Brian Campbell’s Housebike as of 2010/03/13

Motorhome bike makes Portland appearance

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 10th, 2006 at 9:39 am reader Bob Crispin sent in these photos after seeing this wayward pedaler on the streets of Northeast Portland.


Amazingly, the guy claims to have ridden this contraption all over the U.S. and down to Mexico. According to Bob,

He said his design was inspired by the moon rovers and the moon landing vehicle, the super structure and the shiny panels. The interior was sweet too, looked comfy, and had a map holder and lots of neat nooks and crannies to store stuff.
[motorhomebikeGuypeeking.jpg]   [Snug as a bug]

This thing just blows me away. Bob says the guy talked like a serious engineer, had been on the road for several years and that the bike was very well built, and even “appeared to be light given what it was.”

The craziest thing is that despite days of torrential rain, Bob said it was dry inside the cabin. Here are more photos:

[motorhomebikeRearView.jpg]   [Rear view of the cabin]
[motorhomebikeFrontView.jpg]   [The cockpit]
[motorhomebike1.jpg]   [I'd be proud of it too!]
Wow. You just never know what you’ll come across out there. as of 2010/03

Updated: Motorhome bike guy needs our help

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 28th, 2006 at 2:45 pm

Who will ever forget this guy? Not me. After my post a few weeks ago, I was amazed at how many people remembered seeing him. Readers chimed in from all over the country to say how impressed they were with the moxie and ingenuity behind this man and machine.

Well it turns out that Ryan (they man behind this amazing bike) needs our help. A reader contacted me with this follow-up information:

The designer/dweller’s name is Ryan Brian. The bike is indeed a fascinating and well-designed machine, but it’s got a couple of problems after many years on the road, and Ryan Brian could use a little bit of help from his bike-tinker bretheren in Portland.

Some of the styrofoam roofing-insulation panels in his roof have begun taking on water and are starting to house some fungus. If anybody has these kind of blue styrofoam panels lying around dry, Ryan Brian could really use them.

His front wheel is a mag wheel from a Puch moped with internal brake. He’s got plans to eventually replace it with a home- built mag wheel; I’m sure he’s got an excellent design, but he’s a little bit low on parts at the moment, and meanwhile the bearings are starting to fail. He was asking me where he might find moped parts in Portland — I had no idea. But if anybody has a moped front wheel lying around, or thinks they have replacement bearings for such a wheel, Ryan Brian might be able to use those parts.

He’s got ambitious plans to build another such “ship” — this one is his third! — but he’s low on scratch and materials.

Although his machine is impressively well-designed, he says it’s showing its age and he’s not sure whether to repair or replace at this point. Nevertheless, it’s his home for the winter.

He said he doesn’t need much in the way of bike parts, but most of all any aluminum extrusion anybody can donate would be most welcome.

Most of all, Brian wants us to know that he designs and builds excellent bike ships, bike trailers, and other large bike cargo machines! If you were thinking of employing an iconoclastic engineer in that area, I’d suggest you talk to him! He will be based near 20th and SE Ankeney for a while, as he’s house-sitting for a friend who lives on that block. Drop by and say hi.

*Update: Another reader says Brian wants to build these bikes for others, and also build cargo versions for messengers and other interested parties. If anyone would like to contact Brian directly, please drop me a line at jonathan[at]bikeportland[dot]org.

Let’s help keep this guy rolling strong for many more years! as of 2010/03

Beloved motorhome bike “torn to shambles” in NE Portland

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 30th, 2007 at 10:18 am

Brian and his motorhome-bike before vandals destroyed it (see below).
(Photo: Bob Crispin)

Last November, I shared photos and the story of an amazing character making his home on the streets of Portland.

His name is Brian and he lives in a bicycle that he expertly engineered into a human-powered bicycle Winnebago. According to reports, he has been pedaling this unique vehicle all over the world for over three decades.

He had been making his street-home on SE Ankeny Street (near Citybikes) but had recently moved to northeast Portland, just east of MLK Blvd off of NE Ainsworth.

Yesterday, Ayleen Crotty (who lives in the area) announced on her blog that Brian was looking for donations to help him with some much-needed renovations to the bike. Ayleen’s employer, OR Bike, had already chipped in $200 to the cause.

Unfortunately, this morning I received this sad news from a reader:

“… by 10pm [last night] it was torn to shambles. This morning it was still there and still in pieces. I do not know what happened (whether he did it himself or it was vandalized), but it’s a damn shame. I almost cried when I saw it.”

Someone else reported that yesterday evening they noticed, “a big hole in the side and the contents strewn everywhere.”

Here are photos of the damage sent in from Ayleen Crotty:

[motorhomeayleen1.jpg]   [motorhomeayleen2.jpg]   [motorhomeayleen3.jpg]   (Photos by Ayleen Crotty)

I haven’t yet confirmed what exactly happened, but it doesn’t sound good. I hope Brian can recover and I look forward to finding out how/if the community can step up and help him out. Please contact me or leave a comment if you have any information (or photos of the damage).

Stay tuned… as of 2010/03

Updated: Motorhome-biker shares his story

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 30th, 2007 at 8:12 pm

[NOTE: This post has been updated since last night. Please hit your "refresh" button to make sure you are seeing the full story.]

(Photos by Jonathan Maus)

Like most of you who read the story about how the famous motorhome-bike was destroyed Wednesday night, I instantly assumed it was the work of vandals.

But as the day wore on, evidence mounted that the bike’s creator, Brian, might have done it himself: a commenter who has spent time with him said he’d been wanting to “trash it and start from scratch”; Ayleen Crotty reported that he needed help with repairs; and Jonathon Severdia, who wrote an article about Brian for WorldChanging called to tell me he wouldn’t be surprised if Brian did it.

Despite all this, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions until I heard what happened directly from Brian.

Fortunately last night, on my way to catch the B:C:Clettes at the Clown House on Alberta, I happened to see Brian entering the Safeway at MLK Blvd. and NE Ainsworth.

“Nothing ever lines up for me, no jobs, no nothing… I’m invisible out here, like a ghost. People only notice me now that this happened.” — Brian

I felt awkward introducing myself to him. No matter what the circumstances are around his bike, I knew he might not be in the best mood right now. Not to mention, I was a complete stranger.

At the outset of our conversation, things did not look good. I quickly realized he had destroyed the bike himself and he was mumbling and going on about how sick and tired he was of everything: living on the street; living in his “camper”; not finding work; not having many friends; being hungry; and so on.

He didn’t really look me in the eye and he was angry, frustrated and depressed.

I let Brian know that while I couldn’t relate to his experiences, I could understand why he felt angry and bitter at the world. Mixed in with my empathy, I let him know that there was a community of people who cared about him and who were willing to help; but only if he wanted it.

As we walked back to the site of his tattered bike, the warm breeze blew the wayward pieces of tattered foam all over the street. He had a few plastic trash bags and I asked for one to help him clean up the mess.

As we picked up bits of glass, metal, and foam, the picture of Brian’s breakdown became clearer.


After decades of traveling the country in his camper-bike and living a seemingly carefree, nomadic existence, Brian had had enough.

Still upset, he said, “Nothing ever lines up for me, no jobs, no nothing…I’m invisible out here, like a ghost. People only notice me now that this happened.”

I offered (and he agreed) that perhaps people mistakenly assumed he was happy and content with his existence. After all, he was free-and-clear, without the stresses of work, mortgages, and other rat-race responsibilities. He was on an eternal bike tour, living off the land under his own power…how bad could that be?

As we talked, many people would honk and wave as they drove by.

He explained that last winter he reached a breaking point. The dark, cold, wet days found him “just lying there, in my cabin, staring out, losing weight from not eating.” “I can’t do that anymore,” he said “I felt like I was in jail in that thing, trapped…”

He pointed out mold that was spreading through sections of the cabin’s foam walls and expressed concern about breathing it in.

Despite his anxieties over the state of his life, I noticed that the more we spoke, the more stable, and less upset he became. Slowly but surely the fog around his mood began to lift. Eventually the conversation turned to how he could get rolling again and he even started joking and smiling.

[1282516832_88d39c364a_o.jpg]   [1281654103_66c82667f7_o.jpg]  

With a huge grin he said, “This is what happens when you build a camper that’s not big enough for a woman.”

I told Brian that if he was interested, I would help him raise some money and maybe even have a little work party. He said he definitely wants to rebuild, “I can get this all fixed in just a couple of days.”

Staring at his bike and thinking of rebuilding, he said, “It will be like the big family argument that gets better when you buy a new car and everyone’s happy.”

That “joke” is actually a true story from Brian’s past. He told me about a “big blowout fight” between his mom and dad. Then, the next morning he noticed a brand new car in the driveway, and “the house was silent…and everyone seemed OK.” With a confused look and a sheepish grin, he said, “I could never figure that one out.”

I was relieved that his spirits seemed to be getting brighter. At this point, he was talking less of his frustrations and sadness, and more about how he could get rolling again.

Brian said he could re-build his camper for around $200 in supplies. Here’s a list of what he needs:

Before I left, I wrote my name and phone number down and told him to stay in touch (he said he would). I offered my backyard as a backup place to crash if he needed it (he’s currently got a place to stay that’s off the streets).

Then, at his request, I went to Safeway and bought him a 40 oz. of Pabst and two cans of spaghetti.

If I do hear from Brian, and if there’s sufficient interest from the community (which I think there will be), I will coordinate a work party to happen in the next few days. Stay tuned to this post for more details.

In the meantime, I’ve created this PayPal button for anyone who wants to make online donations. All proceeds will go to help Brian rebuild his bike (and maybe a show of support from the community will help him rebuild his zeal and outlook on life as well.)

UPDATE: As of today (8/31) at 4:15 pm, we have raised $515.00 for Brian. Wow. Stay tuned for more info…

UPDATE: We’ve set up a work party for tomorrow. If you’d like to join us, meet Brian, and show your support, come to the Walgreen’s parking lot at MLK Blvd. and NE Ainsworth at 3:00 tomorrow, on Saturday, 9/1.

[Some good news about the foil-covered foam is that it is waterproof, but some bad news is that it does not let in outside air, and so water from perspiration and breathing can accumulate and form a great place for mold to grow.

Tightly-sealed full-size homes often suffer from mold for the same reason, and the usual solution is some kind of ventilation.

Perhaps Brian's mold problems would be reduced with a vent placed low at one end and another vent placed high at the other end, so "heat rises" tends to carry out the moist warm inside air and bring in drier air from outside.

A down-side of venting is that you are also venting heat, so it will be somewhat cooler inside. But in many cases it is still probably small enough to be okay. Also vigorous all-day ventilation can help you dry out so the vents can be only partly open overnight. A heat exchanger would reduce the heat lost to venting, but a heat exchanger is likely to be significantly bulkier and more complex. ] as of 2010/03

Work party for Brian

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 1st, 2007 at 6:54 am

Come out and meet Brian, show your support, check out his camper-bike, and lend a hand to help us rebuild it.

Meet in the parking lot of Walgreens at NE Ainsworth and MLK Blvd. and as of 2008/02/12.


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Culture Change
Nonprofit founded in 1988

Brian Campbell's House Bikes

by Randy Ghent

You've heard of house boats--but house bikes? Probably not. There's only 13 in the world that we at the Auto-Free Times know of. And Brian Campbell has built every one of them. Together they form what Campbell calls "the GeoFleet."

Each bike weighs 200 pounds, has 135 gears, and--once you get going--can go faster than a racing bike. It can even carry loads of 500 pounds, and is extremely strong and durable. Sound like too much to be true? There's more: One GeoFleet house bike, effectively replacing both the owner's house and car, can even provide economic security for less than $2,600. If used parts are relied upon, the bike can be built for under $500. So you can say goodbye to rent, insurance, pollution and the rest of it.

It's not exactly luxurious living--just a cozy weatherproof place to sleep, made of rigid urethane insulation, that's the width of a twin bed. But for the claustrophobic, the largest sleeper box available with GeoFleet's standard frame sleeps four. In fact, the sleeper box is so well insulated that the occupant's body heat keeps it warm all night long. "It's like the Bahamas within seconds, even in the winter," Campbell said, "though there's no condensation problem because of dehumidifying windows."

And with a unique double kickstand, the bike is remarkably stable. It won't budge, even with three people inside. Mostly aluminum angle bar bolted together, the bike's framework has long drive chains and sets of gears underneath that connect to a specially designed automobile wheel in the rear. The bike is driven partly by a turning, weighted mechanism that provides centrifugal-force power. So once you get going, it can feel like you're riding a two-pound bike, Campbell said. He calls it a "spring-action, thresher flywheel." "This mechanism uses the internal weight of the wheel itself--not where the wheel is hitting the road," Campbell claims. "It almost feels like you have a big ball of steel pushing behind you."

Campbell and a partner have even patented this design, as well as that of the drive chain. GeoFleet bikes are so unique that Campbell and his cohorts jokingly use Star Trek terminology to refer to them. They call the bikes "ships," and have assigned themselves titles such as "Captain" and "Admiral."

But Campbell has little desire to promote his product, prove his claims about it, or build a business out of his creation. In fact, he doesn't even have an address or telephone number.

After hitchhiking around the U.S. for 11 years, Campbell says the house bike idea came to him through "non-action, non-thinking power," which he combined with self-teachings in science and physics, having quit formal school in eighth grade. "The spirit of the Earth came and spoke to me, saying I'm not going to be like all the rest," recalled Campbell. "Before I started those bikes, I didn't accomplish one thing. I just barely ate, barely slept, and that's it." Now 40, Campbell has been building house bikes since 1984.

The geometric-structured frame design, made to hold weight from all sides, hasn't changed in seven years. At press time, Campbell is building GeoFleet's fourteenth house bike for the Auto-Free Times to use as a work bike and for demonstration purposes. The magazine will be unofficially joining what Campbell calls a "private club" of house bike owners.

Campbell's personal house bike holds all his possessions, and he is otherwise homeless, sometimes building bikes for others to raise food money. He views his bikes as a means to achieve financial independence and extricate oneself from poverty. He now has the freedom to take vacations at will--a freedom most car owners lack.

Thus Campbell's life calls into the question the idea that a high quality of life must result from a high monetary standard of living. He does quite well without what are usually a person's two most environmentally unfriendly possessions: a house and a car.

"I have never paid rent in my life," Campbell proudly asserted.

For more information about GeoFleet, or to have your own bike built, contact the Sustainable Energy Institute at 707-826-7775.

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 4347, Arcata, California 95518 USA Telephone 1-215-243-314 as of 2008/02/13

Pedal to the metal

He lives anywhere his feet take him. And he may not be in Davis much longer.

Issue date: 11/14/03
Section: Front Page

Brian Campbell sits inside of his bicycle home, which includes a stero, lighting and his bed, among other things. He made the vehicle himself and has used it to travel the country. Media Credit: Krysten Kellum / Aggie

Brian Campbell sits inside of his bicycle home, which includes a stero, lighting and his bed, among other things. He made the vehicle himself and has used it to travel the country. [Click to enlarge]

Brian Campbell lifts the kickstand on his bicycle in preparation to ride the Delta of Venus Cafe, one of the local hangouts where he says he feels welcome. He says that his bike has made him unwelcome at some other locations. Media Credit: Krysten Kellum / Aggie

It has an automatic kickstand and a kitchen — all the amenities a person needs to live like a portable Thoreau. For six years now, Brian Campbell has been living in his bicycle. "It's the ninth wonder of the world," he said. "There's nothing like it anywhere else." It's a sort of self-propelled RV for one, with 135 gears, weighing 620 pounds. It balances impressively on two wheels, has windows and a sliding cardboard door and looks more cumbersome and metallic than it rides. "It's heavy, but I can get it up like a big-block motorcycle," said Campbell. Patches of waterproof tape seal the cracks or flaws above Campbell's bed. Inside, there's enough room for him to sprawl out — and bathe, when necessary. His body heat insulates the cabin from the approaching seasonal cold. Campbell, 46, hails from Pennsylvania. He taught himself mechanical engineering and has pedaled his home over 100,000 miles. Or so it reads on the back of his bicycle. Next to the mileage, written in marker, are the words "Quit Oil." Campbell said he's in a class of his own when he travels. He claims to be able to pedal his home at highway speeds. But he's also feeling persona non grata around the city. "I'm not feeling too welcome in a lot of places," he said. "I don't know where I'm going to stay tonight." That is, he doesn't know where he's going to park. "I've been staying over near the Co-op for a while now," he said. "Some of the homeless guys don't like me over there. They think I cut in on their action." Campbell's bicycle was vandalized last week. He worked odd construction jobs to earn the money to build the bike. Now, he needs to generate an income - or donations - to make repairs. "It takes nothing to keep it in shape," he said. "I've spent $400 in the six years I've had this thing just to keep it up and maintain it." Campbell has an idea to taxi students to and from campus in the coming winter months. "I can fit five or six students in here, have them pay a dollar each to ride to class," he said. Though he fears burning his bridges in Davis, Campbell said the residents of the Domes have embraced him as a model for clean living. "I'm the icon of the city," Campbell said. "Nothing stops me from going anywhere." as of 2008/02

Brian Campbell

Brian is the creater, owner and sole resident of the famous Human Powered Housing Project. He's a really friendly guy and is a great person to strike up a conversation with. He's quite intelligent, after all he did conceive, engineer, and fabricate his own moveable house! He claims to be an "intergalactic refugee", though some may doubt this. He's a regular at Cafe Roma where he sometimes plays the piano for hours on end while his House sits parked outside.

Brian comes and goes. Heck, if your house was moveable, would you keep it in one spot? No. Brian is often around Davis but he does travel near and far. Sometimes he goes on his spiffy bike but it does also get loaded in a truck on occasion. Recently, Brian took a trip down and back to somewhere in Mexico. In Vacaville, they let local school kids create their own newspaper once or twice a year, The Campus Star. Anyway, one kid wrote about Brian and his bike when he was living outside of the Vacaville or Fairfield Target in early 2005.

This [LINK (not working as of 2014/09)] Aggie article from 2003 contains a bio of Brian.


One time I was in the backyard of the Charred Dog House at a House Show when I start talking to Brian. He starts talking about movies and TV shows that I have no idea about. And I realize how out of it I am for not watching TV when a guy that lives in his bike knows more about TV than I do. - RobRoy

2006-01-09 21:01:48 I first read about Brian in the Car Free Times long before I had heard of Davis, and I admired him as a hero and a visionary. Then one day after I moved here, I met him in the flesh, and with my admiration intact, now believe him to indeed be an intergalactic refugee, much like the red rain that came to earth in 2001 in Kerala, India. ChrisCongleton

2006-04-05 17:07:32 I talked to Brian today outside of Aggie Liquors. He said he's heading to Minnisota in a day or two and not likely to return to Davis. If you see him, give him a big goodbye. Truly a unique Davis charactor and will be missed. GrumpyoldGeek

2006-10-16 09:05:58 BonnieStewart sighted Brian and his house/bike on highway 101 near Garberville a couple of weeks ago. JimStewart as of 2008/02

Human Powered Housing Project

The Human Powered Housing Project is a bike/RV contraption built and lived in by Brian Campbell. It's about fifteen feet long and is absolutely one of a kind. Brian rides around in style under a shade canopy while protected by a motorcycle like windshield. His house forms the back of the rig. It has windows, a slot for donations, a comfortable looking bed, shelves and everything else a normal person would want. When parked, the project sits on an incredibly sturdy kick stand because this is probably the heaviest bike that you've ever seen. It's made mostly out of materials that you can find at a hardware store. It looks like there are a lot of aluminum struts and foil tape. The back wheel is much larger than your average bike wheel but the front, while still homemade, looks more normal. The gear system is pretty beefy as well. This is at least the second Human Powered Housing Project to exist. Look below for a picture of an earlier prototype. Anyone know what this thing weighs?

He rents out rooms for $10/night. That's probably less than what you're paying for rent. Rooms? How many does it have? Has anyone ever done so?

On a related subject, Davis is world famous for its human-powered vehicles. There are even a few other bikes that are unique to Davis.

The [LINK]Winnebiko of "high-tech nomad" Steve Roberts was an earlier version of an all-in-one bicycle-centered environment.

As seen in the [LINK (not working as of 2014/09)] Aggie.


Brian claims to be able to sustain 70-80 mph on the vehicle. He has told me how he does it, but I have not seen him go anywhere near that. Anyone know for a fact whether it is possible, and if so, whether he actually does it? -ChristopherMcKenzie

70-80 mph? Perhaps this may be the vehicle's terminal velocity after being ridden off the edge of a cliff ;-) More seriously, the top speed in a downhill-coast situation depends crucially on the vehicle's [WWW]drag coefficient (air friction). And the more drag there is, the more weight becomes a factor (heavier=faster). The Human Powered Housing Project is neither sleek nor heavy I would not bet on it in a [WWW]Soap Box Derby, but I would wager that in a wind-tunnel situation at 80mph, all that the foil tape you see would lose its grip on those foam panels! - E

That is when his front cow-catcher gets caught on the rear bumper of an 18-wheeler going down I-5.

I've seen a child's car which goes that fast. The speedometer was painted on though…

Doesn't the rear cabin of this bike look a lot shorter now than when this bike originally appeared in Davis? I think it may have been recently truncated? Was there some sort of damage to the rear which was removed? It doesn't seem like a good night's sleep can be had in it now.RickEle

Photos (Krysten Kellum)

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a few years ago i read an article in a magazine (can't remember which one…) about a man who built a housebike. recently i read on the internet that he is still building them and has made about 14 or so. anyone heard of this guy, anyone have one of these beauties. in the article i read it seemed like he was a little paranoid and didn't want to give up too much information, but it seemed like after a few years of building and selling some, i guess he got a patent and loosened up a bit.


What is it? A bike with a little RV attached? A bike small enough to ride around the house?

EDIT: Saw a picture here: [Link down as of 2014/09]

It's kind of a cross between a recumbent trike and a tiny pioneer conestoga wagon. Cool little thing.


Is this ( what you're talking about? Pretty interesting.


yeah, that auto free times article is the one i read years ago, but i thought i read an update where he was beginning to sell them a little more or at least share a photo…oh well, maybe i'll call the number and see what's going on. thanks for that article!


Wow, this sounds like one of the most fascinating ideas I have ever heard. If anyone could provide a link with some more information or even a photo I would be greatly indebted.


why would he patent the idea and then not make an effort to market it by at least having a cell phone number or a way to get in contact with him. He's going to lose that patent in 15 years so he better get going.


Here ( is another house bike, more info (


Omg! :eek: That's going to be me after college!


why would he patent the idea and then not make an effort to market it by at least having a cell phone number or a way to get in contact with him….

…pure speculation on my part here… I bet a well-meaning friend encouraged him to patent it and that he probably didn't care too much either way. From what I've read about him, he doesn't seem the type to care too much about having wealth, at least in the way we probably think of it. In some ways, I envy him and his lifestyle, he's probably one of the richest people around in *real* terms…



wow, this sounds amazing. I'd love to meet this guy.


Here ( is another house bike, more info (

He taught himself mechanical engineering and has pedaled his home over 100,000 miles. Or so it reads on the back of his bicycle. Next to the mileage, written in marker, are the words "Quit Oil." Campbell said he's in a class of his own when he travels. He claims to be able to pedal his home at highway speeds.

LOL…get real!

100,000 miles..highway speeds!!


It doesn't mention how it does on *hills*.

The sad thing is, I think I had a chance to see one of these vehicle and maybe the designer. But it was parked in a derelict part of town, and we drove on.

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Man-Made, Man-Powered Mobile Home Takes Portland

Written by Kate Trainor, Tuesday, 29 January 2008

by Joshua Liberles on January 29, 2008


We know that bikes are ideal for commuting -- but for camping, too? Brian Campbell, a car-free vagabond whos pedaled across the U.S. and Mexico, built his own camping cabin and attached it to his bike. The sturdy contraption snakes behind his back wheel like a sleek Airstream trailer, and offers similar comforts. Brian has lived and traveled in his hand-made mobile home for many years and, most recently, made a pit stop in Portland.

Brian built his makeshift motor home from mag wheels, Styrofoam panels, and duct tape. Regardless of the raw materials used to build it, Brians bike is ingeniously engineered. This man-powered moho looks more like a streamlined, metallic spaceship than a handyman specialalthough its duct tape that holds it all together.

As reported by Bike Portland:

He said his design was inspired by the moon rovers and the moon lnding vehicle, the super structure and the shiny panels. The interior was sweet too, looked comfy, and had a map holder and lots of neat nooks and crannies to store stuff.

Shortly after Bike Portland first published their story on Brian and his camper-bike, a reader wrote in to announce that it was time for Brian to build a newer, more efficient model.

He's got ambitious plans to build another such ship this one is his third! but hes low on scratch and materials. Although his machine is impressively well-designed, he says its showing its age and hes not sure whether to repair or replace at this point. Nevertheless, its his home for the winter.

Eventually, Brian became so frustrated by the dilapidation of his bike-powered home-on-wheels, he destroyed it.

He explained that last winter he reached a breaking point. The dark, cold, wet days found him just lying there, in my cabin, staring out, losing weight from not eating. I cant do that anymore, he said I felt like I was in jail in that thing, trapped He pointed out mold that was spreading through sections of the cabins foam walls and expressed concern about breathing it in. With a huge grin he said, This is what happens when you build a camper thats not big enough for a woman.

Word got out to Portlands bicycling community, and within days, the web site raised over $500 and rallied a group of supporters to help Brian re-build. Were not sure where Brian is now, but were hopeful that hes happy, and that his freewheeling home is re-built and back in action.

Photo via flickr by Joseph Robertson.
…After Bike-E, we stopped at a cafe and met this other guy on a house-bike! The most incredible thing I've ever seen on two wheels! This guy, Brian, built a 20 foot house on two wheels. Granted the house part is the size of a two-man tent, but it was still incredible! All styrofoam and aluminum. He had a moped wheel in front and a Nissan wheel in back. The front wheel was attached to a generator which recharged a battery. When he needed to, he could flip a switch and the whole thing would be motorized. He claims to have gone 73 miles an hour on this thing! He's been living out of this house-bike for 5 years now, and this is his 13th model (the last one burned up in a fire). Absolutely amazing!…

Added by colin #441 on 2004-10-02. Last modified 2004-10-09 18:42. Originally created 2004-10-02. F0 License: Attribution Location: World, United States, California, Davis Topics: boosterism, ecovillages […]

Happy with what I'd seen of Davis (it was a place worth returning to), I contemplated catching the next train to Berkeley, but on the way back to the station, I decided to try to find the Davis Food Co-op, as I'd seen some their ads in the papers I picked up. And parked by the side of the food co-op, near the railroad tracks, were two housebikes. I think I'd seen a housebike back in 1998 when I visited Arcata for two weeks, thinking about living there. Or maybe I'd only seen the picture that is on the cover of Auto-Free Times issue 11. I signed and put two of my business cards in a place where they would be noticed on the bikes.

I hung around there long enough that Devin emerged from one of the bikes and I asked if he was in a talkative mood, and he was. He let me crawl inside his house, and I was amazed at how cool it was, since Brian Campbell had taken the shady spot. But the RMAX 1-inch insulating material Devin's box was made of, plus the heat shield on the roof kept it pleasant inside. He also showed me how he made a lamp, several of which could be combined to make a little stove, from machined aluminum, that he filled with vegetable oil. A very small bit of oil, maybe three tablespoons it looked like, would fill the reservoir that Devin said would let the wick burn all night.

Devin said he was Campbell's apprentice, and that he'd been living in his housebike for three months. He said Campbell had been in Davis for two years, and that they'd decided that weatherwise, cheap bike parts wise, and flat terrain wise, Davis was the place for them to be. For food, apparently the co-op they were currently parked next to had plenty of leftovers. Actually, I added that part about flat terrain. Devin assured me Campbell could manage SF-steep hills on his bike.

Devin told me I should go back over to campus and check out the Davis Domes. He gave me general directions and said that anyone in the vicinity should be able to help me find them. Hiking back to campus, I stopped by the city swim pool and found out about the masters swimming program, and I was able to take a needed shower. I also stopped by the city hall, where there is a real-life version of the high-wheeler bicycle that you see in the city logos. […]
When I saw this, it looked like a lunar lander. On 6th Avenue!


Brian built this bike himself, and can go more than 200 km in a day. He's nearly always on the road, he said. This man had some fit legs. Video of Brian's house bike as of 2010/03.

A visit from motorhome bike builder Brian Campbell

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 24th, 2009 at 3:33 pm (Photos © J. Maus)

This morning I looked our office window and saw a familiar bike pedaling by. It was Brian Campbell and his massive motorhome/camper bike. A few minutes later he had swung around and parked for a quick chat.

It’s been almost three years since I first shared a Portland sighting of Brian Campbell and his amazing camper bike. Then, back in August 2007, I shared the sad news that his home had been destroyed. Initially reported as the work of vandals, it turned out Brian did it himself in a bout with depression and frustration. Years of living on the street had caught up to him.

After I shared his story, the community responded big time. Brian wanted to rebuild his bike and his life and BikePortland readers raised nearly $1,000 in just a few days. With the money in hand, I took Brian to the hardware store and helped him load up on supplies. After a work party, he spent the next few weeks parked in front of our house on N. Michigan, working long hours to build a new, improved, and more spacious bike home.

After several more weeks, his creation was road-worthy and it was time for Brian to move on.

Since then he’s built several other motorhome bikes (including one for local tall-bike riding performer Dingo the Clown), but sales have not been brisk enough to get off the street.

It was good to see him this morning. He told me he’s looking for work at a bike shop and he hopes to get some steady income. He dreams of building bike homes for others in hopes of a fully human-powered future. He also talks about a revolutionary, electricity-generating invention. But I think he knows both of those enterprises won’t get him off the streets any time soon.

Brian needs some help, but I’m not sure how best to give it. People love his bike-motorhome creations and he draws a crowd wherever he goes. But a person needs much more than just curious onlookers to stay sane and healthy. I hope Brian stays well… until next time he pedals through.

— Check out our “Brian Campbell” photo tag for more images of Brian and his bike (including the rebuild).

[3852720693_bfe40838ed.jpg]   [3852720315_e31785d135.jpg]   [3853511700_bc4cca30cf.jpg]   [3853511234_c01943a336.jpg] as of 2010/03

Brian’s Bike Motorhome

Posted August 25th, 2009 by Kent Griswold and filed in Tiny House Articles, Tiny House Concept Tags: Bike Motorhome, BikePortland, Brian Campbell, Tiny House Articles, Tiny House Concept 8 Comments

Brent from Hillsboro, Oregon and Logan from Sacramento, California both sent me a link to this article yesterday and I wanted to share it with you.

Brian Campbell is a homeless inventor who lives in Portland, Oregon who has built himself a "mortorhome" that is powered by manpower.

This is the second incarnation of Brian's invention, as his first one was ruined. The BikePortland readers raised a $1,000 to help Brian fund his new home. Jonathan Maus editor of BikePortland let Brian build his new and improved home in his front yard.

Brian has built several more of these for customers in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, there is not enough business to keep Brian off the street.

Brian is looking for work at a bike shop and he hopes to get some steady income. He dreams of building bike homes for others in hopes of a fully human-powered future.

Read the article on the BikePortland website. Check out another cool bike trailer house on the Tiny House Design site.

Photo Credits: BikePortland

[bikemotorhome.jpg]   [Brian.jpg]   [bikemotorhome2.jpg]   [inside.jpg] as of 2010/03.

Brian’s bike motorhome!

Hey kids! I know it’s been FOREVER since I posted. No excuses, I’m just lazy. Anyway, I found this over at; and I thought I’d weigh in.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about building homes for the homeless. All these fancy architecture students are coming up with these fabulous plans for these fabulous tiny houses and after I read about Brian’s bike motorhome, it got me thinking that there are 3 fundamental problems with these architecture students’ plans:

  1. many of them are big enough that you need either a peice of property to set them on or a huge truck to pull them or a lot of money to buy the plans and build them (or buy them prebuilt).

  2. nobody is really giving these plans away for free (except Michael Janzen) or really getting off their patuties (myself included) to help build these homes

  3. homeless people don’t have the money to spend on purchasing these plans or the homes premade or to build these homes. Period.

These homes are beautiful and well designed, however, they don’t really suit the needs of the homeless. They need something cheap. Something that is easy to take with them by hand or bike; something light and fairly small like Michael’s teardrop bike trailer or Brian’s bike motorhomes.

I also think the fastest way to help the homeless is to support them. Take Brian for example. He currently has a pull behind bike trailer that weighs 80lbs for sale. It’s definately not as pretty as one of the fabulous tiny houses but it is small, light, weatherproof and can be tugged along easily. So in that regard, it serves the needs of the homeless.

So since it’s almost December and all, I’m going to whip out the Christmas card and say, even if you don’t want this tiny house for yourself, why not purchase it and then donate it to someone who really needs it?

Brian probably needs the money more than those fancy architecture students do. He actually lives on the streets. He is not neccessarily homeless because of his bike motorhome, however, just because you have a place to sleep doesn’t mean that you are rich. Brian still needs food for his mouth and clothes for his back. And probably money for repairs on his home.

So to wrap up my time on my soap box, here is one of the comments by the editor of

Elly Blue (Editor) November 28th, 2009 16:22

Hey all,

I spent a while talking with Brian today. He definitely needs to find a buyer for this rig, and is entertaining offers. In the meantime, he could really use smaller donations as well. If you know where he’s at, drop by and chat with him for a while. If you don’t, feel free to drop it by our office, 833 SE Main #102.

Besides money, his other urgent short-term need is a covered place where he can fix his own house-bike — the rear axle needs to be replaced and he isn’t looking forward to working on it out in the rain and cold for another winter. Any leads on a big, covered, preferably indoor area where he could work?

In the longer term, the guy needs investors, and a team.

And here also are some pictures of Brian’s bike motorhome that he has for sale.

This model is 8’× 4’ and weighs only 80 pounds. It has a spacious interior that fits a sleeping adult (or two?), has many interior shelves, and is priced to sell (he’s asking $1,950 but says he’ll take offers). He can modify the hitch custom for any bicycle. -quote and photos courtesy of Kent Griswold of the Tiny House Blog

[biketrailer1-600x401.jpg]   [biketrailer4-600x401.jpg]   [biketrailer6-600x401.jpg]   [biketrailer10-600x401.jpg]   [brians-bike-trailer.jpg] as of 2010/03

Brian’s Bike Trailer-home Posted November 29th, 2009 by Kent Griswold and filed in Tiny House Concept, Tiny House for Sale Tags: Bike Portland, Brian Campbell, Tiny House Concept, Tiny House for Sale 6 Comments

Dylan alerted me to an update on a story I covered a while back on Brian Campbell and his bike motorhome. Brian is the man known far and wide for his amazing RV bike.

Jonathan Maus editor of Bike Portland says: Now, not only has Brian rebuilt his own bike-home, he’s also started making them for others. But, Brian’s business is far from being stable. He needs help to keep building them and he’s looking for customers.


Unlike his bike, which is nothing short of a pedal-powered motorhome, the one he has for sale currently is a pull-behind trailer. Brian has perfected the fabrication of an all-weather enclosure that is light, insulated, very stable, and road worthy. This model is 8’ x 4’ and weighs only 80 pounds. It has a spacious interior that fits a sleeping adult (or two?), has many interior shelves, and is priced to sell (he’s asking $1,950 but says he’ll take offers). He can modify the hitch custom for any bicycle.

Please go and read the complete article at Bike Portland.

[biketrailer1-600x401.jpg]   [biketrailer10-600x401.jpg]   [biketrailer4-600x401.jpg]   [biketrailer6-600x401.jpg]  

From as of 2010/03

Friday, December 11, 2009

BRIAN CAMPBELL HOUSEBIKE !!!!!!! If YOU are a modern day NOMAD,this is the bike for YOU !!!!!! This tremendous creation was built by Brian Campbell. It is a bolt together Housetrike made from aluminum,bike parts,A car rear wheel,etc.,etc.Pretty wild EH ??!!!!! To find out more about Brian and his wonderful rolling imagination pieces type his name into the search box at

[Brian%2BCampbell%2BHousebike-4.JPG]   [Brian%2BCampbell%2BHousebike-1.JPG]   [Brian%2BCampbell%2BHousebike-2.JPG]   [Brian%2BCampbell%2BHousebike-3.JPG]  

[This appears to be a Brian Campbell creation, but it looks "not lived in" like maybe one he built for somebody else?]

Brian Campbell’s Trailer as of 2010/03

Builder Brian Campbell has a bike trailer-home for you

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 25th, 2009 at 12:48 pm Brian Campbell's Trailer for Sale-4 Brian Campbell is selling this trailer home. (A weather-proof siding is yet to be added). (Photos © J. Maus)

The Thanksgiving holiday is all about home for many people. For Brian Campbell, home has been a bicycle for over thirty years.

Brian is the man known far and wide for his amazing RV bike. He's traveled with it throughout the country, over mountain passes and at speeds of up to 70 mph (thanks to an ingenious flywheel apparatus he has invented). We first reported about Brian landing in Portland three years ago.

Since then he's struggled with depression brought on by frustration with life on the street (among other things). After he destroyed his bike, we (the community) raised money so he could rebuild it.

Now, not only has Brian rebuilt his own bike-home, he's also started making them for others. But, Brian's business is far from being stable. He needs help to keep building them and he's looking for customers. I recently stopped by Brian's current home/workspace (a vacant lot near SE Stephens and 9th) to see the newly built trailer he has for sale.

Unlike his bike, which is nothing short of a pedal-powered motorhome, the one he has for sale currently is a pull-behind trailer. Brian has perfected the fabrication of an all-weather enclosure that is light, insulated, very stable, and road worthy. This model is 8' x 4' and weighs only 80 pounds. It has a spacious interior that fits a sleeping adult (or two?), has many interior shelves, and is priced to sell (he's asking $1,950 but says he'll take offers — UPDATE 12/16: If no one buys the trailer by tomorrow he says he'll "junk it". All offers considered). He can modify the hitch custom for any bicycle.

Brian also says his trailers would be perfect as food cart or mobile bike businesses. Check out the slideshow below for more photos. If you are interested in learning more about Brian's work, or if you'd like to buy this trailer, get in touch with us and we'll connect you with him (he doesn't have a cell phone or email address, but he stops by our office regularly).

[4098346575_b743895cd7_o.jpg]   [4099101082_67d7c892b5_o.jpg]   [4098347095_bb484d9cea_o.jpg]   [4099101698_b95945431a_o.jpg]   [4098347719_195b33b748_o.jpg]   [4099102228_5eaebf3551_o.jpg]   [4098348309_b61aa4a7af_o.jpg]   [4098348501_b4b241a71f_o.jpg]   [4098348699_87b657e1df_o.jpg]   [4098348911_cd6e409068_o.jpg]   [4099103442_f483464b32_o.jpg] as of 2014/09

i’ll leave you today with a bonus bike-house tour!


brian has been building and living in bike homes for 30+ years. mostly he builds custom bike homes, catering to his customer’s needs. the one above was back at brian’s shop to have a new braking system installed.


although he moves around town and the country frequently, right now his set-up can be found in a lot on se stephens st. between 8th and 9th avenues here in portland.


water-tight, these homes are ingeniously made from found materials and lots of welded and taped metal pieces. more information about brian and his bikes can be found on Bike Portland [thanks m-horton for the link!]

[jb04.17_bikehome04.JPG] as of 2014/09

water-tight, these homes are ingeniously made from found materials and lots of welded and taped metal pieces. more information about brian and his bikes can be found on Bike Portland [thanks m-horton for the link!]

[jb2.09_bikehome01.JPG]   [jb2.10_bikehome02.JPG] 2010/03

This guy has a bike trailer big enough to sleep in. It appears to be built out of aluminum, cardboard, and duct tape, and it's totally awesome.

[This does not say whether it is a Brian-built trailer. It looks like either it is built by Brian Campbell or inspired by his stuff.]

Here is the same trailer or very similar with one of Brian's housebikes:

[X]   [X]   [X]  
From dated 2008/05/01, labeled "Camper Bike Returns", photos of Tomas Quinones.

Other Housebike-ish Things as of 2010/03

Collapsible Bike Trailer Has Comfortable Bunk for Camper (Jul, 1935)


Collapsible Bike Trailer Has Comfortable Bunk for Camper A COLLAPSIBLE bicycle trailer which can be converted into comfortable sleeping quarters has been built by Joseph Dorocke, 25-year-old Chicago youth. With it he intends to make an 8-months bicycle tour of America, retiring at night in his ingenious sleeping compartment.

The trailer resembles a box camera with an extended bellows. Ready for travel, the 50-pound outfit measures only four feet long and two feet square. It is supported on the road by two standard bicycle wheels.

When an inner compartment is pulled out, the enclosed bed extends to eight feet, furnishing sufficient space for the average person. The roof is hinged and may be closed in case of adverse weather. as of 2010/03

Family Of Three Travels In Home-Built “Cyclemobile” (Feb, 1938)


TWO bicycles joined together by means of a specially constructed frame and covered by a streamlined, water-proofed canvas hood, serve as a novel and cheap medium of transportation for A. Martin, of Dracutt, Mass. Dry batteries supply current to operate the front and rear lights of the “cyclemobile,” as the odd vehicle has been named.

Resembling an automobile of radical design in its appearance, the cyclemobile’s hood boasts ising-glass windows. The interior is fitted with luggage compartments and a berth for Martin’s 18-month-old daughter. Husband and wife work dual sets of pedals.

[Ising-glass is probably aka isinglass, which is apparently 'muscovite', a form of mica often found in sheets. The sheets are usually thin and slighlty elastic. Modern uses include replacements for antique stove windows, 0.003” to 0.006” thick and for other uses from 0.025mm (0.001”) to 0.30mm (0.012”) and in sheets up to 20”x20”. "Isinglass" is also used to describe vinyl. Isinglass is also used to describe a transparent collagen (gelatin) from fish bladders, used in glues, jellies, for preserving chicken eggs (not to be confused with waterglass) and as a clarifying agent. It is not clear if it can be dried to make a transparent sheet.] 2010/03


Modern Mechanix


AN ORDINARY bicycle with a special baggage support above the front wheel is the equipment used by M. C. Plummer of Portland, Maine, in touring the United States. Mr. Plummer is 70 years old but he covers from 50 to 150 miles every day on his bicycle, depending on the weather and the nature of the country to be traveled. The sack of bedding, food and clothing which he carries on his handlebars weighs 80 pounds but is so well balanced that the 70-year old tourist has no difficulty in controlling his two-wheeled automobile. Mr. Plummer recommends this system of traveling as a health builder. He does not try to cover any specified distance each day, but sleeps wherever he happens to find himself at sunset.

[The horzontal/curved band is probably a spare tire. Note fenders, inch-pitch chain.] as of 2010/03

Cyclist Takes Bed Along in Homemade Trailer (Oct, 1940)

Popular Science


TOWING his sleeping quarters behind him in a compact trailer, an eighteen-year-old cyclist of Menominee, Mich., recently traveled nearly 1,200 miles to Boston, Mass., economically and comfortably. Post cards that he sold to curious spectators paid for his supplies during the fourteen-day journey. Streamline in shape, the sturdy trailer is a homemade product of his own design. He is shown above demonstrating his sleeping quarters to an admiring hotel doorman. as of 2010/03

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Many folk asked us for Bamboo Trailer plans for this years Burning Man. This is a photo of one Bamboo Bicycle Trailer that ended up as a camp bed.


Its basically a bamboo trailer that has been stretched longer, and then an A frame has been built over the load bed to create a tent with funky fabric.

This is Greg, the guy who built it.


Burning man is an annual art festival and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. as of 2010/03

Bamboo bicycle trailer Build a DIY bicycle trailer from these free plans. There is no welding to be done, and no tube bending. Make it any size, from any material, even bamboo.

The problem - A bicycle trailer is a great way to carry things by bicycle, but many people simply cannot afford to buy a bicycle trailer like my Y-Frame. It is often the people with the least money who would benefit the most from a bicycle trailer.

A Solution - I designed the Bamboo Trailer to be easy to make from cheap materials, without too much skill or too many tools. Its easy to adapt the basic trailer to fit a wide range of cargo and materials.

Why - By making a trailer yourself you are taking control, what it can be is only limited by your imagination and enthusiasm. The value is not in the trailer itself, but in the knowledge of how to make a trailer. In a sense you will always have a bicycle trailer in your head if you ever need one. This knowledge makes you a richer person, and the world a richer place.

How - The first time you make a trailer will take 2-3 days as you gather materials, make mistakes, and learn. The next time you make one it will take about a day, and it will work much better.

But - Bamboo Trailers are generally less reliable, heavier and less efficient than a shop bought trailer, and if you put a price on your time they often work out more expensive.

[P_Bamboo_FL_Line.gif]   [N_Bamboo_Koln.jpg]  

[Note diagonal "strap" pieces, by using a column you get a nearly flat floor with very little materials. It may be desirable to use straps at eight positions instead of 4 for better/more even support. The forward part of the hitch is simple to make, but may tend to "snag" on passing items. Perhaps put the side-sticking piece at 45 degrees, which would still clear the back tire, but tend to "bounce" off of things rather than catch.]

The following is a commercial product. Reviews online (, YouTube video by a customer) suggests the trailer wheel supports are fragile and will fall apart after very little use. (Also larger single wheels probably have less rolling drag.) However, bearing problems should be fixable, and this "pop-up trailer" idea is similar in spirit to some other trailers here and may be inspirational.

From as of 2013/07.

[DSCN8547.jpg]   [DSCN8539.jpg]   [DSCN8542.jpg]   [IMG_0306.jpg]   [IMG_0318.jpg]   [DSCN8528.jpg]   [IMG_0312.jpg]   [DSCN8530.jpg]   [DSCN8532.jpg]   [DSCN8537.jpg]   [DSCN8543.jpg]   [DSCN8545.jpg]   [IMG_0308.jpg]   [IMG_0319.jpg]  

Midget Bushtrekka
Quantity in stock 89 item(s) available
Weight 45.00 lbs

Price: US$ 499.00

Take a closer look at the BUSHTREKKA and you will find a product that has been developed specifically for bicycle touring. The trailer frame itself has features that set it apart from any other trailer on the market.

Take for example the pivoting wheelset. By utilising two wheels under each side of the trailer, harnessed to a pivoting rocker frame, the trailer can easily absorb most of the uneven terrain in its environment. Additional to this, each set of wheels operates independently of the other, creating a clutter free underbelly on the trailer. By adjusting the positioning of each pivot frame vertically, the ride height of the unit can be adjusted for bikes from 20" up to 29".

Storage is also at a maximum for this trailer. By using every piece of available space, we've created three main storage compartments with over 41 gallons (180 litres) of storage. Easy access at all times, even when set up, ensures you have what you need, when you need it.

Our trailer also features fully adjustable levelling jacks to ensure no matter what terrain your setting up on, the unit can be presented to a horizontal position for sleeping comfort.

Couple the trailer with the remarkable features of the Oversize or Original Tentcot and you are seriously set to travel. The TentCot conventienly folds away atop the trailer with its own waterproof cover to suit.

There is nothing else quite like this trailer. It is the bicycle tourists best companion.

Dimensions of the "MIDGET BUSHTREKKA":

Specifications (mm)USA Specification (in)
Bed Size: 2200 L x 810 W 90" L x 32" W
Tent Size: 2200 L x 810 W x 1000 H 90" L x 32" W x 40" H
Trailer Dimensions 860 L x 1100 W x 200 H 35" W x 44" L x 8" H
Weight: 26 kg 56 lbs

Standard Inclusions :

[Note the Tentcot is 9 kgf and the Oversize Tentcot is 11 kgf.] [Note the trailer hitch might be hard to use with "Breeze-in"-style dropouts.] as of 2014/09

Bicycle for the homeless doubles up as tiny bed

16 July 14 by Kadhim Shubber

Say hello to the Housetrike, a retractable coffin on wheels that its creator believes will help "homeless people, refugees and urban nomads."

Invented by Dutch "conceptual artist and explorer" Bas Sprakel, the Housetrike is essentially a cargo trike that folds out into an elongated box its rider can sleep in.

"I lived rough and I know what is needed most and that is safety at night and being low key and above all being flexible," said Sprakel, writing on the Tiny House Blog HERE.

From a technical perspective, the bicycle is pretty simple. The 500 litre box slides out to create a bed that can be locked from the inside to protect the sleeper (it's not clear what measures are in place to stop someone wheeling you away once you're inside).

[housetrike.jpg]   [housetrike1.jpg]  
photo: Bas Sprakel

But despite the good intentions, the marketing materials around the Housetrike contain a vision of homelessness that is likely quite at odds with the reality for most rough sleepers.

"All additional problems caused by the situation of being homeless like shame, addictions, self loathing, being poor, treating yourself bad etc. can be avoided a great deal using this multi functional self help device," reads the Housetrike website.

Elsewhere the site says: "Using the Housetrike you are able to earn your own money by e.g. delivering groceries or collecting scrap metal."

photo: Bas Sprakel

The project appears to have a 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' mentality towards homelessness that fails to acknowledge, for example, the high prevalence of mental health issues among homeless people.

A Crisis report on homelessness in the UK from 2009 noted that "in many instances mental health problems played a significant part in the circumstances which caused those persons to lose their accommodation."

In fairness to Sprakel, the report goes on to say that these health problems are then "exacerbated by the stresses associated with being homeless," something that a mobile shelter could potentially help mitigate.

But the bikes will cost around $1,500 (£875), according to Gizmag, and could be distributed through a not-for-profit organisation but it's highly questionable whether a homeless person could afford to spend that much on a bicycle or if it would be the best use of a charity's resources.

Although the Housetrike could certainly appeal to a specific type of person, probably similar to Sprakel who writes that he "just loved being on the road. To me personally it is absolutely clear that we are nomads by nature", it comes across a mechanical, quick-fix solution to what is a problem that probably needs resources more than it needs inventions. as of 2014/09


posted in Humanitarian on July 8, 2014 by Kent Griswold

Bikecamper specially developed for homeless people, refugees and urban nomads


My name is Bas Sprakel, I am 45 years of age and live and work in Amsterdam and I am an artist.

I went to arts university in Utrecht and Melbourne but my biggest passion was traveling. So after arts university I traveled through many countries and continents in many different ways. I traveled by plane, by car, by coach, by truck, on foot, by bike and by boat. I traveled fast and comfortable, I hitchhiked on motorways and even waterways, walked barefooted for 300 miles slept in fancy hotels and under bridges.

I just loved being on the road. To me personal it is absolutely clear that we are nomads by nature. Destination is just a pointer to me, a means… being on the road is the real goal and passion to me. It inspires me and relaxes me at the same time. It is the perfect activity for reflection, for appreciating life, for seeing the world from a different pace and angle, for also seeing the human condition more clearly and understanding it better.


I don’t travel as much as I used to do. Relationship and work prevent that a little but in my artwork there is still a lot of hints of being on the road. Last September for instance I wrote a a Zen-poem with chalk on the streets of Amsterdam, 5 kilometers in length, right through the old city, even crossing a river writing on the boat. So I still traveled, but this time really slow and on my my knees. Saw my own city from a unique angle and met a lot of people from a totally new perspective.


Another big interest is architecture, both from the outside being surrounded by bricks, tiles, glass and concrete in the many forms and shapes and from within living in inspiring places. I always had very interesting studio’s and dwellings. I worked in a beautiful old factory with trees growing inside from the walls. I lived in castles, small damp labor houses and I built a boat (top) from waste-wood I found at construction sites.


Those two major interests combined and finding inspiring ways to live easy led me to the idea of the Housetrike. To me it was important that is was multi-functional and practical for all most everybody who is living without a roof above their head. It didn’t need to be luxurious but it had to be a device solving their basic needs, both psychical and mentally. So it is a bed that can be locked from the inside so you sleep well and feel fresh the next day. The box has a lot of space to store a lot of stuff but is still small so it is stil light and easy to use. Also extended it is still small and therefore you can sleep anywhere you want, also in the city without being noticed that fast. It provides in a very sober way all the basic needs.


The Housetrike is a practical solution and not so much a artistic or romantic interpretation. I lived rough and I know what is needed most and that is safety at night and being low key and above all being flexible. That provides so much peace and freedom. It is a first aid device but it can be used for a long time and in all climates. Moreover it is designed to be used in the city and at the same time you can leave the city and stay some time in nature, bringing food for weeks.

There is a lot that I can say about the Housetrike but what I like about it most is the utter simplicity. That took me quite some time. I tried a lot of other solutions It is multi-functional and at the same time still one simple clean idea and form and it really works

The next step is finding the funds to further develop the trike in polyester and than showing its usefulness by example and make a big exhibition tour trough Europe.

[SAM_7812.jpg] as of 2014/09.

A Little House of My Own


I was flipping through a book about tiny houses last night — A Little House of My Own: 47 Grand Designs for 37 Tiny Houses by Lester Walker — and this design by Christopher Egan was really exciting to me. It was part of a 1986 exibit called “The Homeless at Home” at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in NYC. by Logan Sachon November 14th, 2012

In the book, Walker quotes Egan as approaching the project thus: “Assuming a person must live temporarily on the sidewalk, how can we provide shelter that begins to offer the dignity that each member of society deserves?”

The cart design was inspired by “the basic concerns defined by the homeless themselves: shelter from climate extremes, safe storage of personal belongings, personal hygiene facilities, and privacy.” The idea is that the carts would be used when permanent shelters were full — though, based on this post on Picture the Homeless’ blog, “What is one thing everyone should know about NYC’s homeless shelters?,”1 these carts seem infinitely preferable.

Egan pictured the carts stored in a warehouse and then “driven in small caravans to parks, vacant lots, and urban plazas. Some might be clustered in small cart villages around city-owned pavilions that have been convereted to clinics or bathhouses where the carts are hooked up to central utilities. Others could be set alone on wide sidewalks, where they rely on their own storage tanks and generators.”

I can’t find any evidence of anyone ever building these, but I do wish someone would.


1 A choice quote: “The security guards treat you like an inmate, as if you are in jail.” (Salaam Ellis) as of 2008/02 "A Hong Kong designer has come up with a novel way to beat the city's soaring housing prices and cramped living conditions. The tricycle home may be small, but it comes with a door, a window, a writing desk and a fold out bed." [Video on youtube] as of 2014/11 (paraphrased):

Welcome to Wide Path Camper. We build and sell small campers which can be pulled by a bicycle. The bicycle camper is very light and makes it easy to bring along.

The concept of Wide Path Camper:

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The squarish rear part is hinged at the bottom, and folds forward. Thus, for towing, the underside is the rear and the roof is the front. Probably, a hinge is lighter and more reliable than a telescoping mechanism. as of 2014/12:
[moulin1.jpg]   [frame2.jpg]   [frame1.jpg] as of 2014/12:

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Plans are available for £30; no kit or finished version is available. Construction time is estimated at 50 hours. Weight varies with construction but is estimated at 30 kg unloaded. It is rated as having a loaded tow capacity of 75 kg and a parked (camping/sleeping) maximum of 200 kg.

Folded to the narrowest configuration and with wheels off, it is 0.21 m wide. For towing and with wheels on, it is 0.75 m — wider means "less tippy". Full width is 1 m. Headroom is over 1 cm. At the cost of some weight, the trailer can be built up to 120 cm wide. It is 2.4 m long plus hitch.

For most folks I think some minor design changes might make it much more practical.

As shown, it presents a big frontal and side wind profile. That's sure to be okay for short trips, but you would notice it a lot after a bit of riding. (I have not tried the Foldavan, but have ridden with other trailers and wind obstacles.) All big trailers have this issue; the Foldavan tries to address it — and gets close enough it is probably worth just a bit more effort.

The "narrow" ("slow") mode with the sides dropped down would probably solve that problem mostly but then the wheels are so close together, it falls over if you try to ride at normal speeds.

So one "fix" would be a telescoping tubular axle that maintains width even with the trailer folded narrow. You likely want a dust shield so you can drop the sides (so it won't blow over in minor cross winds) but still keep the interior from getting dirty/wet.

Also, if used in rain, it will get wet inside when you get in and out. Roof "awnings" with the same arc as the roofline (stowed against the roofline and hinged at the bottom) could fix that for very little weight or complexity.

A non-folding version might be great as a homeless shelter -- mostly low-speed short-distance moves mean wind drag is less of a ... drag, and non-folding means better reliability and reduced cost.

Jeff's "Luma Dilla" trailer

[07-17-2011B_Copy.jpgTiny_trailer.jpg],2759566 as of 2015/08

1PM - Jeff's tiny trailer!

As we were driving north toward Half Moon Bay, we came upon a truly startling sight. A tiny aluminum house trailer towed by a bicycle! I quickly pulled MsTioga over and we backed up to take a closer look.

We met Jeff, the designer and builder of this 170 pound trailer. Jeff is 55 years old. He lost his right eye to cancer. Jeff has built three versions of his ultra-light trailer. Jeff claims that the current version of his trailer has a unique shape that allows him to pull it against the wind with not too much effort!

Jeff's only income is $200/month in food stamps. He hopes to commercialize the trailer but needs investors to do that. I donated $20 to Jeff. If you would like to help Jeff with a donation, please send it to:

PO Box 2043
Willits, CA 95490

Video (as of 2015/08): as of 2015/08:

Last week as Hunter and I headed out of town, we saw a fellow riding his bike South, towing behind him what looked to be a homemade Airstream type of trailer.

Days later, as I closed in on my secret lair, I crossed paths with the fellow we had seen, and chatted him up a bit about his creation;

[jeffandhispopcicle.jpg]   [jeffs%20trailer.jpg]  

His name is Jeff, and has spent a few weeks traveling from his home of Willits in Northern California down the coast. He said that all told this construction weighs in at about 150 pounds, which actually helps with its transport, as according to him, if it were any lighter, it would get squirrely. He also mentioned that he was interested in finding an investor to help him possibly see the eventual production of these.

I told him that one place where he might be able to make some contacts would be the Interbike trade show, which of course is happening in September. I also said that if he left now, he might get to Las Vegas just in time.

As of 2011/08 there was Kickstarter fund-raising project to develop the next version, but it was cancelled a few days after it was started.

[] by Leslie Ann Lucey as of 2018/04.

From as of 2016/01:

Paul Elkins "Micro airstream bike camper".

Notes include:

To give you an idea of the building material, here are some pictures of corrugated plastic, which has similarities to corrugated cardboard, but is waterproof.

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As of 2016/01, the web paeg says "plans available soon".

Bicycle camper prototype

I learned a lot from my last bicycle camper prototype. One thing I didn’t like was the limited room in the tapered front. The idea to make a bicycle camper with the resemblance of an airstream nose came to me a while back, but instead of making a full scale mock-up like my previous project, I decided first to make a 1/4 scale model. Again, this frameless arced design is borrowed from the ‘Emergency Homeless Shelter’ design and build techniques.


The model proved that the main body, minus the floor and rear wall, would only need two 4x8ft sheets of 4mm thick fluted plastic.


I originally thought of using plywood for the rear door.

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I envisioned a similar storage arrangement as my previous mock-up with the occupant facing forward and having a large high storage area up front.

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The wheels could be 20″ front bicycle wheels. I show a flexible solar panel for charging personal devices, LED lights and such. Plexiglass windows could be placed wherever


I had 5 recycled full size campaign signs kicking around, so I decide to make the camper.

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After sitting in the dome area I decided to eliminate the front storage compartment and have it so I would sit against the front wall and face the rear door. I had forgotten how difficult it was turning around to face forward in the narrow mock-up. In doing this I would loose the desk top and some storage, but the view and roominess will definitely be better.


Another panel is added. Unlike my Homeless Emergency Shelter, I used small zip ties to join the panels together. Later I added 2″ white Duct tape over the outside seams.


For the frame I used six 1″x2″ pine boards purchased for under a buck apiece. The cheap electrical plate wheel supports was not my idea, but borrowed and modified from a trailer design I saw on the internet. Thanks to the person who thought of this!

The front wheel weighs 3.5 pounds and the rear wheel 4.5 pounds. The wheels and frame together weigh 18 pounds at a total cost of under $40.


The hammock bed used 2 layers, the first using four 18″ by 24″ campaigns signs. The second was a full sheet of fluted plastic.


The rear wall is reminiscent of the Homeless Emergency Shelter, also having a round window that opens, except this window is made of opaque coroplast.


I came up with this simple tow bar made from 1/2″ electrical conduit and a swiveling ball joint. It works great and the bike can be laid down.


At under 45 pounds with the 3″ thick foam pad and cabinets it pulled very easily, but I am going to need a longer mirror arm to see around the shelter.


The upward swinging door makes for a nice sun shade and light rain protector.


The kitchen galley is taking shape. The water jug is strapped in above the removable bread pan sink. Remove the pan to throw out the waste water outside. The trash can is located underneath.


The stove has an aluminum heat shield placed 1/2″ away from the plastic walls.


Here I’m playing with storage bins and drawers. An overhead storage bin is added. This design is light weight and simple. pushing in the door flap locks it in place.The wheel-wells were intentionally made wide to create working surfaces.


I gave it a semi camo rattle can paint job. I used Krylon paint that’s meant for plastic. I used this on my Homeless Emergency Shelter and it’d held up now for three years. Unfortunately it doesn’t stick to well to the Duct tape. Maybe if I used Vinyl tape?


Once the wheel chocks are installed the front legs are swung down.


My shoes store nicely at the foot of the 3″ thick foam pad. The lower storage tub is for heavy items.


The dome wall makes for a nice back rest. The music acoustics are great.


Flaps were cut out on two pie sections. A bead of silicone was added before installing the plexiglass to the outside walls. I used a rivet in each corner. The flaps can be folded down for privacy.


I used spray-on Elmers glue to attach the bubble insulation. Later I added the 2″ wide chrome colored duct tape to the seams. It’s holding up fairly well.


That’s my sweety!

The skylight or upper vent is a recycled gallon drywall bucket. Ample calking was added around the edges. A hole was added to the lid and a plexiglass view port riveted on. More calking was added. For keeping cool another lid can be added that has bug screen instead of Plexiglas. I was going to add a small circulation fan but never got around to it. Maybe this summer.

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Triangular ventilation scoop flaps was added on both sides of the foam mattress near where you lay your head.

The two upper coro cabinets, although small and light weight, are strong and hold a fair amount of items.


There's even a small shelf above the door. The LED lights run off three AAA batteries. You can see one of the three large screened vent holes.

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This coro drawer I made is actually my favorite detail in the camper.


Although I’m not an advocate for Walmart practices, I reluctantly found my speakers there for 13 bucks! God I hate Walmart!


If you buy a dollar meal you can also order a cup of ice. Place the ice in a zip lock bag, stick it in your little cooler and you have a micro frig for a day.

Plans are now available for this camper. I’ve also added lessons and improvements in the plans.

Milan 4.2 and 1+ Velomobiles

A "velomobile" is a cycle with a fairing, typically for weather protection; in many velomobiles, the fairing is also aerodynamic.

The Milan 4.2 and 1+ models are designed for carrying cargo, including a not-pedaling passenger. This gives a much larger inside volume than most velomobiles. The track is wider to allow reasonable cornering despite the longer wheelbase. Together this gives more frontal area and more skin drag than standard Milan models. But, the Milan 4.2 aerodynamics are still much better than most "cargo" velomobiles, and the weight penalty is estimated as around 5 kgs compared to a standard Milan model.

Although the Milan cargo models are not designed specifically as a housebike, Helge Herrmann (of Raderwork, which builds Milans) notes that one use of a cargo velomobile is as a motorhome -- that is, instead of bringing a tent, use the velomobile's weather protection both when riding and when stopped. A conventional velomobile is not long enough inside to lie down, but the Milan cargo models are long enough inside a person can plausibly lie down.

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Screen shots from [] as of 2017/06, suggesting there is enough length to lie down. The rear seat can be removed and stowed next to the rear wheel, This suggests a "housebike" configuration in which the rear seat is left behind, but a similar arrangement is used for the front seat, so that the rider can go quickly from an upright riding to position to a lie-down resting position.

[X] [X]

The Milan 4.2 has a list price of 10,000 Euros, making it both cramped and expensive compared to most of the other choices shown here. However, it also has much better aerodynamics than just a bicycle -- that is, better than just a bicycle even without a trailer or other housebike bodywork. In turn, it may be as fast or faster than a standard bicycle (slower going up hills; faster on the flat). For some uses, "more speed" may be a good trade against the small size and cost.

"Fixedsteer" light aluminum trailer

[] as of 2018/04

[Note: this is too short for typical sleeping, but suggests approaches for light-weight (13 kgs) and low-cost construction.]

FGG Trailer Build Contest 2011

I went to the recycling center and picked up some aluminum panels from an old garden shed. I also had a few extrusions leftover from building projects. The cart in the upper right is a creeper I built for crawlspace work (but I didn't use any of it here):

A 20” aluminum rim, cut in half, became the fixed dimension around which all else revolved. I stripped the paint from the shed aluminum, and a few hours later I was facing some compound curve work:

I built an oven:

I made art... several times. This was intended to be for the curved domes at each end of the top:

However, it was not much use for the trailer, so I polished up my ball peen hammer, and carved a scoop out of a stump, and made some aluminum panels instead. I didn't have much previous experience pounding metal, and was moderately successful. Things definitely have a hand made look:

The shiny panels were nice enough that I decided to buy some new aluminum rims. They're quick release, very nice bearings. I also bought a ball and socket replacement hitch assembly, so I didn't have to figure out much there. Bending the pull rod took some head scratching to get the length, angle, height, and width right:

Finished on Tuesday afternoon. 28 pounds, about 54” long, 16” wide, and 18” tall. LED marker lights at the rear. Rain started about when I finished.

So, pretty nice Monkey Coffin there, what'ja gonna do with it? How about we gather up some chairs, and have a drive in movie? Umbrellas recommended. I laid a sheet of translucent plastic over the top window for the light effect. Even in the cold rain, the show was compelling enough that people stayed outside for about an hour. It's hard to see, but the trailer remained attached to the bike, which had a kickstand:

The AV set up, from left to right: Car audio amplifier, sitting on top of a battery charger. Two speakers. LED stage light sitting on top of a home DVD player. Plug strip, multimeter, and the little blue thing is a Show WX picoprojector sitting on an empty box, pointing out the rear window. When I started the project, I had in mind that I would use a conventional size projector, but I met someone who had the Show WX, and borrowed it . I threw this arrangement together at the last minute, and obviously it relies on a power cord. However, the long term plan is to have the system be battery powered and thus totally portable. Many more ideas are brewing for additional lights, video effects, and solar power, too.

I did indeed ride the bike with the loaded trailer, so far so good!

Carl Magnusson

BikeRV -- First Proposal

This is an early drawing of a proposal for BikeRV:


Front drive and rear steer is appealing because the front wheels do not need to steer "in to" the cabin space, and also give a simple drivetrain. However, for some fairly fundamental reasons, rear-steer vehicles tend to have dangerous handling.

Also, a tall, narrow, light vehicle is prone to blow over.

An alternative may be a four-wheeler with front- and rear-steering wheels. With limited wheel steering, the cabin intrusion could be reduced; and also low-cost rag joints rather than more-expensive metal universal or other joints. Further, using wide rear wheel spacing would both improve stability and allow the total height to be reduced.

BikeRV as of 2018/04/07.
BikeRV™ is a recumbent tricycle designed for utmost versatility and performance during your extended trail travels. Recumbent cycles suit long distance cycling due to their ergonomics and aerodynamics which make cycling more comfortable and efficient. The trike includes a collapsible canopy for protection from the elements, a reclinable seat for rest, and storage space for your belongings. It also offers all the features of a traditional mountain bike supported by an electric assist option for particularly tough terrain.
[front2.png]   [4.jpg]   [2.jpg]   [1.jpg]   [side-line-small.png]   [front-line-small.png]   [top-enclosed-small.jpg]  

[It is not clear how much of this has been built and how much is simply design artwork. Included here for general interest.]

Robert A. Bériault's Camping Trailer and Bicycle Camper

From as of 2019/04.

The following has excerpts to summarize, and in case the original site goes away. The original site has much more information.

Robert A. Bériault's Camping Trailer


(click image to enlarge)

Why I built this trailer as of 2019/04

[...] The good quality equipment I now enjoy help me cook better meals, sleep more comfortably and keep dry during heavy rainfalls in an easy to erect, lightweight nylon tent. In order to make up for the receding strength of a 77-year-old body, four years ago I bought an electric bike, which will allow me to continue cycling [...].

There is, however, one piece of equipment that doesn't yet exist, and that is a decent bicycle trailer, capable of carrying all of the basic comforts a guy my age needs. That is why I built my own trailer. The addition of a solar panel is an added benefit, which is mostly for fun, although it will extend my range somewhat. I used the trailer that summer for a few trips, but then though that it would be nice to have a slightly larger trailer that I could sleep in.

So the following year (2018), I built my Bériault Bicycle Camper according to a design I took a year to imagine and to create.

Technical Details as of 2019/04.

Solar panel and charge controller available from:

Drawings and more pictures as of 2019/04

[0f1504_17c8354f59444ac6af22fc4af1e0b709~mv2.jpg] [0f1504_0e405570ee0f42a696f7cd926e500e13~mv2_d_2500_1235_s_2.jpg]

[The side profile suggests the frame is 1.5” square, while the view from above shows the frame as 1.25” square. My guess is the second number is a typo; and lumber, oddly, is far from the nominal size — so 1.5” is probably the actual size of nominal 2” lumber.]

Robert A. Bériault's Bicycle Camper

[Robert mentions elsewhere that for some uses the axle/etc. may be over-loaded. An alternative is parts for a "Bikes At Work" or "B@W" trailer, [ as of 2019/04]. The standard B@W axle is rated 300 pounds and is available in two widths; there is also a four-wheel axle rated 600 pounds. Bikes at work sells the axles and wheels separately, and also sells hitches/etc. separately. These are heavier and higher cost than what Robert used, but for some users and uses may be a good choice.]

Joe's Trailer for E-Trike

[ as of 2019/04]. Excerpts/paraphrased:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Trailer for E-trike

In this blog entry, I describe the evolution of the uber-light camping trailer for the e-trike. June 11, 2016 by Joseph McCabe, PE.

I have wanted solar transportation for at least a decade. My first attempt was buying the first three wheeled car licensed for the road in Colorado. That licensing challenge was big, but the vehicle didn't deserve it.

Next, I converted my 2011 Prius to a plug-in-hybrid. This is a Gen3 Toyota Prius. I can get 15 miles distance on all electric.

Next, I electrified a recumbent trike, more at: [].

The trike has a rear wheel drive, I tow trailers for kayaks and other things. My thoughts wandered when thinking about camping and trailers.

I sketched many ideas, and made a list of some camping trailer requirements:

Often I inventory things I already have to investigate building my projects. I have long pieces of 1-1/2” angle aluminum that is 1/4” thick salvaged from an old solar installation. The PV panels I will use come from the same place. I began to work on phase 1 of the project. There are 5 phases, trailer, solar, front fairing, roof rocket and tail.

[IMG_20160521_163148.jpg]   [IMG_20160521_170721.jpg]   [IMG_20160521_170747.jpg]  

[Note the trailer is wide in front and narrow in the rear, approximating a teardrop, but in this case a vertical teardrop. The front is "blunt", and so aerodynamics might be improved if the front was rounded.]

Cut, bent and bolted the pieces as shown in the images. Each square is one piece of angle aluminum. Turns out I had a box of bolts, nuts and washers that were perfect. Took a day to build to this point.


Another day to figure out how to do the trailer and flooring, using a trailer I had picked up at a garage sale two years earlier, and available plywood. About this time, I had worked out many design ideas, lengths and orientations. I hadn't spent any money, and the project sat for a few days because I needed to address the wall properly. I went out and paid $70 for 1-1/2” aluminum backed insulation. It isn't exactly what I wanted, what I had been designing was a better R-value system with less weight. That will have to wait, this wall material will do what is needed at this time, keep the trailer cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

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Here, the trailer is on the floor. I attached four legs that fold down to hold the trailer up, just above the wheels. The wheels can be removed, the trailer can be mounted on-top of a car, specific Yakima rack holes were placed in the frame for this purpose. I had a roll of aluminum foil backed tape that I used on all the edges of the cut insulation. At this point, with wheels the trailer weighs 75 lbs.

One challenge is the hitch to the e-trike. I tried many things which didn't work. My current hitch is a light weight ball and socket that attaches the trailer to an aluminum bracket attached to the back axle of the e-trike. I attached an accordion door. The top also slides to let air and sunlight into the trailer. The walls are easily stacked inside the trailer during transportation to reduce air resistance. The trailer walls can be installed in about three minutes.

I made a video on how I transport the trailer with the walls flat to reduce wind resistance, and how easy it is to put them into place, about 2 minutes if I knew what I was doing. Little longer for the first time like shown in this 3.5 minute video.


The trailer is so light weight that I designed it to be attached to my car rack using standard Yakima hardware.


The next entry for this blog will be phase 2, the solar energy part. Stay tuned, and don't hesitate to e-mail me with encouragement. Thanks for reading.

Here is the Phase 2 blog entry: [].

Trailer for E-trike Phase II, Solar

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trailer for E-trike Phase II, Solar

This phase is solarization of the trailer. Here it is after testing and attaching the solar panels:


Phase 2 began with an inventory of resources. I sized the trailer to fit some PV panels I got from a salvage operation. The three PV panels are each 35” X 38”, about 22 pounds and about 80 watts each, 240 watts total. They are old, don't look great, but being a PV expert I know they have some hidden beauty. Looks aren't everything when it comes to PV. Plus they only cost me $4 each.

I set the panels out on the grass and started testing their amperage and voltages in an attempt to figure out the safest, most cost effective way to charge the battery on the e-trike. You see, that battery is very expensive. For me, these days a DC charge controllers' goal is to make sure the battery is charged safely, cost effectively, and doesn't damage the value of the expensive battery.


Initial testing showed that I needed another charge controller. Searched and searched, and discussed my requirements on Endless-sphere user group. A few weeks later a charge controller from China arrived, and I tested that one.


During this testing, the walls were off the trailer and I noticed that the size of the trike made it perfect for inside the trailer. Don't know the circumstances when I would need such knowledge, but that is one of the features of knowledge, right?


The next task was to examine all the existing dimensions of the e-trailer, and the specifics of the PV panel, figure out all the clearances, and where the panels would be mounted so that they could grab the most sun and not be shaded, and also hinge at angles to capture the most sun. This took lots of trial and error for this prototyping activity. The wheels came off to attach the panels, or to allow for them to hinge up. The whole PV assembly is removable from the trailer with the removal of a couple brackets and studs. The wiring was put into salvaged plastic conduit, and wired to provide the appropriate voltage for the charge controller and subsequently for the battery charging.

I mounted the charge controller on a permanent wall at the front of the e-trailer.


The positive and negative wires from the PV panels go to the charge controller, the output goes to the battery. This controller has a USB port for charging phones (only 1 amp), and an output to power appliances. It will turn the appliances off if the battery voltages gets too low. I am not using that functionality, but it may prove useful in the future. Guess I should mention that this gizmo only cost $36 including shipping.


Now the trike can theoretically travel at 10 miles per hour using just the energy from the sun, converted by the PV panels. More likely, it will charge the battery with the panels deployed pointing directly at the sun while the trike isn't moving, charge the battery for 20 or so miles at a time. Periodically I will plug the batteries into an electrical outlet to give them a full charge and let the battery management system adjust the voltage cells of the battery pack as needed. This is called balancing the battery pack.


The trailer doubled in weight by adding the PV panels, originally 75 pounds, now about 144 pounds. But, the PV panels come off. I think I can still achieve my goal of a 100-pound trailer, add PV as desired. Also, PV modules are much lighter weight now than they were when these modules were produced.

The next to phases of this e-trailer build is to make a tiny kitchen front bulb out, make a back fairing with storage (similar to this blog), and make an aerodynamic space rocket that fits the top, all made out of very lightweight materials (possibly coroplast). Stay tuned, and don't hesitate to e-mail me with questions, comments or encouragement. Thanks for reading.

This update includes a photo from when I exhibited at the tiny house show held at the US Air Force Academy last year.


A more recent version puts two of the PV panels permanently onto the top of the trailer.


48 volts and about 160 watts of power for driving the hub motor on the recumbent trike. PV panels are flat when moving. as of 2019/05


Posted byu/negroyverde
5 years ago

My bicycle-towed mobile home

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5 years ago

I have lived in tents, and I am not a big fan. They heat up early in the day, have condensation issues, cannot be set up easily in urban spaces, take a lot of time to set up, and they don't feel as much like “home”. They might if I were to only move occasionally, but there are times I move every night because that's what I'm feeling. And I want to do that in comfort.

This is also a kind of living performance art piece, centered on the idea of what “home” really is, and how that concept is malleable. Sure, it's not entirely practical, but what's practical doesn't always feel right, and I'm down to work with that.


5 years ago

I can fully sit up in the structure, and have two extra feet below my feet when I sleep.

Toilet facilities are something I am still pondering. For now, I am doing the same thing cycle tourists do, and hitting up public restrooms. When I park for the summer, I'll build a composting toilet.


5 years ago

Weighs about 90 pounds, a hexayurt inspired design, built from polyiso with Lexan windows and a plywood floor, atop a bikes at work 96AW trailer. Total cost: $995 with two days construction. Most of the cost is the trailer — the top structure, intended to be periodically replaced, only cost $125. Tools used: drill, adjustable crescent wrench, utility knife, tape measure.

The space measures eight feet long, thirty inches wide, and three and a half feet high. Twenty square feet, seventy cubic feet. I can sit up fully in the structure, and have an extra 2 x 2.5 space to set my things while I lay down. I am installing braces and an overhead cargo net for lightweight belongings inside.

Fully sealed, this space gets to body temperature in about ten minutes if no ventilation is used. I will install a rechargable battery-powered marine fan — very small — for ventilation. In the hot summer, I plan to add a silca, nonelectric dehumidifier to make the interior air quite dry. With the air dry, I should be able to spray a mist bottle of cold water into the space to get it reasonably cooled off for a time while the water condenses.

I find that I am able to park it anywhere I please. I have not been hassled yet but for the sheer novelty of the thing. Provided I keep moving (or gain permission for some regular haunts), I should be able to live rent and tax free in this structure indefinitely.

The other important component of this project:

This is the first phase of a larger idea. I want to create decentralized and mobile communes with these structures. Imagine a wagon wheel with a hub and spokes. The bike trailers could be &ldquospokes”, while a yurt or hexayurt outfitted with doors every five feet could be the“hub”. The doors of the bike trailers would open into the yurts, and inside the yurts, common kitchens, composting toilets, libraries, freeschools, and so on would exist. Yurts could be erected on marginal, low-cost lands in many places.

These hubs would be linked via the internet, where owners of bike trailers would link up with others and take an Okcupid-like personality test that would match them with similar users. Over time,“tribes” could form, moving from hub to hub as they please. On each hub's land, gardens would be put in and community centers would exist to link up local, non-commune members with help and community.

Eventually, bike trailers could be a rent-free, tax-free space for high-intensity micro-farms, artists, worker co-ops, libraries, and freeschools to get into the streets and interact face-to-face with communities. Be on the lookout for more on this project, and if you're interested in participating, please message me or comment here.


5 years ago

It's honestly not bad in wind or uphill if you're in decent shape. I designed this to basically be moved only in good conditions. It is not meant for extreme conditions.


5 years ago

I am currently overhauling the design posted in OP from 30” width to 36” width. In some mock-ups, six inches is a big difference makes, and 36” is the width of a twin bed, which is sleepable with two. Those unwilling to make that type of sacrifice probably would not dig other aspects of bike trailer living anyway.


5 years ago

It is built to be broken down in some sense. The entire shelter comes off the base of the trailer, including the floor, by loosening eight bolts. Not a quick breakdown necessarily, but for long-term stays, you have a utility trailer to haul water and groceries. Bikesatwork trailers are built in 32” sections, so if you own the 96”, you actually also own the 32 and 64 inch trailers.

I am in upstate New York, so winters will be interesting, though, I surmise, not impossible, because that insulation is pretty good stuff, and heating a small space like that is easy.

Teardrop-ish and other rounded shapes using flat panels.

Via as of 2019/05