or weld old touring bikes together to form one larger X-cycle.
  4. I have noticed that my bicycle brakes are not really enough to move larger cargos, any ideas how to upgrade brakes in bike or some hack to the trailer? Or how many bicycles would be enough to stop this at least 1.3Mg beast?
  5. I think we are going to move during night anyway but we may need to use some car roads - what kind precautions should I do with the trailer besides installing a lot of blinking lights and reflectors?
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    @hhh - "I am ready to buy any bike" - Dude! You're usually frugal!
    – user313
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 23:01
  • bad idea, I recommed getting a car to do this, if it were only 1Km I think it would be fine but in this case it's mad and probably illegal. Also, what's 1.3Mg? Do you mean 1.3 tons?
    – jackJoe
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 9:20
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    @hhh: I'd love to know why you want to move the trailer without a motor vehicle, and what you're going to do with it when you get it, if you don't have a motor vehicle to tow it with.
    – Мסž
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 0:55
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    Install electric trailer brakes, mount the control on the bicycle, but a model that has a manual brake function. No way to stop that with a bicycle, no matter what the brakes are, it will push you to your death with the bicycle wheels locked, smoking and you screaming. You do not have enough weight to stop the momentum and inertia of that trailer.
    – Moab
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 2:10
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    Just hire a car. Its the safest, responsible solution. Doing it with bikes is foolhardy.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 7:10

4 Answers 4

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The first question is what the legal situation is. I am fairly sure that in Australia that trailer would not be a legal bike trailer because of the overhang past the rear axle, but the police would stop you because it's too large (they generally don't know this part of the law very well). Either way, I doubt you'd get far before they took an interest.

If you can tow it legally, I'd look at how to activate the brakes in the trailer. You will need to be able to do that relatively easily, because those will be your only effective brakes. That trailer will push a bicycle with it's wheels locked up quite easily. So, make the trailer brakes work.

Then I would build a quick semitrailer-style load tricycle, either a tandem or triplet. Somewhere on the net are photos of a bike shop move (in north america?) where they built a couple of semi-trailer style trike+trailer units for the heavy stuff (workbenches at 200kg+). Broadly, a solid axle between two wheelbarrow-style wheels, one side driven, very low geared, upright trike. You would probably want gears in there, but the main thing is to mount the towball as close to that axle as you can. Have the rear rider operate the (trailer) brakes, and the front rider operate the steering and gears. I would fit brakes to the trike but only for legal reasons and so it can be ridden separately from the trailer.

Depending on the weight of the trailer and the slope of the hills, you may find that you need a few extra riders to help push the trailer up hills. Either way, walking speed is a fair guess at how fast you'll go. Partly because you don't want to go faster than that down hills either.

You will probably have better luck if you do it as a charity ride - it doesn't really matter which charity, just pick one you kind like who will let you use their name and start advertising "fund raising ride - five idiots pull a big trailer from Here to There using a tricycle". With a little effort I'm sure you could even make enough money for them to be really happy :)

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Put an advert up with your local paper/Craigslist and offer the free use of the trailer on the proviso that they collect it for you. There are always people wanting to move house etc. and they may be glad of the favour.

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  • That's not a bad idea! It seems unlikely, but it's certainly possible and it costs nothing to find out. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 3:35
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    that's the sensible option, where's the fun in that :)
    – Móż
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 23:09
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Moving this with bicycles sounds horribly unsafe. I recommend against it, and here's why:

Tandems often use drum brakes, particularly on the rear wheels, but if the trailer you're moving is as heavy as most auto/truck trailers, you're going to have a difficult time stopping it from moving, particularly when going downhill, even with a drum brake system built for bicycles. You'd need to find a way to trigger the trailer's brakes from the bikes, possibly to work simultaneously.

From the picture, it looks like this trailer is as wide as an automobile, perhaps wider. I don't think you'd be able to fit that on a sidewalk/pavement in any case, local regulations aside. (Most locales encourage bicycles from riding on the sidewalk/pavement, and sometimes prohibit it entirely. It's difficult to say more without knowing what locations you'll be passing through.)

Keep in mind that if you lose control of the trailer, not only could the trailer be damaged, but the cyclist(s) could be injured, and another driver or a bystander could easily be hurt or killed.

It it's vital to have the trailer moved, I would seriously consider having it moved on a flatbed truck rather than tow it with bicycles.

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  • Neil, the trailer will have brakes of its own. Probably simple inertia brakes, but they might be heavy vehicle style air brakes. Either way, it wouldn't be legal without them.
    – Мסž
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 23:23
  • @moz - I didn't know that. Then, hhh would have to find a way to trigger those brakes while on the bikes. I have an image in my head of a team of cyclists set up like dogs in a harness, probably two abreast. Keeping the cyclists in sync would be a nightmare. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 3:31
  • Have edited my answer, although I would love to be proven wrong about this! Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 3:34
  • @Neil: yes. Doing it that way would be illegal everywhere I know of (cyclists are not allowed to tow other vehicles, or be towed by them), as well as complex to set up - animal powered wagons use load balancing beams between the two rows, and often gravity-based shock absorbers. Doing that with cyclists would be hard. Better to use a tandem/triplet/N-let (paced races on velodromes used to use 8 or more riders on one bike before motors became more widely available)
    – Мסž
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 3:36
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    @NeilFein let us continue this discussion in chat
    – Мסž
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 3:42
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Depends on the weight of the trailer and how hard it is to hook up. (Your link no longer shows what kind of trailer.)

Look at the amount of weight pulled by single riders in the pictures here.

Now that the link has been replaced by a photo, I would definitely think one bicycle is not enough. :-)

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  • Its not just the weight, its the legal permission, and the safety issues. Imagine the consequences if the load "got away" Good link btw.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 21:14
  • Well, whatever those people are doing is legal (apparently). If the load gets away, then the weight certainly makes a difference. But the OP wants to move an empty trailer.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 22:41
  • Even without the picture, and even if you're in the USA, "1.3Mg" should have told you a lot more than it apparently did. If you can't work it out yourself, 1.3Mg is about 2500 pounds. That's also mentioned in the comments.
    – Móż
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 23:06
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    Didn't notice that on first reading. When I did see it, it took me a while to realize that it was megagrams. 1300 Kg would have been plainer.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 1:12
  • @WGroleau 1.3 T would have been better again.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 7:08

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