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Challenges Pulling Your Motorcycle Trailer

Posted by Karl S on May 4th 2015

Even though I've been towing a trailer for 8 years, I still wouldn't consider myself to be an expert. I'm just someone with a significant amount of experience. Its important that we keep a distinction between tiny trailers behind motorcycles and those which are towed by cars and trucks, because as someone with experience -I've noticed a vast difference, and there is a huge difference.

Those who don't have experience towing trailers behind bikes often debate with me about its instability. They say that it slides and skids--and that at times it even pushes the bike. My wife and I, however, have towed a trailer in every imaginable weather condition: snow, rain, mud and high winds. And I can say for sure, that even when stepping on the brake and putting all of my force into squeezing the front brake, sliding and swinging have never been a problem for me. The trailer always follows and remains consistent. In fact, in the worst of conditions, my only concern and focus is on how the bike will perform. I'm completely confident that the trailer will always follow as would an obedient pet. Again, I just have some experience and am far from the expert on this. 

Challenges of pulling a motorcycle trailer

When you tow a trailer, there is plenty of room for your belongings. A trailer's extra lights and overall size makes you more visible on the road, and a bigger road footprint. This increases your visable space on the road to others, especially in less than sunny days weather conditions.

Our tours have given us the opportunity to meet individuals who tow trailers of several different designs. In fact, though it may seem a little morbid, one of the most memorable of them was a trailer that resembled a coffin. We've seen everything from trailers that were made to look like small log cabins and refrigerators to those that resembled semi trailers. We've even noticed the simplest design--a flat bed which held cargo, covered by a tarp that was anchored by wood boards at each end. As you can see, there is no limit to how a trailer can be designed. Theres nothing particularly distinctive about our trailer, but I designed it in order to suit our needs so its very spacious as well as practical. We've driven five consecutive days, towing our food and stopping only to camp and to purchase gas.

Trailer: The Honkeys Donkey Deluxe

There a couple of tips that everyone should be aware of when towing a trailer. One of the first things you should keep in mind is the weight distribution. The cargo that weighs the most should always be placed on the bottom. This will help to ensure a certain level of gravity. Its important that the tongue is properly weighed down so it may take you several attempts in order to achieve the desired effect. The time it takes will largely depend on the type of trailer you have. As you add more items, the weight of the tongue increases. The more weight you place on the forward side of the axle, the less wiggling and instability you will have to look forward to.

Its also best to ask for a coupler when first purchasing your trailer. You can attach this to the tongue which will cause the motorcycle to lean, however it will also ensure that the trailer remains level. Hitches come in various different designs. And the type of hitch you purchase will depend on the type of motorcycle you own, though not every motorcycle has a place for a hitch attachment. Personally, I prefer six point over four point connections because it offers a great deal of strength. When we were unable to find a hitch to fit, I designed my own and sent it to an agriculture welding shop. They made it with a 1/4 inch thickness, the minimum requirement, and only charged me 50 bucks. Just because you can't find one to fit your ride, shouldn't hold you back. 

When you're pulling a trailer, you have to be able to think ahead of time. It takes a quarter more of time to both brake and accelerate. Both of these factors will depend on the weight of your cargo, how much power your motorcycle has as well as your speed. So its important that you're always well prepared when entering traffic or stopping at signs. Some individuals find it helpful to install another handle brake specifically for the trailer. This may work for most, but to me its simply something extra to worry about. I'm not sure that I would have time to think about that brake if I were ever in the middle of an emergency.

Trailer: The Sarasota Slingshot

I've had several in-depth conversations with other bikers about how their trailers behave in the wind. All have similar experiences to ours; they never have any problems in this condition--their trailers remain stable while their motorcycles tend lean into the wind. When in rainy conditions, we naturally reduce our speed and the trailer understands and follows suit. Over the years, our bikes have been water, oil and air cooled and even on the warmest days they've never overheated.

The Challenges Of Towing A Trailer

So, what problems should you be aware of when towing a trailer? Well, the rear tires tend to experience a significant amount of wear. How many miles you actually loose on the rear wheel will depend on the total weight of your trailer, the weight of the tongue, how much you tow and also how you ride. If you're someone who throws caution to the wind when riding, then not only will you loose rubber more quickly but also burn more fuel.

Another thing you should concern yourself with is the backing. I usually use my legs to push the bike. On some occasions, I ask the passenger to get off and push with hers as well. :)

When you practice packing your trailer, its important that you have a good idea of what your basic necessities are. When you're done, take it for a quick test drive. Are you able to pull your trailer as if its not even there? Once you've built up a consistent speed, you really shouldn't be able to feel the presence of your trailer. And always take the time to explain the joys of towing to those who show an interest in your bike and trailer.