Increased interest in staycations has boosted sales of motorhomes, but what about cycle camping? Environmentally benign and offering the perfect pace for exploration, cycle camping can be surprisingly comfortable.
Gernot Rammer, Jürgen Haller and Martin Kladensky have spent the last four years refining their idea for an inflatable bicycle caravan – working hard to find the optimum balance between design, weight, pack size, stability and handling. The result of their hard work is the B-Turtle – a bike trailer/caravan hybrid for cycle tourists who do not want to give up a comfortable bed at night. The trailer is made from lightweight tubing and weighs only 30kg.
Within minutes, the compact bike trailer pops up into a comfortable sleeping tent for 2 people.
Both the structure of the tent and sleeping platform are inflatable for maximum weight savings and comfort. The B-Turtle trailer costs £2,660 to buy and the company has plans to also offer them for hire. More information at gentletent.com
We love a good bicycle caravan. In an age preoccupied with speed and gizmos, their snail-like pace and diminutive size isn’t for everyone, but travel is always more rewarding in the slow lane.
RCA graduate Daniel Durnin built the amphibian bicycle caravan below as way of taking a sustainable micro break without venturing too far afield. An escape from the stresses of city life, the Water Bed is an amphibious caravan that encourages users to reconnect with the city’s waterways and wildlife.
The Water Bed is constructed from marine plywood and a lightweight aluminum frame, which supports two bicycle wheels for towing.
Jay Nelson has combined his love of cycling with stuff he had lying around his house to build Golden Gate – a tiny mobile camper big enough to carry two surfboards on its roof and enough gear to stay away for a weekend.
The steep hills around his home town of San Francisco meant he soon upgraded to a small electric motor with a range of 10 miles and a top speed of 20 mph, but the Golden Gate rightfully deserves its place in our cycle camper hall of fame.
The American artist Kevin Cyr is best-known for the camper bike he built in 2008. It was conceived as a standalone piece and the subject of a series of paintings.
Custom car designer Andy Saunders crammed four seats, a cooker, sink, table and bed into his ‘cramper van’ below.
The Tricycle House is pedal-powered recreational vehicle (RV) similar to the Cramper Van, but offers even more comfort as it boasts its own bath and shower.
Each piece of the tiny house is made from lightweight plastic that has been cut with a CNC router, scored, folded and welded into shape. The polypropylene plastic bodywork can expand like an accordion to create more space, and connect to other houses. The translucent plastic allows the interior to be lit by the sun during the day or street lamps at night.
The sink, stove, and bathtub are collapsible and stow away at one end of the tiny home.
We’re such fans of the bicycle caravan concept here at the ETA that we built our own. Our QTvan might not have a bath like the Tricycle House, but it’s the ideal accessory for cyclists who demand luxury on their camping trips. The QTvan is a fully-equipped, single-berth caravan designed to be towed by a bicycle. It’s so small that it hods the Guinness World Record for smallest caravan.
The QTvan boasts a full-sized single bed, 19” television, drinks cabinet and tea-making facilities. The ETA commissioned the bicycle caravan to illustrate the efficiency of the bicycle.
A French boat building company is behind the Foldavan – a self-build lightweight bicycle caravan that collapses for easy storage and towing.
Wooden Widget already produces a range of collapsible boats and sailing dinghies that can be towed behind a bicycle and the Foldavan shares many of the same design principles.
Built from wood, carbon fibre and reinforced PVC cloth, the teardrop-shaped Foldavan has three modes. When being stored, or transported on a car roof rack, it collapses flat. While being towed by a bicycle, it opens to 60 cm – about the same as the width as most handlebars. Once at its destination, it takes less than five minutes to transform the Foldavan into camping mode. Fully-extended, the caravan measures 1.2 m wide and offers over one metre of headroom.
Ethical cycle insurance
On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. Check your small print for so-called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use the term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.
With ETA cycle insurance, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. No wonder The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be Britain’s most ethical provider.