Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Reader Photo of the Week: 7 miles, 270 pounds of cargo

Posted by on April 30th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

(Photo: Reuben Deumling)

Reader Reuben Deumling sent in this photo along with an explanation. It shows his trailer all loaded up with 270 pounds of toilets he ordered from Sweden. They shipped to PDX Air Cargo so he pedaled out to the airport pick them up and then rode seven miles home.

Bonus points for the ironic sign that reads, “Protect clean air. Save fuel. Don’t idle.”

Nice work Reuben and thanks for sending in the photo.

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  • resopmok April 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Awesome. Further proof that you don’t need a car, even if you own a home or small business you’re trying to do some work with. Have to go slow and brake early with a load like that, as the momentum and inertia is pretty hefty (does the trailer have an independent braking system?), but it’s still a cheap and viable alternative to delivery. You wouldn’t fit that stuff in your sedan anyway (or your xtracycle ;). Strong work Reuben!

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  • Anne Hawley April 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    The irony is doubled by the air-importation of toilets, but still, that’s a pretty awesome image.

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  • KJ April 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    sweet trailer

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  • 9watts April 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    “The irony is doubled by the air-importation of toilets.”

    The irony was not lost on me. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I would have preferred to have them shipped another, less energy-intensive way.
    The trouble is, if you want a porcelain urine-diverting no-flush toilet you’re not going to find them any closer than Sweden, and unfortunately I could only control the last leg of their journey.

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  • cycler April 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    It would be awesome if you could rent a trailer like that like you can rent a U-Haul…
    I live in a small townhouse whose storage capacities are challenged just with bikes- no space for a trailer- but every once in a while it would be great to be able to rent one for heavy loads.

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  • Camp Bike Fun April 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    The North East Portland Tool Library has a bike trailer to rent out by the week. North East residents (from the edge of NoPo to 82nd, from Burnside to the Columbia) can get a library card for free and can check out tools for free. NEPTL.org.

    We also just got a truing stand, a professional kit of bike tools (Headset/ bottom bracket/ chain tool, chain whip, freewheel remover, etc) and a bike stand to go with our 1400 other tools.

    I would love us to get a bigger, burlier cargo trailer. Donations accepted, or enough people requesting a tool will get it purchased. (Tool request sheet near the front door)

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  • cycler April 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    That sounds fabulous- I wish we had something like that in Boston where I live!

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  • Lance P. April 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    You can also rent a bike from Clever Cycles that has a holding capacity of 700lbs. I rented to move a hide-a-bed and entertainment center. It is basically a truck bed attached to the front of a bike. Pretty fun.

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  • compostcycle April 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    urine diversion, composting toilet….hmmmm in the spirit of combating peak phosphorus (and everything) there seems to be the potential for local nutrient “cycling” opportunities to safely develop
    If you share the vision see http://www.recodeoregon.net/
    Way to go Reuben!!

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  • janet D April 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    best photograph of a toilet ever

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  • craig April 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    @Camp Bike Fun #6

    Do you mean “borrow” by the week, from the NEPTL?? Props!!! http://www.neptl.org/

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  • Jason Skelton April 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm


    Please tell us more of the toilet. I pine for such a shrewd investment. (seriously, what is the brand?).

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  • robert April 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Reuben AND his trailer ROCK !!!! This is exactly what I’ve been yakkin’ about on my blog http://omahgarsh.blogspot.com

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  • 9watts April 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    “Please tell us more of the toilet.”

    Since several of you have asked – here’s a link – http://wostman.se/ecodryeng.html

    One of the four I ordered has not yet been spoken for. You can contact me offline if you’d like to know more.

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  • Clarence April 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm


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  • Tim Roth May 1, 2010 at 12:57 am

    7 lbs, 270 miles.

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  • TREK 3900 May 1, 2010 at 2:11 am

    Be careful with heavy loads like that. You might damage your knees. Old farts like myself can tell you from experience that you need to be VERY kind to your knees – I would not have believed it either until I hit 40.

    Could you have used MAX part of the way home? Probably not with the trailer. If you are riding your bike most other places I would not feel guilty using a motor vehicle to move stuff like that – especially if it saves your knees. Why wear out your knees when some people are driving monster trucks and SUV’s everywhere they go.

    Toilet looks like it will save a lot of water, but probably not all of the water since you’ll have to clean it with something or it will get to looking kind of unpleasant.

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  • TREK 3900 May 1, 2010 at 2:22 am

    From the potty literature: ” A
    A barrel of 80 litre, usually lasts 3
    months (normal family). When
    emptying the barrel it weighs 10-20 kilo”

    How many are in a “normal” family in Sweden? Assume 2.
    20 kg = 44 lb
    44 lb/90 days/2 people = 0.25 lb/day/person

    Seems low, but maybe if it’s dried out.

    Reminds me of the time Larry the Cable Guy was talking about how Cheryl Crow wanted to limit every person to one sheet of toilet paper per day. Larry said: “She ain’t been eatin’ what I’ve been eatin.” 🙂 oooohhhh!!!

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  • J.R. May 1, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Might have been more appropriate to carry in a long john.

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  • Bill Stites May 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Wow, Reuben is the man.

    We are lucky to have him in our neighborhood, working on Transition Sunnyside [there’s also a Transition PDX]… which is basically about strategies of resilience relative to ‘energy descent’.

    Now to get that rear wheel trued …

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  • Alan May 1, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Time for another sport at PIR bike days: DRAG RACING! Quarter-mile sprints in 250 and 500 pound classes. Head-to-head eliminations. First one to stop within 3 feet before the finish line wins the heat.

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  • Ken Wetherell May 2, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Hat’s off to you Reuben! Nice run.

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  • Vance Longwell May 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Yeah, and that bike’s brakes are designed for a 470lb+ load? So it turns out the smoke-screen has scattered and ‘safety’ was just another lie, right?

    And you wonder why I call you a church.

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  • resopmok May 3, 2010 at 12:55 am


    My experience dictates you stand a better chance of getting jacknifed by braking too quickly with a heavy load than not having enough power to slow down. Lower speeds and sufficient caution, as in any other instance, will yield a better safety scenario for the rider.

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  • Paul Tay May 3, 2010 at 6:17 am

    One dishwasher, one 14 foot sheet of 3/4 inch plywood, two 14 foot long 2X4, several oak 4X4, and one gorilla, OWNED by bike, 7 miles.

    PDX vs. Tulsa Big-ass Heavy Haul Bike Trailer Smackdown is ON, baby! It ain’t ’bout da miles. It’s all ’bout da LOAD.

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  • Paul Tay May 3, 2010 at 6:30 am

    @Vance, #23, the most scariest part of a heavy haul roll is the long, steep downhill, with the slope ending at a signalized intersection. CONCENTRATE. One slip, and yer GONER, baby!

    Apply whatever brakes ya got. Go slow, REAL slow. Remember: Transport, NOT sport.

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  • Vance Longwell May 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

    resopmok – yeah, pretty sure that only supports my position. PT # 25-26. It just bothers me to have my rights systematically stripped from me by the BTA and it’s supporters in the name of safety, only to turn around and see the supporters laud abominations of this sort. Any one with a critical mind can see that thing poses a danger to the rider and the general public. I support a person’s right to ride such a menace. Now if I could just get them to respect mine.

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  • Paul Tay May 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Vance, what kind of menace are ya rollin? Does it have teeth? Does it go bump in da night? Does it sing NAKED fo’ a dolla?

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  • Daniel May 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm


    I operate a bicycle powered delivery service in Bend and we routinely pull upwards of 500lbs…I’m not sure about Rueben’s set-up but I’ve never had issues of braking quickly enough…When pulling this kind of weight, you are rarely going more than 10-15 mph. As far as safety is concerned, I feel much safer going 10mph with a large load than 20mph on my road bike.

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  • 9watts May 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    It is pretty obvious that Vance has no idea what he is talking about. When pulling loads like these, or larger ones Daniel mentioned, the issue in my experience is finding a gear low enough to climb even slight inclines. Paying attention to minimizing elevation gain tends to help with the elevation loss, at least in the topography encountered here in Portland. The *danger* related to braking large trailer loads on a bike is a red herring. It is too bad that Vance takes nearly every posting here as a platform for displaying his fears or trying out his pet theories.

    The most fun aspect to hauling large loads by bike trailer is the smile it brings to nearly everyone’s face.

    Reuben Deumling

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  • Spiffy May 3, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    that’s not a ton of weight but it’s more than I ever pull…

    however, I’m concerned with how it’s loaded… I’m guessing it’s loaded so far forward because it was put on the trailer via forklift and thus they had to put it in front of the wheels… seems it should be more balanced over the wheels with only slightly more weight up front…

    what kind of strain is this putting on the rear axle? and with all the weight pushing down on the let side you’d think it would veer that way naturally and you’d be having to correct it as you ride… I know that even with my kid and his support network of sippy cups and diaper bags my trailer can weigh enough to want to knock my bike over the kickstand…

    I’m not sure at what point brakes become an issue… obviously the stock brakes are capable of stopping way more than the 300 lbs or so I’ve loaded up… but where do they start to fail to the point that we need trailer brakes?

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  • Daniel May 3, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Judging by the picture, the pallets wouldn’t fit between the trailer wheels..I generally haul heavy loads with a bit more weight forward of the trailer wheels to give more traction to the rear wheel(even more so when there is snow on the ground)..

    As far as weight on the axle, It looks like the hitch is mounted to the chainstay..This is similar to my set-up and it doesn’t force the bike to one direction…You would certainly not keep the bike up with a kickstand on a load like this.

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  • Vance Longwell May 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    9watts #30- I resent the quip and you still haven’t even spoken to my position, let alone provided any conclusive evidence to the contrary. My initial statement stands. That bike’s brakes have a sub 350lb weight-limit, I’d be your life on it. Add a rider and that load and one is well in excess of 350lbs there. Exceeding a manufacturer’s recommendations for loads is unsafe due to the increased risk of equipment failure. Equipment failure=unsafe – ergo that set-up is unsafe.

    Given that ‘safety’ is frequently a topic here, and given that it’s usually a tool used to manipulate people instead of actually that of providing safety, my innuendo is fairly spot-on as well.

    As to my expertise I don’t think that has anything to do with my position. But since you brought it up… I have operated 5 bicycle-delivery services over the span of 30 years, in Portland, Seattle, San Fransisco, and Denver. I have ridden professionally for 12. Additionally I have designed and manufactured thousands of bicycle, and motorcycle, frames at this point. I’m an expert metallurgist and metal fabricator. I’ve also repaired, and assembled, tens of thousands of bicycles in a professional environment.

    I’ve skidded down the road on my ass farther than most of you gapers will ever ride. In fact, ask anybody in-town, that’s actually from here, and you’ll quickly learn I’ve been a fixture on the urban-cycling landscape here for 30 years.

    All of which is moot. Any critical thinker can look at that set-up and easily deduce the load is in excess of the bikes brake-rating.

    Not to mention you just go-on and basically restate everything I said, or implied, but just added a personal insult to it. Besides, I’m not attacking that set-up. Didn’t any of you see me riding up SW Broadway the other day with a 16′ long projection screen under my arm? I’m not especially critical of creating havoc on the highways.

    What I am critical of is hearing these whiners, well, whine about safety all the time when, as evidenced by the support of such nonsense as the topic, safety isn’t an issue with most of them. Which leads me right back to my church thing.

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  • Paul Tay May 3, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Yo, Vance, Bong hits fo’ Jesus!

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  • Camilla May 4, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Whether or not that particular set-up is safe, I applaud the effort and the can-do attitude, but also the debate generated above: if we’re going to make our societies more humane and bicycle friendly and less energy-intensive, we are going to have to teach ourselves and come to consensus about these kinds of issues.

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  • 9watts May 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

    “My initial statement stands. That bike’s brakes have a sub 350lb weight-limit…
    …Which leads me right back to my church thing.”

    Really I think this is mostly about your church thing. If some folks here are worried about safety (perhaps being hit by a car?) and that bothers you why don’t you stick to the issue?
    I’ve never had any problems braking with a trailer or without. Besides, what is up with this ‘weight-limit of brakes’ talk anyway? Brakes don’t care about weight, they care about kinetic energy of a body in motion, which is 1/2 * mass of vehicle * the velocity2 (that 2 connotes squared). As Daniel pointed out earlier, speed is important. But it is actually important2. If you are determined to go really fast with a heavy trailer load and endanger yourself or others, I won’t stop you. Me, I’m happy to go slow.

    http://www.stoptech.com/tech_info/The%20Physics%20of%20Braking%20Systems.pdf (if you’re curious)

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  • RonC May 4, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I can imagine that some brake arms might not be strong enough to deal with stopping large loads, and could shear right off. I was on a ride with a friend once who had this happen to him with an old set of aluminum side pull brakes (Dia-Compe G I believe) while braking down a very steep incline. There was clearly some metal fatigue in that instance. It’s something worth considering before you head out with a heavy load.

    That said, I’ve done a hilly tour on a recumbent tandem towing a 75# trailer (total weight of vehicle including riders around 450#) and had no problems, though we had Magura hydraulic rim brakes and a separate Ari drum brake on the rear wheel as well.

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  • Ed May 4, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I hate to disagree with Vance here, but it’s perfectly safe. As others have mentioned, 270 pounds isn’t really all that much more weight than a tandem bike, which are frequently ridden much faster than 15mph, and use ordinary cantilever brakes.

    The problem tandems can run into is rim overheating on long descents, not brake failure due to their “rating”. Maintain your brake pads and cables, keep your speed under control and there won’t be a problem.

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  • 9watts May 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    A good point, Ed. Maybe Vance will want to check in with these folks when they come through town– http://bikeportland.org/2010/04/29/the-pedouins-are-coming/
    –to see how their brakes are doing.

    Oh, never mind, I see Vance has already weighed in on that article with another fanciful gripe about their bike’s turning radius.

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