Vagabond Ceramics

A Trek Through Mud and Life

The Electric Cargo Bike

Alexander Kachenko

I am not a huge fan of gasoline.  I'm not thrilled about how we get it, where it comes from, or its effect on the environment.  I also try to look for solutions rather than complain about problems, so over the past several years, I have been working on and constantly upgrading an electric bicycle and trailer.  In its current form, I am using a Yuba Mundo frame, with a QS V3 direct drive hub motor, a 58 volt 50 amp hour lithium polymer battery, and a high powered Kelly Controller.  It features a 50 mile range, 800 lb towing capacity, rear wheel ABS, regenerative braking, custom trailer hitch, reverse switch, 2 USB ports, 12v cigarette lighter power port, an assortment of lights, and a horn.  This started as a way to get from home to work with 50lbs of clay, but with the help of the trailer, I moves everything I need.

The Trailer

Alexander Kachenko

The trailer was built from some scrapped bike trailers and about 60 feet of angle iron.  I started with the 5 foot bed of a Surly trailer and added a 2 foot, angle iron extension on the back.  I decided to try a dual axle setup, so I brazed two 5/8" solid rods to the Surly frame and fitted four salvaged Tuff Wheels to the axles.  The dual axle adds to my weight capacity but reduce my turning radius.  The tongue is still a work in progress.  I have tried 2 different designs so far and both have bend under heavy loads.  (Edit: tongue #3 is heavily reinforced and is holding up well)   The basic design is a pipe sloping up from the trailer to the bike hitch, with a coupling nut on the end.  A large eye bolt is threaded into the coupling nut.  The eyebolt slips over a pipe on the back of the bike which serves as the hitch.  This coupling method is a variant of the Holistic Hitch from Tony's Trailers and works surprisingly well.  When first constructed, I had 500lbs in clay on the back of the trailer and is performed beautifully.  

There are four pieces of angle iron which stick up vertically, and I bolt on the frame of a seven foot long 6 foot tall shelving unit.  The the plank of the shelves are reclaimed oak boards and the center of the unit holds a antique medicine display cabinet that I picked up several years ago at a barn sale in Ohio.  

The goal of the trailer is load it with everything I need for an art festival, then it all haul from Fishtown to any show on the PA side of the river within 25 miles.  This means it needs the tent, 200lbs of tent weights, a display, signs, packaging materials, and of course a ton of pots.  Fully loaded, the trailer weighs in well over 500lbs.  As of today, it has made successful trips to Northern Liberties, 9th Street in South Philly, and Manayunk.