This prototype bicycle camper seems like a great idea, but unless you live in a very flat region without high winds, the Wide Path Camper might be better suited to using as a backyard microcabin. Or to advertise your business.
When I first saw mention of this cool little micro bicycle camper, I got a little weak in my knees. Because bicycles! Because tiny houses! Because pedal-powered nomadic lifestyle!
But after taking a few deep breaths, I'm over it. I do love the idea itself, but I think the product itself has a long, long, way to go to be a feasible option for most people (even most of us bike-loving treehugging types).
I think we're all prone to making the mistake of thinking that because something looks like it ought to work really well, that it actually does. I'm definitely guilty of it, perhaps in part because I work in media and am constantly being pitched on products and innovations that look awesome in print (well, pixels, actually), but which only part of the time pan out into a viable real-world success.
The other influence that skews my thinking is confirmation bias, which is in essence helping me to see what I want to see, based on what I'm interested in and supportive of. Such as tiny houses and bicycles.
Surely tiny campers that can be towed by bike are awesome and worthy of being coveted as a great green way to travel, right? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
This quote from designer Joshua Brewer makes a great point about the disconnect between beauty and utility:
"Just because something looks good doesn’t mean its useful. And just because something is useful does not make it beautiful." - Joshua Brewer
A micro-sized travel trailer that allows cyclists to pull their own home behind them is one of those things that fits into the category of "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
The Wide Path Camper, from Mads Johansen of Sønderborg, Denmark, is described as "a small and light weight foldable camper designed for bicycles," which is an admirable goal. However, to my way of thinking, it really requires an electric bike to be able to use it as intended, because it weighs in at 40kg (88lb) before any gear is loaded onto it.
While it certainly is possible to pull a trailer that heavy with your bike, you're probably not going up any big hills with it, especially if you wanted to carry any other stuff in there, like your clothes or sleeping gear or food. At one point in my life, I used to haul about half that amount of weight regularly on a bike trailer, so I know it's doable, but I have to wonder if it's worth the effort to pull, when you can carry a tent with you instead, which weighs so much less.
The Wide Path Camper also has a pretty high profile for something that gets pulled behind a bicycle, and based on my personal experience in biking in windy conditions, it seems like an accident waiting to happen. With that high of a trailer on your bike, not only would a headwind feel like you're pulling an elephant behind you, but a crosswind could actually be deadly if it pulled your bike across traffic, or over the side of a hill.
And if you were to be such a badass as to be able to pull this thing up hills, coming down the other side would be a whole experience in itself, considering how much weight you'd now have pushing you down (assuming you did pack some gear in there). You'd probably need a beefy upgrade to your brakes, to install some remote brakes on the trailer itself, or to cultivate a will of steel in order to ride it down the hill at full speed.
Having said all of that, I still love this idea. I think if it was a popup model with a low profile, and if it was paired with an electric bike (or electric assist on the trailer itself?), then it would probably be loads of fun.
Or I could be totally wrong, and it's perfect the way it is. Perhaps if you only need to pull it along a flat road for a couple of miles to go camping nearby, or if you can hook up a tandem bike and double your pulling power, then it could be a great new cycling accessory.
If you're interested, it sounds like models should be available for purchase sometime in early 2015, and will set you back about $2500. Contact Wide Path Camper for more info.