Fat-tire teardrop ebike camper explores the world via road and dirt
Both RVs and bicycles are enjoying soaring pandemic-boosted popularity, and ebikes continue becoming more and more capable. It seems only natural, then, that the bike camper market finds itself maturing beyond oddball, one-off garage creations to polished retail trailers. Over the years, we've seen a small but diverse array of European bike caravans, from the folding Scout, to the inflatable B-Turtle, to the amphibious Z-Triton. Now another emerges in the form of the Mody bicycle caravan, a classic tiny teardrop made from lightweight composites and specced for road touring, mountain biking or a little of both.
Founded in 1995, Rösrath, Germany-based ModyPlast specializes in composite race car components. In 2020, it watched the market instantly shrivel to nought as the COVID-19 pandemic blanketed the globe and forced the cancelation of racing events. So ModyPlast turned its attention to a dormant side project: a compact caravan designed to be towed via bicycle. Beyond having some newly found free time to seek a new revenue source, the company determined the timing impeccable — modern advances in electric bicycle design have made bike campers more attractive and practical.
ModyPlast's Mody bicycle caravan utilizes the structural strength of composite design to eliminate the need for a metal chassis or internal frame, thereby cutting weight for easier bicycle towing. Made from the buyer's choice of vacuum-sealed foam-core carbon fiber or fiberglass, each trailer is cut and shaped into a teardrop-style form with a sharp-dropping roofline. Given the absence of a metal chassis, the tow bar and axle are bolted directly to aluminum inserts in the floor, which is crafted from a heavier, load-supporting composite/foam construction.
Unlike other bicycle camping trailers we've seen in the past, ModyPlast's caravan doesn't feature any foldable or collapsible mechanism, riding along as a full-size mini-teardrop. At 146 to 150 cm (57 to 59 in) tall, depending on version, it rides lower than the cyclist doing the pedaling but is certainly too wide to travel down singletrack or tight, crowded paved paths.
The Mody comes in three different variants, starting with the road-based Tourer model riding on 26-in street tires. Next in line, the Trekking model is the hybrid of the trio, striking a balance between road and off-road use with a pair of 26-in Schwalbe Smart Sam Plus hybrid all-terrain tires good for road or light off-road riding on dirt trails and forest roads. The full-blown fat tires show up on the Outdoors model in the form of 26 x 4.8-in Schwalbe Jumbo Jims, bolstering capability for rolling over sand, mud, small rocks and branches, and other off-pavement obstacles that might rattle skinnier treads. The Outdoors model also includes a higher 33.6-cm (13.2-in) ground clearance, compared to 29 cm (11.4 in) on the other two models.
All three Mody models are designed to roll comfortably at speeds up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h), the European Union speed limit for pedelec bicycles. They all also include Shimano disc brakes, an overrun brake, a Weber coupling, and exterior LED lights and reflectors for nighttime visibility.
Inside the side door, each Mody caravan has a narrow interior measuring 208 x 86 x 102 cm (82 x 34 x 40 in), which provides enough width for sleeping the cyclist pedaling it to camp, and perhaps a loyal canine companion. ModyPlast doesn't mention inclusion of a mattress on its spec sheet, but it'd be easy enough to throw one's own foam or inflatable sleeping pad down. There's no room for a tailgate galley on the bicycle-sized design, but ModyPlast does offer an optional collapsible kitchen to bring along, as well as various coolers. The interior includes tie-down eyelets for strapping down the kitchen box, cooler, outdoor table, chairs, or whatever else needs to ride along.
ModyPlast includes a roof vent, door ventilation, LED interior light, gray fabric wall paneling, lower corner leg supports, and a single window as part of the standard package. Along with the kitchen and cooler, available options include another window, a roof-mounted solar panel plus power station, and an outdoor awning. ModyPlast is also working on additional options such as underbody skid protection and aluminum roof rails.
ModyPlast lists fiberglass trailer weight at 48 kg (106 lb) for the Tourer and Trekking models and 50 kg (110 lb) for the Outdoors model. The carbon versions slim down to 42 kg and 44 kg (93 and 97 lb), respectively. The trailers are able to carry 50 kg (110 lb) when moving and support up to 190 kg (419 lb) at camp, with the support legs set up on level ground.
Fiberglass Touring and Trekking models price in at €4,999 (approx. US$6,025), with the carbon fiber variants starting at €6,999 ($8,450). The Outdoors models run €500 ($600) higher.