Friday, August 20, 2010

Piggybacking on the Big Dummy

Ever since she started riding her own bike, she's been constantly improving and building endurance. She often logs two or three miles daily with trips to the library, the park and now school. Even so, on many rides there are places where it's necessary for her to be a passenger instead of a rider. The difficulty with this is that I want to protect her, but I also don't want her to miss out honing her skills through the fun of riding her own bike. Therefore, it is desirable to be able to bring her bike along, whether she's riding it or not.

Initially, I carried her smaller 12.5 inch wheeled bike in one of the Big Dummy's cavernous Freeloader panniers. Her current bike, a 16 inch wheeled Electra, is big enough that it won't fit in a Freeloader, so I've been towing it with its front wheel in the Freeloader and rear wheel on the ground. This has worked mostly well enough, but recently the Electra has exhibited a tendency to squirm around enough to loosen itself every mile or so. I'd been thinking of a better solution, and this evening finally got around to putting it together.
The product of a wideloader, some old roof rack parts and about 45 minutes of tinkering
Continue reading to find out how it all came together.
I removed the fork clamp from the tray of an old Thule roof rack, then added a second wheel strap, rectangular plate, wing nuts and end cap on the clamp end. I then attached it using the wideloader as a proxy for a car's roof rails, wrapping the contact points with some pieces of butyl tube zip-tied to the wideloader to ensure a snug fit.
I'll trim the extra length of tray once I'm certain everything is good.
The passenger bike loads easily and securely, steadied upright by a strap connected to one of the v-racks on the Dummy, with plenty of room left for a human passenger.
Ready to go anywhere
The setup added minimal width to the rig
Even with only one side loaded, the Big Dummy handled as steadily as usual. It also tracks better than the towed bike setup, having two wheels on the ground instead of three.

Xtracycle used to sell the now discontinued Tray Bien for carrying bikes with a roof rack modified in much the same manner as I've done here. However, a Tray Bien wouldn't have been too helpful for carrying a kid's bike with a non-quick release front wheel, and in any case it would have taken more time to stow and release the passenger bike. With this setup, loading or unloading the passenger bike takes less than 30 seconds.

We used the opportunity to test the piggyback setup on a trek out to dinner. The passenger bike easily popped on and off the Big Dummy, resulting in this first trial being declared a resounding success.
Once released, the Electra and pilot wend their way through life's journey
A post pizza and gelato smile


  1. Sadly, I was pleased to strap the milk crate onto my rear rack only slightly askew and retrieve groceries. Your Macgyver-esque bike abilities impress once again!

  2. Thanks, for the compliments. I have to admit I like tinkering around with this sort of thing, and I've got the tools and junk (resource) pile, so I might as well use them. I'm a strong proponent of owner-produced bike mods, no matter the quality or purpose, so keep it up!