Revamping The Camping Trailer With More Power

Pulling a trailer behind your bike has an aspect of freedom and exploration to it. However, the reality is that pulling a large, heavy box behind your bike is incredibly draining physically. So [Drew] returned to the drawing board for his bike camper and added a motor, making some tweaks along the way.

We covered his first attempt at a bike trailer; this update encompasses everything he mentioned as future improvements. First, he strengthened the axle, and the trailer mount bolted straight into the chainstay arm for added strength. Then he built a custom battery pack out of 18650 cells clocked in at just under 3kw. Next, he installed a hub motor kit into the bike’s back wheel. Finally, a flexible 100W PV solar panel was added to the roof and routed to a small battery bank inside that provides USB and a few AC outlets for laptops and phones while camping. [Drew] does note that he could charge the big e-bike battery with the smaller bank, but since the e-bike battery is much larger than the small one, it would take a few cycles.

[Drew] takes a journey to a music festival and is happy to report better stability and the battery having fantastic range even without him pedaling. We love seeing a good project revisited, and we hope [Drew] gets some good use out of his camper. Video after the break.

13 thoughts on “Revamping The Camping Trailer With More Power

  1. My friend was told by the cops that he needed a license plate and insurance for his bicycle trailer. Trailers need a plate and insurance, no matter what is pulling them. (His trailer is full lane width, actually it’s a sofa with wheels and a barbeque grill) He got the plate with no issues and little cost and now the cops wave hello and smile and direct traffic for him.

  2. I use a few emt clamps and a castor to attach my bike trailers to the seat post. This means you can wreck the bike and the trailer will stay upright. It can articulate in every direction with no damage or forcing the bike in an odd direction. Of course if you front load any trailer it still has that flaw but having the point of contact where you have the most leverage seems to work out great, allowing tight corners and traversal of sharp angles of incident, eg; sharp declines and inclines even while turning. Nobody can convince me that there is a better or cheaper bike trailer hitch.

    1. heh, well, maybe you couldn’t be, but i could be convinced. my cargo trailer (weight limit 250lbs, but so far i haven’t done more than 160lbs of bag concrete) has a gooseneck that attaches to my seat post. i feel pretty clever about how it attaches, actually…the trailer has a piece of plywood with a big notch in it for the seat post to fit in, and the seatpost has a 3d printed cone hose-clamped around it that provides a flat surface for the plywood to rest on. then a bit of rope goes around the seat post to hold it in the notch. simple, lots of movement in all angles (the notch is bigger than the seat post), and so far strong enough.

      anyhoo, i am lacking the caster wheel in the front (though i’ve thought about it), but the forces i’m objecting to are all in-line with the load and don’t seem like they’d be improved with extra support (i do a good job of balancing my loads, anyways). any time i am in the specific position of doing a tight turn while the load is on a hill, it is an extraordinary experience of sideways forces at the top of the seatpost. i’m able to compensate for it but it is quite severe. i would say the opposite of what you say.

      it’s important to note which entity has the leverage – you don’t simply want “more leverage”. i want to have a lot more leverage than the load does. so i want to be at the end of the lever, and i want the load to be closest to the fulcrum (the ground).

      i also have a kid trailer which mounts to the chainstay and it doesn’t generate even close to the same sideways loads, even though i have loaded it up to about 130lb.

  3. We’re converting a cargo trailer to camping, and power is messy. Aside from the Tow Vehicle power used for running and tail lights, it can be used for charging the trailer battery. That’s no problem, just a solenoid to prevent draining the car when you’re parked. Then there’s shore power (120V at your campground), which can be used to power your 12V system, and provide 120. Then there’s an inverter if you want one (we don’t) for 120V when you’re not connected to shore power. And then there’s the solar controller which is designed just for charging, and to cut off charging when you’re topped off. And none of those boxes seem to be combinable, and take up room and weight. Actually the shore power converter includes the solenoid, but why can’t it do the solar charging too? And I’ve seen things that bundle an inverter with the 120V charge controller, but only for much more power than I need. Anyway, there’s wires everywhere, hopefully everything gets hidden away soon.

    1. You may want to look at the recently announced (and pricey) EcoFlow Power Kits. It’s a little small for what we’re planning, but it looks like a great option for many.

  4. Recently purchased a ‘portable power station’ (not sure i like that name). It’s just a 500 Wh one and the batteries are configured as 18V on the inside. Perhaps higher power ones have higher voltage? Might piggbacking it’s electronics by adding a direct output port for running a bike be a good idea here. That way there’s only one big expensive battery. More cells could be added and just let it’s BMS handle everything.

    Not going to do anything like that as my one is for keeping beer cold on camping trips and powering the telescope spaghetti.

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