Monday, 30 January 2012

About that trailer...

My previous cycle tours have been completed with panniers i.e. the bags that you strap onto the carrier rack of a bicycle. They performed pretty well, but I haven't seen any that convert into a large backpack for hiking – something I am hoping to do during some sections of this survey. So, I needed a trailer, and fortuitously I met Rudi while he was on his cycle ride through the Baviaanskloof during his stay at Blue Hill Escape. I got to see his trailer in action, and I liked it.

Here's some background on the trailer:

It was manufactured in South Africa by Rudi Harhoff, a very keen cyclist and a mechanical engineer by profession. Two years ago Rudi traveled to Alaska on a solo trip with his mountain bike for a month to experience the "last great wilderness" as some would call it. He got hold of a local cyclist, Tim, in Anchorage via an internet forum and they agreed to meet. Tim pointed Rudi to some of the nice local trails and gave general advice on riding and camping in "bear country". Tim also introduced Rudi to the concept of a single wheel bike trailer and lent Rudi an old trailer that he had lying around. Rudi used the trailer for more than 3 weeks, covering over 1300km which turned out to be the most scenic and epic bicycle adventure he could ever imagine, riding up to the foot of glaciers and Mt. McKinley! Rudi needed a bike trailer...

On the train journey that marked the last day of his Alaska trip rolling down from Denali to Anchorage, he started to work on some trailer concepts that he scribbled in his diary. There were some of the design parameters that affect the handling of the trailer, so those needed to be tested. A month or two down the line Rudi made the first "test prototype" in his garage. After some riding he fixed the geometry and made the first actual working prototype. This trailer was lent to a friend who successfully cycled from Johannesburg to Maun (Botswana) that December, covering 1100km in 9 days.

Following some feedback the design was again adapted, with the major emphasis on strength and reduction of weight. This model was produced as a test run. The following year two of these trailers were thoroughly tested on a bike tour that took Rudi and 3 friends from Port Elizabeth to Knysna through the Baviaanskloof and Prince Alfred Pass in yet another unforgettable and scenic journey of roughly 450km over 6 days.

The existing units are the only trailers on the market within this price range <R1000 and improved future versions will compete aggressively on cost and quality with similar products that can be imported from the US and Europe.

Limited numbers of trailers are available from Rudi Haarhoff, who can be contacted on 0747807776. Once future units have been re-designed it will be manufactured and distributed through Rumacon Pty (Ltd).

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