9 Problems with Pulling Motorcycle Trailers and How to Fix Them

Many people pull trailers behind their motorcycles. Some do it seamlessly, while others encounter problems while pulling motorcycle trailers.

If you're one of them, don't worry. This article is a one-stop solution to solve the nine daunting problems faced when pulling motorcycle trailers.

Challenges Motorcyclists Face While Pulling a Trailer

Motorcycles don't offer a lot of storage, so people often pull a motorcycle trailer behind their bikes for longer trips. Trailers allow extra storage for items, sparing you from the discomfort of only a couple cubic feet for storage of your needed motorcycle gear.

What do the Experts Say?

Pulling a trailer behind your motorcycle changes the entire dynamic of your motorcycle. Even after years of towing trailers, there's no one who's an expert. Every person, at some point, comes face to face with similar challenges on the road when it comes to pulling motorcycle trailers.

Beginners are strictly advised to not pull trailers behind their motorcycles, as it may result in life-threatening injuries.

The Top 9 Problems You May Face When Pulling Motorcycle Trailers

Just knowing about a problem isn't enough, so they are each followed by tips to either avoid or fix them faster.

1. Faster wearing of rear tires

Motorcycle owners often complain about the tires wearing out sooner the expected after pulling motorcycle trailers.

"With almost 150 pounds of weight attached to the rear-end of the bike, it's natural the tires are under more pressure." This is what's most commonly states on this subject. What's not mentioned is that the actual tongue weight forcing downward on the hitch is much less.

Can it be avoided?

Unfortunately, this problem cannot be avoided. The extra load attached adds to the overall weight (like a passenger does) and takes its toll on the tires, and they do deteriorate - just not as fast as most people seem to make it out to be in an everyday conversation.

How to fix the problem?

Worn out tires cannot be fixed; you'll have to get them replaced completely.

Your tires are what connect your motorcycle to the road, the first step to replace them is to know when they've been damaged. The treadwear indicator on your tire tells you the amount of tread left on the tire. It's marked as TWI on the tire, if any tread on the tire is in level with the TWI marker, it's time to get a fresh pair.

Even if the tire isn't worn off to the limit, 1/32 of an inch, it may be uneven. To figure out if your tire need replacement, check the rear tire for signs of squaring off.

2. Balancing issue due to the changing weight of the trailer

The trailer hitched onto the back of your bike dramatically changes the handling of the bike. Experienced riders encounter some handling issues when pulling motorcycle trailers. It's a new feeling, and takes some practice to get familiar with.

For new motorcyclists, it is not suggested to hitch a trailer until they're learned how to handle their bikes without a trailer much better and have some experience with the road and its dangers.

Can it be avoided?

The imbalance us caused due to the additional weight behind the motorcycle, it cannot be avoided. For every trip the requirements are different, thus affecting the weight in the trailer.

How to fix the problem?

There isn't a 'fix' for this issue, although you can practice riding in your neighborhood for safety before you embark on the actual journey. It is important to know how to balance your weight, the bike's weight, and the trailer's weight, that takes a certain level of expertise.

Also, you can evenly distribute the weight inside the trailer with the heavier objects at the bottom and lighter ones in the middle.

3. The trailer keeps wiggling.

Pulling motorcycle trailers challenges your ability to ride a bike. With the weight of the trailer, the bike becomes more strict and less forgiving. At the same time, when in motion, the trailer keeps changing direction if you go too fast or slow.

Can it be avoided?

Yes, this can be avoided by maintaining a constant speed. This problem also occurs when the trailer isn't hitched properly. With calibration (like tire balancing) you can avoid the trailer from moving too much.

How to fix the problem?

If the problem persists after calibration, check the weight distribution in the trailer. As mentioned above, the weight must be evenly distributed with the heavier items at the bottom and gradually decreasing the weight as you move towards the top.

There does need to be some weight forcing downward at the tongue of the trailer. Not much, but the general rule is about 15% of the overall trailer's total weight.

4. Applying brakes becomes a problem

The braking system no longer works the way it did when pulling motorcycle trailers. Brakes must be applied well in advance to avoid collision of the trailer and motorcycle. All the weight is still stopped by the same brakes. Brakes and tires are most affected by the attachment of a trailer.

Can it be avoided?

You cannot avoid the wearing off of brakes in this case. Although you can avoid accidents when sound judgment. The brakes must be applied earlier than usual as they stop the motorcycle and the trailer.

How to fix the problem?

The solution is simple: get enough experience, so you can instantly make a call based on the condition. The brakes cannot be applied too soon or too late, timing is of utmost importance.

Also, be careful that the trailer is moving as straight as possible, or else when you hit the brake the trailer will ram into the opposite direction.

5. The hitch doesn't fit

Related to the third problem, if the hitch doesn't fit of isn't appropriate for your motorcycle you'll end up with a wobbly trailer. It won't be stable at all, and when you hit the brakes, the trailer will damage the bike.

Can it be avoided?

You can avoid mishap by choosing the right type of hitch; low or high. Also, make sure the lubrication is properly done.

How to fix the problem?

If the hitch isn't properly aligned, then it'll affect your riding experience. With a hitch that doesn't fit, pulling motorcycle trailers becomes problematic.

6. Safety chains are tricky to put on

Securing the trailer with your bike becomes necessary in case the hitch joint breaks loose. It is necessary to avoid accidents that safety chains are put on precisely.

If not, your trailer will detach from the motorcycle in the middle of the road and changes are it will run into another vehicle.

Can it be avoided? 

Yes, it can be avoided by carefully locking the trailer to the motorcycle with safety chains. Knowing the proper way to attach safety chains becomes important.

How to fix the problem?

A safe approach would be to put on the chains in the shape of an 'X' forming a crisscross pattern. If possible, turn the chains around twice for maximum protection.

7. Higher fuel intake

The motorcycle is carrying the load of the rider, a passenger (if any), the trailer, and itself. So, it is expected that it'll need more fuel to power its engine.

Pulling motorcycle trailers puts a lot of pressure on the engine, to cope with this the engine burns more fuel than usual.

Can it be avoided?

Definitely not. You cannot avoid the consumption of more fuel by the motorcycle when pulling motorcycle trailers.

How to fix the problem?

There isn't any fix for this problem, but you can ensure that your bike's in top shape before leaving on a long journey with your trailer. This ensures that the bike isn't using up more fuel than it usually does.

8. The sky's the limit

Motorcyclists often face the problem of unfavorable weather conditions. Pulling motorcycle trailers is tricky when it's snowing or raining. The road is much more slippery and your tires don't get a firm grip of the road as they do in normal weather.

Can it be avoided? 

You cannot avoid the weather. You can only be careful. Make sure that while riding, you're enforcing necessary.

How to fix the problem?

In extreme conditions, it may become difficult for other riders to see you. To ensure visibility, check the rear lights of the trailer and make sure they're in working condition. Maintain a fixed speed in certain climatic conditions to avoid skidding, with the trailer behind the impact will be even worse.

9. Maintaining the trailer AND the motorcycle is difficult

For motorcycle owners, the trailer adds to the expenses with its maintenance costs. Firstly, they must maintain their motorcycles and the trailer's maintenance isn't something they're wishing to spend on.

Can it be avoided?

Not maintaining the trailer or motorcycle will result in an accdient sooner than later. You also don't want the bike or the trailer to break down in the middle of nowhere. To avoid this, make sure your tailer and motorcycle are in good shape with regular maintenance.

How to fix the problem?

The expense of maintaining the motorcycle and the trailer cannot be overlooked. Get them regularly checked at the garage and make your next riding experience unforgettable.

If things aren't going as planned when it comes to pulling motorcycle trailers, don't worry. There's another corner just up the way.


James McCaw

James McCaw

What about tire pressure in your trailer ??



As Rudy mentioned, “…what about a trike?” The suspension, tires, weight, handling and a few other things come into play. What advice do you offer for trikers?



I understand all the safty issues pulling a trailer with a motorbike but what about a trike?

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