Its November here in Michigan which means less and less days of riding my RadWagon are ahead of me. It also means less days of making the .5 mile ride with my 5 year old son in the Caboose on the back to school too. It’s been wildly convenient dropping him off at the door to his Kindergartens classroom this fall.
And boy have I liked not firing up my 2004 F150 to make that .5 mile drive with him and play musical cars with the other parents. Its not that bad. But it does take 10 minutes longer due to weaving through the neighborhood, parking away from the school, walking to the door with him, back to the truck, and driving home. Its just not as efficient as the bike.
I haven’t really used the RadWagon in the winter in my three years of owning it but what if I could use it this winter to take him to school? I’d have to find a way to block out the wind on the ride as thats whats most important. I dont plan on using the bike on snowy days or anything below 20 degrees. But on those other days I would.
Unfortunately I could not find anything. At least not anything for the RadWagon. There was one DIY for a Yuba cargo bike which was ok but I wanted something a bit nicer. I’ve got a reputation as “that guy who rides an orange bike with his kid on the back to school” to uphold.
I put on my design cap and came up with this.
What You Need
Keenz All Weather Cover – Follow the link and put in “BRADGIBALA-TBOC” at checkout where it says apply discount code. Its a $20 off coupon code at The Better Options CO. website that they gave me to give to you. How nice of them. You’ll get the cover for $60 instead of $80.
(Keenz was bought by The Better Options Co. a week after I bought the cover from Keenz directly for $60. You can price check the Keenz All Weather Cover on Amazon too.)
20 feet of .5 inch PVC – I bought two 10 foot sections. Had 4 feet left over. $3.34 total.
(4) .5 inch 90 degree side outlets – For the top section. $7.12 total
(4) .5 inch Tee fittings – For the bottom section. $2 for all four.
(4) 1/4 inch – 20 x 2 inch round head screws – To secure the bottom TEE fittings to the Caboose parts. $2.36 total.
Keenz Wagon Cover $60. Parts – $15 . About $75 total.
All PVC parts I used were unthreaded. You will probably be able to find the parts at much cheaper prices at your local hardware store. I linked to Amazon for reference but purchased at Home Depot and Ace Hardware.
Get gray PVC so it matches the Keenz cover.
Cut 4 pieces at 18.5 inches for the vertical posts.
Cut 2 pieces at 15 inches for the top’s middle posts.
Cut 2 pieces at 21 inches for the top’s side posts.
I used my Dewalt Cordless Drill and what I believe to be a step drill bit to shave the inside of the TEE fitting so the threaded metal pieces that go across the front and back of the Caboose can slide into the TEE fitting. This is how I made my design work.
Drill a hole with a drill bit in the center back side of the TEE fitting.
Use the 2 inch screws to attach TEE fittings to outside of Caboose and the threaded metal piece that comes with the Caboose. Tighten as best as you can. Attach the PVC together like the box it is.
Throw the cover on top and velcro it to the frame. And you are done.
How Long To Recoup Costs Vs. Driving?
Lets assume 4 months of winter. Four .5 mile trips everyday. Two there and two back for 2 miles total.
2 miles x 5 days = 10 miles a week
4 weeks in a month x 10 miles = 40 miles a month
4 months of winter x 40 miles a month = 160 miles in winter.
2004 F150 5.4L gets 14 MPG city (It does get 17 MPG combined though!!)
160 miles / 14 MPG = 11.4 gallons of gas.
11.4 gallons x $2.75 gallon of gas = $31.35
10 minutes of warming up each morning to please my 5 year old and the truck because neither quite like the cold.
10 minutes a day x 5 days = 50 minutes a week x 4 weeks a month = 200 minutes a month x 4 months = 800 minutes or 13.3 hours of the truck warming up.
Estimates are a truck with a 5.4L engine can idle 52 hours on a full tank.
13.3 hours / 52 hours = .255. About a quarter of the trucks 26 gallon tank would burn off idling. 26 x .25 = 6.5 gallons burnt off idling over the winter.
6.5 gallons x $2.75 gallon of gas = $17.875
$31.35 + $17.875 = $49.225 to warmup and drive my son to and from school the entire winter.
Doesn’t look like I’m going to cover the $75 for the Keenz Wagon Cover and parts this winter. But my 4 year old daughter starts Kindergarten next year and my 5 year old will be in 1st grade. And both fit on the bike with the cover on. Looking like next year to recoup the costs.
The money is one aspect but its more about not putting wear and tear on my 15 year old truck. It still runs quite well but I don’t like using it for short trips.
Not playing musical cars with the other parents in the morning is nice. Its inevitable I will drive on really cold and snowy days. It happened while I was waiting for the Keenz All Weather Cover to be delivered.
There isn’a parking lot large enough for all the parents and the one street where everyone parks to get out and walk their kids can get congested. My son isn’t old enough yet where I can drop him off in front of the school and drive off. I still have to walk him up there. And Ill have to do it next year for my daughter.
Went off on a tangent there.
Anyways, wish me luck. I’m going to do my best to use the bike everyday the temperature is above 20 degrees and when its not snowing. If I can get 3 days a week this winter I’ll call it a win.
Feel free to use my design. Or not.
Genny Arredondo says
I LOVE this! Seriously, making my husband make one. Creative dad for the win. Quick question. What panniers are pictured.
Brad Gibala says
They are the original Ballard Cargo Bags made for Rad Power Bikes from three years ago. They changed the design a year ago I think. https://www.radpowerbikes.com/collections/accessories/products/ballard-cargo-bag
I just purchased a radwagon so that I can get my kids and myself outside of the house during the covid-19 crisis. This project of yours is perfect given the current conditions!
Brad Gibala says
Enjoy the bike. And the cover.
Thank you Brad, love the ingenuity! I’m a new owner of a used RadWagon and I appreciate your share.
Brad Gibala says
You are welcome.
Just got my radwagon a month ago and getting to the cold weather in Utah. Definitely going to use your design. Thank you for sharing!
Brad Gibala says
Hope it helps.