DIY Bicycle Trailer Hitch

Written by michael carroll
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The hitch is a key component of any homemade bicycle trailer design. It must be strong enough to withstand the forces involved in hauling a load, yet flexible enough to allow the trailer to pivot relative to the bike during turns and when going over bumps. Hitch designs can be quite complicated, and often require access to a machine shop to fabricate the pieces. However, Bill Sullivan described a design for Mother Earth News in 1981 that requires only basic woodworking tools and some scrap automobile tire rubber, making it a practical option for most hobbyists and DIYers.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Plywood board, 3/4" x 3" x 5'
  • Wood saw
  • Drill
  • Four 1/4" x 2 1/2" bolts
  • Three 1/4 " hex nuts
  • Automobile tire rubber
  • Hacksaw
  • One 1/4" fender washer
  • One 1/4" wing nut

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  1. 1

    Measure the distance from the bed of the trailer in its horizontal position to the ground, and measure the distance from the middle of the bicycle's seat tube to the ground when the bike is in an upright position. Subtract the first measurement from the second, and cut a length of plywood to the difference using the wood saw. This piece will rise vertically off the bed of the trailer, and must be securely attached to the bed with bolts or screws, with the 3/4" face oriented toward the bike.

  2. 2

    Measure the horizontal distance from the seat tube backwards to a spot a few inches beyond the rear wheel, and cut two identical pieces of plywood to this length, adding three inches. These pieces will straddle the vertical piece, and will run horizontally over the top of the wheel to attach to the seat tube.

  3. 3

    Drill a 1/4" hole through the ends of the two horizontal plywood pieces, centred 3/4" in from the end. These ends will attach to the seat tube when the trailer is hitched up.

  4. 4

    Trim away the corners from the ends of the horizontal pieces, narrowing the width down to 2" on the end where the pieces will meet the seat tube. The trapezoidal shape that results should allow the horizontal pieces to pivot left to right without hitting the seat or other parts of the bike frame.

  5. 5

    Drill three holes through the ends of the three wood pieces, and fasten them tightly together with nuts and bolts in the following manner: the horizontal pieces should be parallel to each other, on opposite sides of the vertical piece, forming a right angle with the vertical so that the trapezoidal ends of the horizontal pieces will extend over the top of the bike's rear wheel to meet the seat tube. Trim the wood pieces as necessary to make sure all the pieces will clear the rear wheel when the trailer is hitched up. Make sure the holes on the trapezoidal ends of the horizontal pieces are lined up so the fourth bolt can pass easily through them.

  6. 6

    Cut a 1 1/2" x 9" rectangular piece from the tire rubber using the hacksaw. Drill a 1/4" hole near one end of the piece, then several more holes near the other end spaced out from each other like the holes in an adjustable belt.

  7. 7

    Hitch up the trailer by passing the rubber piece around the seat tube, then bringing the ends together between the two wooden horizontal pieces. Pass the 1/4" bolt through one of the wooden pieces, then through two holes in the rubber piece, and out the other side of the second horizontal piece before adding the washer and closing the hitch by screwing on the wing nut. Experiment with the different holes on the rubber piece to cinch it more tightly or loosely around the seat tube, just as with a belt. The two wood pieces may bend in towards each other to tighten the connection as well.

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