I might have a slight bicycle trailer obsession. Maybe it’s because I spent a good long while, pulling my kids in a burley, back there, in the last century, and I associate pulling a trailer with good times. I remember…back in the day, just me and my boys, out on the Palatine Bike Trail, dodging puddles, riding up to Deer Grove for some dirt. After my boys grew out of the burley, I borrowed a BoB trailer from my amigo Kenny (Thanks Dude!) to do some gravel touring and eventually bought a BoB from one of my dearest friends (on this planet) Adam Blake, and have pulled that BoB on bike tours. picnic rides and trail maintenance missions, attached to any number of bikes with 135mm QR rear spacing.
Ever since I’ve had a fat-bike, I’ve wanted to be able to hitch up my BoB Trailer, but with wider/changing axle configurations, which created a fast moving target……I just never quite caught up….until just recently. I started at this project by seeking a custom axle to replace the 190mm Q/R on my Fatback and that led me to a commercially available thru-axle solution made by the Robert Axle Project. Both of these solutions, came from my amigo Patrick (Thanks Patrick!). I also started, knowing that my BoB had the longer extended yoke/fork that allows the trailer to work with 29r’s and my Krampus 29+ (important detail to ensure fat bike compatibility)
What is a BoB Trailer and How Does it Attach?
A BoB Trailer is a single wheeled cargo trailer that is comprised of two sections. The sections are connected at a vertical pivot point. The cargo section of the BoB and the rear wheel are behind the pivot point and forward of the pivot, is a tubular steel yoke that attaches to the rear axle of the bike. The yoke has two vertical dropouts that slide onto special ‘Bobbins’ (pictures below) that are held in place with a special spring loaded pin. Because of the BoB’s ability to articulate, it is amazingly singletrack capable and that’s what drives this quest to make BoB work with my fat-bike.
The wider rear spacing on fat-bikes require an axle that is wider than the QR that BoB sells and BoB doesn’t have any solution for bikes with thru axles. Below we’ll show you solutions to both a fat-bike thru axle and Q/R question of “How do I get BoB to work with my Fat-bike or How to fatten up BoB?”
177/197 Thru Axle
If your fat-bike is relatively new, you probably have a 12 mm thru axle that attaches your rear hub to the frame. Thru axles are the way to go. They’re light and strong and stiff. The really lock your hubs into place and that adds to the overall lateral stiffness of the bike under load. With a few notable exceptions (Surly) Fat-Bike rear spacing is, for the most part, 177 0r 197 mm wide and most rear thru axles are 12 mm in diameter. There are enough variations, in the exact length and thread patterns that make choosing the correct Robert Axle Project Thru Axle important. The folks at RAP have a template that you can print with clear instructions on how to determine the correct item to order.
The Robert Axle Prpject (RAP) thru axle does not come with the bobbins attached. RAP sells Bobbins, but I had multiple sets of BoB Q/R’s and BoB Nuts with Bobbins, so after I installed my used Bobbins, the RAP thru axle simply replaces the stock thru axle. There’s a ~6mm hole drilled into the end that allows a 5mm allen wrench the be used to snug up the thru axle. Once the T/A is installed, then the other end cap (with bobbin) is threaded into the other end, on the drive side. It’s a little crowded on that side with the rear derailleur cable but it works (see above). You are then ready to drop those vertical drop outs on the BoB Trailer yoke and secure the locking pins….but wait…..the yoke is still too narrow to fit on your new, wider axle.
Cold Forging the Yoke
I guess, that I should have probably told you that you would have to bend the yoke to make the drop out spacing wider and then bend the dropouts a bit the keep them aligned to fit squarely onto the bobbins. And I bet that voids the warranty on your BoB Trailer and it also means that that yoke won’t work with your other 135mm spaced bikes (unless you bend it back). If that makes you squeamish, you probably shouldn’t watch this video. If you’re rock’n a twenty year old used BoB, like mine, I watched the video and said, “yeah, I can do that.” It was the perfect excuse to go a buy a vice for the shop. MSRP on a new replacement BoB trailer yoke (they call it a fork) is $55.
The bending of the yoke is the most intimidating part of the conversion, but it turned out to be easier than I had imagined. Once the yoke is modified, the trailer installs, just like it did before the conversion. After a few short test rides, I towed my new fatter BoB, loaded with a full load across Lake Winnebago. It performed flawlessly. We packed a grill and some brats along with refreshments and had a little picnic, before heading back across the lake into a strong quartering headwind (good times).
170mm or 190mm Q/R
If you have a fat bike that has a Q/R rear axle, you are faced with having to fabricate a new rear axle. I had a friend (who probably aced every shop class that he ever took) make the threaded axle that’s pictured below. This set-up requires that I carry two 15mm wrenches to remove the rear tire, but I have a big ole trailer to carry what ever the hell I want now, so that doesn’t seem like a very big deal to gain the ability to pull a trailer load of firewood deep into the snowy woods! The cat that made this for me, wanted me to make sure that people know, that he’s not looking to make any more of them. But maybe you know a guy that know’s his way around the old machine shop or maybe you ARE a guy that knows his way around the old machine shop.
It’s the same deal with the cold forging of the yoke for this set-up, as in the Robert Axle conversion. I’m pretty sure that I’m the first kid on my block to have a fat-BoB, but I hope that this information allows anyone that wants one, to eventually get there. The Robert Axle Project web-site has more helpful information and they make thru axles that work with other brands of trailers as well. Check them out at https://robertaxleproject.com/. Happy Trailering Amigos!
For more information about BoB Trailers visit – http://www.bobgear.com/