I’ve always been a bit of a tinkerer, and owning something like an Xtracycle LongTail cargo bike feeds into my need to build and experiment. More information on the LongTail idea and its open source design info can be found at this link.
I’ve struggled a bit with bringing my two kids along for rides in the city. On bike paths, our trailer is fine, but the hilly and beat up streets in the city have frustrated me while pulling the trailer. Slow handling and the tugging of the trailer over uneven pavement and limited cargo space lead me to consider other options. I’ve had this Xtracycle for a number of years, and tested the Surly Big Dummy and wrote a product review for Dirt Rag last year, so I was aware of the LongTail’s ability to haul a lot of stuff in the city with little hassle. Why not children instead of stuff?
There are some plans in the works for a multiple child carrier from Xtracycle, but I didn’t want to wait. So I started to design. After a few measurements from my kids and the Xtracycle, I had a rough sketch.
I started with ½” plywood, reinforced with two 1×4 pine boards. Some work with a jig saw and the rough outline of the base was done. I removed the plastic SnapHooks from the stock wooden SnapDeck and installed them in the new base after drilling and countersinking the mounting holes.
Next step, children. I put them both on and marked locations for seat back. I uncovered enough 1×4 boards in my leftover lumber pile to make the bulk of the backs and sides. A few revisions later and out to the back porch cardboard paint booth for a coat of primer, a coat of safety orange and a final coat of shellac.
Happy with the results after mounting it up with the kids, I started on the padding. The backs are padded with a couple of $2 pillows from Ikea, and the leftover scraps of a blue closed cell foam sleeping pad handle the bottom and sides. Not super pretty, but the kids are comfortable and from 20 feet looks quite nice. I may upholster the whole thing in the future, we’ll see.
Last but not least, safety straps where fashioned from bits and pieces from REI, my only real expense for the whole set-up, and under $10 at that. I do need to add some sternum straps, the shoulder straps are able to slip off to the side as-is.
Preliminary results are very promising, both pilot and passengers were very happy during the maiden voyage. I see adventure on the horizion!