Hiking trailers, any experience out there?

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Jacob, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    I was wondering if anyone on the forum has any first hand experience with a single wheel hiking trailer. I’ve run across a bit about two and four wheel carts used for dessert expeditions, including John Muir’s unsupported traverses of Australia. (1600 miles, sheesh!) but most of the info I’ve found on the one wheel sort seems to be theoretical and is from the tacticool/prepper crowd, not from through hikers. I’m trying to decide if the idea is practical and if so what’s its limitations are.

    I was hoping someone out there had done some experimenting and could share some insight. The idea is basically to carry more water over semi-rough terrain for longer dry stretches while backpacking.

    A few examples.
    Mono walker, MULE, hiking cart.

    Monowalker
    7AA5F7C9-FB0D-4737-A6E4-36906F0BF05A.jpeg

    Quick home experiment from garden shed junk. I put 12 gallons of water on it and it pulled like a dream. But It felt as though a fall would have been like being swatted to the earth by an asteroid.
    226F0AA1-0367-445F-AAD0-CABF06936626.jpeg

    Any thoughts welcome, thanks.
     
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  2. John from Alberta

    John from Alberta Supporter Supporter

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    I've been wanting to make a project out of this for a while. I always thought it would make backpacking with kids so much easier (the thought of carrying all of my gear, plus all the community gear, plus all my kids gear on my back is not thrilling). I've used a 4 wheeled Chariot before, but that limits you to wider trails. Looking forward to others' input as well.
     
  3. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker LB 42 Supporter

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    I like the idea, but it seems to me that I wouldn't be able to use it on most of my trails (too steep, etc). But for flatter open spaces.... looking forward to seeing the solutions.
     
  4. insector

    insector Supporter Supporter

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    That looks great. It looks like big game wheels that people use to take their harvest out of non- motor areas................. on trail I think it is a good idea if you are packing in a group. Packing solo or bushwhacking, maybe not so good.

    I like it. For 40 or 50 pounds or more it looks great. I think a brake for downhill might help. if it tips, you gotta drop it, no?
     
  5. Royal Wulff

    Royal Wulff Scout

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    Grabbed this one from the web, but I've seen a lot of guys using this or something similar on the Hazel Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I've always backpacked, but these guys go in and fish or camp for a week or two at a time. Some are with guide services and some have just done it for years. The trail is a old narrow gauge railroad and kept up to some extent by the Park to allow annual pilgrimages to family cemeteries. Apparently some places rent them.

    EDIT: And I missed the single wheel part of the question. My apologies.

    upload_2019-8-19_12-56-56.gif
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  6. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    First mental image was the Mormons pulling their handcarts west.... Beyond that, very interesting topic, new to me, I'll be following this thread. Note the disc brake visible on the wheel in the first image.... cool!
     
  7. hillst1

    hillst1 Supporter Supporter

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    How much water are you going to carry? I would use a pack with a frame.
     
  8. 41magfan

    41magfan Scout

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  9. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    I’m in the same boat, I figured I’d just go stash some gear in a remote and pretty place and have the kids first backpacking adventure just be a stroll with daypacks. I’ll let you know if this idea pans out and try to compare it to a backpack on a variety of trails. Might end up being dud though. We’ll see...

    Well, the style I’m drawn to and patched together ties into a waistbelt. So if it tips over I’m probably going with it!

    From 4-12 gallons plus food, fuel, and a light backpacking setup. There are a lot of great areas that could be linked up in my area if you had the ability to walk 60 or so miles in between water sources. I’ll be surprised if it works great but figured it’s worth a try.
     
  10. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    Inspiration for the project
    these screwballs might be onto something, or possibly ON something?
    D64F3E04-8B83-4919-B318-85F02303622F.jpeg

    71A50874-CB67-4202-9BC1-B0C3108CCB06.jpeg

    D70E02C6-771A-4262-90E8-2CEC373145C2.jpeg
     
  11. rbinhood

    rbinhood Scout

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    Remember that wheeled implements of any kind are banned in wilderness areas.
     
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  12. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe aka Ventura Knife Guy Supporter

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    Can't find it right now, but when I was planning to walk the Camino I came across a great trailer. It is a two-wheel, and the stance of the wheels has two settings -- a narrow one for single-track trails and one that's a bit wider for "regular" trails. They showed it being used in some fairly steep/rocky settings.

    I'll keep looking for it.

    FOLLOW-UP: Found the one I saw before. Has a lot of positive reviews from Camino pilgrims. It's w-a-a-a-y pricey though.

    https://www.radicaldesign.com/wheelie-v-traveller-hd-walking-trailer
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  13. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    @Glenn Rowe
    Thanks man! You weren’t kidding about pricy. 16 pounds for locktite!

    @rbinhood
    I appreciate the heads up and I’ll keep it in mind. Mostly BLM, state land and national forest around here. I’ll look into them individually.

    On a side note I’d like to thank you for your contributions to the winter camping sub forum and wintertrekking forums. My wife (bless her) has enthusiastically agreed to our first hot tenting adventure for our 10th anniversary this December. Pulks, snowshoes and the whole deal. Folks like you sharing real world experience helps shorten the learning curve in a big way!
     
  14. CamoDeafie82

    CamoDeafie82 Guide

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    I've long thought about cutting up an old ladies mtb bike frame, keeping the rear triangle and putting a handlebar clamp in the seat post; then get one of those extra wide, cruiser handlebars, and attach a couple large ALICE packs to the frame.. might make for a handy single wheel trailer with a big mtb wheel; but not sure how I would do the final attachment to a hip/waist belt that would allow one to remove it quickly should one fall.
     
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  15. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    Just a nudge to the creative juices, it's interesting to note the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong used bicycles to move materiel along the Ho Chi Minh trail. They didn't ride them, they loaded them with stuff and pushed them.
     
  16. rbinhood

    rbinhood Scout

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    Thank you. Happy to share what I've learned over the years and hope it shortens the learning curve for others. Glad your wife has agreed to try Winter camping. Do your best to make the first trip a warm, pleasant experience, and I'm sure she will want to keep going with you.
     
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  17. Noddy

    Noddy Scout

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    I started out reading this thread in a totally skeptical frame of mind ... not so sure now. It is mainly too hilly where I am, but the point for long, isolated trips on slightly easier terrain is easy to get
     
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  18. central joe

    central joe Wait For Me!! Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I think two wheels is the way to go, like a hand truck pulled instead of pushed. It would need bigger wheels, I thing spaced about as wide as your hips to keep it kinda narrow. You don't have to balance it also, just pull it. Less tiring. Like I said, I think, I don't know for sure. joe
     
  19. rbinhood

    rbinhood Scout

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    Personally, I like the single wheel, Monowalker approach depicted in the first photo. Big wheel for high flotation, and pull behind. Single wheel makes it easier to navigate rough terrain. Also, being able to wear a hip belt to distribute the load. I think a hand brake is a good idea to control the load on the downhill stretches. Is there a risk from being clipped into the carrier? Yes, but you can always unclip if there is a chance of falling. Just have to be smart about how you use it.
    I have used a simple garden wagon with high flotation, inflatable tires to carry my gear. Not the least bit embarrassed that it is not on my back, especially when I am drinking cold beer from a cooler full of ice, and eating grilled steak, instead of freeze dried food. Getting out and enjoying nature should not be about suffering, although some people think that is the only way you can do it.
     
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  20. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe aka Ventura Knife Guy Supporter

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    Yup. Among other things they removed the pedals so they could walk closer to the frame.
     
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  21. insector

    insector Supporter Supporter

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    People bicycle the continental divide here with single wheel trailers behind the bike. For up to 50 pounds on the trailer (no more). And they do it well. I have pushed a bike in that manner in non motor areas around here and it works well for me. I gave that trailer away, but may get another some day. they are called "BOBs". (Beasts of Burden). I got pics somewhere.......

    yo
     
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  22. John from Alberta

    John from Alberta Supporter Supporter

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    Here's some photos from a trip we took about 3 years ago with our Chariot. As mentioned, it's a little wide to be useful on singletrack trails, but it worked awesome for wider trails and buskwacking through/over short shrubs. It has a few different setups, the "stroller" setup is basically exactly that, you push it like a stroller, there is also a bicycle tow setup, and a xc ski setup. I used the xc ski harness with the big wheels for hiking and it was great. I still think that a single wheel version like in the OPs first post is much more useful for gear hauling though.


    Important cargo!
    13557834_10154427674471614_8482347804967147599_n.jpg


    Versatile enough to push or pull! Also, barefoot hiking!
    13528731_10154427674571614_192573994159775616_n.jpg

    A little off-trail trekking.
    13439098_10154427676251614_1290065161390066658_n.jpg


    Away we go.
    13557699_10154427674541614_1928422004563926830_n.jpg
     
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  23. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    Amen to that.
     
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  24. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe aka Ventura Knife Guy Supporter

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    I was thinking shoulder-width, but my hips are as wide as my shoulders.....:14:

    I agree that the weight would need to be balanced on the axle so that it neither pushed up nor down very much on the handles/hipbelt. But better down than up, I'd think. On a sudden stop it wouldn't be good for the hipbelt to ride up and restrict one's breathing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  25. Glenn Rowe

    Glenn Rowe aka Ventura Knife Guy Supporter

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    I've seen them in use as well. There are a lot of bike-packers that come thru here in the spring and early summer. Pacific Coast Highway and all that, ya know?

    It's one thing for the single-wheel trailer to get its lateral stability from the bike frame, because it's 'borrowing' a second wheel from the bike. It's something else entirely to be horsing one around on your own. Yowitch!
     
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  26. CamoDeafie82

    CamoDeafie82 Guide

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    What about wheelbarrows? Sure theyre usually up front but....
    Honestly? Its all about the design. A V shape or a Y shape with the human between the angled pieced would definitely stabilize the trailer side to side... and provided the weight is transferred directly to the axle, and the majority of the weight being around the center of the wheel diameter or below the centerline, depending on the wheel size and trailer load system, it should also be quite stable and effective?
     
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  27. Bryan King

    Bryan King Supporter Supporter

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    I've used a two wheel homemade & a store bought (Walmart) cart to bring out wild hogs& deer, for years. I'm in the mountains of KY & TN, woods bushwacking , no trails most of the time. Works great for that . Will never carry or drag another out. I've tried the one wheel , I'll stick to two , for my country. I could see one wheel for hard packed flat land, but try a two wheel, I think you'll be surprised.
     
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  28. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    My own inclination would be towards the two wheeled model, mostly from a stability standpoint. For most of the stuff I do and the places I go, a cart is a non-starter anyway, but I can certainly see the utility of the idea under the right circumstances.
     
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  29. hma153

    hma153 Tracker

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  30. Ephemeral

    Ephemeral Tracker

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    Here is what I made, it may work for you. This is not my idea, I found it on ZS, and I need to buy that man a cigar, and a cup of coffee, perhaps a new knife also. Yes this idea worked out that well.

    This is the poor man's pack wheel/honey badger, or just the handyman who doesn't want to spend a lot of money.

    These are made from bicycle parts, with only one bracket fabricated by me, and that was simple. If one has access to a bike junk yard, then these can be built for very little money. Buying new parts and you go over a hundred bucks easy.

    I used a locking brake so that I could park the thing and not have it roll away, fall over. I think I could carry 100lbs at least without undue effort, or control problems. Pneumatic tires are a must in my opinion, as the bit of bounce they afford makes going over objects easy. If something is too big, like a log, then I just turn it around and pull it over backwards. Unloaded these are very lightweight, and can be disassembled/reassembled easily with few tools.

    20181218_132933.jpg

    Unloaded ........ you can put anything you want on these, just figure out how to attach it. Keeping the load balanced is important, left/right more than front to rear, but a perfectly balanced load makes rolling it along a breeze.

    20181218_133036.jpg


    One can simply lay them down on the handlebar ends if there is nothing to prop them against. I added crutch tips to the ends of the handlebars for this purpose.

    20181218_133127.jpg

    There is the aluminum bracket I fabricated, with a SS U- bolt to locate the rack.

    20181218_133301.jpg

    Closeup of the bracket. I put another piece of aluminum behind the piece cut from U-channel for reinforcement when I tightened down the U-bolt, to prevent bending. SS was too expensive for this bracket, but would have been stronger.

    20181218_133306.jpg

    My two German Shepard dogs, The sable is Dasha, female, the black is Natty (Natty Bumpo) male. They love the woods, and I get lonely for them if I leave them behind.

    20181218_133719.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  31. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    Nice work! If you don’t mind me asking how does it push uphill and over rocky ground?

    @John from Alberta
    That a pretty sweet stroller. Do you find that it’s easier to push or pull going uphill? Mines a three wheeled version and it’s a bear when it gets steep.
     
  32. Ephemeral

    Ephemeral Tracker

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    Thanks, but I wasn't all that creative, more like putting tinker toys together. The hardest part was locating the appropriate parts, and making sure they matched up.

    To negotiate uphill one can easily change the angle of approach by just lowering the handlebars, and the bar thingies (don't know what they are called) that I added to the handlebars makes possible changing one's grip angle, I found that helpful. It is going uphill, and the more weight on it, the harder it gets. I thought is was fairly easy if things didn't get real steep.

    I was thinking about making two anchor points at the axle that I could attach a tow rope to, and with two people one could steer/hold it upright, while the other pulled it up really steep places. I've got some places here that are so steep I can hardly get up them with just a small pack on, and I want to try that idea there, if I can figure out the anchor points thing.

    Negotiating rocky ground, that is where large pneumatic tires show their worth, with a bit of strategy one can weave in and out, and go right over rocks that aren't too big. Really big rocks that you can't find a way around, turn the contraption around, and pull it right over. That's easier than it sounds.

    What I made is a copy of the pack wheel, and the honey badger essentially, and they both have videos of people pushing and pulling them over varied terrain. Check them out to see them in action. If I was wealthy I probably would have bought one of those two carts, but it was fun putting these things together.

    http://www.packwheel.com/

    https://www.honeybadgerwheel.com/
     
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  33. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    I couldn't imagine trying to walk with a wheeled cart behind me in the places I take my kids. I still have them just take a day pack and load everything else up into my own pack. With the kids I'm not hiking in far enough where the 30ish lbs on my back is a big deal. Honestly I think the cart would be much more painful. I could totally see it for the desert settings pictured above where there is smoother ground and little water. But I think it would've been outright dangerous on these trips.

    [​IMG]St. Mary's Wilderness Overnighter by MJGEGB, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
     
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  34. vdeal

    vdeal Guide

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    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Dixon Roller Pack

    [​IMG]


    Also mentioned once before was the Honey Badger Wheel


    And it bears repeating that these are not allowed in Federal Wilderness areas aside from use by those with a medical disability.
     
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  35. Robert Schmidt

    Robert Schmidt Tracker

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    Hi Together,

    I am a happy user of a 2 wheeled radical design wheelie (dutch company). When looking for a trailer, I tested single and 2 wheel options. I found no match to the wheelie. It is very stable, balances the weight really nice, so there is almost 0 weight on the back. At the same time, it allows going through really tough terrain and can be carried as a backpack if needed. Wasnt cheap, but paid of more than I ever thought. Many people think it might slow you in the mountains or rough terrain, but it has made all of my journeys more enjoyable, even if I had to carry it a few km's in between.

    Best Regards,
    Robert
     

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  36. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    I took an old wheel chair for the wheels that the composite frame had disintigrated with age and used electrical conduit and the joints sold for making canopies for flea markets shades.
    This arrangement can haul 300# loads easy I use it on the property hauling fire wood and debris all the time. the beauty of this design/material is that it can be reconfigured any way I want longer shorter taller . I don't have to use the front wheels but it's nice to have in the long run .why work harder then you have to ?
    The tires are solid rubber so there is no danger of flats. I gave the axil reinforcement so the strain is not on the tubing. It has parking brakes however I am going to add bicycle brakes for ease of handling hills .
    Though it is just a frame the enclosure can be any thing appropriate.
    Because it can be reshaped it can be used for more then hauling things, like a shelter or bed .
    I tried a one wheel arrangement but ideally the load needs to be at a very low center of gravity to work comfortably, for me .
    In the event this arrangement can allow me to carry another person and gear easily, depending on how much I plan for the event (extended materials).
    I made slots for the fasteners to allow the unit to articulate with the terrane and they work flawlessly.
    I had been using sheet metal for the sides but it get's loud bump to bump hauling wood around. I was thinking a cargo netting might be ideal, or something more water proof like boat shrink wrap. toughest stuff in the world . or a 55 gallon tub/w lid from home depot . 20190801_174733.jpg
     
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  37. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    Great pictures and good on ya dad! I wouldn’t want a cart there either. The intended use is to bridge gaps of over 20 miles ( one days walk with a light pack) or so in between water sources in terrain like this.

    00E4B9EF-D835-4A8E-8877-A40DC9A68C4C.jpeg

    B17461BF-1E7F-446E-A54A-8C17749189F6.jpeg

    5ECDE0C2-C885-4B27-BC8E-9D5964022AC5.jpeg

    @Robert Schmidt
    Would the two wheel design be more suitable for moderately steep terrain in your opinion, especially side-hilling? Or would the one wheel design win out in those conditions? Thanks!

    Thank you everyone for your contributions, you all have given me a lot to think about. I’ll try mocking one up and letting you know how it goes.
     
  38. Ephemeral

    Ephemeral Tracker

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    I know you didn't ask me, so pardon me for butting in.

    I have a two wheeled cart about 3/4 finished , and while researching how to lace spoke wheels I found out something that is important. Lateral stress is the weak point of spoke wheels. So using a two wheel cart, moving along a side slope with heavy weight could cause the wheel to collapse. I saw pictures of bicycle wheels that had collapsed under the weight of the rider. Up or down the slope would be fine, but with one wheel lower than the other lateral stress is induced. It's all a matter of degree of course, weight of load, degree of slope, strength of spoke wheel, but it should be taken into account when designing a wheeled load carrying system you want to depend upon.

    This fact is why I made the one wheel carts, as the wheel will remain vertical on the side slope. I still want the two wheel cart for appropriate terrain, as it will carry more weight.

    Motorcycle rims may be strong enough to carry a heavy load under the aforementioned conditions, if you have access to them.

    Thanks for those pictures, beautiful country in its own way.
     
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  39. Robert Schmidt

    Robert Schmidt Tracker

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    Hi Jacob,

    For me personally, this was answered by physics, but I had to try a lot, to really understand it. Almost all single wheel designs carry the load between the user and the wheel. That means, that a lot of the weight is on the user, mostly around 50% (more or less, depending how much you go up, or down). With the design of the radical wheelie, the weight sits between & above the wheels. So most of the time, 90% or more of that weight, is carried by the trailer (you only pull, not carry the weight). The second big difference, is the balance (left & right). With a single wheel, the user needs to balance the weight, which gets worse in rougher terrain and traversing. This costs a lot of energy with time. The double wheel balances itself (there are limits to this, but it works great with the wheelie). Last but not least, the radical wheelie is super flexible, as it can be carried as a backpack super easy (due tobthe design and bag). It is a highly engineered piece of equipment in my opinion, that a lot of thought was put into. To be honest, I never want to miss it again. A lot of my tours would have never happened or been totally different without it.

    Best Regards,
    Robert
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
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  40. Robert Schmidt

    Robert Schmidt Tracker

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    Hi,

    Whilst physics makes this true somehow, it is not really a factor in my opinion (if the build quality is nice). Check my previous post, those are the real issues I have had with my tests. Obviously, that is only true, if the vehicle is built very nicely and stable.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Best Regards,
    Robert
     
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  41. Ephemeral

    Ephemeral Tracker

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    I am familiar with the system you use, and I spent a good bit of time looking it over in the past. I agree with you that it is a well engineered piece of equipment, and if you, and others would be so kind as to make donations to my paypal account, I will give up on my endeavors and purchase one. :4:

    I understand the issue of weight born by the user in various designs. The one I made, and the commercial versions it is a copy of, are more along the lines of the Chinese wheelbarrow. The vast majority of the weight is carried by the wheel, and the weight on the user is quite minimal. Now if the cart is loaded out of balance that changes, obviously, but even as one learns to ride a bicycle, it is very easy to keep the one wheeled cart in balance if it is loaded correctly. Loaded correctly means keeping the majority of the weight low, equal from side to side, and front to back. This doesn't have to be perfect by any means, but the more weight up high, the harder the balance.

    Rough terrain doesn't really affect the balance very much, unless one goes banging into things, which is easily avoided, the same as would be necessary while riding a bicycle. The one wheel design is extremely maneuverable, can be turned to any degree quickly with zero turning radius, so maneuvering through rough terrain is easy.

    The issues of side loading spoke wheels is addressed by stronger wheels, especially the spokes, and of course build quality is always important, with everything. There is another contributing factor to the side loading stresses on the spoke wheel, and that is impact loading. Impact loading, such as the downhill wheel going into a hole suddenly, quickly multiplies the stress on the wheel for a split second, which can be enough for catastrophic failure.

    I am also wary of having anything like these various carts attached to me in rough terrain. If I slip or fall I don't want to have to contend with the weight and mass of anything but myself.

    The whole subject of individual load bearing carts is fascinating to me, and I have spent at least two years looking at many different designs before deciding on what I have now. That being said I am still open to new ideas and opinions on the different aspects of these machines, and I fully realize that the final choice depends on many things, with personal preference being paramount.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
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  42. Jacob

    Jacob Guide

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    @Ephemeral
    No pardon nescessary, the question was directed to @Robert Schmidt only because he mentioned that he had tested both. I do believe that after this mornings experiments I’ll be building a two wheel cart. Hopefully a couple of 20” Yard sale BMX wheels will do the trick as I’ve heard they’re overbuild.

    Today’s efforts were a bit of a disappointment, the frame was meant to be a prototype to figure out the geometry but the single wheel was just too unstable. Luckily the frame can be modified with an extra wheel for testing.

    Advice from all is welcome. I’m considering 4130 Cromoly tubing (like steel bike frames) or aluminum for the final build. The difference in weight would only be a couple of pounds but I’m leaning toward steel because I suspect it’ll be more durable and I’m better at welding it. Could go either way though.

    #1 and #2
    591406DA-E1C2-49E6-8BF8-7A3129EB133B.jpeg

    Adjustable axle mount
    E04874C4-8DA1-47BE-8AFE-B10B10081FFE.jpeg

    Ugly mug and the tetanus wagon in action.
    A605C4CB-3035-494E-A4C9-7CB91D793532.jpeg
     
  43. marbleman

    marbleman Supporter Supporter

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    All of the modern ones, look easier than this:

    [​IMG]
     

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