The Rollout Trailer helps motivated cyclists to ditch the car … even when they have heavy gear to haul
The Brouhaha Bike Trailer from Wisconsin-based Rollout Self-Propelled Trailers puts a bit of horsepower behind your two-wheeler. Unlike on some other electric-powered bike trailers, that horsepower doesn’t make pedaling any easier; it simply adjusts for the weight of the load so that the cyclist can pedal like normal while carrying everything from a full tailgating set-up to a stand-up paddleboard.
There is already a sizable market of electric cargo bikes and electric bike trailers. Models like the Ridekick are designed to augment pedaling with electric power, providing quicker speeds and less effort.
The Brouhaha is a different kind of e-trailer with a different goal in mind. When he began tinkering with the design several years ago, Brian Bartel sought to build a trailer that could help cyclists replace their cars when hauling all types of large cargo. He wasn’t thinking just a plastic bag or two of groceries, but a month’s worth of stock for a family of four. He built the trailer to exemplify the motto, “If you can carry it on top of your car, you can tow it with your bicycle and the Brouhaha.”
In designing the Brouhaha, Bartel wanted to be sure not to interrupt the exercise of pedaling – that’s the part of biking that’s good for you, after all. He went about hacking an existing aftermarket e-bike kit, replacing the throttle with a proprietary controller and adding a force sensor to monitor the towing force continually so the controller can adjust motor output as necessary to maintain “zero towing force.” So the trailer essentially propels itself while the cyclist pedals like normal.
The Brouhaha trailer is designed to be hitched to any bike. The cyclist simply turns it on and starts pedaling. To ensure the trailer doesn’t start motoring before the cyclist is ready, the motor kicks in only after the wheels have spun through one full rotation. The trailer’s braking also activates when the cyclist brakes the bike.
A combination of 36-volt (9 Ah or 12 Ah options) sealed lead acid battery and 500-watt motor give the Brouhaha trailer the muscle for some pretty impressive haulage. Rollout estimates that the motor system can handle up to 400 lb (181 kg) of gross trailer weight.
Rollout plans to make the trailer modular so that users can quickly swap out purpose-built racks and extensions for things like canoes, children and groceries. During beta testing, Brian’s wife even towed a party set-up of beer, ice, meat, a table and four chairs to a Green Bay Packers game, in a twist on tailgating that demands new terminology – trailer barring?
The Brouhaha is but a prototype for now, but Rollout is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise US$80,000 to polish the hardware and software, smooth out performance and launch a production-ready model. The campaign offers a variety of price points, from a $1,200 three-month rental, to used prototypes starting at $2,500, and a $5,000 first-run production model.
If the campaign is successful, Rollout plans to move toward production this Wisconsin winter, bringing the Brouhaha to market in time for summer 2015. It also advertises customized builds on its website.
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