Hitch-mounted bike racks are great for hauling regular bicycles.
But the story changes with e-bikes. Especially when I’m not as young and strong as I once was. It’s one thing to lift a pair of 20-pound bikes onto the rack. 60-pound plus e-bikes aren’t so easy.
My wife and I want to do a lot of weekend trips with our e-bikes this summer. However, our bikes are pushing the 120-pound weight limit for our hitch-mounted rack. Not to mention, I just hate lifting those things onto and off the rack.
Surely there’s a better way to haul our e-bikes, isn’t there?
So what about using a trailer?
Living in Colorado, I’m constantly seeing folks hauling ATVs and Dirt Bikes on trailers as they head up into the mountains.
So why not a trailer for our e-bikes?
We already have the hitch on our SUV for the bike rack. Why not use a trailer instead of a rack?
Someone HAS to be selling a trailer for hauling e-bikes, don’t they?
The problem is, I searched all over the internet and all I could find were trailers that you can haul WITH your e-bike. I did find one trailer by Yakima that would cost north of three grand by the time you add the mounts for the bikes, but so far, that was it.
But the beauty of Google is, when you search far enough, other things start popping up. I started seeing utility trailers, and thought…. why not?
My $999 Utility Trailer from Tractor Supply
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
You see people hauling lawnmowers and other equipment on these things. Why not e-bikes? It would certainly be a lot easier to roll the bikes up a ramp than it is to lift one onto a rack.
This could work.
Home Depot and Lowes have a variety of trailers available. One that intrigued me could be folded up, which would certainly make more room in the garage. I finally decided that might be more trouble than it was worth having to unassemble and reassemble things each time I wanted to fold it up.
I decided to get one with a wood floor from Tractor Supply. I’d need to attach some things in order to secure the bikes, so the wood made sense. The 5×8 trailer I found was $999, and I made the drive to get my new e-bike trailer.
How do I secure the bikes to the trailer?
One thing on our new trailer made my wife and me a bit nervous. The rails are awfully low. If a bike tumbles over, it could tumble right off the trailer.
I needed to figure out a way to keep the bikes secure. How can you hold them in place, especially when a light trailer like this could bounce around a little?
When you see motorcycles tied down onto trailers, you start to think, why can’t you do this with e-bikes and bicycles as well?
I could install some wheel chocks like in the picture above, and some tie-downs. It’s not hard at all to bold things down onto the wood planks on the trailer.
And then I stumbled onto a different idea.
Cannibalizing our Rocky Mounts hitch mount rack.
When I picked up the trailer, I was looking at our old Rocky Mounts hitch rack, trying to decide what we would do with it. Would we hang onto it, in case we might still use it later? Or maybe sell it?
And then I noticed how the trays that support the bikes are bolted onto the mount.
That’s when it hit me: why not mount THOSE onto the trailer?
That was the solution. I unbolted the trays from the hitch unit and onto the floor of the trailer.
I also added some rails on the sides of the trailer to anchor tie-downs as an additional measure to make sure the bikes weren’t going anywhere.
It was a simple, but elegant solution. In the end, I was able to create an e-bike hauler out of a simple utility trailer.
So far we’ve just towed it around town just a little. I’m thinking of adding a storage box of some kind for keeping wheel chocks, tie-downs, and some tools.
And next up, I’ll need to think through security. How do you lock down the bikes or make sure someone just doesn’t steal the trailer itself? Colorado is a great place to live and a great place for riding bikes, but it’s also a place with a bad bike theft problem.
Maybe that’s another article for another time.
This is a great business idea for someone
As more and more people start using e-bikes, I would think more people will be looking for a better way to haul those bikes than hanging them off the back of their cars.
I’m a little amazed that someone hasn’t developed the idea yet.
I would think there would be a market for e-bike or bicycle-hauling trailers if someone were to start building them. Or perhaps just building the trays and mounts for DIY people like myself.
If you’re looking for an idea for developing a product that has some potential that isn’t being addressed yet, maybe this is it for you.
I’m either too busy or too lazy to pursue the idea myself.
And even if you’re not looking for a business idea, I hope that what I’ve done has served as an inspiration for what you could do.
If you have any ideas that build off of all of this that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.