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How to Aviod Motorcycle Trailer Pitfalls

Posted by Karl Steinmeyer on Dec 13th 2015

Pulling a trailer with your motorcycle can be a lot of fun, and it can be a problem in some places. For example, when a group of us bikers decided it was time to break for breakfast - I sensed I would encounter a problem. Many motorcycles usually pack the Eagles Nest restaurant - as it is known as a "Sunday breakfast spot." 

So already, parking would be a problem. 

At first I thought things would go just fine—I just had to ride the bike down to an empty spot and park in. But the problem was there were no empty spots to accommodate parking with a pull behind motorcycle trailer. And when I reached at the end of the lane, I was blocked. I figured out I just had to pull a U-turn and head out the way I came.

Still it didn’t work. 

This wasn't the first time I was riding with trailer in tow behind my motorcycle. But it was the first time stopping at a crowded bar where bikes park literally anywhere. I had trouble backing up the lane to the exit and even turning around. So I started to have second thoughts that I shouldn't have brought the trailer along. Riding a motorcycle is an enjoyment because of the maneuverability. But bringing the pull behind motorcycle trailer had somehow stressed me up.

Finally, I managed to park the motorcycle in the center of the lane, locked me and my wife’s helmets in the trailer and went in to have some breakfast.

Avoiding motorcycle trailer problems

When leaving the restaurant, the crowd of motorcycles at the parking lot had reduced, providing me with enough room to turn the bike and trailer around (with a little push from the mrs.) I learned that next time it is better to check the packing situation a little closer before pulling in to park.

I road that setup with around for seven days, in over sixteen hundred miles in seven states, through all road conditions—mud, gravel, dry, and rain, and on city streets, winding roads, country lanes and flat four lanes. Halfway through the trip I realized it is better to practice riding with a pull behind motorcycle trailer before embarking on that kind of journey with it.

Practice makes perfect and everyone I asked about pulling a motorcycle trailer admitted the same; you won’t even be conscious of it. But since this was my first time riding with the motorcycle trailer; I pulled up to the wrong pump at our first gas stop so had to back up again. In another instance I nearly forgot that it wasn’t there until my wife reminded me that it was there. I've travelled with the trailer traversing all conditions. Initially, I thought I would feel an increase in lateral force in the corners from the trailer that causes the bike to want to drift off line, but I was wrong as it didn’t happen this way. In fact the bike leaned and cornered as if the ol' pull behind wasn’t there.

I've since set my back view mirrors to see the movement of the trailer, glancing at the mirror occasionally to see the trailer behavior when I hit a bump or a rough section of the road. Although the trailer bounced occasionally, I never felt it. Even on rough gravel roads, I never felt the trailer motion. And in slow speed, handling of my bike was not affected. Fuel consumption decreased by just two miles a gallon.

Importance of Riding with a Pull Behind Motorcycle Trailer

One big obvious importance is you can carry whatever you want and feel like. My wife carried along more toiletries for the week trip than we’ve used in our whole life. Nobody likes packing and unpacking with a motorcycle, but with a trailer, you will love packing - you just pull into a motel, grab your bags and check in. The following day, you just throw your bags in the trailer and you’re ready to go.The trailer was a real convenience on the road as I could easily access accessories like rain gear, jackets, gloves, maps, and snacks. And the ice chest on the trailer came in handy as it held our favorite drinks for whenever and wherever we wanted them. 

Our road visibility increased and other drivers could easily gauge our speed as our overall motorcycle length increased.

Things to Keep In Mind

Motorcycle trailers offer plenty of benefits especially when touring more than one person. But there are a few things you should keep in mind. One, the trailer adds to the length and weight of the motorcycle, affecting braking and acceleration. Length affects movement in tight quarters. You require special care when turning beside an obstacle; like a post, stopped vehicle or curb. When braking, you need to do it a little earlier than you’re used to and you need a little more throttle and clutch when starting out. 

You also need to park strategically.

However, none of these considerations outweigh the benefits of riding with a pull behind motorcycle trailer. Therefore, don’t avoid a motorcycle trailer because they take a little getting used to pulling. Riding your biker without one took some time to learn now didn't it? After a few hundred miles you won’t even feel it is there.