Bicycle snow ploughing

Another snow fall in Edinburgh, and this time I felt ready to plough a few miles of pavement between Kings Buildings and the Meadows…

Keeping (some of) Edinburgh moving…

Woke up to a reasonable dump this morning, apparently causing “chaos”. Sure enough, little sign of grit or plough in South Central Edinburgh.

I couldn’t help notice that everyone who cycles into our north Edinburgh financial nerve-centre got in on time…

Anyway, it was a good opportunity to refine my Carry Freedom Y-Frame (cheap on Chain Reaction) based snowplough, and in my own small way, I kept the bus network moving:

plough

I then popped up to King’s Buildings before ploughing the pavement into town as far as the Meadows:

plough9

Not a bad effort for the commute. You can see I’ve got the trailer wheels slung over the bars, so when I hit the top of Middle Meadow Walk (which I ploughed twice, creating an uphill and a downhill track) I just popped the wheels on and rode to Leith in double quick fast time.

I was at my desk over 30 minutes before the working day begins. No problem! 🙂

plough22

Snow plough: flat pack design

A quick look at my flat-pack design for a bicycle snow plough, based on the Carry Freedom Y-Frame. From cupboard to street hero in moments!

Ikea don’t make bicycle snow ploughs, but if they did…

I thought it might be worth a quick post highlighting the flat-pack nature of my bicycle snow plough, and how easy it is to assemble if the ground turns white (tool free, what’s more).

The metal core of the trailer is from my Carry Freedom Y-Frame. I have plenty of articles about this excellent device, or if you just want to know where to get your own, I enjoyed a great discount from Chain Reaction.

Anyway, here are the parts of the trailer laid out against the wall (minus the wooden trailer ‘flatbed’ which comes as stock):

plough3-1

Below: I’ve permanently screwed a square section of wood onto the leading edge of one plough blade, with a hole through which one arm of the trailer ‘Y’ frame projects.

plough3-2

Below: front view of the same stage. Note the four large washers and wing nuts on the ’empty’ edge of the wooden edge piece – these will be used for tool-free assembly of the overall blade structure:

plough3-4

Below: the other blade has a slot cut into it for the opposing side of the ‘Y’ frame and just slots over it, like so:

plough3-5

Below: poke through the bolts and fit the washers and wing nuts to secure the overall structure. You can see however that the hitch is projecting at a crazy angle and, in practice, the plough would pivot wildly around it if used like this:

plough3-6

Below: so, next step: insert the stub axles from the trailer wheels through the sides of the blades and into the trailer frame. This provides four points of contact, controlling the angle of the plough (so make sure you drill in the right places!!):

plough3-7

Below: in this case, you can see I’ve hung a heavy bike chain from the subframe to help stabilise the plough (because I added sharp metal edge reinforcements as an experiment, and they make it very jumpy):

plough2-2

Below: all said and done though, it does work a charm. (In the picture below, the tyre tracks in the background are from cars. I haven’t been bothering to plough the road, and it would look better than that if I had!)

See also the video of the plough in (limited) action.

plough2-1

Ever tried anything similar? Got any tips or tricks I should be thinking of? If so, drop me a comment at the bottom of the page 🙂

Bike snow plough video

Video showing mk2 snow plough in action – now sporting dubious metal edging protection. Still, you have to get out when it snows!

Design continues to evolve. Not enough snow though!

We’re almost at the end of winter, and it’s only snowed once since I unveiled the super duper scrap wood bicycle snow plough (mk 1) in January.

I’ve added a metal edging strip to the bottom of the plough to see whether this would improve wear (previously, it just rode on the board itself, which isn’t a very good long-term solution).

I don’t think metal strip is a great improvement, however. While it does reduce wear on the plough itself, it catches on imperfections in the surface and makes the plough jump around.

Since this reduces towing speed (and the whole thing gets pretty noisy) I don’t think I’ll persist with this line of enquiry.

I had to add my (multi-kilo) bike chain to the trailer to help hold it down, and tracking also seemed to be aversely affected, as you can see in the video.

This is probably a worst-case for performance, because the pavement is heavily cambered (you can see the flat section of the plough means it’s only really sweeping a narrow tangent, so there’s a bit of snow left to either side).

It did a pretty good job on the drive, in contrast:

plough2-4

plough2-3

Is there a future in flat-pack bike plough technology? I like to think so! If you fancy giving this a go yourself, Chain Reaction Cycles are selling both large and small Y-Frame trailers with a decent discount.

Ever tried anything similar? Got any tips or tricks I should be thinking of? If so, drop me a comment at the bottom of the page 🙂

Bakfiets: first impressions

Designed from the ground up to transport as many as three children in comfort and safety, everything about the Bakfiets feels burly and well designed…

Often imitated, say hello to the reference cargo bike…

A special order through Edinburgh’s Laid-Back-Bikes, this fine Bakfiets cargo bicycle turned up last weekend and caused a bit of a stir in idle Marchmont. (Although yes, you could argue that each delivery causes its own stir!)

Bakfiets cargo bike in Edinburgh

Brought in for a customer to transport their children around Edinburgh in style (and probably the kitchen sink too), I was keen to take a closer look at what is unquestionably a benchmark vehicle.

Designed from the ground up to transport as many as three children in comfort and safety, everything about the Bakfiets feels burly and well designed – reassuring when you consider the use and abuse it must withstand.

The interior comes equipped with a bench (doubling as a locker) as standard, with the possibility of fitting a further bench in front, a baby or toddler seat, room for your shopping, whatever.

A sturdy canopy protects the contents from wind and rain (it can be separately rolled back between the rider and cargo, so you can easily get at the contents!)

Bakfiets cargo bike in Edinburgh

You can just see the massive kickstand in the photo above – it keeps the bike completely stable at rest, and even better, you can put it up and down just by kicking it (usually “kick” stand is a misnomer, especially for loaded bikes).

The steering is remote via a very heavy duty rod, as you can see below. In use, the bike is really very manouverable, and I was (more or less) able to trackstand it, so while ponderous, it’s much more agile than you’re probably thinking. Just don’t try to lift it up any flights of stairs!

Bakfiets cargo bike in Edinburgh

A dynamo provides full-time lighting, although bizarrely there is no standlight (a strange omission when this is a negligable part of the price of such an expensive bike). I suppose there’s no question of being missed on the roads, even just with the coachwork!

Bakfiets cargo bike in Edinburgh

Roller brakes provide stopping power in all weather – in theory. Frankly, I wasn’t overly impressed but it’s quite possible that the brakes need more than a few minutes’ use to bed in (drum brakes improve for the first wee while as the surfaces match up) and this could rapidly be fine. You’d certainly expect any hub brake on a 20″ wheel to be enjoying some serious mechanical advantage.

Best of all was the ease of finding a parking space (even easier than with my Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer).

Add in full protection from the elements, great space from passing motorists and awesome crash safety; are you fancying this for the school run yet?

Bakfiets cargo bike in Edinburgh

The jury’s out on the practicality of such a bike in Edinburgh, given that you more or less have to store it outside like a motorbike (and, of course, the hills) but I sincerely hope to wangle some more saddle time and bring out a detailed review in due course!

Bicycle snow plough: mk1

Last night’s snowfall provided the perfect opportunity to convert a couple of chunks of scrap wood and the frame of my Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer into a bike-powered snow plough… excellent!

Bike trailer frame + scrap wood = awesome pavement sweeper

Ever since I read about David Peterson’s bike plough I’ve fancied building one myself – Edinburgh Council being as loath to treat the streets as it often seems to be.

Well, last night’s snowfall provided the perfect opportunity to convert a couple of chunks of scrap wood and the frame of my Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer into a bike-powered snow plough:

Bicycle powered snow plough

Continue reading “Bicycle snow plough: mk1”

’tis the season to be jolly, and all that

Quick update on my Carry Freedom at year’s end…

… but who needs a sleigh to deliver presents?

The Carry Freedom Xmas gift express is in town!

8287806081_bc93f928a8_z

I realised I haven’t posted for some time on my trailer. It’s still going strong, although I broke another velcro strap (which has put the annual running cost up to about £5).

While I no longer bother tracking the mileage, I reckon I’ve saved around £75 more in car running costs than I’ve spent on the trailer + trailer maintenance.

See also

  • Absolutely loads of articles about my Y-Frame trailer adventures elsewhere on the site.
  • At the time of writing, Chain Reaction Cycles are selling both large and small Y-Frame trailers at a discount

Carry Freedom Y-frame trailer service

It’s the end of summer and about six months since I last did any maintenance work on my much-loved, hard-abused Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer.

Almost no moving parts = almost maintenance free…

It’s the end of summer and about six months since I last did any maintenance work on my much-loved, hard-abused Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer.

trailer-maint7

The lollipop hitch being a fit-and-forget item (and at end of life, a relatively easy to replace one) the main concern on the Y-Frame trailer is the condition of the hubs and stub axles.

Continue reading “Carry Freedom Y-frame trailer service”

I think we need a bigger boat…

Just when I began to think that it might be possible to carry absolutely anything by trailer, I think I might have encountered the exception that proves the rule (for the stock Y-Frame trailer, at least)…

Just when I began to think that it might be possible to carry absolutely anything by trailer, I think I might have encountered the exception that proves the rule (for the stock Y-Frame trailer, at least):

7671406498_74bea276df

The posts, fixings and metalwork for 10m of chain-link fence? Not so much…

Although I did actually manage this, it was pretty tenuous… the 2300mm posts were supported OK by the tow arm, but the chain link itself had to ride out back, throwing the weight right off (with a longer towing arm you’d be able to put this all on comfortably centred on the axle, not hanging off the back of it).

7671407998_c38131a4c4

I then had a ton of awkward spikes to try and lash down in such a way that they wouldn’t fly off and kill small children or worse, cause a motorist to be slightly delayed.

7671406498_74bea276df

All in all, quite a tricky loadout. An extended hitch is needed really to get the axles under the weight, then perhaps it would be possible to put the rest in a box that lashed down on top.

Don’t think it set a weight record (quite) although I couldn’t lift all the wood in one go, so it must be fairly burly.

See also

Making money with the Y-Frame trailer

Rather than spend £66 taking the car on the ferry, we chose to take the Y-Frame instead, mounting two large plastic boxes with rucksacks strapped on top…

Full ROI after just 9 months – bring on the good times

We just took a long weekend and went to the isle of Arran.

Rather than spend £66 taking the car on the ferry, we chose to take the Y-Frame instead, mounting two large plastic boxes with rucksacks strapped on top:

g10

This is catering for 5-6 people plus three days gear for biking and mountaineering for two. All handled easily (on the way across, the liners went outside the bags to keep everything dry).

Continue reading “Making money with the Y-Frame trailer”

Another day, another trailer-load

I’ve now saved 60% of the (purchase + maintenance) cost of my Carry-Freedom Y-Frame trailer as measured by mileage saved on the car!

Carry Freedom the default option in hilly Edinburgh

I’ve now saved 60% of the (purchase + maintenance) cost of my Carry-Freedom Y-Frame trailer as measured by mileage saved on the car!

We’re almost finished with the new kitchen fitting, so that means there’s a load of odds-and-ends to dispose of.

h32

Continue reading “Another day, another trailer-load”