Solar-topped ebike camping trailer powers multi-day tours
Once seemingly the sole domain of velo-obsessed DIYers, bicycle RVs have been growing into their own niche market that includes both towables and "motorhomes." The Finnish-designed Hupi trailer takes on a fixed-roof caravan design, rising well above the electric bicycle saddle to create a more spacious interior complete with a bedroom and tiny dinette. On the top of that 59-in-high (150-cm) roof, the available solar kit harnesses the power of the sun for use powering interior accessories and keeping the ebike charged and ready to ride.
The Hupi was designed by a DIY tinkerer like those mentioned above, only he wasn't an avid cyclist, from the sounds of it. In fact, inventor Urpo "Upi" Merranmaa conceived the idea when trying to find a use for the ebike he was given as a gift. He aspired to take a multi-day trip but didn't like the idea of staying in a tent. So he began the process of putting together a self-built trailer for his journey.
Merranmaa didn't just cobble something makeshift together out of spare plywood, approaching the build more like a company developing a product. He says that he put in more than 5,000 hours of work through design, testing and refinement stages to create an insulated aluminum-skinned trailer that looks as polished as any motor vehicle caravan you'd see at a campground or dealership lot.
Unlike most other bike campers we've looked at, which either expand at camp or feature low-set designs with just enough space to lie down and sit up, Merranmaa's design has a high, fixed roof, hard walls and a step-through door. It's shaped with a classic caravan form that reminds us a little of an Eriba Touring or Winnebago Hike 100. The interior doesn't quite offer adult-size standing room, but its 51-in-high (131-cm) ceiling is raised enough for the crouched step-and-turn needed to get in the door and seated on the edge of the bed.
The Hupi cabin features a two-wheeler-sized take on the convertible RV dinette. In night mode, the bed fills out the entire interior to sleep the single cyclist. In the morning, the foot of the bed flips up against the front wall, and the remainder of the bed works as a cushioned bench seat. The underside of the folded bed section houses a flip-up table that provides dining and workstation space.
While the Hupi project could have stopped after becoming Merranmaa's personal camper, it has found its way to market with the help of Finnish Commercial Vehicle Center (FCVC), based in the city of Lahti. The trailer developed some serious buzz during its showing at the Lahti caravan show last fall, and now FCVC offers it for a base price of €5,990 (approx. US$6,700).
Some bike campers are designed for both traditional bicycles and ebikes, but the 150-lb (68-kg) Hupi is really tailored to ebikes and solely advertised for that purpose. FCVC offers several Leader Fox electric fat bikes with which to pair the trailer, and prices for the bikes start at €3,290 ($3,675).
Optional electrical systems include a 150- to 250-W rooftop solar panel, onboard 20-Ah battery and optional 300-W inverter for powering available interior and exterior lighting and tiny mini-fridge. FCVC says that the electrical systems can also be used to charge the ebike battery when stopped to extend the journey and for powering gadgets like a laptop or smartphone.
Additional options include a propane stove, portable grill, skylight and planned television.
Upi Merranmaa talks a little more about the Hupi design in the English-subtitled video below.