In a previous post I described a canopy that Thea and I made for our Xtracycle to protect her from wind and rain. It looks sort of like a covered wagon on the back of our bike. It was easy to build without special tools or parts, did not require modifying our bike and cost us less than $150 for parts. It weighs about 2 lbs. and we can set it up in less than five minutes. Here’s how to make it.
Materials You Will Need
(1) 7/8″ x 48″ dowel
(4) 3/4″ long wood screws for the base
(4) #6 x 3/4″ machine screws and nuts
(12) 18″ x .340″ aluminum tent poles with inserts
(2) 18″ x .340″ aluminum tent poles without inserts
(4) 18″ x .626″ aluminum tent poles with inserts
(1) 18 x .625 aluminum tent pole without insert
(4) .340″ 145 degree tent pole elbows (ignore the holes)
3 yards by 60″ of silicon-coated rip-stop nylon cloth
25 feet of light cord
(4) buckles and 25 ft. of 1/2″ webbing
Tools You Will Need
drill (although use a drill press if you have one)
#1024 1.1 OZ SILNYLON 1STS , (Tan)…3 at $9.99 = $29.97
#4060 TENT POLE W/ INS .625 18 inch Black…4 at $4.95 = $19.80
#4061 TENT POLE W/O INS .625 18 inch Black…1 at $3.95 = $3.95
#4018 TENT POLE W/INS. .340 18 inch Black…12 at $2.60 = $31.20
#4019 TENT POLE W/O INS .340 18 inch Black…2 at $2.20 = $4.40
#4055 TENT POLE ARCH-145 DEGREE .340 BLACK…4 at $2.95 = $11.80
#2000 WEBBING- NYLON MED WT 1/2 inch Black..25 at $0.49 = $12.25
#3026 SIDE RELEASE BUCKLES – 1/2 inch…4 at $0.39 = $1.56
#4200 tubing cutter…$7.95
#3235 grommet tool (5/16″)…$10.99
#3231 (10) 5/16 grommets…10 at $0.18 = $1.80
purchase at a hardware store:
(1) 7/8″ x 48″ dowel…$3
(4) 3/4″ long wood screws…$1
(4) #6 x 3/4″ machine screws and nuts…$1
25 feet of light tie-down cord such as cotton clothes line…$5
How to Make the Canopy Cover
The rectangular canopy cover fits over the canopy frame and is secured at the bottom with tie-down straps. The front and back of the cover can be cinched up with a drawstring like a covered wagon. If you like, the cover’s size can be adjusted, along with the frame’s pole lengths, for different sizes of passenger. The size I give here is appropriate for a large child or small adult.
1. Cut the cloth so that it is 108″ (3 yards) by 60″. The 60″ edges will be along the sides of the canopy, and the 108″ edges will be the front and back. Hem the 60″ side edges first, then the 108″ front and back edges. Make the hems about 1.5″.
2. Next make the drawstrings. Using a stiff wire as a big sewing needle, insert about 12 feet of cord into the front hem, then repeat for the back hem.
3. Next use the grommet tool to insert two grommets on each 108″ side, about 18″ from the front and back (the video below shows how to use a grommet tool). If you are using thin cloth, reinforce it first with an iron-on patch.
4. Cut four 20″ lengths of webbing for the tie-down straps. For each strap, sew one end of the webbing to the female buckle and thread the other end of the webbing into the male buckle. Thread the straps into each grommet hole.
How to Make the Canopy Frame
The canopy frame “base” consists of two 7/8″ x 24″ wooden dowels that are inserted into the Xtracycle h-rack (horizontal) tubes and secured with wood screws. Aluminum tent poles are then erected upon this base: a front hoop, a rear hoop, and two cross pieces.
1. Cut the 7/8″ x 48″ dowel in half so that you have two 24″ pieces.
2. Drill a 19/64″ hole 1/2″ from each end of each piece. Make the holes as vertical as possible and make them exactly parallel.
3. Insert a base pole into the Xtracycle h-rack, center it, and align the holes so that they are vertical. While holding the base pole in place, drill starter holes for the woodscrews where the h-rack tube has holes in its side.
4. Screw the base poles to the bike with the woodscrews. I just leave the base poles on my bike all the time. The front pole provides a nice footrest for passengers.
5. Next make the hoop poles. All you have to do for this step is cut four of the 18″ poles to 12″ (or a different length depending on your expected passenger size). The video below shows how to use a pipe cutter.
6. Next make the cross pieces from the .625″ poles. For each of the poles that have inserts drill a 11/32″ hole in the ends opposite the inserts, about 1/2″ from the end.
7. For each of the four cross piece ends insert an elbow piece. It may take some effort to get it in and you may have to hit it with a hammer.
8. Drill a 9/64″ hole that goes through the elbow that is in the crosspiece. Screw the elbows into place with the four machine screws.
9. Cut two 6″ pieces from the .625″ tent pole that *doesn’t* have an insert. These will serve as the center parts of the cross pieces.
How to Assemble the Canopy
CAUTION: do not leave your canopy frame uncovered. Without the cover it is only held together by friction. If jostled it could come loose and snap back with surprising force (and for example break a garage window as I learned from experience). DO NOT ride your bike with an uncovered frame (again as I learned from experience you don’t want to be picking up all 20 tent poles in traffic). If you want to use the frame for some purpose other than the Bike Wagon canopy, consider putting a shock cord within it or using external guy wires as I do for using it to support my solar panels.
Final step: do me the courtesy of sending me a photo of your finished canopy!
How to Cut an Aluminum Tent Pole with a Pipe Cutter
How to Add a Grommet to the Canopy Cover
How to Make a Canopy Sack
If you have enough cloth left over you can use it to make a canopy sack.
1. Cut the cloth to 27″ x 20″. Hem the 20″ side.
2. Fold the cloth in half and sew the edge, leaving an opening for the drawstring at the ends of the hem.
3. Add the drawstring and a toggle.
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