Last year I added a Power In Motion ebike kit to the Bicycle Snowplow bike. The motor was useful on my camping trip to Rockyford last summer, especially on the way back when climbing the hills.
Now I’d like to introduce you to another addition to the ebike camping scheme, a Burley Travoy trailer also available at Power In Motion for under $400.
The photos show the trailer with only the lower bag installed. There are also 2 kinds of upper bags available. I bought the netted produce type bag because it is the right size to put two ebike batteries side by side in it. You can also get a computer bag that clips on.
The ebike batteries are about 9lbs each and an extension cable connects the batteries to the bike wiring to power the 500 watt motor. One battery used as power assist for hills had power to spare for the 86km trip. This year I’d like to increase the bike range with an extra battery to about 100 miles range. When hauling weight, level ground or down hills are no problem but uphills can slow you to a crawl.
The top bag can carry 20 lbs. The lower bag… 40 lbs for a total of 60 lbs.
You may also remember I broke a rear axle on my Trek hauling 65 lbs on that bike. The problem with (non touring) bikes is overloading the rear axle. Non touring bikes are very close the GVW with 40 lbs of gear. If you are doing self supported touring and camping, it will be a struggle to carry tents, clothes, food, water, tools and keep the weight down.
You are left trying to put as much weight as possible on the front wheel. Bulky items like tents and sleeping bags are very difficult to fin enough room to strap them on a bike.
In my case, about 40lbs on the front and about 20ish pounds on the back. Even with less weight on the back, a bearing race cracked on the back axle. Fortunately, it did not interfere with riding.
So this year I want to put as much weight off the bike and onto a trailer. With the ebike kit, empty bike weight is already at 76lbs. The cruiser style bike has no front rack and the front is already heavy enough with the motor and handlebar bag.
Since I had replaced the 44 tooth crank with a 40 tooth crank, I’ve had good results riding the heavy bike. I’ve grown to enjoy riding heavier bikes because they ride a lot smoother. Experience has shown that having a top gear that allows pedalling at 80-100 rpm at around 27-30kph works quite well. Any faster and air resistance becomes significant, increasing the effort to maintain speed.
Low gears on a 3 speed leave something to be desired because they aren’t low enough for serious hill climbing, especially when hauling camping gear. That’s where an ebike motor is great. I can stay in top gear and climb most hills at my cruising speed of about 27kph with a light load. With a heavy load and very steep hill, I can use low gear and switch to low power assist which cuts out about (15-17kph).
Testing last year showed good range improvement by keeping the speed down to about 23-25kph in the high power setting when using the motor. Battery drain can be reduced a lot by setting the power level and pedalling to increase speed by 3 kph over what the motor achieves over level ground.
With the 3 power settings, the motor will provide speeds close to 15-17 kph, 20-22kph (great for pathways), and 27-30kph with a 26″ wheel. A fully charged battery will produce higher speeds. A partly discharged battery will produce lower speeds. More testing to be done later this year.
Extra weight on the bike does reduce range somewhat when climbing hills which is to be expected. An additional battery is therefore a useful addition to camping but is by no means a mandatory requirement since pedalling can provide sufficient range even with a dead battery. Battery power could be conserved for just climbing hills and headwinds.
Bulky camping items like sleeping bags can be carries in the lower bag or strapped on. There is plenty of space in the large lower bag of the Burley trailer for a tent, sleeping bag, camp stove plus room for other items. Extra straps come with the trailer to strap down bulky loads like a dog carrier.
The trailer allows me to use rear panniers and still carry about 20 lbs on the back of the bike without overloading it. The hitch weight of the trailer is only a few extra pounds on the bike.
For a description of features of the Burley Travoy trailer you can see it in this video:
One thing that was not mentioned in the video… on the lower bag there is a draw string. This is for pulling the sides of the large lower bag in so the sides don’t rub on the wheels when the bag is empty.
There are several good reasons to combine an ebike kit and a bike trailer besides camping trips and the points I already mentioned.
1) Hills and wind (not the favourite conditions for many cyclists).
2) To maintain a lower and more stable heart rate over hilly terrain which can be helpful for people with health problems like heart conditions. Personally, I am not much of an advocate for high heart rates during training because there is mounting evidence that suggests sustained high heart rates can cause long term heart damage in athletes.
3) To provide power when fatigue sets in at the end of a long ride or when going for longer rides than one is accustomed to.
4) To get people out cycling more often.
5) For extra power when hauling more weight or building endurance (lower but more consistent effort).
6) To provide a more consistent speed for commutes.
7) To make it easier to pull snowplows and trailers with a bike.
8) Convenience: trailer can be used as a shopping cart or for avoiding the dreaded and time consuming unloading of panniers etc.
9) Loaded trailer can easily be pulled up stairs.
More posts later when summer camping starts. Let you know how this setup works. :-