Trailering your bike (s)…..by Bard Boand
Ya ya ya, I know, we are a “RIDING” club, and we all ‘Ride ours”…..ok. However, if you have a second home, or take family vacations with the kids and can never be without your bike (s), or your bike breaks down, a trailer may be a useful tool to have around, and knowing how to trailer safely is also useful information.
First of all, READ all the info in your tow vehicles Owner’s Manual as well as all info supplied with your trailer. Here are few useful and very general tips, that I have found helpful in towing my 2 place Kendon Strand-Up Trailer back and forth between Barrington and Arizona every year. Some of what I’m about to say may vary with trailer type and weight, and your own personal experience.
* LOADING the trailer should always involve a minimum of two people walking the motorcycle up and down the loading ramps. Loading is usually an exercise of one person standing on the left side of the bike, with engine running and bike in gear and both hands on the handle bars and clutch and brake lever. Gradually slip the clutch and walk the bike up the ramp with the second person on the right side of the bike steadying as she goes and or pushing gently up the ramp. Unloading is similar but in reverse with the following two exceptions. The bike is TURNED OFF but still in first gear. Pull the clutch lever in, start pulling the bike rearwards, and as you pull back down the ramp, your braking is accomplish by slowly releasing the clutch. With the bike in gear, the engaged transmission and release of the clutch acts as a rear wheel brake.
Tongue weight should be between 9% and 15% of the gross trailer weight fully loaded. Tongue weight is the weight of the trailer on the ball of the hitch, and can be measured with a bathroom scale under the trailer jack stand…close enough for gov’t work…lol . Tongue weight towards 15% generally provides a more stable tow with less sway than tongue weight less than 9%…
So, if your trailer weight 700 pounds and you load a 800 lb. HD and a 500 lbs. BMW, the gross weight is 2000 lbs. Your tongue weight should be approximately 200 lbs. which equals 10%
*TIE DOWNS FRONT AND MID FRAME. Front tie downs usually are from the handlebars to the trailer frame, pulling slightly forward. and mid-bike tie-down are from a secure location on the frame, usually in front of your saddlebags to the trailer frame, pulling slightly forwards as well. Use only ratcheting straps with heavy web strapping. REMEMBER, at each gas stop, especially the first one, check for tightness of the tie downs, they will always loosen up after a few miles. Also check the location of the front and rear tires in the rails, insuring the tire side wall is not being cut into by a sharp rail runner edge. Adjust as necessary.
*TRAILER TIRES ; First refer to tire/trailer manufactures specs, Usually small trailer tires should have approximately 50 psi pressure and at least 3/32nd tread depth. Too low tire pressure usually leads to tires peeling their tread off early on, and catastrophic tire failure. ALWAYS carry a spare tire and lug wrench that fits your lugs, along with a road side emergency kit with reflectors, flashlight and tire pump which plugs in to your cigarette lighter.
*LIGHTS: Check running lights, brake lights, turn signal lights, and carry extra fuses and bulbs, *LEVELS: Check to make sure your hitch arm and trailer arm are level. If not, adjust with higher or lower trailer hitch sleeve.
Heavier double-axle trailers may benefit from electric brakes, sway stabilization and equalizer bars for added stability.
SAFETY CHAIN should be a strong heavy grade chain securely attached between the tow vehicle and trailers frame.
Happy Trailering all you real bikers…LOL…