The $50 DIY Dirtbike Trailer

Dec. 23, 2008 By Rick Sieman

Even though I had a single rail dirt bike rack that hooked into a square receiver trailer hitch, testing two bikes demanded a trailer that would carry them.  There was a two-fold problem:  the trailer had to be small enough to put in a garage and light enough to be moved around by one person.  Did I mention a third problem?  It couldn't cost a lot of money.

After checking around, it was obvious that new fold-up trailers were in the $600 range without flooring and they were usually sold in kit form, which meant that you had to buy a sheet of plywood and assemble the whole deal. By the time you were done with taxes, wood, fasteners and such, the tab would come to around $700.  I was looking for some cheaper … much cheaper.  This meant used.

After searching around, I located a very used trailer and negotiated a price:  fifty bucks. The trailer was, quite frankly, a mess.  The wood was badly warped and all rotted out, nuts and bolts were missing, all the wiring was baked and cracked and the tail lights were non-operating.  Plenty of rust coated the metal framework and the trailer tongue seemed frozen.  Perfect.

Didn't look like much when we got it home. Anybody want to buy some used plywood?

When I got the trailer home, the first thing to do was get rid of all the old wood.  Some of it was so rotten that it could be ripped off the mounting bolts with your bare hands.  This exposed the metal frame, which got a thorough working over with a wire brush and sandpaper.  All the rusty nuts and bolts were removed at this point. Then a few coats of primer and gloss black spray paint were applied via a few spray cans I had in the garage.

After the old wood was removed, a funky old frame was revealed. Fresh paint was applied after a bunch of sanding. The frame was folded up to make painting easier.

The tires looked to be in good shape, but I took the wheels off and put fresh grease on the wheel bearings and some Armor All on the tires.  Fresh nuts and bolts were installed where needed from my collection of stuff saved from many years. I bought a fresh pair of tail lights for ten bucks and bolted them home.  A trip to the local hardware store got seven hefty eye bolts for another ten dollars.  Some more scrounging around in my""collection"" located one more beefy eye bolt.  All these were attached in the existing frame holes, using double nuts and Loctite.  You don't want your tie-downs to come loose on the road.

Strong eye bolts were bolted home. New tail lights were installed.

Go to Page 2 for continued instructions

A sheet of plywood was next.  The 4' x 8' sheet of ½ inch plywood cost us $11.50 and the store even cut it into half for us.  Since the floor of the trailer was 4' x 8' total, this was a perfect fit.  It took a few hours of work to bolt the fresh floor to the trailer and stout fasteners (again, from my collection) were used, with large washers on the wood surface to keep the wood from deforming.

New plywood was fitted to the frame. Plenty of bolts were used to hold the platform on.

Front wheel chocks were made from an old 2 x 4.  They were made in a V-shape and attached from the bottom of the platform with long wood screws.  About a dozen screws in each piece made for strong chocks. The location of the chocks was determined by the wheelbase of the bikes, figuring on an average of 56 inches wheelbase.  The bike was centered over the axle and the chocks were placed where the front wheel would be.  A bit of luck was on our side here, as the chocks were very close to a cross member of the frame.  This meant that the wood platform would not buckle when the tie-downs were pulled tight.

Wheel chocks were fabricated using an old 2x4. The outline was traced and holes were drilled for screws. Wheel chocks in place. Now the trailer is starting to take shape.

Our attention was turned to the wiring and all the old rotten wiring was replaced with (what else?) good used stuff from my collection. Some WD40 was sprayed all over the hitch mount and the mechanism was broken free and cycled a bunch of times until it worked properly again.

Next, attention is turned to the wiring. Wiring the trailer to the trailer light loom.

All told, $50 was spent on the trailer itself, $10 for tail lights, $10 for eye-bolts and $11.50 for plywood. (More money was spent on getting a license for the trailer, but we won't count that, will we?) The grand total was $81.50.  Not too shabby for a trailer.

So how does it work?  Great.  We were able to mount two bikes easily, as the trailer is very low.  It's very light and can be moved around easily by one person.  With the back half of the trailer folded up, it takes very little room in the garage. When towing, you can hardly tell anything is there behind our mini-van.  It looks pretty good, too. There you have it … the amazing $50 trailer.  Well, actually $81.50.

-rs Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!