Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bob Ibex Trailer

Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favourable do nothing.
         (Wiliam Feather)

For this upcoming off-road tour, I wanted to explore another method of hauling gear. From experience, I perceived that a full complement of front and rear panniers, trunk, and handlebar bags is probably not the best setup for off-road touring. Ron, who completed the holy grail of off-road touring — the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route — 2800 miles (4480 km), self-supported and solo, in 63 days, holds the same opinion; and Jakub Postrzygacz, who rode the incredibly remote 2105 km Canning Stock Route (also self-supported and solo), supplemented his panniers with a trailer for his 33-day journey.

Note:  some pictures were taken after the tour.

(Click on image for video)

Originally, I wanted to purchase the Extrawheel Classic Solo, but the local distributor wasn't about to deliver it within the time frame I stipulated (two months is too long a wait). That, and shipping it from Poland to USA, and then to Singapore is imbecilic, IMHO. If I ordered it myself and then fly it to Perth, the total cost, including the return trip, will bring it to SG$1000. Feasible, but unnecessarily extravagant.

The next best choice: the Bob Ibex Trailer, which, serendipitiously, is available for rental from About Bike Hire, in Perth. This option cuts my cost down to under 20% of the Extrawheel route; plus, it spares me the hassle of handling an additional piece of luggage at airports (and we all know just about how friendly the check-in counter staff at Perth International Airport are — second only to the hands-on hospitality at Abu Ghraib).

At About Bike Hire, I had a wonderful chat with Collin, an immensely fit sexagenarian bicycle mechanic. He inquired what I plan to do with the trailer. "Ride the Munda Biddi Trail," I replied. "Which part?" he asked. "Mundaring to Nannup," came the reply. "How many days are you giving yourself?" "14," I said. "You won't make it. Just aim for Collie," the wiry veteran smiled.

Hmm... This could get interesting.

I paid the rental, a small deposit; they were nice enough to furnish me with a frame pump, some tire levers, a patch kit; and off I went.

Some views of the Bob Ibex Trailer

The complete unit, sans Dry Sak and Spider Bungee, weighs 17 lbs (7.7 kg).

Its construction employs the proven truss design.

I used cable ties to create hooking points for my cargo net (SGD$4.50 from the army supply stores opposite Golden Mile Complex). For future trips, I will bring a back up cargo net along. They seem impossible to find in Perth; hardware store, bicycle shops, or otherwise.

The rear suspension allows the trailer roll over obstacles and rough terrain more easily (and at higher speeds too!).

Two 4 mm allen keys are needed to release the upper shock axle. Most multi-tools only have one. Darren Alff has an excellent section on this.

At the rear of the cargo area, the Bob Ibex has a total of 4 water bottle cage mounts.

2 on each side. I didn't use any of these but I would guess that the water bottle cages used would have to be really tight-fitting to prevent bottles from launching off as the trailer bounces around on the trail.

The shock tower features cut-outs to reduce weight.

Nestled within the shock tower is the holder for the flag pole. I thought really hard about a skull and crossbones pirate's flag (ala Apple Computer @ 1 Infinity Loop, Cupertino), but couldn't find one locally. A flag increases visibility on the road and motorists do give you a wider berth when you have one, but off-road, it can become a nuisance when riding under low overhanging foliage.

The lower shock axle has a spring-loaded knob with 3 settings for the amount of weight carried:  25 lbs (11 kg), 45 lbs (20 kg), and 70 lbs (32 kg).

Other side. Higher weight settings lower the trailer. Much like the shocks that come with Proflex bikes, a silver ring on top of the spring in the shock assembly allows for pre-load setting.

It may look like chicken wire, but the mesh used for the base of the trailer is much thicker and extremely strong.

The rear fork holds a 28-spoke, cartridge bearing hub, 16" wheel via a sliding dropout and regular quick release skewer (looks like a 100 mm length). Spokes are 127 mm, straight 14 gauge spokes. According to the FAQ, it is not common and only available from bike shops that can cut and roll custom spoke lengths. Something to think about. I.e. Spares are good.

The body of the trailer is manufactured from 4130 Cromoly steel. The rear dropout eyelets are for the 2003 - 2006 fenders.

Front fork.

A closer look at the hitch and retaining pin.

The Bob Ibex Trailer requires the use of a special, extra long, rear wheel quick release. Solid axle hubs use Bob Nutz.

Both versions have protrusions (i.e. bobbins) for the trailer hitch to hook on to. These are also free-floating. (On quiet, asphalt roads, they can be rather annoying though, rattling and sounding like loose or broken spokes). A little viscous lube will quiet things down... for a while.

I bought along a pair of 16" x 1.75 - 2.125" inner tubes from Peter Chew (Cycle Corner) to deal with any flats.

Update 11/25/2009

There exists a more reliable set up:

As for peoples concerns about carrying BOB sized (16") spare tyres and tubes... I met a guy from the UK on a world tour and he was using a solid rubber tyre on his BOB trailer. it had, at the time, over 5,000 kms on it. (oh and you can get them in colours)

Might be a good option in the desert area's bd.

EDIT: just found this:
sold locally by:
Greentyre Australia Pty Ltd
Address: 29 Angove St, North Perth, WA, 6006
Phone Number: (08) 93286361

         (DW-1, Off-road remote area touring - Bob Yak Trailer? ROTORBURN Forums)

Bob-trailer-specific quick release installed, non-drive side.

Drive-side. A 4 mm allen bolt (with Loctite™ 242 / 243) secures the free-floating collar.

Trailer hitch attached. They recommend that you hitch and unhitch only with the trailer unloaded. It is a lot easier (and safer) this way, but at the end of my tour, I grew proficient enough such that I could perform the operation with it fully-loaded (70 lbs / 32 kg). Tip:  be quick, precise, and decisive.

Inserting retaining pin.

Retaining pin fully inserted.

Rotating and securing retaining pin.

Seating retaining pin.

Retaining pin fully seated.
This procedure must be done for both sides.

On a side note, I am not sure if the Bob Trailer is suitable for bicycle frames with wide / deep Breezer dropouts. The bobbins do extend a fair distance out, so it might clear the flanges and work. itsdoable, as his etiological handle suggests, confirms that it does.

Warning sticker on both sides of the trailer front fork (lower arms).

As the trailer cannot — should not — be used without the retaining pin, I tried to obtain 2 sets as back ups locally. No such luck. A trip to the local hardware store furnished me with the equally effective, slightly more inconvenient, original cotter pin. (Image from Hostel Shoppe.)

The Bob Ibex Trailer adds 4.5 feet (1.4 m) to Cloe's 6 feet (1.8 m) length, rendering my rig 10.5 feet (3.2 m) long. Forgetting that extra length exists results in a soaring experience, especially when snagged on immovable barriers or closely spaced trees.

The trailer is quite easily disassembled for transport. Included in the picture is the gigantic 5600 cubic inches (94 liter) Bob Dry Sak, which seals against the elements in pretty much the same way as Ortileb™ panniers or Seal line™ dry bags. Weight 1+ lb. (0.46 kg).

The underside of the trailer is kept smooth. This is an underrated feature — without it, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to drag the trailer across fallen logs or large rocks on the trail.

Replaceable skid plates on either side of the trailer protect the underbody of the trailer during "jackknife" parking manoeuvres and/or crashes.

The underside of the rear fork reveals a thick, beefy, laterally ovalized, mono-stay construction.

Underside view.

As BicycleWA shows, the front fork of the trailer can be rotated within the cargo area. However, accomplishing this will require two 10 mm wrenches. Multi-tools usually only spec one. This is where having a ride buddy with dental braces comes in handy.

Topside view.

Rear fork and spoiler with wheel removed.

Hanging beside the Bob Ibex is the Bob Yak, which, being unsuspended and lower, is meant more for sealed / asphalt roads and light duty off-road. With a less moving parts (and, thus, a lower total parts count), it is lighter at 13.5 lbs (6.1 kg), and probably more reliable on the road.

Next:  getting acquainted with Bob (Ibex).


Anonymous said...

This was awesome. Thanks for all the detail. After reading you blog, I think I've decided the Ibex is the right bike trailer for me.

-ben said...

'Glad it helped, Sean!