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Taking more along for the ride

June 4, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff

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A few tips for towing a trailer behind your motorcycle

Motorcycles are designed to be super maneuverable, lightweight and fun to ride.  They are NOT designed to carry a lot of clothing, gear and other stuff.  Even if you have a good set of saddlebags, you still need to be a creative packer if you’re going camping or hitting the road for a few days.  Even a little more space can mean a lot when traveling by bike. It seems like more riders are now relying on pull behind trailers to give them the room they need to carry the stuff they just can’t live without.

Pull behind trailers offer a number of clear advantages:

  • Space.  You’ll have a whole lot more of it.
  • No need (or less need) for creative packing.  In most cases, if you might need or want it, you can bring it along.
  • The amazing ability to bring back more than you took with you.  In terms of your wallet, that can be something of a liability.
  • You become easier to spot in traffic.  You’re bigger and less likely to be overlooked.  In fact, you’ll draw attention to yourself because you look different from other vehicles.

The good news is: trailers have become lighter, more stylish and easier to tow.  When it comes to design, you can get as fancy as you like, or keep it simple.  You’ll see trailers shaped like everything from Corvettes to coffins.  Many are designed to match the style of popular motorcycle models.  Whatever style or size you choose, there are some things you need to know.

Getting hitched

Obviously, you’ll need to add a hitch to your motorcycle, if it doesn’t already have one.  The key is to get a motorcycle trailer hitch specifically designed for the make, year and model of your bike. If you are unsure about selecting or installing a hitch, consult your dealer.

What you need to know

No matter which hitch and trailer you choose, there are some things you should know in advance about riding while pulling a trailer:

Keep in mind that, unless you ride a trike, the trailer is wider than your bike.  This can be extremely important when you get near a curb, or pull near any solid object, such as a gas pump.  It also means you should ride closer to the center of the road than you usually do.  That, in turn, means you need to be wary of the slippery strip of oil and lubricants in the center of the road, particularly at intersections.

In addition to being wider, your vehicle is now longer than you’re used to.  It’s not a big deal, but you need to keep it in mind when making turns – particularly to the right. This is something you’ll get used to very quickly and, unless you typically make extremely tight turns, you shouldn’t have a serious problem.

While turning is a bit different with a trailer, backing up is a whole new ballgame.  Remember, your vehicle is now longer and there’s a bendy part in the middle that’s usually not there.  If you need to turn around, your best bet is to find a place where you can make a wide U-turn, or where there’s lots of space to carefully execute a three-point turn.  Again, no big deal but worth keeping in mind.

Finally, keep in mind that starting and stopping will be different.  Your stopping distance is sure to be lengthened and you might find starting from a dead stop requires a different combination of throttle and clutch.  It might be wise to take some test rides with your new trailer before hitting the road for a serious trip.

Taking the time to make an informed choice and preparing for some changes in the way your bike rides will make it easy to add significant storage space for your next trip.

Resources

Looking for a hitch that swivels to allow your bike to lean in curves while maintaining a solid connection with the trailer? Try the Freedom Pivot Ball Hitch manufactured by The USA Trailer Store.

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