Motorizing a Truck Bike



1. What is a truck bike?

Generally a truck bike is a beefy industrial bike with a rack welded directly to the frame. On truck bikes where a front rack is welded to the steering tube of the bike, the handlebars and fork turn, but the rack, which is mounted to the frame, does not. Truck bikes are part of a larger category of work bikes, which would include things like pedi-cabs.

2. Why would you want to motorize a truck bike?

There is a natural affinity between truck bikes and bike engines. Truck bikes almost always have massively strong steel frames and wheels which could handle the stress from an engine. Truck bikes by themselves are pretty heavy, and having an engine makes them a lot easier to push around town. Truck bikes are built to transport heavy loads, typically 100 - 500 pounds. With an engine, a truck bike becomes a cheap, realistic alternative to a car.

3. Why not just use a bike trailer?

Bike trailers are awesome and I'm definitely going to make or buy one. I am trying to break down the amount of stuff that I want to carry on a daily basis.

A) Light loads - use a messenger bag or light duty bicycle basket.
B) Medium loads - use a truck bike
C) Heavy loads - use a bike trailer

I like the idea of a motorized industrial bike with a frame mounted front rack, like the Worksman Low Gravity, Kogswell, or Monark Balloon-Tire Bike.

A) These are essentially "normal" sized bikes, and can thread their way through tight urban traffic. Without the trailer they are a lot easier to park, but they are so strong that you woud rarely need your trailer. They are not so large and heavy that you could not transport them on a car-mounted rack if necessary.
B) You could probably use them for commuting, and stop in at the grocery store on your way home. You don't have to do extra planning, like "Oh gee, I'd like to do some shopping now, but I don't have my trailer with me."
C) They usually have special kickstands that keep them upright when they are heavily loaded.

4. Some examples of truck bikes.

Worksman Low Gravity


Monark Balloon-Tire Bike

WorkCycles-Azor Secret Service

Monark Truck (Baker's Bike)

WorkCycles-Azor Factory Bicycle



Xaccess - truck bike project for the 3rd world sponsored by Xtracycle

Yuba - basically an Xtra-cycle / Big Dummy knockoff.


Kickin' it asian style

Bentley Railbike - mmmm nahh...

More than you ever wanted to know about work bikes:



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First of all, I think using 12 gauge wheels, front and rear, is sufficient.

Adding weight, by making the tires/tubes as puncture-proof as possible, will make an aluminum model with engine as stable as steel. I'd guess a good alum cruiser with heavy wheels, comfortable saddle, to be between 70-80 pounds.

The Worksman Low Gravity has the basket independent of the front wheel, and I was thinking about how that principle really works out.

Is it THAT more "stablizing" than a basket/rack that rotates with you, at low speeds when turning? Have you ever ridden a LG to experience the difference?

I think the Tanaka 33 with trail gear would EASILY push a total bike/rider/load weight of 400 MAYBE 500 pounds in the flatlands..

I posted a deadend thread about the Big Boda bike a few weeks ago...

Basis being a very inexpensive stretch bike built for the third world countries.

The very first thing a person thinks about is Pizza Delivery. I also see a future in auto parts and prescription deliveries, "route work" in other words.

If I lived in a urban area, any enterprising individual, with a bike set up to carry lunch orders, could make arrangements with a three varying "carry-out" resturaunts, serving all the offices and businesses in a 4-10 block area.

His simple business plan would be, "if the orders are called in by 10am to say a BBQ, an Italian and a Chinese resturaunt" , he could make a circuit, picking up orders and delivering them door to door throughout his delivery district.

It might take an hour to get all the meals distributed, but through the use of cheap styrofoam coolers and office/shop microwaves, he probably could get a clientele of 20-30 delivery spots in very little time.

Its win-win-win.

(speaking of win-win, sure could use a little GEBE help filling in this thread before the weekend, deadend threads are a bummer):
Good Stuff, Above

Big heavy bikes are the ticket for heavy duty travel.

Reminded me of the bikes used to deliver booze when I was a kid. These were heavy duty (Schwinn or Monarch) cruisers with small front wheel and huge basket over that wheel, to deliver the booze around the neighborhood to other winos in need.

Bet one of those rigs is rare nowadays. Will have to dredge up a pic of one someplace. Don't have an idea what these were called.

Think of all the booze you could run if they had a motor back then. But, considering the current neighborhood, think of all the stolen booze and robberies ... that such a system would spark today. But, for going to grocers or whatever, those bag baskets might be the ticket - or a sidecar??? (Baskets were big enough a twelve year old lad could sit in it.)

Pizza delivered with the beer and no interruptions. Ahhhhh!
Big heavy bikes are the ticket for heavy duty travel.

Reminded me of the bikes used to deliver booze when I was a kid. These were heavy duty (Schwinn or Monarch) cruisers with small front wheel and huge basket over that wheel, to deliver the booze around the neighborhood to other winos in need.

Bet one of those rigs is rare nowadays. Will have to dredge up a pic of one someplace. Don't have an idea what these were called....
That sounds like a low-gravity bike, see the first link in the first post.
One thing to keep in mind is that having huge baskets won't make it that much easier to carry lots of weight: any weight carried relatively high on a bicycle makes it much harder to balance. The best bike for carrying heavy loads is the bakfiets-style bikes (with the big front cargo boxes) and the reason is that they carry the load farily low. Building a long-tail bike with a huge rear rack seems obvious, but it balances so poorly that making emergency maneuvers with it loaded with a lot of weight is just about impossible--it ends up steering somewhat like a cruise ship. Xtracycle doesn't even recommend carrying much weight on top of their extension; they sell the "lowriders" for carrying very-heavy items.


Overall I tend to wonder if these cargo variants are any better than just pulling a trailer. The Euro-bikes (like the bakfiets and the longbikes) have their own justifications, usually where carrying young children is concerned.

The Xtracycle I find especially odd:
It seems to be derived from longtail Euro city bikes--but the main reason these bikes exist is to allow attaching two child seats on the back. So far I haven't seen a US-owned Xtracycle with even one child seat on the back, and I don't even know that they will attach. Xtracycle does sell footpegs for giving an adult passenger a ride, but then we're back to the "carrying heavy loads high" handling issue.

The reasoning for Xtracycle using that design for poor Africans is that wheels are the most expensive parts of bikes there, so the xtracycle idea avoids using more wheels, like a trailer would need. That part makes sense.

At the same time, Xtracycle doesn't use that reasoning to sell it to Western customers. They say it's better than a trailer, because when empty it handles well enough that "you can leave it attached all the time" (nevermind that it's not exactly a quick-conversion, requiring changing the chain and you'll need extra-long brake and shifter cables that you'd have to coil up when the xtracycle wasn't attached).... but when you compare it to what a trailer with roughly the same capacities would cost, it doesn't make a lot of sense. A trailer doesn't require you to change your chain, gear or brake cables, and most trailers only cost $200 to $300. To match the trailer's overall ease of use with an Xtracycle you'd need the $400 conversion kit, the $50 wideloaders and the $120 heavy-duty kickstand.

I haven't owned an extracycle, so it's possible I am completely wrong on the entire issue--but I just don't see the point of paying more for less cargo capacity and flexibility than a trailer would give.

What makes more sense to me is a regular bike with regular cheap baskets front and rear, and a trailer (or two!) for carying anything else. If I had to give up the car I'd have one small light "child trailer" for carrying light (cargo) loads, and a bigger heavier 4-wheel-wagon trailer for carrying big/heavy loads.
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I was Just

making a nastolgic observation. Frankly, if the cargo is that heavy etc, best use a car/truck - safer from the bad boys and from stupid drivers and so on.

Bikes are cool, but limited, definitely limited.


Where did you find it?

If you painted that (antique) bike black and lettered the sign "Dakin Liquors," and put a taller handle bar set and taller wire basket over the front wheel, with supports traveling to the front axle, you would have the delivery system many liquor stores in Chicago used in the 40s and 50s to make deliveries...I think I referred to that above. Those things could hold a big lad, easy.

The Dakin Liquors, corner of Dakin and Sheridan Road, say 3901 North Sheridan Road, had a tavern in its rear room that was known by neighborhood dodgers as the Bucket of Blood, for the wino fights in there. It was a real hole. We kids used to give them a salvo of snowballs annually. One guy holds door open, rest fire snowballs. Hilarious.

By "limited" I meant we have to keep in mind we do ride bicycles, not motorcycles, and should be aware of their limitations so no one is injured, and so on.

Nice pics.
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