You just bought a new bicycle. You’ve been riding it a lot lately, and your dog always seems eager to come with you. That led you to discover the world of bikejoring, which you think you’d like to get into. Instead of purchasing a bikejoring arm though, you’d prefer to make your own. How do you do this?
To make your own bikejoring arm, follow these steps:
- Make a hole in some PVC pipe for a nylon rope
- Feed the rope through the PVC pipe
- Take some bungee cord and pull it through a swivel snap
- Pass the bungee cord ends to a wire clip, pulling the bolts tight
- Attach the bikejoring arm to your bicycle and ride with your dog
In this in-depth post, we’ll explore bikejoring in more detail, including what you need to make your own bikejoring arm and why riding your bike with your dog is such a wonderful experience. You won’t want to miss it!
What Is Bikejoring?
For the uninitiated, let’s talk bikejoring. This is something we’ve only touched on here on the blog, so you may need an introduction.
Bikejoring is an activity involving you, your dog, and a mountain bike. Well, you need more than just that. A bikejoring arm, which is sometimes also called a gagline, attaches your dog to the bike safely. You sit on the bike and your dog will pull you, or you can lightly pedal and they’ll run alongside you. Depending on how you harness your dog, they will either run at your side or in front of the bike.
Do you have more than one dog? Then you need a neckline, which allows you to connect two or three dogs to the bike so you can all get some good physical activity together.
Here are some other recommended tools, equipment, and gear for bikejoring:
- Dog booties so your canines don’t scuff and hurt their feet on hard terrain when running
- Dog harness or leash so you have something to attach the bikejoring arm to
- Bike mirrors so you can always see the hazards around you
- Gloves, goggles, and a bike helmet for your safety
- Saddlebags or a bike side so you can carry water, supplies, and doggy treats
The sport of bikejoring is a variation of mushing. With mushing, instead of being pulled along on a bicycle by dogs, you’d sit in a sled and the canines would tug it. Bikejoring is also in the same vein as skijoring, where the name bikejoring may have come from. Skijoring is like mushing, but you ride on skis rather than in a sled.
Where skijoring and mushing both require snowy weather, bikejoring does not. You do it on dry land, be that the pavement, the grass, or whatever is most comfortable for you and your dog.
Skijoring may have existed since the Ming and Yuan dynasties in China, which occurred between 1271 and 1644. It’s not clear when bikejoring came into the equation, but the sport certainly doesn’t have as lengthy of a history. For one thing, the first bicycle wasn’t even invented until 1817. Mountain bikes, which are preferable for bikejoring, came into the world in 1978. You can assume then that bikejoring is a newer sport.
Bikejoring is a great way to get exercise, both for yourself and your dog. If you and your canine companion take to bikejoring enough, you might even consider entering a bikejoring race. Your options are timed and direct races. Let’s explain both of these now.
Timed races test a dog’s speed at racing, as the fastest team wins. Direct races also favor the fastest team, but your time isn’t recorded. Instead, it’s just who makes it to the finish line first who gets the gold (well, figuratively in some instances).
The main difference between timed and direct races is that timed races let bikejoring dogs go individually on the team, where with direct races, all dogs competing get to start the race at the same time.
Which Dog Breeds Excel at Bikejoring?
If you remember the articles we wrote on this blog about canicross, we mentioned that any and every dog breed can excel at this activity with enough time, dedication, and training. The same is mostly true of bikejoring. In races and competitions, dogs aren’t limited by breed.
That said, certain breeds are born for bikejoring. These include Pit Bulls due to their trainability and their bulk and strength. Huskies are a natural choice given their past with mushing. That will allow them to adjust to bikejoring on dry land quickly and easily. The same goes for the Alaskan Malamute.
Samoyeds, another cold-weather dog breed, fervently enjoy exercise. These are also bigger, stronger dogs that have no problem pulling a bike.
If your dog is big and weighty enough to tug the weight of you on a bike, then you could train them at bikejoring. They’re also a good pick for this sport if they can’t ever get enough exercise, running especially.
How to Make Your Own Bikejoring Arm: 5 Steps to Follow
You may have already trained your pup at canicross, so you think they’ll be great at bikejoring. You’d love to get started, but the same gear you use for canicross doesn’t really apply here. One major item you can’t go without is a bikejoring arm.
As we said before, some bikejoring practitioners call this a gagline and others even a scooter noodle. It has a lot of names, but it’s the part that attaches to your bike so you can link up your dog’s leash or harness. In other words, the bikejoring arm is the most important component of the whole equation.
You can buy bikejoring arms online and even at some pet stores, but you can also make your own. The main perk of doing this is that you can customize the fit of the bikejoring arm to your dog specifically. You’ll also feel much more confident using this arm. You know it’s secure because you made it, after all.
Okay, so what do you need to get started making a bikejoring arm? Make sure you have these supplies:
- Wire rope clip (5/16th)
- Swivel bolt snap (1/2 inch)
- Nylon rope (two feet, 3/16th)
- PVC pipe (12 inches long, one inch thick)
- Bungee cord (four feet, 3/8th)
The recommended bungee cord length only applies if your mountain bike has tires that are 24 inches. If you have smaller tires, then you can lessen how much bungee cord is required. Get more bungee for bigger bicycle tires.
You’ll also need an electric drill and a ratchet with a socket that’s at least 13 millimeters. A 1/4th drill bit should suffice for this project.
Once you have all your tools and supplies ready, you can get to work. Here are the steps to follow, which are expanded upon what we listed in the intro.
Step 1: Drilling
Take your PVC pipe and, with a ruler or measuring tape, measure an inch up from the pipe’s end. Make a mark there so you don’t lose the spot. Then plug in your drill, add your 1/4th drill bit, and put a hole in the pipe at the one-inch mark. This should have a diameter slightly bigger than the nylon rope so the rope can not only fit in but travel easily.
Step 2: Feeding the Rope
Grab your nylon rope and tie a knot at its end so it will hold steady in the drilled PVC pipe hole. Leaving that end be, begin feeding the other end of your nylon rope through the hole. Stop when you reach the knot.
Step 3: Attaching the Bungee Cord
Now you want to work with your swivel bolt snap, which is a metal component you can click open and closed, sort of like a keychain. Feed your bungee cord through the opening in the swivel bolt snap. Both ends of the bungee should be the same length when you do this.
Keep holding those ends, as you’ll need to feed them through the PVC pipe next, all the way down. You can go in through the hole in the pipe and pass the bungee cord through that way if that’s what works best for you.
Either way, the PVC pipe should have a loop of bungee on one end with the swivel bolt snap attached. The other end of the PVC pipe should feature the two bungee cord ends, both untied. The rope should be protruding out of the hole of the PVC pipe.
Step 4: Connecting the Wire Clip
By this point, your bikejoring arm is coming along well, but it’s not totally done yet. You also have a wire rope clip you haven’t used yet. The time has come for that.
With both ends of the bungee cord in hand, pass them through the wire clip, but only an inch, maybe an inch and a half through. Once you do this, take your ratchet and wrap it around each bolt to tighten it.
You’ll know your done when the bungee cord will not move at all, even if you give it a robust tug. You have to think your dog will be doing the same, so if the bungee cord seems like it moves too easily, keep tightening those bolts! You’ll know when to stop.
Step 5: Connecting the Bikejoring Arm to Your Bicycle
Your bikejoring arm is complete. Next comes putting it on your mountain bike. Now that the whole setup is assembled, it’s not a bad idea to pull on both ends of the bungee cord with some force to see if either side comes loose. If it does, then go back and repeat any of the above steps as needed.
If all is good, then choose where on your mountain bike you want the bikejoring arm, either on the side or at the front. If it’s the front, then the bungee cord should wrap around your front post. You can then nestle the PVC pipe toward the middle of the bike and wrap the nylon rope around your handlebar extension.
What Are the Benefits of Bikejoring with Your Dog?
You’ve got your bikejoring arm all ready to go. You and your dog are going to spend many hours in your backyard or at local parks training at bikejoring. This can be frustrating at times, but keep these exercise benefits in mind on those days when training is especially tough.
This one-on-one time between you and your dog is a deeply treasurable time. Your relationship becomes strong as you train. Then, each time you engage in bikejoring, your bond strengthens even more. Casual or competitive bikejoring, it doesn’t matter; your dog appreciates you taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with them without distractions.
More Outdoor Time
Spending considerable time outside can increase energy, restore vitamin D levels, lessen pain, bolster the immune system, induce a creative mindset, and boost one’s mood. Those are just your benefits.
As for your four-legged friend, he or she doesn’t like being cooped up all the time. Going outside is a great chance to stretch their legs, enjoy the multitude of smells afforded to them, and run around and play.
Exciting New Challenge
Your dog learned all the obedience basics long ago. That’s why you decided to train them at canicross, because they were getting bored. However, it was only a matter of time before canicross training became second nature, too.
Bikejoring gives them a new set of skills to learn and expand on. Sure, they’re still running, but they have to pull weight, too. Your dog must also master moving at such a pace that they can keep up with you if you’re pedaling on your bike. They’ll love having something new to learn!
A dog that exercises often is one who’s not overweight and certainly not obese. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will make them and you (not to mention their veterinarian) happier.
Potential Longer Life
There’s also another benefit of a canine at a lower weight. Like us people, dogs that are overweight or obese become susceptible to a slew of diseases and medical conditions. These include cancer, kidney disease, respiratory disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis.
When you control your dog’s weight through bikejoring and other physical activities, they avoid getting the above diseases. This in turn can give you more years to enjoy together.
Some dogs have hip and joint pain through old age, where with others, it’s an unfortunate side effect of their breed. Carrying more weight makes your dog likelier to develop bodily pain, as their heavier body puts pressure on the joints, bones, muscles, and tendons.
Not only will slimming down reduce their pain then, but even if your dog has chronic pain not related to their weight, some moderate, vet-approved exercise may be able to help.
Bikejoring Safety Tips
You’re about to go bikejoring with your dog. This is likely a casual ride and not a competition, at least not yet. Still, you must make sure you keep these safety tips in mind anytime you and your dog head out together.
Bring the Right Supplies
You have to think not only of your own needs when bikejoring, but your dog as well. Bring a portable food and water bowl, poop bags, treats, and fresh water. You too need fresh water or a sports drink for hydration. An energy bar might not be a bad idea as a snack.
Oh, and pack some sunscreen as well, both for yourself and your canine. Just make sure you use dog-formulated sunblock. The human variety may make your pup sick if they lick it off their body.
Double-Check Your Bikejoring Arm Is Secure
A bikejoring arm is only as good as the one who put it there. Whether you go store-bought or homemade, double, even triple-check that the bikejoring arm is completely secure. It should not be able to come off the bike. The bungees must be tied tightly to the bikejoring arm components as well, so even if your dog wildly pulls, the homemade arm won’t come apart. Your dog would then be free, and that’s a great way to lose them.
Ride Slow (if You Ride at All)
This isn’t an intense bike ride. Should you pedal, you want to go at an incredibly slow, leisurely pace so your dog can trot or run along. If you’re bikejoring at a park, then keep to the side so faster walkers and bike riders can pass you.
It’s good to get into a stop-start motion with your bikejoring. Pedal for a few minutes, and when your dog begins to slow down, let them pull you. Then, if they seem a bit bored of that, begin pedaling again.
Of course, you shouldn’t do that constantly. When your dog is panting and going at a glacial pace, it’s time to pull over somewhere and take a break. Offer your dog food and water. Maybe walk them a bit off the bikejoring arm to see if they need to use the bathroom.
Wear a Helmet
It doesn’t matter what age you are. It doesn’t even matter how fast you’re going in this case (which, again, isn’t very fast). You still want to wear your helmet when you’re on your mountain bike.
What if your dog sees another canine at the park, gets excited, and pulls the bike down in their flurry of movement? You could be severely injured in such a situation, possibly sustaining head damage. You’ll be glad you’ll have a helmet on even if you don’t ever get upended off your bike. It’s for your safety, so use it!
Bikejoring is a fun sport that involves (wo)man, dog, and a mountain bike. Your dog or several canines can pull you on the bike like they would on a sled in mushing. You can pedal a bit if you’d prefer, too.
Mushing and skijoring created what would become bikejoring, except you don’t need snow to do it. One important component of bikejoring is the bikejoring arm, which you use to attach your dog to the bike.
Making your own bikejoring arm is possible using the steps and information we presented in this article. Have lots of fun bikejoring with your dog!