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Home > Magazine > Bikes > Bike Canoe Trailer: It's a Cinch!

Bike Canoe Trailer: It's a Cinch!
July 06, 2016

(BUMP FROM May, 31, 2009.)

I've long wanted to create a simple trailer for towing a canoe behind a bike.

A lot of times when I'm biking and I come across some tasty water I suddenly want to get paddling---especially when the waterway is going my way or when it's a shorter way to go my way.

To me, the two joys fit together--the glide of a bike and the glide of a boat.

So a great canoe trailer would be a literal way to put the two together.

I've thought that the mission could be solved more simply than the many options I've seen, all of which seem heavy, clumsy, complex, Rube Goldbergy, and slow. (I have a report at OYB, I think, with several links to the better solutions, but they're all fairly lame.)

So I glanced around the garage for a better way. My eyes lit on my old Burley trailer. We've taken the roof section off of it. So now there's a kind of fabric hammock slung between a U-section of frame with wheels on either side. A canoe trailer!

I popped the canoe into the trailer---it fit great. I re-attached the pole-yoke to the folder seatpost---back in action!

Now to deal with the yoke of the Burley laying on the ground under the canoe... I just tied it up under the canoe. I centered it with a fixed-length rope going from the yoke to a thwart on each side. That kept the trailer wheels pointing straight ahead.

Hey, this works!

I gave the rig a test ride. Perfect!

I went around the yard then around the block. A wide turning radius is the only hitch. But I can do a U-turn on a one-lane road. What's neat there is that the rig jackknifes wonderfully. The canoe even BACKS UP a bit at the sharpest part of the U-turn before it starts going again. Yet the forward-moving bike is unimpaired! I don't even notice it!

Neighborhood people gave it the rig the thumbs up after inspection. "Darn, that looks good!"

It's a simple solution, using items at hand without modification. Yeah!

The only thing that could be better is if our Burley trailer was a folder as well. Most of them fold nowadays, right? Is that a simple task? My recollection is that there are clevis-pins involved---a bother. But whatever. I'd love to be able to stash a light folding trailer and a light folding bike into my boat and...AWAY I GO! ...On water or road!

...I suppose the following curved-block idea might still be a good one: simpler, lighter and more compact. ...One of these days! In the meantime, I have a rig that WORKS. YEAH!

But I've also thought that a 2-wheel rig could be simpler than my trailer. You could mount a wheel on an axle set into a block of wood which is cut to fit the curve the canoe hull on the side away from the axle. You'd put one of these wheel-rigs on either side of the boat and connect them and hold them in place by way of a strap under the bottom and across the top.

See, I want to use the canoe itself as the trailer frame.

I could just go out and buy threaded rod pieces that're, like, 4" longer than you need for a hub for a wheel and use those as axles. Then set the excess length into your curved blocks of wood. Would that work? How much bearing surface would the blocks have to provide? I'd want to go with a *minimum*.

My notion is to use a quality, lightweight folding bike for the bike and light wheels for the towing rig (maybe sewups!). And a light, small, Kevlar canoe for the canoe. This could be an easy-pulling, almost high-performance rig, methinks. My C1 canoe weighs only 25 lbs. That's an easy towing weight! --A kayak would catch even less sidewind...

Then when you want to paddle, you stash the bike , wheels, blocks and strap, in the boat and away you go. I prefer canoe poling, so I'd use a canoe-pole as my trailer "yoke-strut." (I'd bring a paddle, too.) But one could use a shorter section of tubing if desired.

My dream is that one could even tour with such a rig. Stash your 15 lbs of UL camping stuff right in the canoe. Use the boat just like a bike trailer, like a BOB-trailer. Onward!

A more recent outing with neighbor John. These rigs are totally simple to make and set up. -> Trailer, pole, bungie, 2 straps. 5 minutes. Go!

The rig and the kids.

Canoe trailer view from the rear.

Bike canoe trailer, view from the front.

Reader Comments - Add Your Own Comment
jkirsch - , posted on Aug 06, 2009
Very cool. I'm repairing/restoring an old Nautiraid folding kayak and have been thinking along these lines: Hmm, wouldn't a folding bike & trailer go well with this boat? Hmm.

Jeff in Atlanta
JeffOYB - Williamston, MI, posted on Aug 07, 2009
Yeah... foldboat, foldbike, foldtrailer... oooh!

(Try to find a bike and trailer that will fit tidy and out of sight, snug in some aft hold of the kayak. Gotta have small wheels.)