Bob Cycle Trailer
In my years of cycle touring I have exclusively used a trailer, a Bob Ibex. The trailer has been a wonderful piece of equipment to use. It can be laden down with as much gear as you want, and is very reliable.
Hints for using a Bob cycle trailer
- The Bob (as we affectionately call it) is 7kg without anything in it. So you are already under a weight penalty. If you only have a small load panniers might be a better option
- Using a Bob trailer means that the weight is taken off the bike, the benefit is that the bike can be lighter and more 'standard' than a dedicated touring bike.
- With the wheels and tyres, I have never had broken spokes, and the wheel set doesn't have to be stronger than usual. Basically the bike can be standard with touring gears.
- The tyre that comes with the Bob is crap. In the first 2 short trips
the tyre was punctured both times.
I replaced it with a Maxxis tyre and have not had another puncture at all, in about 40000 kms,
- Packing the Bob trailer correctly depends on accurate weight distribution, otherwise you get a fish tail effect at higher speeds.
- I found putting the heavy gear, tent (5kg), tools, at the bottom, to the very front of the Bob worked best. It might be different with a different bike, but make sure you try different placements to optimise your ride.
- There are mounting screws around the Bob to take extra water bottles, its a good idea, but we found just strapping them on the top worked as well.
The Bob bag
The bag is fantastic, its based on the American military bag and totally waterproof. However there are a couple of things to be aware of.
- The vibration of the rough chip roads actually began to wear
holes in the bottom of the bag from contact with the metallic tray.
I duct taped the bottom of the bag to protect it, but moved to placing a piece of bedroll sponge cut to the shape of the tray between the bag and the tray.
- When packing your Bob with bungie cords, make sure the ends of
the metal hooks point OUT from the Bob, If the hook ends rub
against the bag it can cause a hole.
We found to our horror a bungie hook wore a hole in the Thermarest sleeping mat, and found wear marks on the bag as well.
- Never put liquids in your bag. That's one of those oh oh moments when you open the bag and wonder why its all wet inside.
- The end clips are in the wrong place. They are at the bottom of the bag, where they are hard to reach when the Bob is on the trailer, they should be at the top of the bag.
Freestanding the bike and the Bob
The Bob trailer when attached to the bike is self standing. This is a great trick and means you can lean another bike against it. However there are some things to be aware of. The mounting rod that goes through the hub can easily be bent out of shape with a heavy load and is expensive to replace.
- Never use the bike as a lever to get the Bob vertical. ALWAYS lift the Bob grabbing the top front curved frame member and lifting it up.
- Never go up a curb by pulling the bike with the Bob on the back. Always use that top curved frame member and pull the Bob up from there.
- When unladen the bike and Bob have trouble free standing. Run a bungie cord from the front wheel of the bike and hook it near the rear of the Bob.
- I carry a spare mounting rod, and the other bike has one as well to also take the Bob. Careful use of the Bob has meant this issue hasn't caused me any trouble, but it is a common complaint.
Loading the Bob is a careful exercise. If you have a heavy load then its a two person job.
- First attach the Bob empty to the bike, and one person holds the bike upright.
- Secondly close the Bob bag, and close the clips. Then drop the bag into the Bob, checking its pushed down in the corners.
- Then put the bungie cords on and anything you want on the outside, bottles, wet clothes, newspaper etc.
- Don't load the Bob and then try to attach it. If you do you may bend the little hooks on the Bob that attach to the bike. This is a dangerous situation, last thing you want is for them to break.
Riding with the Bob trailer
- The turning circle with the Bob is big, watch out entering narrow places.
- The Bob tracks beautifully with the bike and once fit you forget its there.
- You notice it on hills! Standing while riding is hazardous at first, and impossible with a heavy load. Be careful with hill climbs out of the saddle until you get the rhythm.
- I have had the Bob so heavy that I couldn't take my hands off the handlebars because of the bike flex. That seems to be close to the operational limit of the Bob. The Bob in the picture above was about that level.
- After a few weeks cycling with the Bob, your muscles have developed enough that you can cope with anything. Then you begin to appreciate the flexibility of the Bob in carrying gear, it takes so much!
- If overseas replace the flag on the rear with your country flag. The small flag was so useful at getting people to stop and talk. One time in Italy a woman ran out of a wine shop when we were stopped at the lights and gave us a bottle of wine, just because of our nationality.
- In less developed countries the Bob trailer was a fantastic talking point with locals, many people were curious about it, and impressed by it.
The Bob trailer and travel by planes and trains.
- When flying I dismantled the rear suspension and the front forks
of the Bob. These 2 pieces were placed in the bike box.
The Bob bag was then filled and strapped to the tray with tape. It became another piece of luggage.
- On trains the trailer was bulky to carry. I left it in the bike wagon and stayed with the gear.
- Italy and bikes on trains was bad enough, having to carry the Bob up and down stairways was murder :)
- The Bob trailer tracks down escalators behind the bike very well in crowded multilevel Italian train stations