Motorcycle Forums » Biker Chat

Towing a Trailer Behind Your Motorcycle

    • 823 posts
    January 12, 2014 11:01 AM PST
    Thanks Lucky! Thinking about building one. Not quite sure yet.
  • April 21, 2014 6:07 AM PDT
    Hi, I'm a newbie to the Cyclefish site, but not to motorcycling--I've been riding since '65. My wife and I have a 2001 Honda GL1800 we want to enjoy some long trips with, and a trailer was the only way to go. But since these can become pricey very quickly (and despite the occasional long trip we don't use the trailer very often) we opted for the Harbor Freight Tools version. I removed one of the leaves from each spring, and added LED lights.
    [Note: when installing LED lights, these things will not work if you don't have the polarity right--they have a positive/negative. Get this right, they work--wrong, and you'll swear you have a short!]
    We made some modifications to the inside of the trailer, first replacing the stock bolts that secure the shell to the frame with eye-bolts, for securing contents with bungee cords, then gluing down some thin carpet padding to reduce noise and prevent significant shifting of the clamshell's contents during travel.

    I thought seriously about moving the shell back in the frame and adding a tongue-mounted cooler platform, but as I was considering that, my dear lady walked up, dropped our large cooler into the trailer, and closed the lid. Who'dve thunk the cooler would fit in there with no problem, while still leaving room for our normal cargo?
    Since we've traveled with the trailer, we know we weren't using its full capacity anyway, so putting the cooler inside solves the worry of added tongue weight a tongue-mounted cooler platform would create, while avoiding having to relocate the shell.
    A final word--the HF trailer pulled and handled well after we sorted out proper tire pressures and tongue weight. Yes, you do have to allow extra space for stopping, and for the wider track when turning. But it performed equally well in city streets and Interstate highways. We had no overheating of wheel-bearings (as some have warned about) and no problems with leakage during wet weather. And yes again, it does bounce a bit sometimes if the railroad crossings are rough/uneven. But in our first trip with the trailer of approximately 700 miles, we experienced no significant issues. (I'm still having occasional difficulties backing it into a parking space however!)
  • April 21, 2014 7:07 AM PDT
    God forbid you have a high speed blow out on a rear tire while pulling a trailer! I have seen the results of such an incident......
  • TVL
    • 2 posts
    May 21, 2014 1:57 PM PDT
    I finished my homemade trailer this past winter. Now, I'm doing some test runs with it. It still fish tails sometimes over 60mph. I think it's a weight issue. The barrel was empty and only a few bottles of water and some ice in the cooler.  I built it considering the cooler will be packed with water, beer and ice. I need to pack it out like I'm going to Sturgis and then test it. If all else fails, I can move the axles back a few inches.


  • May 21, 2014 2:46 PM PDT
    http://n-line.com/

    Here is a link to N-Line trailers. I've pulled one for the last four years and have never had a problem. Since it narrower, it is directly in the bike's slip-stream.

    Handling is great, even with some sidewind. If you normally avoid crosswinds, ANY trailer means no go.
    • 828 posts
    May 22, 2014 3:19 AM PDT
    TVL wrote...
    I finished my homemade trailer this past winter. Now, I'm doing some test runs with it. It still fish tails sometimes over 60mph. I think it's a weight issue. The barrel was empty and only a few bottles of water and some ice in the cooler.  I built it considering the cooler will be packed with water, beer and ice. I need to pack it out like I'm going to Sturgis and then test it. If all else fails, I can move the axles back a few inches.


    Very nice job.  You could probably make some money selling them.
    • 2755 posts
    May 22, 2014 8:57 AM PDT
    Trippin wrote...
    God forbid you have a high speed blow out on a rear tire while pulling a trailer! I have seen the results of such an incident......

    One good reason,in my opinion, to consider buying Ride On  for those little trailer wheels,after watching how it performs for motorcycle tires being punctured at lower speeds I would imagine that they would lessen the catastrophic effects of a trailer wheel blowing out ?? It works almost instantly from what I could see on the demo films at the website,tho most likely it isnt intended for smaller wheels on a trailer.
    Yet some larger objects rupturing the wheel would do some serious damage obviously.Ideally pulling a trailer w/some sort of onboard tire pressure monitor could help to some degree I suppose. 
    • 5313 posts
    May 29, 2014 12:36 PM PDT
    MrEdwd wrote...


    I thought seriously about moving the shell back in the frame and adding a tongue-mounted cooler platform, but as I was considering that, my dear lady walked up, dropped our large cooler into the trailer, and closed the lid. Who'dve thunk the cooler would fit in there with no problem, while still leaving room for our normal cargo?
    Since we've traveled with the trailer, we know we weren't using its full capacity anyway, so putting the cooler inside solves the worry of added tongue weight a tongue-mounted cooler platform would create, while avoiding having to relocate the shell.


    Hey Ed,  I thought the same thing when I got the optional cooler tray on my trailer.  But I found that it really doesn't take much shifting a few things behind the wheels to compensate for it quickly.  Sometimes I will leave home with the cooler empty then stop and fill it with ice and goodies on the road. I only have to swap one light thing behind the wheels with one heavy thing in front of them to get my tongue weight to where I like it.  I find for my bike, riding with two people, the optimum tongue weight is 25 to 35 lbs.  I actually carry a fishing scale with me and just hook it right in the ball socket to check the weight.

  • July 19, 2014 1:10 PM PDT
    I have towed a rather large trailer behind my Ultra for thousands of miles for about 6 years. Wouldn't be without it for long trips. Wife don't pack light. I guess I'm guilty also. the only thing negative is you have to remember it is there. I went over a high curb with right trailer wheel and went down. Nothing hurt but pride. It does make the rear tire wear more rapidly but you don't have the bike piled high with stuff and overloaded.
    • 848 posts
    August 19, 2014 9:48 AM PDT
    AzRider wrote...
    TVL wrote...
    I finished my homemade trailer this past winter. Now, I'm doing some test runs with it. It still fish tails sometimes over 60mph. I think it's a weight issue. The barrel was empty and only a few bottles of water and some ice in the cooler.  I built it considering the cooler will be packed with water, beer and ice. I need to pack it out like I'm going to Sturgis and then test it. If all else fails, I can move the axles back a few inches.

    Very nice job.  You could probably make some money selling them.

    that is cool.  wish I had the time to build something like that.  I would pull it everywhere.

    • 7 posts
    July 11, 2016 3:18 PM PDT

    • 7 posts
    July 11, 2016 3:31 PM PDT

    • 7 posts
    July 24, 2016 12:05 PM PDT

    Its handy for carrying stuff too.

    • 5313 posts
    October 24, 2016 8:02 AM PDT

    Just found this video and wanted to share it to demonstrate how important weight distribution is when towing a trailer...

     

     

    This is going to make me change the way I load my trailer.  


    This post was edited by Lucky at February 17, 2017 5:00 AM PST
    • 52 posts
    October 27, 2016 12:39 AM PDT

    Now ya'll have me thinking of resurrecting my old 1/4 ton HF trailer and puttin a hitch on the E-Glide.  Just the project for those upcoming cool, wet days of "winter" in East TX.

    • 52 posts
    October 28, 2016 11:12 PM PDT

    OK, I have a question for ya'll trailer pullers out there.  How about lean on the curves?  Does the ball give sufficient radius to get throught the curves?  No, I am not talking about peg scraping, but moderately enough to still be enjoyable?  Or is there some kind of swivel piece can be added to the tongue that will allow th e bike to lean?

    • 7 posts
    October 28, 2016 11:34 PM PDT

    A regular ball hitch allows enough movement for me the grind the pegs on a Kawasaki Nomad.In fact when it comes to leaning into corners,the trailer makes no difference at all.

    • 52 posts
    October 29, 2016 10:46 AM PDT

    Tks Mick.  Just what I needed to hear.

    • 5313 posts
    November 7, 2016 4:24 PM PST

    Yep, what Mick said.  The ball provides MORE than enough pivot.  I actually tested mine with the trailer connceted and layed it over in the garage and got very far over.  Not to where the floorboards touched the ground, but farther than I would ever lean while towing a trailer.  I have never felt any restriction when laening with my trailer connected and I pulled that thing over 10,000 miles.

     

    Just a word of advice... Do NOT go for one of those inline swivels for the trailer tongue.  Like I said they offer no more swivel than you need and just add an extra possible failure point to your setup.


    This post was edited by Lucky at November 7, 2016 4:25 PM PST
    • 52 posts
    November 9, 2016 4:21 PM PST

    Tks Lucky.  Wasn't planning to use a swivel after what Mick said.

     How bout tires?  Any advantage in 12" wheels over the 8" ones that came on my trailer?  The old wheels are 30 years old (came on the trailer) and will be replaced anyway.  If I do go with 12" wheels, I will be inserting blocks to lower the trailer to nearly its original ride height.  I was thinking that taller wheels may pull more easily and bounce less?

    • 7 posts
    November 9, 2016 11:51 PM PST

    RufCut said:

    Tks Lucky.  Wasn't planning to use a swivel after what Mick said.

     How bout tires?  Any advantage in 12" wheels over the 8" ones that came on my trailer?  The old wheels are 30 years old (came on the trailer) and will be replaced anyway.  If I do go with 12" wheels, I will be inserting blocks to lower the trailer to nearly its original ride height.  I was thinking that taller wheels may pull more easily and bounce less?

     

     

    I think the 12in wheels would handle rougher surfaces better than 8in.Suspension is more important though.My trailer has what we call indespension,its basically a rubber block that is supposed to act as a cushion.It is virtually useless,and on bumpy roads, the trailer is airborne as much as it is on the road. If i ever build another trailer,i will use the leaf springs. Of course air shocks would be even better.

    • 5313 posts
    November 9, 2016 11:54 PM PST

    BIG DIFFERENCE.  You will get a lot less bounce with the larger wheels/tires.  Plus when the trailer is loaded you will find starting out to be much easier and smoother.

    • 5313 posts
    November 10, 2016 12:06 AM PST

    I have the same rubber block style suspension on mine and found that the weight rating was way to high on the original ones.  They were rated at 1,000 lbs each which is way more than needed.  I replaced them with ones rated at 400 lbs each and it really softened the ride of the trailer.  You can search the internet for "trailer torsion suspension parts" and find them for around $150 - $250 per pair.

     

     


    This post was edited by Lucky at November 10, 2016 12:06 AM PST
    • 7 posts
    November 10, 2016 12:35 AM PST

    Lucky said:

    I have the same rubber block style suspension on mine and found that the weight rating was way to high on the original ones.  They were rated at 1,000 lbs each which is way more than needed.  I replaced them with ones rated at 400 lbs each and it really softened the ride of the trailer.  You can search the internet for "trailer torsion suspension parts" and find them for around $150 - $250 per pair.

     

     

    I went for these at about 60 of your $'s.           http://www.trailertek.com/trailer-parts/suspension-units/unbraked-suspension-units-without-hubs/peak-250-kg-suspension-units-with-standard-1-dia-stub

    • 52 posts
    November 10, 2016 11:17 AM PST

    Since this trailer grosses out at #700 anyway, the leaf springs should do fine.  Besides, I already have these.  Here are a couple pics of my trailer.  I have it disassembled and am in the process of stripping it to bare metal and repainting.  A thinking of matthe black for all metal parts and OD green for most of the rest with black WWII style markings.

     

     

     


    This post was edited by RufCut at November 10, 2016 12:25 PM PST