DIY & Custom Trailers

    Build or Buy?

    Note that traffic laws in many countries do not permit a cycle trailer to exceed 1 m in width. Limitations on length are generally not specified but be sure to check local laws before starting to build.

    If prices for commercial bicycle cargo trailers exceed your budget or you enjoy working with your hands, consider building your own bike trailer. There are several freely available open source plans for DIY bicycle cargo trailers that you can download.

    A flatbed cargo trailer can be built fairly easily and inexpensively using household tools with salvaged wheels, some wood, scrap metal and a few nuts and bolts from your local hardware store

    a home-built bicycle trailer with 20 inch wheels and a wooden frame
    Home-built: a DIY flatbed cargo bicycle trailer (Photo: xddorox on flickr)

    A word of caution: many DIYers build cycle trailers using 20" wheels salvaged from a BMX or children's bicycle. A good commercial trailer will have heavy-duty rims (with a higher number of spokes) which are better suited to carrying loads and to minimize the risk of accident due to wheel failure. If you use salvaged 20" wheels be sure not to load the trailer quite as heavy as a commercially manufactured cargo trailer which will likely have higher tolerances.

    There really is no limit to the type of bike trailer you build yourself as long it conforms with road regulations where you cycle.

    Enclosed Trailers

    a custom bike trailer for a velomobile
    No Limit: a velomobile tows a matching custom-made bike trailer (Photo:

    Using freeware CAD software you can design a custom bike trailer to meet your exact requirements and construct it from aluminum, plywood, fibreglass or even carbon fibre materials to match your bicycle or human-powered vehicle.

    If you build an enclosed bike cargo trailer, you can advertise your company's or organization's products and services on sides and back along with a website address and social media URLs.

    enclosed, lockable cargo cycle trailer with advertising
    One Less Van: a custom-made, heavy-duty, lockable cargo trailer with branding (Photo by the author)

    Be sure to attach white, orange and red reflectors to front, sides and back (respectively) of the bike trailer you build to improve visibility and safety as motorists as well as other cyclists generally don't expect a cyclist to be towing anything behind their bike.

    Multi-Bike Trailers

    DIY bicycle trailer
    A Carry Freedom Y-Frame provides the platform for a custom multi-bike trailer (Photo:

    Multi-bike trailers enable you to transport one or more bikes using human power the safe way instead of riding one bike and balancing the second via hand alongside or stuffing the bicycle into a small cargo or child trailer.

    Using bicycle carriers designed for car roof racks and based on an extended flatbed cargo trailer platform, multi-bike trailers are relevant for bicycle sightseeing tour and outdoor adventure companies as well as for bicycle repair shops and hobby mechanics to transport non-functioning bicycles without the need for dismantling on the spot.

    Be concious of practical towing limits when towing more than one bike and maintaining the lowest possible centre of gravity.


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