Living the RV life is a dream for many people. Taking a camper out on the open road, exploring at your own pace and sleeping at impromptu sites along the way, it all carries a certain romantic charm. But what if you’re not super excited about the whole “motor vehicle” part of the RV adventure? Well, then you just might take a similar route to these two handy fellows who built their own mini-RV on the back of a bicycle.
Or perhaps a tricycle is the more appropriate term, since this is really more of a trike-camper.
Chris and Jeff from the popular YouTube channel Dangie Bros built the contraption with a single goal: taking a 100-mile (160 km) road trip in two days.
The camper itself, which they estimate to weigh around 500 lb. (227 kg), is largely built out of plywood and aluminum siding. It features a kitchen area with working sink and gas stove, electrical outlets for plugging in devices, a roof vent with electric fan, several ventilation windows, and a single door.
A bed can be assembled and broken down in the top “floor” using a few pieces of lumber and plywood, though the video below shows that it has a tendency to deconstruct itself without warning in the middle of the night.
The rather ambitious goal of a 100-mile road trip in two days started to look a bit far reaching once they realized how hard it was to pedal the micro-RV up even a slight incline.
We’ve seen tiny trike campers before, but they always have some form of electric assist or full electric drive. In this case, the pair were attempting to do the entire trip on pedal power alone. To make matters worse, while they were able to trade off riders to rest their legs, the guy taking a breather served as dead weight in the back of the camper. On uphill sections he would have to get out and help push from behind.
Most of the journey was planned to use a rather nice network of bicycle highway, giving cyclists the rare opportunity to commiserate with drivers getting stuck behind a slow-moving RV.
But the project also highlighted the importance of safe, unobstructed cycling infrastructure. Most people don’t need quite as much space for their bikes as this mini-camper does, but it demonstrates how vulnerable cyclists can be when forced to share the road with cars and trucks.
For example, at one point they had to use a sidewalk on the side of a busier road but were stopped in their tracks when a sign post that extended into the air over the sidewalk prevented them from passing. It forced the mini-RV to roll backward until they could find another route.
Between stops to visit fast-food drive-throughs as well as making occasional repairs, they only made it 10 miles (16 km) in the first day. They ended up overnighting in a Walmart parking lot after unsuccessfully trying to camp in a residential neighborhood and being politely ushered on by local police.
In the morning, they bought a cheap pedal bicycle and used a tow rope to ride out in front of the camper, pulling it along. Doubling the man-power of the mini-RV helped the pair make more headway on the second day, eventually covering around 25 miles total before calling it quits (and having to return within their wives-imposed timeline).
The project isn’t the most glamorous way to go camping, but it did demonstrate that a massive RV or even a smaller camper van isn’t necessary for carrying your own bed, kitchen, and living room with you on the road. A mere pedal tricycle proved more or less up to the task.