Probably the most common question here at the shop begins with, “so, I bought a used trailer on eBay.” Our follow up question is always, “what brand is the trailer?” The answer will invariably come from this list: Kidarooz, Rhode Gear, Bell, Kool-Stop, Winchester Original, JD Razor, Cannondale, Tanjor, Yakima, Norco USA, or Trek, those trailers abandoned, orphaned, and kicked to the side of the bike path in the name of progress. Did they deserve this sort of treatment. Some, yes, but all old trailers have some usefulness. But can they be revived without looking too hillbilly?
To get started, have a look at this video put up by our friends over at BikeHacks.com.
Maybe. A lot of old trailers suffer from clunky, complicated hitch designs. The first step to reviving your trailer is to abandon the notion that you’ll ever find a hitch exactly like the original. For these brands, it’s just not going to happen. You must accept change.
The easiest trailers to retrofit with a newer hitch are those with towbars made from either square or round tubing and that allow you to remove every bit of the old coupler, leaving an open tubing end. This obviously excludes single-wheeled trailers, like the Yakima Big Tow, which I’ll mention later.
Burley and Chariot make the two most common trailer couplers that may work with your now bare towbar. They bolt into the empty towbar socket and provide a solid connection to their corresponding hitch. The Burley Flex Connectors come in square and round tongue versions and connect to a variety of Burley hitches, depending on your bike. Their dimensions are as follows:
Outer diameter – 0.85″
Outer diameter – 0.92″
Outer diameter – 0.75″
If your towbar’s inner diameter is just a bit larger than one of these, i.e. within about 0.1″, you may be able to resurrect the beast. For all three couplers, there needs to be a bolt hole between 1.5″ and 1.75″ from the end of the towbar in order to connect the two.
Fortunately, the Yakima Big Tow, that I mentioned earlier, is a simpler matter. The fork tabs on the frame are spaced just a smidge wider than the head tube of a BOB fork, but if you have a few washers to take up the space, it’s that easy to put your Big Tow back in service. Have a look at our full post on cross-compatibility between the BOB Trailer and Yakima Big Tow parts.
While the various methods for restoring hitchless trailers, mentioned above can function quite well with well thought out installation, please be aware of the following warranty and safety issues:
1: Hitch designs are not recognized as being cross compatible by the bike trailer manufacturers. Installing the hitch of one brand of trailer onto another brand of bike trailer will likely void the warranty on both the hitch and the bike trailer.
2: Bicycle Trailer hitch design effects the placement of the trailer behind the bicycle. Most bicycle trailers are designed to be centered behind the bicycle. The length of the trailer’s hitch arm is specifically designed to work with the trailer’s specific hitch. If you choose to install another hitch style on your bike, this may have the affect of putting your trailer off center in relation to your bicycle. This can possibly be adjusted for by shortening or lengthening the hitch arm.
3. Modifying and changing a bicycle trailer can have other unintended consequences. Do not attempt to use a self modified bike trailer without a very thorough understanding of the changes and adjustment being made to the bicycle trailer.