The Wandertec Tuba: A Bike Trailer for Car-Sized Errands

If my recent screen test video worked as intended, it was like a Hollywood teaser trailer that left you mad with anticipation for the full feature.

The wait is over. Actually, it was over a few days ago when we launched our Kickstarter project for the Wandertec Tuba Bike Trailer:

That was me in the video, loading the trailer with 180 pounds of sandbags.

The idea is to create a trailer for Goldilocks — if she were a utility cyclist and a soccer mom instead a home intruder.

Most bike cargo trailers are too small for many life-size loads, so people tend to fall back on their car, with its spacious trunk and/or back seat.

Burley Nomad Bike Cargo Trailer
Too Small

There are also trailers for the niche market of hard-core haulers, but these are too big for most domesticated cyclists.

Surly Bill Bike Cargo Trailer
Too Big

The Tuba is (hopefully) just right for people who would rather not use their car for loads that tend to go in the car by default.

When I was filming the video, I put together an assortment of items that a soccer mom could identify, and filmed it while circling a playground. That’s right, I’m in marketing.

Wandertec Tuba Bike Trailer - Soccer Mom Mode
Just Right

The Tuba is largely the brainchild of Josh Lipton, who likes to name all of his trailers after musical instruments. (Before the Tuba, there was the Cello, and the Bongo.) Stuart Henderson developed the prototypes, and I’m involved in testing and marketing.

We’ve been using the prototypes, and liking the convenience. When I put together my contrived soccer-mom load, it was a familiar feeling to just throw what I needed into the trailer — it reminded me of throwing things into the trunk of a car, without having a Tetris-like packing problem.

Wandertec Tuba, Extra Large - Kickstand Mode
Kickstand Mode

I see this trailer as an asset to a suburban lifestyle where car-dependence and car-sized loads are the norm (by design). With more bike hauling capacity a suburbanite needn’t be car-dependent. On the Extra Large Tuba with a liner and rail system, you can easily fit six full grocery bags (the reusable kind, with a 10 x 14 inch bottom). On the Large version: four grocery bags.

If you tend to drive a car so you can hit the grocery store on your commute home to a voracious family, this could be your option to leave the car at home — even on grocery day.

Tuba Frame Sizes

For urban use, it depends on the city, and the dwelling. I have not attempted to navigate an elevator with the Tuba in cart mode. I’m imagining the condo where I lived in the DC area; pulling the trailer through the hallways; the look on Mr. Willis’ face when the elevator door opens. I could have made it work.

But this isn’t a review. I’ve already disclosed that I have an interest in the success of this product. I’ll be posting some reviews by unbiased beta testers in days to come.

Let me know what you think of the Tuba. If you’d like one, now is your chance to get one for less than the anticipated retail price by pledging to the project on Kickstarter.

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8 thoughts on “The Wandertec Tuba: A Bike Trailer for Car-Sized Errands”

  1. There is another niche market for the trailer; those with mobility issues and a “powered mobility device (scooter).” Mine has a “receiver hitch” style connector in the back where a rear basket can be mounted (brand name Golden). The trouble is that car hitches are at least 1 1/4″ and the opening for my attachment is only 1″ (square tube with slightly rounded corners). Your product should not exceed the design parameters of the scooter and it would be great to hook it on to go to the grocery store.

    Do you think you can design an item that will allow for this alteration?

    1. Ted Johnson says:


      The Tuba uses the same hitch system as the Wandertec Bongo trailer. At least one person has found an easy way of mounting the hitch receiver to a mobility scooter:

      Wandertec Bongo behind a mobility scooter

      Wandertec Bongo Hitch behind a mobility scooter

      More photos and information here: Thom’s New Uses for the Wandertec BONGO Trailer

  2. leonardo says:

    why i believe the Surly Ted (short) & bill (long) trailers are far superior to the Wandertec Tuba trailers:


    • 813mm or 1608mm x 610mm vs 733mm or 1083mm x 540mm
    • load rating: 136kg (300 pound) vs 81kg (180 pounds)
    • axle mounts are through frame vs raised axle mounts
    • oversized axles and bearings vs standard axles and bearings
    • 16″ wheels vs 20″ wheels
    • $799 with hitch (base price) vs $319 (base price)
    • chromoly frame vs aluminium frame
    • wheel gaurds & fenders vs none

    the raised axle position on the wandertec tuba will be a weak point and will most likely fail over time with heavy loads, also the axle and bearing are standard size as apposed to oversized axle and bearings with the surly ted and bill trailers.
    the surly ted and bill are made of chromoly which is easier to weld than aluminium if the need ever arose (such as touring in some god for saken corner of the globe where they just will not have the equipment to weld aluminium!)
    the surly ted and bill can carry a much heavier payload, you may not need to carry 300 pounds but its nice to always have the ability if it ever arises.
    also the surly ted and bill trailers look more aesthetically pleasing as apposed to the wandertec tuba.

    the only advantages the wandertec tuba has over the surly ted & bill as i can see is the price point and the 20″ wheels as apposed to the 16″ wheels that the surly ted & bill use.

    1. Josh Lipton says:

      @Leonardo – it would seem that the Surly Bill or Ted is the right choice for you.

      The Wandertec TUBA was designed for people that don’t necessarily need a trailer capable of carrying 300lbs. but would like to be able to handle typical decent sized “car-sized” loads.

      While the difference between paying $319 and $799 may not seem that significant for you, most utility cyclists are fairly price conscious, especially when it comes to getting value for their dollar.

      You mentioned concerns about the aluminum frame. I think that this trailer will rarely be used on long remote tours. Even if it were, the design and construction is very unlikely to fail. While this is a new trailer design that does need to prove itself over time, our Wandertec BONGO uses similar materials and design and has proven itself to be tough as nails.

      We consider the lower-than-axle position of the frame to be a feature and asset in the design. Our testing showed that the lower position of the load significantly improved the balance and pull of the trailer. While this may not be as strong of a design as the Surly Trailer, we are not attempting to make a 300 lb. capacity trailer.

      The same thing goes for the wheels as they have proven very capable within a 200lb capacity.

      The Wandertec TUBA also offers upgrades for greater usability: loadbed, rail system, liner and water-proof cover. Surly has not designed any of these accessories for their trailers.

      The TUBA is all about usability in everyday situations not hauling pianos across the Gobi desert.

  3. LEONARDO says:

    The Surly Ted and the Wandertec Tuba have very similair load bed area sizes, whereas the Surly Ted is a happy medium between the two sizes of the Wandertec Tuba. They are both designed to carry the same “car load” size cargo, it’s just that the Surly Ted is more capable than the Wandertec Tuba.

    The other argument that Wandertec offers options for the trailer as apposed to Surly offering none for theirs is true, but with a little thought and research this can be overcome with the Surly Ted.
    I currently own a Surly Ted trailer and use it for my photography business to haul equipment to locations, I mounted an Alu-box pro 240 litre aluminium box on to the frame, this gives me 240 litres of storage in a secure, waterproof and lockable box which I have my business advertised on the side panels of the box. I believe that my setup is much better than what is offered by Wandertec, not just for my situation but for your average “soccer mum” would be better too as the could go around to multiple locations and leave the cargo unattended and safe as apposed to the open cargo area of the Wandertec.

    You also have the issue of warranty. Surly is already a well and established manufacturer, so if anything was to happen I have a dealer in my area. With the Wandertec you do not have that luxury.

    The choice is ultimately up to the end consumer, but they have the option of going with a trailer such as the Surly Ted that is already tried and tested by many customers and are completely satisfied with the product or take a risk on a trailer such as the Wandertec Tuba that has no real world testing for longevity.

    1. Josh Lipton says:

      @Leonardo while our product is new, our business is well established. We stand behind not only the products that we manufacture but all of the products we represent and sell including the Surly Trailers.

      It sounds like you do have a solid and secure setup with the Aluminum Box you have mounted to your Surly Ted. There is no reason that a similar box could not be mounted to the Frame only version of the Wandertec TUBA.

  4. BluesCat says:

    Leonardo – Whoa! 300 pounds?!?


    I could put my 6’2″ son — AND his two kids — in there and still have enough capacity left over for the picnic fixings (basket, case of beer, case of soda, table and chairs, etc.)!

    I’d have to also make sure I put the EMT’s in my speed dial … for when I hit that first hill.

  5. leonardo says:

    the logical thing to do is upgrade your brakes as you should be doing, thats why i run 203mm disc brakes front and rear.

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