Introducing bike trailer maker Black Oak Fabrications

A new, Portland-based company specializes in heavy-duty bike trailers
that can attach to nearly any bike.
(Photos: Black Oak Fabrications)


The latest addition to Portland’s already impressive crop of cargo bike makers and related businesses is Black Oak Fabrications. Black Oak, a partnership between 28 year old Eric Reddy (friends call him “Dirt”) and 30 year old Glen McHargue, is a custom metal fabrication shop that specializes in high-quality, welded aluminum bike trailers.

Reddy is a graduate of the welding program at Portland Community College. He and McHargue started developing their trailers in early 2009. Since then, they’ve been tweaking the design and refining their production process to maintain quality but keep the prices as low as possible. You might have seen them selling the trailers out at Last Thursday on Alberta.

The “Oak” — with a 30×60-inch cargo area — is $525.

Dirt and Glen weld their trailers from 6061 structural grade aluminum — which means they won’t rust and they’re lightweight (relatively) and durable. Another nice feature are the wide fenders over the wheels. Since the fenders are welded from 1/8th inch thick aluminum, they not only keep your load clean and dry, you can also lay a table or some plywood right over them without worry. Each trailer also comes with tie-down hooks placed all around the edge of the trailer frame. The hitch is made by Burley Designs in Eugene.

Aaron Scott, a Portland-based musician, says his Black Oak trailer makes it easier for him to be carfree:

“I used to borrow a car every time I played a show because I couldn’t carry my guitar, gear, and merch [merchandise] on the bus with me (and it certainly didn’t all fit in a pannier). This trailer is big enough to carry everything I need for the show, but light enough to carry up and down the basement stairs without grunting. One less (frequently borrowed) car!”

While there are some stock models, Black Oak also loves doing custom trailers. “We love the challenge,” says Reddy, “We encourage people to think big… or to add their own flair to a trailer order.”

To help compensate for the environmental impacts of the materials they use, Black Oak contributes five percent of their profits to The Nature Conservancy. Black Oak is also starting a new program called “Share the Load” where customers and people in the community can donate to a fund that is used to provide trailers for non-profits that need them.

Check out a few more photos below…

Prices for their three stock designs range from $425 to $525 (which includes your choice of paint color and two, 20-inch wheels). Turnaround time is 1-3 weeks. Learn more at BlackOakFab.com.

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Tony Columbo
Tony Columbo
11 years ago

Like my utility trailer will the State of Oregon require tail, brake lights and turn signals and to be licensed?

Adam
Adam
11 years ago

I’m curious about the quality of wheels and tires. With the capacity that trailer has it is going to be important to know that you are less likely to become damaged. Also, how easy is it to change a flat tire on? That will need to be done eventually.

Steve B
11 years ago
Reply to  Adam

The wheels are easily taken on/off just like a bicycle, which is a nice feature. So far as I’ve pushed mine, I think you’ll run out of human power before you max out these trailers.

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Like Steve says below, the wheels are very easy to take on and off. While they are not quick-release, they require a standard 15mm wrench, like most bike wheels, to loosen and remove.

resopmok
resopmok
11 years ago

These look pretty nice and rival bikesatwork for price and functionality it would appear. What sort of U-joint is being used for the hitch? How does it attach to the bike? Also, one thing I’ve thought to do with my own trailer (though haven’t yet) is to attach some naval cleats to the underside to make tying down easier. For something in this price range, it would definitely be a welcome feature.

Steve B
11 years ago
Reply to  resopmok

There are at least 8 tie-downs on my Black Oak Hawthorn, placed all around the cart. They are super helpful!

Bikes at Work trailers are great, but I’d urge Portlanders to consider Black Oak because they’re locally made, welded (as opposed to bolt-on), and the black oak models are cheaper (before considering that there’s no shipping cost). These guys are endeavoring to make sturdy, handsome, and affordable bike trailers available to all types of people who bike in Oregon, so they’re a great place to put your money.

Wheelburro
11 years ago
Reply to  Steve B

It looks like a great max load trailer. Great job, BlackOak.

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago
Reply to  Wheelburro

Thank you Wheelburro!

Adam
Adam
11 years ago

It says the hitch is designed by Burley. I’m assuming it’s the same as their Standard Forged Hitch.
http://www.burley.com/products/accessories/index.cfm

Steve B
11 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Here’s a pic of the hitch attachment. http://www.burley.com/products/accessories/images/img_classichitch.png The hitch arm is custom made by Black Oak.

aljee
aljee
11 years ago

Tony Columbo
Like my utility trailer will the State of Oregon require tail, brake lights and turn signals and to be licensed?

is your utility trailer pulled by 2-3 tons of car/truck (or both, if it were an el camino)?

rider
rider
11 years ago

@Adam. They look like 20″ wheels which are remarkably strong. You can put at least 300lbs on Walmart 20″ers. I would think your thighs would give out long before those wheels.

Chas
Chas
11 years ago

Burley trailers max capacity is only 100lbs. Is thier hitch good enough to handle the surging of 500lbs?

Steve B
11 years ago
Reply to  Chas

If you balance your load properly on a teeter-totter style trailer, most of the weight sits on the axle of the trailer, not the trailer arm/bicycle.

I just hauled this load, which I estimate was about 150lbs, on their Hawthorn model (which is the smallest): http://a.yfrog.com/img577/3987/zl9.jpg
For such a heavy load, I was worried about how it might hold up and potential sketchy handling.. but the ride was quite enjoyable.

matt picio
11 years ago
Reply to  Chas

Maximum rated capacity, anyway. As a rule of thumb, if you’re careful not to put too much side stress on a commercial trailer like a Burley, you can overload it by 50%-100%. I wouldn’t recommend doing it routinely. I used to haul 150lbs on most bike moves in my old InStep trailer that I got at Wal-Mart for $75. It was rated to 75lbs, but I hauled a lot of over-capacity loads for more than 3 years without failures or flats. YMMV, and realize you’re taking a risk when you do it.

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago
Reply to  Chas

Hey Chas, we have never had a Burley hitch break since we started using them with our trailers. That being said, nothing is indestructible and I would suggest treating your utility gear with caution. Burley hitches are also very nice because the majority of the stress is put on the rubber adapter that bridges the gap between the hitch its self and the trailer. That item is very inexpensive and easily replaceable. Still, we have never had the rubber adapter break either.

resopmok
resopmok
11 years ago

Though I didn’t see any weight capacities on their website, I would imagine Burley’s hitch has been tested by the BOF folks to ensure it won’t break or weaken after multiple very heavy loads (250lbs+). It’s good that it attaches to the frame and not the axle though, unlike my Aosom.

Chas
Chas
11 years ago

Burley says they test their trailers in accordance to child safety regulations and that there are no regulations on cargo trailers. Burley went on to say that they also test their cargo trailers to child safety standards. I “imagine” Burley will say their hitch is only tested to 100lbs which is the D’Lites’ and Flatbeds’ max capacity.

Does the BOF trailer come with another hitch option? What is the warranty/guarantee on the hitch?

jim
jim
11 years ago

I can’t tell from the picture what kind of brakes it has?

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago
Reply to  jim

Hey Jim, our trailers do not come equipped with brakes. I do not believe there are any bike trailer companies that do build their product with installed brakes. It would be very difficult to tension a brake cable over that much distance. You would end up with very mushy brakes that would more than likely do nothing to slow you down. The brakes on your bicycle should prove more than sufficient to bring you to a halt.

jim
jim
11 years ago

Thanks for the reply.
I guess 95% of the time it should be not much of a problem, I’m just thinking of the guy with a too heavy load and ends up in a mess…

AC
AC
11 years ago

Great trailers for a great price. As for “capacity,” remember you have to be able to stop the thing safely. That is likely to be your upper limit. Testing and warranties are time consuming and show up in the price. Be careful what you ask for.

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago
Reply to  AC

Absolutely. Just because your trailer can haul a grand piano it doesn’t mean you knees can handle the strain. It is very important to ride with your safety in mind at all times and use your trailer/bike within your limits, especially when you are hauling major weight. As for weight capacity testing, we are a small, home grown company and those kinds of destructive test are extremely expensive. In the future we plan on running the gambit in regards to testing. We will post our data when it is gleaned.

BURR
BURR
11 years ago

All other things being equal, smaller wheels are stronger than larger ones.

20″ wheels have been used by BMX riders for years and most can take brutal punishment before they fail.

I have no idea what type of wheels these are but using double wall rims and higher spoke counts (>32) will result in even stronger wheels.

cabbagepatchelvis
cabbagepatchelvis
11 years ago

NICE! I will have to get one of these to haul my drums around if I ever get back to gigging on a regular basis.

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago

We would love to build you a tank for your kit!!

todd
11 years ago

i remember a bike trailer that had a brake actuation system built into the hitch, with a linkage pulling cable. the harder the deceleration, the harder the braking. not saying it’s a must-have, or even a great idea, just that it’s been done.

Paul Tay
Paul Tay
11 years ago

For the really heavy loads, ovens, refrigerators, QuikCrete, I am more comfortable with seat post hitches.

Freeman
Freeman
11 years ago

The burly hitch is recommended to be replaced once a year under heavy load conditions for safety reasons…if you are making money off the loads you pull this is a no brainer…still much ‘cheaper’ than any car/trailer combo…great looking rig Black Oak!

blackoakfabrications
11 years ago
Reply to  Freeman

Great advice Freeman. Burley hitches are quite inexpensive as well, so it wont hurt your pocket-book to much to minimize the risk of a failing hitch.

Chris Hart
Chris Hart
4 years ago

Hey are these guys still in business ?