Carry Freedom Y-Frame Small Trailer
13th Apr 2008, 08:15:14
Or how to carry a silly amount of cargo on a Brompton.
I make an effort to avoid using my car for short journeys, but trips to the supermarket have so far meant using the car since I can't fit a week's food in my rucksack.
I considered the use of panniers, but these make the bike hard to manoever safely with more than a few kg of luggage and of course the bike has to be unloaded before it can be folded. An unfoldable Brompton is just a shopper with small wheels!
There are several kinds of trailer available, but having looked at them all, I concluded that a two-wheel trailer would be best for carrying heavy loads on tarmac. Carry Freedom are a Glasgow based company who make such a trailer and for bonus points, it can be dismantled for transportation or storage.
The Y-Frame is available in large or small size, the large being capable of carrying 90kg, with a load area of 640x900mm. Since trying to stop a Brompton (16" wheels with caliper brakes) with a 90kg payload sounded "interesting", I decided to opt for the smaller model, rated at a more modest 45kg, but still able to carry loads 490X900mm.
The trailer itself is a Y-shaped (who'd have guessed) aluminium frame with a flat load bed made from ply. The idea is you bolt or strap on whatever box or load is to be carried on the trailer.
Assembling the Y-Frame out of the box is a doddle. I had the hitch attached to the bike and the trailer put together in about 5 minutes. Overall, the trailer has a sturdy feel being built from high quality materials, even down to the reflective sidewall tyres.
Hitching and unhitching the trailer is really easy. A bracket is provided to bolt onto the rear axle or quick release skewer, the trailer hooks on to this and is secured by a pin. Three hitches are provided, so it's possible to just leave one bolted on to each of your towing bikes. I was particularly impressed that with a little care, it is possible to fold the brompton's rear triangle whilst still hitched to the trailer, making it possible for the bicycle and trailer to stand alone.
Brompton parked with trailer still hitched.
The trailer hitch.
The whole thing taken apart.
Towing the trailer is easy enough, but it magnifies any jerkiness in my pedalling action, since this causes it to jolt back and forth. I soon learnt to pedal more smoothly. Stopping does take some planning, afterall the Brompton's brakes are barely adequate to begin with, especially in the wet.
Having said all this, it is easy to forget that I am towing the trailer. If your usual riding style is to hug the kerb, you might be caught out by your newly increased width, the trailer's track being 570mm. The upside of this is that cars seem to treat me as a vehicle and give a little more space when overtaking.
Rear view showing the track of the trailer.
Pretty much anything can be strapped to the trailer, but I found that Ikea's 73x55x32cm Slugis box is just the right size for the load bed. At £9 it's hard to fault.
Update: 6th May 2008
I have carried several huge loads on the trailer, including a 20" CRT monitor, building supplies and two weeks worth of refuse (forgot to put the bin out!). It was hard work, but all of this stuff was manageable. So far, I have not encountered a challenge worthy of my awesome haulage power!