Surly Bill Trailer

There are quite a few options these days for trailers that carry kids or dogs, luggage, groceries, and other relatively small loads. Trailers are nice because they can be detached when not in use, but most trailers can’t haul much weight and the ones that do suffer some design drawbacks such as incompatibility with many kinds of bikes. Conversely, there are quite a few cargo bikes that can haul bigger loads, but cargo bikes meant for a lot of weight can be difficult to load, are sometimes difficult to ride (sometimes due to the bike’s design, and sometimes due to the sheer weight of the bike itself), and require a lot of space to store. We felt we could help bridge the gap, so we designed two trailers meant to haul a lot, to be easy to use, and which would work with a bike you have already.

We make two bed lengths so you can find one that suits your needs. Bill is the long one, and Ted is the short bed (get it?  Bill has more letters than Ted, so it goes with the longer trailer).  The beds and hitch are constructed mainly of TIG-welded 4130 CroMoly steel. CroMoly steel is tough and durable and well-suited to this task. We used 304 stainless steel hardware where appropriate to ensure corrosion resistance and a long life. The beds have threaded eyelets for bolting down decking, corner posts, or creating other custom accessories using readily-accessible materials from your local hardware store, lumberyard or home improvement store.

The wheels are 16", keeping cargo low to the ground. 16" wheels are also stronger than larger diameter wheels favored by many trailers. We designed our own hubs to meet the requirements of this frame. The rims are double-wall with stainless eyelets. The spokes are stainless steel, radially laced. Combined with smooth, easy rolling 1.95" tires, these are stout wheels designed specific to their purpose.

Our hitch system is designed to be as universal as possible. Regardless of the configuration of your bike frame, our hitch will likely fit your bike. It doesn’t clamp to the bike’s frame tubes. Instead, it attaches using a proprietary axle skewer or thread-on axle nuts. The Surly trailer hitch works with full-suspension frames, disc brakes, rear racks and fenders. It adjusts to accommodate hub widths from 120 – 145mm and allows you to align the centerline of the trailer on the centerline of the bike. It will work with bikes that have wheels as small as 20" and as large as 29" while keeping the bed level with the ground. This is especially important when you are hauling long items that hang off the back of the trailer (lumber, tubing, ladders, etc.).

There are some things to learn about using a trailer like this to haul stuff. You’ll probably want to use a bike with gears, for example. As well, learning to load it right becomes more important as cargo weight increases. Load it over the axles, balancing the load. Too much weight on the hitch (tongue weight), or too much weight hanging off the back, and the bike’s handling will be compromised, making it harder to control and potentially damaging your bike, the trailer, or you. Finally, we do not recommend ever carrying people or furry friends on Surly trailers. Sure it might be fun, but someone could get seriously hurt and that’s not fun at all.

The frame is a solid unit constructed of welded CroMoly steel square tubes. The hitch can be adjusted to level the bed, making it easier to carry long items.

The wheel covers keep cargo from shifting into spokes and provide load-bearing support for items that don’t fit between them. Threaded bosses, in the wheel covers, provide mounting points for fenders and spoke guards (not included).

The hitch is highly adjustable to fit most types of bikes and a wide variety of wheel diameters and hub widths.



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