Staycation 2021: Is the bicycle caravan about to have its day?

QTvan cycle touring

With the prospect of foreign holidays this summer as uncertain as ever, there has been a surge in demand for domestic breaks. Holiday lets and campsites are overwhelmed with bookings there’s a roaring trade in motorhomes and caravans. Might the bicycle caravan about to have its day? 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.

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.

QTvan bicycle 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.

Qtvan bicycle caravan

We’re not the only ones who think small is beautiful. DIY engineer extraordinaire, Paul Elkin, built the nomad as a lightweight, cheap, insulated bicycle camper to be used for year-round slow touring in comfort or a mobile shelter for the homeless.

bicycle caravan, trailer, QTvan

The entire caravan is built from recycled materials – the body and all interior fittings are made from discarded political campaign banners (the same material that estate agents here in Britain use for the ‘for sale’ boards).

RCA graduate Daniel Durnin built the vessel 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.

bicycle caravan canal boat

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.

Golden Gate bicycle RV

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.

camper bike bicycle caravan

Custom car designer Andy Saunders crammed four seats, a cooker, sink, table and bed into his ‘cramper van’ below.

pedal-powered camper van

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.

Bicycle RV tricycle house bicycle carvan

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.

Tricycle House bicycle caravan

The sink, stove, and bathtub are collapsible and stow away at one end of the tiny home.

A French boat building company last month unveiled the Foldavan – a self-build lightweight bicycle caravan that collapses for easy storage and towing.

Foldavan bicycle caravan

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.

Foldavan bicycle caravan

The Foldavan weighs only 30 kg and has a low centre of gravity, which means it can negotiate even quite rough terrain – in high winds, the sides can be unzipped to let the wind pass through.

Bicycle insurance that’s different

Cycle insurance from the ETA offers a comprehensive level of cover at a competitive price.  We never devalue your bike or charge extra for things like third party liability, personal accident or friends and family cover. On top of that, we have a sympathetic policy on storage in sheds and garages.

For over 30 years we have been providing straightforward, affordable bicycle insurance and we are judged by The Good Shopping Guide to be Britain’s most ethical provider.

Find out more about why we are different. Get an instant quote or call our friendly team on 0333 000 1234.


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