Housetrike three-wheeled camper shelters homeless nomads


July 14, 2014

The Housetrike combines transportation, cargo hauling and shelter

The Housetrike combines transportation, cargo hauling and shelter

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While not nearly as popular or diverse as motor vehicle camping trailers, pedal-powered campers like the Midget Bushtrekka provide another form of mobile shelter. Not to be confused with the Tricycle House, the Housetrike is a pedal camper with a unique form. It looks like a basic cargo trike at first, but extends into a lockable sleeper for one.

Not surprisingly, bicycle camper designers tend to borrow heavily from their motor vehicle counterparts. A little bit of digging pulls up bicycle-bound teardrops, fold-out tent campers, pop-tops, and even hard-sided trailers with above "driver" sleeping extensions.

In developing the Housetrike, Dutch artist Bas Sprakel also borrowed a trick we've seen in the vehicle camper market, on everything from compact camper vans like the VW DoubleBack to massive 8x8s like the Unicat MXXL 24 AH. That particular trick, the sliding camper extension that increases living space while keeping travel configuration more compact, seems well-suited to a small trike trailer.

The Housetrike's sliding-box design appears to keep it fairly slim and balanced when compared to other cycle camper set-ups – it looks comparable to a cargo trike when in ride mode. In fact, when the camper box is compacted, the Housetrike is essentially a cargo trike, carrying up to 500 liters (18 cu ft) of gear and personal effects. The low, front-mounted box definitely looks easier to ride with than a tall box trailer.

When it's time to park the bike and call it a night, the box extension slides out from inside the main box and about doubles the size, providing sleeping space for one person, with set-up taking less than a minute. The extension is supported by two legs, so the sleeper can safely hop in, close the hinged box top, slide the roof extension shut and lock up from the inside for security. It looks a bit like sleeping in a coffin, but it would certainly beat sleeping outdoors in inclement weather. The design includes two portholes for taking in exterior views.

Other bike trailers are aimed at the recreational bicycle touring market, providing an alternative to paying for hotels or carrying traditional tents. The Housetrike could certainly find use in that setting, too. In fact, it was Sprakel's own love of travel in all its forms that inspired the design. But Sprakel has a different demographic in mind for the design. He sees the trike camper as an ideal solution for the homeless, offering a combination of transportation, shelter, security for personal belongings, and possibly even a means of income.

Sprakel's vision is for the Housetrike to give homeless people a way of better controlling their lives. Not only does it put a roof over one's head, it secures and transports important essentials like food, water, clothes and tools. It could potentially be used in jobs like food delivery and scrap metal collection. It also makes the owner a bit more mobile, possibly allowing him or her to escape the harsh winter months or look for seasonal work outside his or her immediate environment.

Sprakel designed the Housetrike as a practical solution, not just an interesting piece of art, and he plans on pursuing production of the design. He hopes to keep the vessel as cheap as possible, estimating a price around US$1,500. That estimate is actually for the cost of building the Housetrike, and the idea is to offer it through a non-profit organization.

You can easily spend $1,500 on a trike without a camper, so it does seem like an affordable price, but it's still a chunk of change for a homeless person. Sprakel has brainstormed some solutions, including setting up rentals and payment plans.

Of course, since the Housetrike is the work of a single artist, there are a lot of "ifs," including whether or not a production version will ever even materialize. After finishing the pictured prototype, Sprakel is pursuing the funds necessary to build a more production-friendly model. He told us that he's considering creating a crowd-funding campaign for the design. He also hopes to get out and tour Europe to publicize the trike.

The video below is a little drawn out and hokey but it does a good job of highlighting the Housetrike in action.

Source: Housetrike via Tiny House Blog

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

The really sad thing is that there are more than enough people in today's 'me first' society who, upon recognising the nature and purpose of this trike, would derive great pleasure from buckling the wheels, just for spite. That would probably result in repairs too expensive for the occupant to afford, and thus ensure that they don't even take 'the road more travelled by' with due respects to Robert Frost.

Mel Tisdale

What homeless person would put out the money for this and be so restricted in their travels and places to set up for the night. I believe a much better option is a pull golf cart that you can lash your tent and other belongings to. You can walk / run with it, tow it behind any cheap bike, take it on a bus, plus put it on a Grey Hound when it is time to head to the coast to get away from nasty winter weather. $200 carts can be had for $20 used. Gee ....... if you've got $1,500 to put out you could tour across the country in style!


Stupid design by someone who has not taken 5 minutes to observe actual homeless people. They use their carts or bicycle trailers to hold all their worldly belongings. The fortunate few will setup a tent for the night but none would think of emptying their trailer and putting everything out on the ground and subject to the weather and theft and various night animals.

The USA shows its true colors when it has a record number of billionaires at the same time it has a record number of homeless people, and more than half are veterans of foreign wars who were suckered into believing they were fighting for their country and democracy - talk about irony.


Multiple problems with this as someone who traveled in such behind my MC.

First you need more room, at least 2.5 ' wide and high in order to be able to roll over.

Next you need space for one's things while sleeping this doesn't have.

Cost is a bad joke. Better make it a 8' trailer towed by a $10 bike is far cheaper they can afford.

The trailer needs to be as light as possible which this one can't be because the way it's built. A 1/4-3/8'' ply for the bottom and 1/8 '' ply for the top, sides cuts costs, weight. No reason it needs to cost even $100 to make.

Since it's a bike trailer likely not illegal in most places to sleep in if taken to court as no law against it most places.

8' long saves materials and gives space for things while sleeping.

I am happy that people are trying to design items to help the poor and this unit might work in some areas. But in south Florida the canned ham effect would be overwhelming. Not only would one be in a can but stewed, boiled and roasted as well. Keeping cool and free of bugs is the challenge here. And cops would be a problem as well. The obvious defect is what would an occupant do in the dead of night if an urge to go to the bathroom came about? In essence we have a suburb here that is 300 miles long. The poor will either be on private property or county land at all times. The rich folks here are not tolerant. Jim Sadler

I would go with a slide out base plate and in essence have a tent with flex rods for the sides and roof. In cold environments you add a second layer of tent shell around the outside for the air gap insulation and hot humid environments zipper screen panels for air flow. Stowing gear can be done by cargo netting it above where you want your legs to be when sleeping. and or it is stashed in a thin bed box that makes up the base frame of the vehicle you sleep on top of.


And you can use it as a coffin too!

Bill Bennett

Get some 'joke' vampire teeth, a black tuxedo to be seen in when shopping for your needs and park overnight in cemeteries - nobody will bother you! Just watch a few old episodes of Sesame Street to get a feel for the accent. "One can, two cans, ah ah ah" Especially if you get some nice chrome handles at a Walmart to emphasise the 'coffin' look.

The Skud

I would think also that a hatch at the porthole end would be handy as well, so nobody with a piece of string could trap you inside and walk away chuckling!

The Skud

I watch video and the design seem flaw in that unless your in a non rainy part of the world your going to get wet. the top isnt no rain proof at all. Most thing I ve seen post for shelter cost more then 400 bucks to make .

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