Bike Trailer Blog:

All hail the bike cargo trailer!

Bike cargo trailers are amazing tools for getting more out of a bicycle -- and keeping you a out of your car. In all their variety, bike cargo trailers are the perfect tools for hauling stuff by bike.

We cover touring, commuting, errands, and generally doing more by bike -- so we don't leave out cargo bikes and conversions.

The topics of bike child trailers and trailer-cycles are covered in our Family Cycling section.

Submit Your Bike Trailer Photos

This blog is about sharing the fun, the utility, and the creativity that bike trailers can inspire. We want photos of how you've used your trailer -- whether it's an off-the-shelf model in a beautiful or interesting setting, or if it's a Franken-trailer customized in a way only you could have conceived.

Photos help to spread ideas, and stimulate discussion. It doesn't matter if you bought from one of our shops or not -- Bike Trailer Shop, Bike Bag Shop and Bike Kid Shop. Your photos and the stories behind them want to be seen and heard.

Monthly Archives: January 2009

Step-by-step – Extrawheel Voyager

Welcome to the step-by-step instructional blog for the Extrawheel Voyager. The Voyager is the second single wheeled trailer by Extrawheel, the classic version was a slightly heavier model that used large dry bags and cargo nets to hold your items to the trailer, both models use the same carrying configuration by holding the weight of your cargo on the sides of the wheel for better stability and balance when conquering rough terrain. Both models have excelled in adventure touring and off road cycling because of their high clearance and ability to track directly behind the bike with a very minimal footprint.

Welcome to the Bike Shop Hub….

The Bike Shop Hub is our website that will bring together many of the activities that are going on in our growing number of websites. At the moment our sites Bike Trailer Shop and Bike Bag Shop are open for business and Bike Kid Shop is slated for launch in the next few months.

The blog portion of the site will have the daily going ons of the shops including new products announcements, sales, new features of the sites, product reviews, new bike shop features and updates to our biking social media activities.

We plan on developing the Bike Shop Hub beyond a basic guide to our Bike Shop websites with blog into a central point for reviews, specials, FAQs and comparison chart from all of our sites. As we’re getting underway, we welcome your input, ideas and suggestions as regards to the Bike Shop Hub as well as our 3 Bike Shops.

Business Troubleshooting Issue #1

I’ve decided to start keeping a journal of all of the various business crisis that we generally have to deal with on a somewhat regular basis here at Wandertec, Inc. My primary objective is to give myself a record to refer back to when a similar problem occurs. But I figure that my trials and tribulations might also provide my legions of readers with a few insights into running a web based bicycle business.

The majority of our business activity is through our websites Bike Trailer and Bike Bag Whenever there are problems with the websites, we go into full on crisis mode. These problems revolve around issues such as our servers having problems, our payments not processing, our email not working or the code on our site not working properly.

The most common problems for us have been server problems. Lately our site has been shutting down due to some form of server overload. To troubleshoot it, all we can really due is theorize what the problem is, apply a fix and wait to see if it happens again.

We moved our 2 web shops to a new server last summer. The move overall seemed to be effective in eliminating the slow performance and frequent shut downs that the Bike Trailer Shop had been having on our old servers at APlus.

Our sites are now on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosted at Network Solutions. In the last few months, we started experiencing the site shutting down. This was easily fixed by resetting the server, however we knew that this shouldn’t be happening. With the frequency of the shutdowns increasing we started looking more deeply to see if our sites file structure could possibly overloading the server. We restructured some of the filing system, however the problem persisted.

The latest diagnosis was made by Jeff here. He had noticed that the name servers for both of our web shops were located on the same server as the site files themselves. Jeff assessed that this would possibly overload the system with self referring loops. Additionally, this goes against common practice of putting name servers and website files on separate servers so they do not tax the same server resources simultaneously.

With this theory, we decide to move the name servers to a separate Network Solutions server. To do this, we have to 1. Move the name servers 2. Point the domain names to the new name servers 3. Setup the records on the new name servers to properly access site files (A records) and email (MX records).

This process is difficult enough to figure out and initiate. It is made even more difficult in that the name servers take awhile to propagate across the internet. While propagation is happening, some people will be seeing what the old name servers want them to see and some will be seeing what the new name servers want them to see. If the reason for changing the location of the name servers is to try to resolve any issues, it is difficult to know when the new name servers have propagated, though there are network tools to see if where you are being pointed.

In our transition to the new name servers, we encountered another issue. Network Solutions, does not allow for the MX records to be easily adjusted unless your domain is hosted with them. With our domain on another domain registrar, we did not understand why we could not adjust our MX records. In the process of attempting to adjust our MX records, we inadvertently disabled our websites from communicating with other servers. Doing this disabled our PayPal payment processing, USPS rate calculation and FTP access. Our email was also disabled because we had not effectively loaded the MX records.

We were under the impression that the PayPal, USPS and FTP issues were related to the MX records not yet propagating. After we waited a day and nothing was working, we contacted Network Solutions. We soon learned that we had not only not edited the MX records but we had additionally disabled our server’s outbound communications function. Network Solutions was able to immediately reset the servers and reestablish our PayPal, USPS and FTP access. It turned out that with Gmail as our email client, our email had some default forwarding (to my personal email address) set up. I got a flood of 2 days of our business emails that I thought had been lost.

As far as the properly setting up the MX records, we have 3 options:
1. Have Network Solution manually edit our MX records (we would have to wait until the weekend was over)
2. Move our domain registration to Network Solutions so that we could access there dns tools.
3. Point the domain at a new Name Server (not on Network Solutions) that includes dns tools, so we can easily adjust the MX records in the future.

I ended up choosing the first option. Though it requires us waiting for Network Solutions, it won’t necessarily take that long and we don’t anticipate any need to adjust the MX records very frequently. The second option, may be something we do in the long run if we need to adjust the MX records more frequently, but we didn’t want to have to wait for this time consuming process to go through before we could make update our MX records. The third option would be yet another name server switch. I did not want to go through this again with all the problems that seem to surface every time it is done. However, for our future sites on Network Solutions, we will likely setup the name server at our domain registrant so that we can have access to the dns tools and not be reliant on Network Solutions manually editing changes to MX records.

So in summary, in attempting to solve one problem we unleashed a bunch of others. We are now keeping our fingers crossed that putting the name servers on a different server than the site files was worth while and that the website stops shutting down.

Some of the lessons learned:
1: Do not do major name server or server switches on a Friday
2: Talk to our server host technical support before making these types of switches.
3: When something like this happens write about it so I can refer back next time around. (done)

Happy 2009!

The roller coaster of 2008 has come to a close. With the rocky last few months I have some trepidations about 2009, however the overall trend was for rapid growth in bike commuting and bike cargo and I am very optimistic for rolling our momentum into a strong year ahead.

To start out the year we’ve just added the Extrawheel Voyager to our trailer lineup along with Extrawheel’s Expert Panniers and Extrawheel’s Dry Panniers. We are very excited to be the US distributor for Extrawheel and have high hopes for this trailer including beginning to distribute it to US bike shops. With it’s compatibility with any bike panniers, we will be offering it in combination with a large range of bike panniers at our new store, Bike Bag Shop.

Our main focus for the start of 2009 is to complete our new web store project. We will be moving Bike Trailer Shop into the same format as Bike Bag Shop and adding in a new store, Bike Kid Shop that will feature bike child trailer, training bikes, kids helmets, bike child seats and other kid specific bicycling equipment.

Once we complete this all-important project, we will be diving into marketing it and jumping full force into a variety of social media through the development of new website’s Spoke and Word and Utility Cycling.

Other big projects for the year ahead include manufacturing our own bike cargo trailer under the Wandertec Bike Cargo Design brand and looking into moving the business into a large space.