You might be wondering why food trucks play such a big role in my Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week column. After all, they tend to pop up fairly frequently in these weekly entries. A big part of their allure seems to be the fact that Alibaba’s engineers love taking the simple concept of a food truck and making it as complicated as possible by adding as many weird things as they can. Or sometimes by subtracting, like in this case where they subtracted the truck. In its place is a bicycle-powered food truck cart.
And yes, I know that it’s technically not an electric vehicle, at least not yet. But to make it qualify as one of China’s weird EVs for this column, we’ll merely have to get a bit handy. Compact Camper Trailer
Just give me a few hours and we could bolt on a simple $280 e-bike motor kit on the bike’s front wheel, add a $220 e-bike battery, and that’s it! We’ve now got an electric bike trailer cart… thing.
And boy, would it be worth it! Considering the base price is a modest $2,880, we could be in our own e-bike food truck for barely over three g’s, folks!
Well, before shipping and customs. But we’ll deal with that later.
Part of what I love about this contraption is just how ingenious the design is.
Not only is this thing a food truck bike, but it’s actually also both just a cart and just a bike. The two seem to be joined together at the rear axle of the bike in a classic demonstration of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
Presumably you pull off the bike’s rear wheel, lock it into some axle-shaped hitch on the cart, and off you go!
There’s no clear mechanism for how the bike actually powers the cart, but our front wheel e-bike motor kit removes any worry about that little problem. Perhaps the designers have the rear axle mount connected to some fancy shmancy drive system that turns one or more of the cart’s wheels. But with your e-bike kit, we can just let the pedals function as foot rests.
The rear cart attachment seems a bit plain Jane at the moment. It’s like someone took a phone booth, stretched it, added wheels and said, “Here, serve some coffee out of this thing.”
You don’t actually get a coffee setup, or a taco counter or really anything you could use to run your own culinary purveyor establishment. But you do get a flip-down serving window, a small counter with a sink, and a whole lot of possibilities!
I know this is of course destined to be a food truck that gets customized to your own business’s needs, but I think they’re overlooking an entire second market here: e-bike RVs!
We’ve already seen tiny campers from Alibaba before, but this would take the concept even further, at least in weirdness. When it comes to range it probably wouldn’t take it very far at all, but think of it more like a mobile home that doesn’t go very far. You could add some curtains for privacy, a couple bunk beds on the walls, and finally some shelves on the opposite side. You’d have the tiniest little electric RV for two! Well, provided those two don’t mind living in quite an intimate space.
It’d probably be a good idea to remove some of those windows before this thing goes full camper. They look great as a food truck, but the greenhouse effect while trying to live in a, well, greenhouse… might be a bit uncomfortable.
You could run a little evaporative cooling device that barely uses 85W of power. Slap several 100W solar panels on the roof of your ride and you’ll have plenty of extra power left over for charging up the e-bike’s battery!
Look, I’m not saying this would be the end all and be all of tiny campers. I’m not even saying it’d be a good food truck bike. But I am saying this is just about as weird as they come on Alibaba, and that’s why I love it.
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Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power, The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide and The Electric Bike Manifesto.
The e-bikes that make up Micah’s current daily drivers are the $999 Lectric XP 2.0, the $1,095 Ride1Up Roadster V2, the $1,199 Rad Power Bikes RadMission, and the $3,299 Priority Current. But it’s a pretty evolving list these days.
You can send Micah tips at Micah@electrek.co, or find him on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.
Vintage Travel Trailers By Owner Great e-bikes at great prices!