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I want to use a trailer with my bike but it's extremely dangerous in winter conditions due to black ice and slush.

I'm looking for a trailer that acts like 2 extra wheels for stability than just something to drag. So imagine a trailer box that is hard bolted to the bike frame so the trailer always keeps the same angle of the bike frame. The 2 wheels on the trailer pivot.

Have you ever seen this done?
Do you think it can be done with a bike?

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    I don’t see how this would help on black ice. The bicycle still has to be able to lean into turns. Your main issue will always be the front wheel slipping. Get studded tires. – Michael Feb 6 at 9:59
  • @Michael With two wheels, when you lose the front wheel on black ice you are taking a fall. With an arrangement like this, there's a chance you'd stay upright and get an effect like 'understeer' – Andy P Feb 6 at 10:50
  • Something like a children's bike additional wheels but for adults? I don't think that if upscaled this thing would be strong enough – k102 Feb 6 at 11:07
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    @AndyP: How are you going to lean into turns? Attaching two fixed back wheels would create a very bad tricycle. I’ve been told that motorcycle sidecars handle horribly because of that (even though they have suspension). You’d really need a proper tadpole trike if you want good handling characteristics. Bicycle trailers also don’t have brakes on their wheels which is a huge disadvantage if traction is already bad. – Michael Feb 6 at 11:22
  • There are two solutions to black ice: studded tires, or free emergency rooms. - a Canadian Commuter ;) – Affe Feb 7 at 17:25
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Would it work? Sure, technically. You'd have to fashion one yourself (or have it made for you). If you want the frame to stay fixed and just the wheels to swivel, unlike a chariot, then you'll likely need to weld the frame to your bike, making a strong commitment to winter weather (and permanently increasing its footprint in your garage).

Will it be comfortable or beneficial to your ride? No. In order to turn a bicycle, the vehicle leans. Without leaning, your inertia will play a big part in the direction that you go; i.e. you're going to have to take it slow around corners to avoid falling over. You'll need to slow down to a speed where you'd be unlikely to fall on black ice, provided you have appropriate tires, making your trailer redundant.

In my experience, riding year-round in all weather from freezing rain to a foot of snow to a tornado (oops), well-treaded tires are usually good enough, provided you pay attention to the road conditions. At times, it turns the activity into something more akin to skiing. If you wanted to really make sure you don't get surprised by ice, studded tires are the easiest answer, though if you're cycling in all kinds of weather, it can be a PITA to have to switch between studded tires and treaded tires once the ice clears.

To summarize: yes, you could do it, but it's not worth it.

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  • If it was just for hauling me, I would go with studded tires but I want to drag whatever a huge plastic container worth of groceries can carry. I learned with riding a tricycle that if the bike don't lean the bike leans you. Being that I am on the tall side that adjusting the seat to ride properly on a tricycle was a disaster, I almost killed myself the trick is to keep a low center of gravity by building a contraption that sat me further back but only 26 inches off the ground. Just a trike is clumsy to pass around parked cars and the lobby where I live. The trailer can be unbolted. – Eric Huelin Feb 6 at 21:13
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    You could get a two-wheeled cargo bike with studded tires. Or just use studded tires on your normal bike, it will also help a lot with a normal trailer (though you’ll have a lower percentage of the total mass resting on your steering, braking and driving wheel(s)). – Michael Feb 7 at 7:00
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    The downside to having wheels swivel at the rear is you increase the chances of the rear trying to overtake the front in corners – Dan K Feb 7 at 7:33
  • @DanK, yes certainly. The initial impression I had was that the trailer was intended only to increase stability, but if it gets loaded with groceries, it will have a mind of its own. – Ian MacDonald Feb 7 at 15:03
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You want a trike. Not a grandma trike that looks like an upsized child’s tricycle; you want a good recumbent trike. With a proper trike and good winter tires you’ll have great stability, good traction, and still be able to have fun cornering and making speed. You’ll need a trailer only if you really need to carry more stuff than you can strap directly on the trike.

Go to the websites for Greenspeed and Hase (manufacturers) or Utah Trikes (a dealer) to see all the different kinds of great trikes available.

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  • Someone will have to invent a trike that the wide part folds so I can pass through parked cars and a sharp cornered hallway. All folding trikes I found all fold at the most useless way. – Eric Huelin Feb 8 at 17:18
  • Look further, there are many different folds. And if you fix your trailer to your bike frame you will be wider than a good trike. – Willeke Feb 10 at 18:31

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