Introduction: Cargo Bike / Wheelbarrow Trike (aka SUV With Pedals)
Would you like to cycle with babies, children, pets and groceries... but not pay $2,000+ for a flash cargo bike? This may well be the solution for you!
I have been riding my awesome DIY wheelbarrow cargo bike for nearly 5 years now and it has seriously brought major joy to my life. Even with 2/3 of my children now riding their own bikes, we still use this bike nearly daily to carry everything that comes with family outings.
Prior to family life I used to cycle somewhat seriously, and I would never have been seen dead on an adult tricycle! But life changes, and everywhere I go this bike gets me compliments and serious mom street cred.
I wanted a decent quality bicycle, with a few gears (we live on a hill) that would cost under $1000. Our local bicycle shop just so happened to carry 3 speed Torker Tristar (which have since become Raleigh Tristar) for about $600. I liked the smaller 20" rear wheels (lower center of gravity), higher useful load (250lbs), and quality feel. I did use my free tune up to get the gears shifting properly again after it was broken in, but have needed no adjustments since.
The three wheels makes loading & unloading easy, no wobbling. I can ride at walking speed (great for sidewalks) and no dismounting needed when stopping/starting. It can also turn on a dime and is very maneuverable at slow speeds.
The poly wheelbarrow tub (Truper poly 6cu) was available at our local hardware store. The 6 cubic foot tub tripled the carrying volume of the trike's stock mesh basket, and provided a nice safe barrier to keep little fingers out of the spokes. It is also super durable. I had been concerned about it cracking at the attaching bolts and cut section of the lip, but five years on I have had zero problems.
- 1x adult tricycle (recommend Raleigh Tristar)
- 1x poly wheelbarrow tub. I used a 6 cu.ft. Truper wheelbarrow because it fit perfectly on the wheelbase and the sides were high enough so small children could not access the turning wheels.
- Saw with fine tooth blade (I used a hacksaw & sawzall)
- Gorilla tape
- iBert child bike seat for 3 child capacity
Step 1: Prepare Tricycle
Remove the stock wire basket from your tricycle. KEEP ALL THE HARDWARE! This is very important, as you will essentially mount the tub in just the way the wire basket was mounted.
Step 2: Prepare Wheelbarrow
Disassemble the wheelbarrow.
The chosen tub was a good dimension for the trike, but I wanted to make sure it was carrying as much weight as possible directly over the rear axle, not behind it. As such I cut away some of the upper tub lip to allow the tub to slide right up to the rear stays. I did not attach the tub to the rear stays, but it would be possible to do with a hose bracket if you wanted extra connection points.
My cut edge was a bit rough, so I used Gorilla tape over it for a smooth edge.
Step 3: Make Holes in Tub
I did not drill any additional holes in the trike frame. I used a small drill bit to locate the existing frame holes by positioning the tub and then drilling small guide holes in the tub up from underneath in the existing frame holes.
I then used a larger drill bit to make the holes drilled in the tub the same size as the bolts I was using.
Step 4: Attach the Tub
To secure the tub I used the hardware that had attached the mesh basket. It came with nice bars and washers to really sandwich everything together and distribute the pressure of the anchor points over a large area. Five years later no holes have split and no part of the tub has cracked. The poly is very durable and flexible.
Step 5: Optional Straps & Padding
Initially I thought straps were needed for safety. Over the years I have found I really don't need them. The children were always good at sitting still when moving. For a while I had a wooden bar across the middle for the children to hold onto for stability which worked well when they were little. I also used to have some foam padding in there, but over time it was replaced with a folded up picnic blanket that could also be used at our destination.
Step 6: Ride!!
Ride, ride, ride! This setup has been perfect for our family outings around town and down some local gravel roads & trails. I have carried up to 100lbs additional weight with the three children and the bike has held up well. As they have gotten older and are now riding their own bikes, I still find the tub is nearly always full of assorted clothing, toys and food that inevitably get dragged along on our adventures. It is also a fun way to get a bit of a workout and reduce our car dependency.
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