Extrawheel Voyager Trailer

We started our 2011 trip using the Extrawheel Voyager trailer.  This is, as the name suggests, an extra wheel.  It’s the same size as your bike’s rear wheel and attaches by a simple frame to the rear axle of your bike.  You then hang another set of panniers on the frame and off you go.

Pino & Extrawheel trailer make a tidy unit – at least that was the plan …

The particular appeal of this set up was the fact that as the extra wheel is the same size as our tandem’s rear wheel we could poach the tyre, rim and spokes from it to repair the tandem’s wheel if needed (the rear wheel is the achilles heel of a loaded touring tandem).  It’s also very lightweight and packs down flat for transportation on planes and trains.

Smart looking set-up at a harbour in Piriac, France

Despite reading some really great reviews of this trailer, it sadly did not live up to expectations.  No matter how carefully we loaded it, after the first couple of hundred kilometres it developed an increasingly vigorous wagging motion. Strangely, the wagging only occurred on tarmac and the oscillations would increase in strength until the tandem was also being jolted from side to side and we’d have to stop.  On dirt trails the trailer tracked perfectly without any fuss or bother.

Broken trailer number 1, in Roscoff, France

At first we blamed each other for not pedalling smoothly, but nothing we did could curb the wagging.  We cursed our way through the UK and Ireland trying a variety of trailer-packing strategies and pedalling styles.  When we got to France the drop-out sheared off the frame.  We thought it had been an unlucky ‘bad batch’ and were actually relieved to have discovered the cause of the wagging, but when Extrawheel sent us a replacement, the new trailer soon developed exactly the same problem.  Almost immediately we became aware of an intermittent wiggle and within a few days the trailer was wagging like an over-enthusiastic labrador.  The drop-out sheared off again, this time in Germany, and Extrawheel sent us our third trailer.  Within a few hundred kilometres the wagging began yet again.  We gave up on the Extrawheel in Poland and bought a Bob Yak.

Broken trailer number 2, in southern Germany along the Rhine

We shipped the Extrawheel home and one day might try it with a solo bike because it seems odd that so many other cyclists have reported no problems with it.  Could it be something to do with using it in conjuction with a tandem that causes the wagging?

25 responses to “Extrawheel Voyager Trailer

  1. Sorry to hear about your troubles.
    Did you try to adjust the fork tension?
    I had a customer with similar issues and it turned out that he didn’t adjust the fork to the right tension. There is a video on Youtube on how to do it.

    I have not had a single warranty case in Australia and most of my customers do hardcore single trail journeys like the Mundabiddy trail in WA. Never heard of this.

    Regards,
    Edward

    • Hi Edward,
      Thanks for your note on our review of the ExtraWheel trailer. Yes, we did adjust the tension (tighter, looser, medium tight, really tight …) but nothing resolved our problem. With each of the 3 ExtraWheel trailers that we had, they all would start their life with us working perfectly, but after about 500 to 800kms, they would start to wobble and then the wobble would get worse and worse until it would break. Our 1st & 2nd trailers both broke but before the 3rd broke, we emptied it and towed it for about 600kms nearly empty until we relieved it of its duties and replaced it with the BOB-Yak. The 3rd Extrawheel is now back in the UK and we intend to use it one day in the future behind a solo bike to see what it does then. Since we got the BOB-Yak, it has worked faultlessly for about 25,000kms with our only issues being rear-facing drop-outs, and an original tyre failure after 19,000kms.

      You say that you have not had a single warranty case in Australia – have any of your customers tried the trailer behind a tandem? Also, you comment that your customers have used it on hardcore single trail journeys. Our product review mentions that on smooth tarmac, the wobble was at its worst, while on slightly rough ground (such as a gravel trail) the wobble would actually go away. Over and over again, we tried so many things to stop it from wobbling and nothing worked. I was in direct contact with the manufacturers in Poland and they failed to come up with a solution.

      It’s obvious that the product works for a lot of people, else there would not be so many positive product reviews out there on the web – and indeed that’s why we initially chose the Extrawheel – but it didn’t work for us despite how much we wanted it to.
      Thanks for now,
      Keith.

  2. Hi Keith,

    Tarmac is fine. Our son did Perth to Broome. That’s a few thousand km on tarmac and he even mounted a solar panel on top that could easily cause wobble.
    “Standard” tandems are fine too. Know a lot of people that use tandems and Extrawheels.

    Your case is starting to intrigue me. You know, I’m a mechanical engineer and started distributing Extrawheel because of its technical advantages compared to Bob type trailers. I’ve heard of one issue with wobble that was sorted out by adjusting the fork tension.

    The damage of the frames is easily explained with the wobble. Constant load-shifts like that cause damage.
    As you exchanged the frame and adjusted the tension of the fork it only leaves one other component to look at.

    Did you exchange the fork?

    You know the stability and dampening of the frame is solely handled by the fork. That’s why the right tension is so important. Any manufacturing defect inside the spring steel (not visible from the outside) could cause the tension within the fork to be uneven. Adding or loosening tension would not help because the non-symmetrical forces would always cause a dynamic response.
    It’s your issues with flat tarmac that pin points to that. On tarmac your pedalling is more constant so you can easily trigger some natural frequency type of response (the fork is essentially a spring). On rough surface the fork experiences irregular forces in a constantly changing frequency so no amplification occurs.

    If you exchanged the fork too I’ll have to exclude your type of bike from the list and put a warning on my website. It’s a great tandem concept but maybe it just happens to induce alternating forces that trigger a natural frequency type response from the fork.

    Regards,

    Edward

    • Hi Edward,
      Thanks for your reply and your interest but please note that this all happened in 2011 and we’ve done a lot more travelling since then, but I think I remember most of the facts relating to the ExtraWheel.

      Our first big disappointment with the ExtraWheel was with the panniers and the way that they sagged when loaded owing to the rather useless plastic backplate in each pannier. In this photo, you can see how the panniers sagged and we feared that the rivets on the backplates were going to rip through. Sagging panniers on ExtraWheel trailer in April 2011
      So after 1100kms of use (during which we did experience a little bit of wobble from time to time) we had the panniers modified with a nice strong piece of aluminium plate across the backplate to stop the sagging. That modification fixed the sagging panniers, however by the time we completed 1400kms the wobble in the trailer was causing serious problems, which continued to get worse over the next 200km. We were trying different pedal strokes to stop the wobble. I (as the pilot) was telling Tamar that she wasn’t pedalling smoothly enough, and she was telling me the same. When we set off from a standstill, we would normally both lead with our right foot, so I tried it with Tamar leading left foot and me leading with my right, but the trailer still wobbled. After 1750kms the first trailer broke and one of the drop-outs sheared off. I agree fully with your comment about the wobble being the cause of the breakage as the wobble is exerting forces on the dropouts that they are not designed to contain, but with our first trailer failure, we initially chose to blame the (obviously) weak drop-out as being the cause of the wobble, so we sourced a new trailer frame from the manufacturers in Poland. On this occasion, we received a replacement frame only.

      The replacement frame arrived with us, and we set off again. From the very first kms, it would wobble a little every now and then. In northern France (where we were at the time) we used a lot of cinder-trails built on old railway lines and the trailer would be as good as gold, but when we were out on the smoothest tarmac the wobble would return and it would have a resonance that would amplify if we didn’t either go over some rough ground, or perhaps do a couple of slalom moves on the bike, or just bring the bike to a standstill. We re-arranged the load in the trailer but that didn’t really resolve anything. After about a further 1500kms the wobble broke the axle in the wheel of the trailer, so I fixed that, but it didn’t fix the wobble in the trailer. Communication with the manufacturers made us wonder if the fork has become damaged, so we then tried to source a new one of those and we removed lots of weight from the trailer by loading the kit onto the bike, sort of doing away with the whole point of having a trailer. We were by then towing a trailer with minimal weight in it just to stop it from wobbling. Despite the light weight of the load, about 500kms later one of the drop-outs starts to break off and we then hadnto tow the trailer completely empty to a campsite where we had arranged to receive a replacement. In discussion with the manufacturers, and trying to think of a possible cause, we asked for a new frame, a new fork, and new panniers – so the only part of our old kit that we were left with was our wheel, which we had built up to our specification with a rim that matched the rim on the back-wheel of our tandem.

      When we finally received delivery of the replacements (frame, fork & panniers) we binned all of the old kit and set off again.

      A question regarding the tension on the fork – if too loose, the trailer will wobble, so it must be sufficiently tight, but can it be too tight? And might too tight cause a wobble as well? Either way, I certainly adjusted the tension on the new fork, closely following the guidelines from the various sources on the web and from the manufacturers.

      Within 700kms the new trailer had started to wobble again on smooth roads, and at that point we gave up trying to get it to work and ordered a Bob-Yak trailer to be delivered to us. We travelled a further 300kms with the ExtraWheel, but we decided that we wanted to keep the trailer to use it at a later date on a solo-bike, so at that point we removed most of the weight from it and carried on with a near empty trailer again.

      The trailer is now back in the UK, sitting in a box in a garage and at some point in the future we will try it again behind a solo bike and see how it behaves then, but at this point in time we have no idea when that might be. Meanwhile we have completed over 25,000kms with the Bob and never once has it wobbled on any type of surface or at any speed, regardless of the load in it, or how the trailer is packed. While the wobble experienced with the ExtraWheel may have been induced by the nature of our tandem, the same has never occured with the Bob. This leads me to conclude that the “spring” nature of the ExtraWheel fork is where the problem lies, and as the Bob fork is just about completely rigid, then the same problem cannot occur. It figures then that if the ExtraWheel came with a much stronger or even rigid fork, the wobble and resonance of the wobble, would not occur.

      The failure of the ExtraWheel was a major disappointment for us. The Bob trailer has its downsides as well – it is heavy and bulky which both make it a pain to fly with, but at the end of the day, as a trailer, it works brilliantly. We would have liked to consider something like the “Webber Mono-Porter” single-wheeled trailer, but as we were on the road and leaving western Europe when the Extrawheel let us down for the 3rd time, we felt that it was best to go for something with a good track-record, thus our choice to get the Bob. As for our tandem, we love it!

      I hope this explains what you need to know – sorry that it’s a bit lengthy.
      Best regards,
      Keith.

  3. Hi Keith,

    Thank you very much for this detailed reply. I will ask my past customers if they experienced anything like this and try to determine what causes it.

    It all pinpoints to the fork’s spring design. It’s normally one of the features of the trailer design but in your case it seems to backfire.

    In regards to your question if being too tight can cause wobble too: The answer is yes. Wobble is an alternating effect. Basically a visible vibration. There is a video on Youtube posted by the manufacturer “extrawheel1” that shows how to correctly tension the fork.
    It would be great to have somebody else (maybe a friend) use your Extrawheel trailer behind a “standard” diamond frame bicycle.

    Regards,
    Edward

  4. Hi. Thanks for your post on the Extrawheel. I am one of those users who have used mine touring through the Gascoyne here in Western Australia and on the Munda Biddi Trail so have used mine behind a Surly Long Haul Trucker and behind a Giant XTC 2 mountain bike.

    I haven’t thankfully experienced any of your problems which I know is not much help sorry. That said I appreciate you sharing your experiences as sometimes these things simply do not work for all concerned. I do hope you get a solution and the trailer works for you on other bikes.

    Enjoy your touring!

    • Thanks for dropping by on our blog Andrew – hope your own travels are going well. I will use the ExtraWheel one day on a solo to see how it works out, but for now, the BOB-YAK trailer on the back of the tandem, continues to work perfectly.
      Safe touring,
      Keith.

  5. Pingback: Extrawheel Voyager Trailer (2011) Owner ReviewAushiker

  6. I have been using a BoB Yak for years. The pros far outweigh the cons in imho…….. Not that I am looking to change up but would not even look at the ExtraWheel off of the back of this “real world” review.

    • Please note, our ExtraWheel review is based on it being used behind a Pino Tandem, where our experience was that it didn’t work at all. However we know of many others who have had no such problems when using it with a solo bike. Thus, we have kept our ExtraWheel Voyager and anticipate using it one day behind a solo bike, and sometime after that, we may update this review with details of whatever we may experience then.

  7. Hi. I am interested to hear your ExtraWheel experiences. We have had similar problems on long distant tandem touring. We paid particular attention to loading and even blamed the ping-pong ball for overloading one side -haha. We have had ours fail three times and each time managed to limp to a welder to get it repaired. Once we snapped the link also. However we keep persevering as it is a good lightweight easy to pack alternative. A couple of things seem to help the oscillation. Firstly switching the panniers from left to right and vice versa so that the pockets are facing forward shifted the load and helps (usually). Secondly bungy strapping the two panniers together by the handles and also from the bottom of one to the bottom of the other over the top. Shifting them around and finding a good balance point. Oscillation always occurred on smooth road, rough tracks spoil the oscillation effect. I suppose we are forgiving and keep persevering but watching out for the wobble. We also had a tension spring snap on a tight maneuver – only solution was to wait for ExtraWheel to ship us a new one.

    • Hi Alan,
      Thanks for your comment – at last somebody else who has experienced the same problem as we did with the ExtraWheel!! The way in which you describe the problem, especically with the smooth road, rough road comparison, that is exactly like it was for us. For us though, we couldn’t swap the left & right panniers around as the rear panniers that we have on the bike, also have big additional pockets on them, and the 2 sets of pockets would have hit each other.

      What sort of Tandem do you ride? Is it a traditional tandem, or a semi-recumbent like ours?

      For us at one point, we were blaming each other for a jerky peddle stroke!!

      I still intend to try the ExtraWheel out behind a solo-bike at some point in the future, but for the moment we’re still travelling with the BOB-Yak, and it continues to follow behind us in a faultless manner … just like it should, even after over 30,000kms of use.

      Thanks again & best wishes for your travels,
      Keith.

  8. Hi Keith
    We ride a full suspension Ventana, also purchased from JD Cycles. We got the extra wheel because we needed a trailer to carry all our camping, cooking, clothes etc as we cannot fit any panniers on the tandem. To be honest it has survived well. We towed it from Wales to The Algave with only once having to weld the dropouts (on day three!). And from Sydney to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road with only one stop for welding. Because we have a mountain bike tandem we tend to ride more tracks than tarmac. Ironically the ExtraWheel was blamed for the swing arm failures and eventually the frame failure of the tandem. We have now have a new (steel) frame for the tandem and hope that whenever or wherever the ExtraWheel fails we can get it welded, and because of it’s lightness we can get everything packed down inside the baggage restrictions of most airlines.

    I was searching the web for information about the Pino, when I found your blog. We thought the Pino would be the answer to our prayers as a long distance tourer which can be loaded up and also tow a trailer. We have test rode JD’s Pino and liked it very much. We also just bumped into a French couple in La Rochelle, who were just returning home after riding to Bangkok and back on their Pino also with a trailer.

    After reading about the frame problems you have had I think we will stick with the Ventana, and will never get tempted to buy an aluminum bike, but may consider a stronger trailer.

    I think your reaction from Hase was similar to ours from Ventana. I spoke to them when we broke our swing arm for the 3rd time on the trip to Portugal. His reaction was ” Gee – most guys just get their tandem out for the weekend and then put it back in the garage” -or something like that. They dont expect people to put their machines through such extreme use. Then they can justify the design by saying only a small percentage of their bikes fail.

    Great to hear of your adventures. We must embark on a new one soon ourselves.

    Hope all goes well, enjoy the Pino!

    Alan

    • Hi Alan,
      Thanks for the reply – much appreciated. Regarding the weakness of the Pino frame and that our fun & games has put you off buying, well we still love ours and it’s worth noting that our current frame has nearly 18,000kms on it (on roads through China & S.E. Asia) and to be fair, on the occasions when we’ve needed to get it re-welded, we’ve found an aluminium welder without too much difficulty, 1st time in Crimea & 2nd time in northern (& rural) China. We love the riding experience and really like the fact that the stoker can see the road ahead and thus can anticipate whenever the pilot is going to have to swerve or brake suddenly – these features alone improve the experience for the stoker massively (in our experience).
      We’re impressed that you guys can fit all your gear into the trailer alone that don’t need panniers on the bike – hats off to you !!!
      I’ve also heard recently (but I’m not sure how true it is) that HASE have now started to say that use of a single-wheeled trailer isn’t allowed anymore as it strains the frame, but I personally recon that’s rubbish as I feel a double wheeled trailer would be a lot worse.
      Anyway – enjoy your next trip.
      Best wishes,
      Keith.

    • Hi Alan,
      We are planning a 5 month tour on a ventana ECDM tandem through South America. Would love to get in touch with you with regards to your experiences. Do you have a blog?
      Cheers,
      James

      @Threewheeling – thanks for the great blog – really enjoyed reading about your adventures.

  9. I ? Am definitely sticking with the Bob Yak on my Thorn Nomad MKII or……. fully loaded with panniers on Thorns’ own super sturdy front and rear racks !

  10. Hi Keith, I hope all is going well for you both. Just a quick note to let you know we are taking delivery of our own Pino in a few days. We returned to JD’s for a service on the Ventana, had another trial ride of the Pino and once again were sold on the idea – backed up by your very inspirational trip. I am not sure where we will end up taking it, but looking forward to new adventures with it. Having read your kit list we are trying to find Arkel rt40’s for the front panniers. It seems they are like rocking horse s!*t. Any suggestions

    Regards Alan

    • Hi Alan,
      Good to hear from you again – and well done with the Pino purchase. Note the Pino-Lovers facebook page (if you’re a facebook user) where you’ll meet some other Pino users, and let us know if you start keeping a blog or anything. Regarding our Arket RT40’s, I think we had to order them directly from the manufacturers in Canada and get them shipped, which if we recall, wasn’t cheap, but they are brilliant for the job, and really, really handy in that they hold water-bottles for the stoker.
      Wishing you many happy Pino miles (or km’s pending on how you count),
      Keith.

  11. Hi Keith. Congrats on a very informative blog which I have just read through with interest.
    I am considering an Extrawheel for touring next year, behind my “normal” bike but I also have a tandem :-)
    I am wondering if the extra wheelbase of tandems is the culprit?
    For instance, if only the pilot rides a tandem the oscillation which is set up is a real experience and steering input is really magnified. With the stoker behind it’s a lot less – damped by the additional weight? You may even think it’s not there but I reckon that’s just natural compensation on the part of the pilot who is continually providing steering input/minor balance changes. Maybe all tandems “wag” a trifle at fhe rear but the riders are so accustomed to it they think it doesn’t exist. This may explain the problem of flexing to failure on the Extrawheel fork and no flexing success on the rigid Bob fork.
    My tandem is conventional and I have no experience of other types, and these are just my thoughts and I have yet to tour with a trailer on any of my bikes.
    I have been offered a Bob Yak to try but the sheer bulk of it puts me off so it will more than likely be an Extrawheel behind my Enigma Etape.
    Safe riding.

    • Hi Monty,
      Thanks for reading our blog. There are comments posted from other owners of a tandem (a traditional tandem) on the review of the Extra-Wheel and they endured the exact same problem with their Extra-Wheel trailer as we did with ours, even down to the description of it being worst on super smooth roads, and no wobble on slightly gravelly tracks. So my thinking is that it’s got something to do with the extra oscilation created in tandem riding, but I can’t nail it any closer than that. I’d like to hear from other tandemist’s that may have tried it, but alas, I can’t choose my readers. Our BOB trailer is brilliant, but yes a bit bulky. Have you ever come accross another trailer called the Webber Mono-Porter? We saw one in a shop in Germany before we bought the BOB, but I just didn’t know enough about the Webber to try it, but I have seen photos of others using it, but I’ve not read any reports. Worth looking into though as it has the rigidity of the BOB, but has been designed for packing down small.
      Anyway, thanks again. Enjoy your own riding too,
      Keith.

  12. Hello
    I have the old and the new Extrawheel and have no problems at all but then I don’t use it after a tandem.
    I just want to point out that Extrawheel must have changed the drop out design, as mine is different from your pictures.

    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-K2quw8GLfqQ/VLpYU3kPpCI/AAAAAAAAEG0/NHFW1l5FbtU/s800/IMG_4000.JPG
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-kPne3eCidIo/VLpYVX042XI/AAAAAAAAEGo/bKDgcVL1ZMU/s1024/IMG_4001.JPG

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comments and the links to the pictures. I wonder is the reason for the drop-out design change anything to do with the tandem related problems and if so whether or not it works? Our best solution was to stop using it. Thanks too for your other (now deleted) thoughts and considerations – we did try many things to get it to stop wobbling, but like I say, the best solution was to just stop using it altogether.
      Happy travelling,
      Keith.

  13. I wonder if you tried adjusting the tire pressure on your extrawheel trailer? Perhaps this was too obvious for you to mention in your post. I do not have a tandem, but did have bad oscillation with my extrawheel trailer. Adjusting tire pressure has significantly reduced the problem, although I have not put nearly as many miles on mine as you appear to so the problem may reappear. I initially assumed that I should set pressure to same as other wheels on the bike, but with less weight on the trailer you want lower tire pressure.

    • Interesting thought Brian. Thinking back, I can not recall if we did or didn’t mess around with the tyre pressure … I would think we probably did, but can’t recall. Either way, such fiddling should not be necessary and was never necessary with the BOB. Thanks for your contribution.

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