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: October 2010

A Suitcase/Bike Trailer Solution

Maurice writes the following about his setup:

Ortlieb Office Bag Large Classic ‘ Zinger & Quick Review

ortlieb-office-commuter-bag-large-classic-white-stockToday’s Zinger is the Ortlieb Office Bag Large Classic.

I just sold the Vaude Wright Tarp Commuter Pannier that I was testing through our Demo Page and decided to pull this interesting pannier off of the shelf. Two things struck me right away, 1. this is a big pannier and 2. where do I put my laptop? It didn’t take me long to figure out that I could adjust the one of the two inner dividers so that I could fit my MacBook Pro in my Chrome Laptop Sleeve behind it. It took me a few minutes to get the foam bottom and side piece into place and snapped in. This continuous foam piece does a great job of giving the bag it’s defined shape, but can be easily removed if the bag needs to be folded flat.

One of the dividers seemed like a little bit much with more organization for pens and small papers than I would really use. The other set of dividers were more my speed with two main pockets. I used the other divider for sliding my 2 locks behind. I carry two locks as I use one for locking up our Extrawheel Advert Trailer down the street from our business.

The slight angled back mounting of the Ortlieb Office seemed quite good, allowing for such a large bag to be well seated on almost any bike rack. The handles were nice though, with the top handle, I doubt I’ll even bother with the shoulder strap. I am sure I will appreciate having a waterproof bag with the winter months ahead. I also liked the bold look of the classic white. The classic large version of the Ortlieb Office Bag is is also available in silver and black.

All in all, this is a great bag and I look forward to its convenience, reliability and water protection for my office stuff in the months ahead.

Chrome Backbone Backpack ‘ Zinger & Quick Review

chrome-backbone-backpack-black-black-front-stockchrome-backbone-backpack-olive-black-side-stockToday’s Zinger, running through the next week, is the Chrome Backbone Cycling Backpack. We’ve marked it down from $179 to $165 while we feature it over the next week.

This is a great full size backpack for taking on life’s challenges on the go. While this bag was designed with the demands of cycling at the forefront, its great for anytime you want to haul gear, go fast and look good.

Available in Black/Black, Black/Red, Black/White, Grey/Black and Olive/Black. I’ve got to say, I’m a big fan of all of these color combos.

Check out this big load backpack as well as our full selection of Chrome Backpacks and Chrome Messenger Bags.

Kenneth’s BOB Trailer/LHT Combo

Kenneth sent us this image of his Surly Long Haul Trucker decked out for some long hauls with panniers and a BOB Yak Trailer. Kenneth is planning out a trip to Bangor Maine in 2011 and looks like he should be all set to go to carry everything he’ll need.

State of the Hub: CommuteByBike.com!

Screen shot 2010-10-26 at 1.46.43 PMThis weekend, we are announcing some big news. The stewardship of CommuteByBike.com is being handed over to us. The previous owner, editor and primary blogger, Arleigh, passed it on to us, in part due to the stress and issues surrounding a bike commuting accident. Given these circumstances, the transfer of the blog to us were quite sudden and we are working to rapidly adjust and bring it into the blog into the fold. While Arliegh is stepping away from CommuteByBike.com’s stewardship, she will still remain involved. At the same time, she plans to maintain her other blog site, BikeShopGirl.com.

We are quite excited about this opportunity to push ahead with CommuteByBike.com from a variety of standpoints. First off, it is a great next step in our overall involvement in blogging. Having started with BikeTrailerBlog.com four years ago and recently adding in UtilityCycling.org and our blogging here at BikeShopHub.com, we’ve become comfortable in the realm of a variety of blogging strategies. Blogging has become an important part of our company’s marketing strategy, our interest in bicycle advocacy, and a lens to stay in touch with all of the new things happening in cycling.

CommuteByBike.com offers an extension to the success we’ve seen with our blogging at UtilityCycling.org. Utility cycling represents a major realm of cycling which we contrast to sport cycling and recreational cycling. Within our focus on Utility Cycling, bike commuting is the largest segment. With that, taking over a blog focused on bike commuting is quite ideal.

CommuteByBike.com has been a blog that has thrived within three areas: (1) Offering up reviews on bike commuting products, (2) posting relevant news about events and issues related to bike commuting, and (3) offering up essay style posts with thoughts, ideas, and inspiration for bike commuting. As we look into continuing on with this effort, we are quite excited by the opportunity represented by the first two aspects of the blog. Most of our blogging activities at Utility Cycling and Bike Trailer Blog have been focused on essay style writing and we are quite excited to be getting into the realm of product reviews and bike commuting news updates.

cass-gilbert-and-joe-murrayOn another front, we’ve gotten a couple of new sales initiatives going. We’ve resurrected the demo products section of the site, where we offer up slightly used products that we’ve been testing. As we’re getting going with CommuteByBike.com, we figured we would be doing more product reviews, and this will be a great way to be testing a whole lot of stuff and selling it when were done.

We also had the idea to launch a new type of sale that we are calling the Zinger sale. These sales are discounts on a single item that we happen to have quite a few of in stock at the moment. These sales run for about a week and offer up a discount of around 10 to 20% off. Along with starting the sale, we’re writing a quick product review and updating the listing.

This week in the Stuff Department:

  1. Our bike trailer display got drywalled, painted and lighting. Now we need to set it up and get stairs up to it.
  2. Our photo booth got drywalled. Now we need to erect the tent and get some good lighting solutions figured out.

and in Programming:

  1. Cleaned up our “blurbs” tool. This is a tool that allows us to write a message about a sale on the shops and publish it to multiple categories and product listings through out the shop.
  2. Cracked the door open on launching our 4th specialty shop BikeTechShop.com by doing some of the underlying coding and making a plan of attack.
  3. Re enabled our demo products page.
  4. Introduced a tab view to separate out the images and videos display on the product lisitings.

tall-extrawheel-advertand in Manufacturing:

  1. Stu’s back to work after two weeks living it up in Hawaii, getting back in the groove sorting through some backlogged metal working projects for Flagstaff customers.
  2. Got our first batch of unfinished Wandertec BONGO load beds in from Distinctive WoodWorking. We hope to get the finished ones in next week.

and in Shipping & Customer Service:

  1. We started working on automating our PayPal and AmEx accounting by exporting the data into Open Office to run comparisons against our QuickBooks.
  2. Robin A. started taking on more of the customer service emails and phone calls

and in Internet Marketing and SEO Strategies:

  1. As noted above, we got underway with blogging at CommuteByBike.com.
  2. We finally started showing successful sales (conversion) data from our shopping network feed tool, GoDataFeed.com.

The Super-Duper Deals:

The Bike Shop Hub’s Blogosphere:

Racktime Addit Rack – Zinger & Quick Review

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racktime-addit-rear-rack-black-stock

The Zinger of the day is the RackTime AddIt Rear Rack!!!

The RackTime AddIt Rear Rack is a great rack designed with multi-purpose use in mind. RackTime is a new brand, developed by Tubus. Tubus wanted to offer up more economically priced racks and bags for bike commuters and weekend bike tourists. They’ve put together a really great lineup of racks and bags all at very affordable prices.

Tubus’s expertise in racks truly shines through in their much more affordable RackTime line. Many similar parts and designs have been integrated into the designs of their racks.

The RackTime AddIt features a somewhat unique profile with its upper rail that swoops back around as a lower rail. This offers up 2 both upper and lower mounting positions for bike panniers. The AddIt has the SnapIt mounting system integrated in for receiving all of the RackTime bags that utilize this system. The AddIt offers up a comfortably wide upper platform and unlike many other “economy” racks which use flexible expanded metal for upper mounting, utilizes Tubus’s very solid Round Stay and Round Stay Clamp Set. Additionally, the AddIt offers up an integrated rear light mounting point, perfect for adding on a light like the Busch & Muller 4D Toplight.

The AddIt like the Tubus rack line up offers up a graceful, stylish design. Designed for both bike commuting and weekend tours, the AddIt might be just the perfect fit for your bike.

A Modified Burley Flatbed

Thanks for the photo submission Kevin!

“I commute by bike year round in Minneapolis, and wanted something for more cargo. I got an old Burley Flatbed for 40.00, took off the parts that I wasn’t using (used one for extra bottom support), covered the frame in electrical tape, put a sheet of 1/2 ply wood on top, and it works great!”

Nice work on fixing up this pre-2009 Burley Flatbed. The wrapped frame and plywood top look great.

This brings to mind that the MSRP on the current model 2011 Burley Flatbeds have been adjust downward from $299 to $249. This price improvement makes the Burley Flatbed one of the most competitively priced bike cargo trailers on the market.

Ortlieb Bike Shoppers – Zinger & Quick Review

ortlieb-bike-shopper-silver-stockortlieb-bike-shopper-black-matte-stockortlieb-bike-shopper-yellow-stockortlieb-bike-shopper-beige-stock

The Zinger of the day is the Ortlieb Bike Shopper Panniers!!!

The Bike Shopper is a classic Ortlieb pannier. The bike shopper is setup to keep a bag of groceries dry and secure. Sold as a single pannier, the Bike Shopper is ideal for not only groceries, but also as a second pannier for any type of use. The Bike Shopper pannier is a great second pannier to be coupled with one of Ortlieb’s bike commuter specific panniers. My personal setup recently has been an Ortlieb Downtown for my laptop, notebooks, clothes and food etc. On the other side of my rack, the Bike Shopper is where I store my rain gear and bungee straps in case in need to strap something to my bike rack. The Bike Shopper also serves as my spot for extra capacity, whether it’s picking up groceries, bringing in some cake to work or bringing home products to review.

Form: The Bike Shopper comes in 4 colors, silver, yellow, creme and black (shown above). The black has an interesting pleather look and texture. I’d have to say the silver is my favorite both for its shiny look and it’s reflective aspects, repelling sun-rays from your groceries. The bag is not the height of style, but rather has that rugged, durable, functional Ortlieb look that says this product gets the job done.

Function: The simplicity of the Bike Shopper’s design is its strength but is definitely a weakness if this is not what you are looking for. One large compartment is perfect for transporting all sorts of things. The Quick Seal Closure does the job of closing and opening the pannier quickly and easily. The QSC offers both a reliable waterproof closure and by sticking up on the top of the pannier effectively offers some extra capacity. The two adjustable handles allow for the pannier to be transported easily by hand or over the shoulder. One thing that seems to be missing is a neat way to secure the handle when on the bike. While it’s configuration makes it so that it won’t drag on the ground or into the wheel, it does flop around a little bit.

A few other features to mention are the internal pocket that can hold a few small personals like a wallet, phone or tools. The Shopper utilizes the Ortlieb’s great QL-2 upper and lower mounting system to secure the pannier to your bike rack and finally the bag has front and rear reflective spots for added viability.

To sum it up, this is a great pannier for someone looking for a great all around use in a single pannier.

Haulin’ Colin super-big-duty-time Bike Trailers

For all of you fans of really doing a lot with a bike, check out Haulin’ Colin’s Bike Cargo Trailers. Dave Shapiro alerted us to these great cargo haulin’ machines handmade in Seattle, Washington with the alert that they now have production models available. If you are looking for a large capacity bike trailer, you’re in luck. Dave has the trailers listed at $750 including free shipping (not sure if this means within the continental US). There are also “quantity discounts available and reduced rates for community organizations”. And beyond the production model all sorts of custom options are available and being made by the guys that are selling the product, it is quite likely that they can come up with all sorts of interesting solutions to solve your cargo hauling needs.

Taking a look through the Haulin’ Colin blog photos of the trailer, I was very impressed by it’s robust yet simple design. The body of the trailer looks very rugged and impressive with its diamond plated steel loadbed. 6 solid support bars support the upper rail which looks like you would be able to use for resting items wider than the wheels on. Speaking of the wheels, the beam around offers the ability for both a simple, strong wheel mounting point as well as offering protection for the wheels. The double bar hitch arm inspires confidence and integrates into the trailer body with what appears to be support beams spurring off. Attached to what appears to be a well thought out heavy-duty bike trailer hitch, this trailer should be able to setup for serious loads.

State of the Hub: Tech Steps Forward & Back

cass-gilbert-flagstaff-trailsFall is definitely in the air here at the Bike Shop Hub. We’re enjoying some nice fall mountain biking. Our friend Cass Gilbert is in town for the next month visiting with his family who decided to fly out after not seeing Cass for over a year while he has been bike touring the Americas. We’ve had a chance to do a few mountain bike rides with Cass and we are going to be doing some interviews with him about his travels and his interesting mountain bike touring setup.

In other shop news, we got the truck decaled up last week. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see our friend Gary Thompson’s handy work.

I thought I would mention our switch to Macs. After growing the company on PCs, with much thought and deliberation we’ve finally decided to make the move over to MACs. We had several reasons for doing this. One of the main reasons was that we feel that Macs offer a more stable system that require a lot less maintenance. Our programmer, Frank, is a strong advocate of open source Linux based systems and uses Kabuntu for his office computer. While this is a great platform for a developer, being even more stable and configurable than a Mac, it doesn’t offer the user-friendly side that everyone else in the office does much better with. With Macs being Unix based at its core, Frank was in a comfortable zone with it and relieved to be moving away from having to support Windows boxes. Our other motivation for moving to Macs is that many of our employees doing the more creative side of the business our quite comfortable in this environment. We have not completely left Windows behind and we have a few reasons to continue to use it to some degree including having our accounting system in QuickBooks, but we have made a major leap into shaking free.

bike-shop-hub-appleWhile we’ve made forward progress into the Mac environment, we’ve taken a backwards step of sorts with our phone management. For about 6 months now, we’ve been experimenting with using Ring Central as our primary phone service. Our goal was to be able to have our entire phone system through our internet connection and no longer be reliant on Qwest land lines. We’d been using Ring Central for several years for our 800 number and decided to try their full VOIP system. To get it going, we had to configure their soft phones on all of our computers and get underway. Getting started was quite simple. We just had to set our answering rules and before we knew it, all of our computers were ringing. The problems came quickly though. We had trouble with dropping calls and transferring calls. We spent quite a bit of time working on tuning the Ring Central soft phones, configuring our computers and configuring our network. We were able to eliminate some of the issues, but we couldn’t get fully stable. And on occasion, the problems would flare up. Finally, we decided that we were spending to much time trouble shooting. We requested that Ring Central offered us dedicated support. They simply bounced our request through their awkward customer service, not seemingly getting the point. If they had dedicated support, even if we had to pay twice as much for it, we probably would have stuck it out, but with the lack of support, we decided to go back to good old fashion land lines. We bought an AT&T 4 lines phone, got 4 lines hooked up and moved away from VOIP phone management.

Coming at you like a Herd of Buffaloes, Our Bike Touring, Commuting & Family Cycling Gear Selection:

  1. Adding to our lineup of messenger bags at BikeBagShop.com and balance bikes, and trailer-cycles at BikeKidShop.com.
  2. Introducing video to our product listings. We’re starting out by uploading available videos from our manufacturers and will be adding in some of our own videos as well.
  3. Building a photo booth to do our own product photography as well as photography for our expert article “bike setups” pages.

Like a Rattlesnake Strike, Our Smooth & Fast Web Platform Implementation:

  1. Fine-tuning all of our content editing tools including the link massaging tool, the product and category editors, the blurbs (for sale and other messages), the expert pages and other content pages.
  2. Working in tools into our shopping cart flow to direct customers towards the web store review sites that we are participating in
  3. Integrating a more dynamic flow through our product’s options and accessories page “Choose Your Options” page.
  4. Continue setting up a new Drupal website to update the BikeShopHub.com. This site will include a new forum, our blog, a feed from all of our blogs, and pages that feature products that we represent in the USA such as Extrawheel products.

Smooth and Strong as a Galloping Horse, Our Innovative Product Development:

  1. Continue developing ideas for the BONGO rail system. Stuart’s back this week from 2 weeks in Hawaii and we’re excited to get started.
  2. Begin designing our 2nd bike cargo trailer with integrated rail system, lower center of gravity and lower overall weight.
  3. Continue brainstorming ideas for integrated front fork/rack/lockable box/stow-away panniers/fender & rear rack/lockable box/stow-away panniers/fender systems.

Gliding Gracefully as a Hawk, Our Shipping & Customer Service:

  1. Settling in our organization of our inventory.
  2. Integrating all of our inventory management and shipping management into one role.

Clever as the Fox, Our Internet Marketing and SEO Strategies:

  1. Developing a good set of reporting tools to establish a baseline for our internet marketing success and progress.
  2. Continuing to fine tune and further develop or shopping network feeds. Currently we our using GoDataFeed.com to feed out to Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, TheFind, Price Grabber, NexTag and Shopzilla.
  3. Maintaining our current channels (currently Adwords, Twitter & Facebook).
  4. Looking ahead towards joining the affiliate network Share-A-Sale and possibly setting up our own in-house affiliate network.

The Super-Duper Deals:

The Bike Shop Hub’s Blogosphere:

bike-shop-hub-truck