Two Wheels Good, Three Wheels Better, Five Wheels Best! - the EcoShopper Trailer

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Before this turns into a turf war, let me explain: I have been thinking about doing some self-supported touring lately. One problem that I’ve had to deal with is, how do I carry all my stuff? Sure, a tiny tent won’t take up much room in a pannier, and if you decide to forgo a sleeping bag and mattress, keep to just one extra pair of shorts and jersey, and so on, the result would probably fit OK - but I want to enjoy the tour, not just survive it! I want my air mattress and a tent that could hold two if necessary - and I really don’t want to have to do laundry every other day. So, what to do? Simple: bring a trailer. And that’s where the EcoShopper from BicycleR Evolution comes into the planning.
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EcoShopper

Yes, there are other trailers, and some are rated at carrying even more than what the EcoShopper can tote (75 pounds, but they do recommend only 35 pounds for more enjoyable touring). But they tend to be heavier, more complicated, and definitely more expensive.  I had been holding off on buying a trailer, not least of all because of the cost, but also I was concerned that I would not be able to attach it to my Catrike Road. As you can see in the pictures, I needn’t have worried!

As many of you might already know, I’m not the most mechanically ‘clined person around. Yeah, if it’s software, I can do all sorts of nifty things. But hardware? Duct tape and a screwdriver is about my limit. When this trailer arrived, I was so happy to see that it was not going to require a call to my mechanic, Walt Smith, after all. The trailer came with the mounting holes for the support structure already drilled. And, just a handful of nuts and bolts (I can use a wrench and vise grips, after all), and within minutes the trailer was ready to attach - almost.

Remember, one of my concerns was about mounting the hitch to my trike. I am not about to go to an upright, just so I can do self-contained touring. When I opened the package, I looked at the hitch that was supplied. There was a hole that you insert the skewer of the rear wheel through, one end had a flat, padded surface that would go up against the frame, and the other end was the male portion of a hydraulic fitting. It looked like it could work …

And it did! Honestly, assembly of the trailer portion took about ten minutes, and mounting the hitch consumed another five. It was getting dark, so I had to wait until the next day to actually try the combination out. While I didn’t load it up with anything like a touring load, I did put in a cooler with ice, and a group of us (about a dozen, all on trikes!) took off north from Morrow, Ohio, heading for Corwin and a restaurant that serves good food and delicious ice cream (I had a strawberry-banana shake).  We were lucky in that a rain storm had just passed through, and the morning was a little cooler than it has been, but by the time we returned, that ice was very nice to have!

How did the trailer do? I really can’t seem to fault it for much of anything. Sure, on a rough road, anything inside tends to move about and make noise - I would suggest putting in a layer of bubble wrap, or even just some towels, to quiet things down a bit. But other than that, I was more than happy with the results. The trailer tracked behind my Catrike Road with no trouble at all, it followed dutifully even the sharpest turns, and it did not stick out further than my front wheels, so I was not concerned about passing through narrow spots.  The capacity of this trailer is more than ample for my projected needs - the manufacturer says it will hold 27 gallons (6237 cubic inches), which translates to about 5 of those large grocery store paper bags. The cover snaps firmly into place, and there are many slots that just yell “Bungee cords! Attach more on the top!”

Sure, there are panniers that have that total capacity - but remember, that’s for the pair, and sometimes you just can’t divide some object in half! Plus, as the name will indicate, one of the suggested uses for this trailer is just that: shopping! Pull it through the grocer store with you, loading it up as you go - this is not something you can easily do with panniers!

While I think the EcoShopper is a bargain at its regular price, there are two ways of making it an even better bargain. The first may already be too late to take advantage of: the first 50 people who order it, and agree to provide feedback on such things as assembly, as well as a report about it at the end of the first month and then a year, can get the trailer for $99. The second money-saver is to pick the unit up, rather than have it shipped. The manufacturers are located in Eugene, Oregon.

Granted, there may be good arguments to be made for using panniers - but I think there are several that can be made for using a trailer, too. Toss in the fact that this trailer is amazingly inexpensive, water resistant, and very versatile, and I think the result is an accessory for your bike or trike that is definitely worth considering. Look for me trying my hand at self-supported touring soon, thanks the BicycleR Evolution’s EcoShopper trailer!

BicycleR Evolution EcoShopper Trailer
Pros: Light, spacious, easy to assemble, inexpensive
Cons: a little noisy on rough roads
Price: $179 plus shipping of about $29
For More Information: http://www.bikerev.com/pg28.cfm

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