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Meet the ‘Wheelburro’, a new cargo trike from Eugene

Posted by on September 23rd, 2009 at 8:10 am

The WheelBurro with a carriage attachment.
(Photos by H2M2)

Rick Dunaven from Eugene thinks he’s onto something with his new cargo trike design. His “Wheelburro” is the latest new twist in the ever-growing niche cargo bike market.

Dunaven says his design is based off similar trikes he saw on a trip to Mexico. He’s already sold one to the Oregon Zoo in Portland and the University of Oregon has taken delivery of one as well.

The Wheelburro sans attachment.

Unlike many pedicabs seen around Portland, Dunaven’s trikes put the people (or cargo) in front. “I thought it would be much safer and comfortable for the cargo or riders if they were placed in front. That way the riders have the best view and a nice breeze on their face.”

Another nifty feature of the Wheelburro is that Dunaven can change out the carriage attachment to suit a number of uses. And, since the various attachments are secured with just eight bolts, “you can switch from one to the other in minutes.”

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Dunaven designed the trike and builds the custom attachments. For the trike’s main frame tubing, he has contracted with a steel fabrication shop in Eugene. The basic Wheelburro sells for $1,695 and attachment prices vary (the pedicab one shown above is $475).

Wheelburro is sold by Dunaven’s new company, H2M2, LLC. Check out their just-launched website for contact info and more details.

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  • foote September 23, 2009 at 8:49 am

    That thing looks like a handling nightmare.
    It’s got a 90 degree head tube angle, about a foot of negative trail, and effectively a zero length stem. Most bikes track a straight line when pushed from behind, this thing would try to dive to one side or the other. When turning, the only thing keeping the bike from jackknifing would be the rider’s arm strength. Forget about taking your hands off the bars for a second; you’d end up in a ditch.

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  • Cargo September 23, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Congratulations to Dunaven, it is always good to see another Oregon offered tricycle/bicycle.

    Unfortunately, the problem with the Mexican style cargo trikes is that the point of articulation is right at the rear of the box or right below the steering bars. This gives little leverage to steer with.

    This style of tricycle is also very popular in SE Asia as a ‘Cyclo’ pedicab or cargo trike. They have all taken the design a step further than the Mexicans and put the point of articulation underneath the cargo box, to make steering much easier and safer.

    Front carrying pedicabs are very popular in cities that do not have huge automobile traffic. In car dependent cities, passengers up front forces them to witness all of the vehicular maneuvers of the city.

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  • Anonymous September 23, 2009 at 9:07 am

    My addition to the steering issue is to place a tensioner on the bottom head tube. This holds the carriage at a zero angle and doesn’t allow more than a 35 degree turn.

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  • Jonathan Maus September 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

    New blog post: Meet the ‘Wheelburro’, a new cargo trike from Eugene

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  • joel September 23, 2009 at 9:15 am

    foote #1: uh, do you not grasp that cargo bikes, especially trikes, are a bit, er, *different* than regular bikes? the pivot HAS to be 90 degrees on a trike like this for the cargo area to turn! im going to pretend youre being humorous rather than just unclear on the concept.

    personally, im not terribly fond of the pivot point being behind the cargo box, as is the case with the benotto trike (which this is patterned after). however, it does have the advantage of allowing for easy interchangability of forward modules, which i do like, as well as allowing for a lower cargo platform, which increases stability and visual clearance for the rider. its not such a big worry with things like pedicabs or ice cream carts – slower-moving cargo trikes – but for rapid cargo delivery, that design is a bit of a dog, and i vastly prefer the pivot to be centered under the cargo box, pivoting at the axle.

    regardless, its cool to see someone doing this – really really cool.

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  • wsbob September 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Much nicer for passengers to be out where they “…have the best view and a nice breeze on their face.”, rather than in the back draft of a front positioned pedicab operator.

    Vehicles have been designed so that the turning wheel is the rear wheel, which is where less weight would often be located for the use this trike is designed for.

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  • foote September 23, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Yes, I understand that cargo bikes are different that regular bikes. And I agree that the pivot should be 90 degrees if the cargo area is to turn — it would be much more unwieldy if the cargo area changed pitch in corners.
    I don’t see why the cargo area must turn with the wheels though. The most stable cargo bikes keep the load stationary with respect to the rider, and allow the steerable wheels to pivot separately — with a relatively normal head tube angle and trail.

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  • Blair September 23, 2009 at 10:08 am

    American cyclo!

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  • Good Causes Portland September 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

    RT @BikePortland New blog post: Meet the ‘Wheelburro’, a new cargo trike from Eugene

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  • joel September 23, 2009 at 10:41 am

    foote #6 – um, its a TRIKE? stability isnt the biggest issue when its almost impossible for something to tip over…

    typical tadpole-type cargo trikes (2 wheels front, 1 wheel rear, cargo box in front of the rider) steer with an axle under the box because its a hell of a lot simpler than a steering arrangement where the wheels beside the box steer independently of it. this setup has been used, but my feeling is that its excessive complexity (more moving parts = more things to break, and cargo bikes require beefiness) with no real return – in fact, having the wheels turn separately from the cargo box would either cut into the cargo space, or needlessly widen the stance of the bike.

    for the most part, when dealing with this type of cargo trike, head tube angle and trail just arent relevant.

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  • Bill Stites September 23, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Not trying to insult anybody, but don’t believe everything you read.
    Hopefully we already know that in the blog/comment world, where folks will make statements with a sense of authority and knowledge … that are questionable.
    Take my comments in the same manner.

    Trikes certainly can tip over, so don’t become complacent just ’cause you’re on 3 wheels. In fact, often there isn’t much warning and if you take a corner too fast, watch out. It’s still all about balance.

    Having the pivot be more centrally located relative to the cargo load does ease the force required at the handlebars to steer the beast.

    Head tube angle and trail are ALWAYS relevant. For example, you could take the head tube angle on the Wheelburro and make it slightly *negative* … the trike will still turn, but now you’ll get a lean for the driver into the turn.
    Not a bad result, really, but the other handling effects would have to be flushed out.

    A non-turning platform is almost always better. One has to balance the design considerations of added complexity, but the front wheels steering without the cargo platform massively moving side-to-side is generally a good thing. And true that you need more room in the wheel wells to allow this turning without hitting the cargo bed.

    The good news is that trikes are generally run slower than bikes, so the speed band of good handling can be narrower.

    I’ll stop now …

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  • SwingTrike Cycles September 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Meet the ‘Wheelburro’, a new cargo trike from Eugene – (blog)
    – #Trike #biking

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  • middle of the road guy September 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Where is the seatbelt?

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  • k. September 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Do they make a roto-tiller for it?

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  • Bicycle Oregon September 24, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    New Eugene Oregon 3 Wheel Bike Photos. This is a winner.. !

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  • Bicycle Oregon September 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Eugene Oregon link to 3 wheel bike. Bottom tweet not working.

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  • Mark Rosenau January 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I’m the groundskeeper at a small university. We’ve been working much of our landscape with bikes and trailers, but they have multiple drawbacks.
    As an alternative we have started using a Wheelburro, and I wish we had one five years ago. These are built to last, and are capable of serious hauling (I’ve ridden with 600lbs+rider). Rick is a pleasure to work with and was able to customize our Wheelburro to make it as useful as possible for us.

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