If you are new to the “pulling a trailer with a motorcycle” game, take a seat. We know all too well the questions that start to come up and it can be difficult to find the information you want when it comes to pulling a trailer with your motorcycle.
You may asking, ‘Does my motorcycle have enough power?”.
Don’t worry – we have all the answers you are looking for. 12 million people around America are proud owners of motorcycles. Many of them question the usage or the possibility of pulling a trailer with motorcycles. This article will take you through the basics of pulling a trailer with your motorcycle and also teach you how to do it all by yourself!
Safety always comes first, so before we begin note down these points:
- Use only motorcycles with an engine size of 1000 cc or more for towing pull behind trailers
- Know the Curb Weight of your motorbike
Curb Weight is the total weight of your vehicle without any passenger or load attached. But it includes the weight of a full tank of fuel and other essential fluids like engine oil, brake oil, and coolant.
The width of the trailer you hitch is also extremely important to know and be aware of when you are riding.
Only pull a trailer that weighs lower than 20% of your total weight (vehicle + riders + gear). The actual weight of the trailer must be lower than the curb weight of the motorbike. Different bikes carry different loads. Also, the trailer’s unladen weight must be clearly specified on the trailer.
Therefore, to calculate the capacity of your bike, use this simple formula:
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – Curb Weight = Total Capacity of Motorcycle
Here, GVWR is the maximum weight permitted by the manufacturer. You can find it on the owner’s manual or service manual of your motorcycle.
The distance between the rear of the bike and the trailer must should not exceed 8 feet. Long trailers with long tongues are dangerous and hard park.
Is it Possible to Pull a Trailer with Your Motorcycle?
Undoubtedly, experienced riders travel countless miles pulling bike trailers. Though motorcyclists carry saddle bags, towing trailers offers the extra capacity need for more activities like camping or outdoors sports.
Why Pull a Trailer with Your Motorcycle?
You can’t carry anything more than a coat and chaps in a saddlebag, that’s ust a fact. So, if your saddlebags are bursting with equipment but you need to pack more, there’s only one option for motorcyclists: a trailer. Covering long distances becomes simpler for riders with a trailer hitched onto their motorcycle.
It is a thrilling experience to explore and go around the country roads on your bike. Trailers take this experience a step further, you get to carry handy gear for the place you’re headed to, and stay out longer if you like.
Some common reasons for pulling trailers behind motorcycles
Traveling with basic necessities becomes stressful while traveling on motorcycles. But with trailers, the problem of hauling extra gear is solved.
Consider hitching a trailer onto the rear of our bike if:
- You're going camping
- You're traveling a long distance
- You need more storage space for any journey
- Commuting for work
How Safe is it to Pull a Trailer with Your Motorcycle?
No motorcycle manufacturer or seller promotes pulling trailers with motorcycles. The load the trailer adds interferes with the safety mechanisms and handling of the bike.
For this reason, novice riders should steer clear of pulling a trailer behind their motorcycles, until become experienced.
Tips to Ensure Safety
Safely pulling a trailer with your motorcycle is important. Nothing surprising here. Maintain a safe speed, give yourself more room to stop, and scan the road for rocks and potholes for a wider width than just your bike.
Remember these simple, yet effective tips to stay safe while pulling a trailer with your motorcycle:
- Don't forget that the trailer is wider than your bike
- Don't stop too fast, the trailer weight will push you forward
What are the Rules of Pulling a Trailer with Your Motorcycle?
Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, and Malta are some countries that don’t permit hauling trailers behind motorbikes. This is mainly for preventing mishaps.
Which countries permit trailers?
You may think you’re abiding by the law, but while traveling through different states you can break certain laws that you may not be aware of. Same goes for trailer laws, some states permit trailers, some don’t. In any case, there are two components the trailer must be equipped with in all states:
- Operable Taillights of its own.
- License Plate Lights to ensure clear visibility of the plate.
The laws change in different states, but to guide you through safety here is a list of equipment you will need for pulling a trailer with your motorcycle.
These chains are crossed over the towing vehicle and the trailer in an X-shape to tightly secure them. Safety chains prevent the trailer from separation if the hitch connection fails.
People behind face a lot of trouble seeing around your trailer, the last thing you want is a collision. Ensure your trailer has brake lights to prevent rear-end collisions.
Not very expensive and easy to use, reflectors are an asset that ensures your trailer is always visible.
These lights are important trailers that go beyond the expected width.
In some cases, the trailer blocks the signal lights. Having separate turn signals on the trailer can prove to be useful for riders.
Tie-downs (not a requirement, but a good practice)
If you’ve loaded anything in (or on) the trailer, it may fall off or move around inside when the motorcycle speeds up and slows down. To secure your gear from falling off you should tie it down at different angles.
Other than these requirements, it’s good to practice a little extra caution or “drive defensive” as they like to say. Maintaining balance while pulling a trailer with your motorcycle is also a tricky maneuver through rough terrains and dirt roads.
One thing is clear, for safely pulling a trailer with your motorcycle, you must know how to hitch it. The next section will guide you to hitch a trailer behind your bike successfully.
4 Steps to Safely Hitch a Trailer to Your Motorcycle
It may look easy,, but hitching a trailer to motorcycle is the most important piece of this fun game. If anything goes wrong, it’ll end up in a disaster.
So, to prevent disasters and accidents here is a quick guide to hitching a trailer behind your motorcycle.
Step 1: Installing the Safety Chains
- Firstly, place the trailer’s tongue where the hitch pin will be attached later.
- Don’t forget the distance between the trailer and your motorcycle can’t exceed 2.5 meters.
- Cross over the chain from both the sides of the trailer in a way that they form an X-shape.
- Next, pull out the chains from the holes in the trailer and securely hook them to the frame of the bike.
Step 2: Checking Weight of the Trailer
- After you’ve put everything you need into the trailer, check its weight using any proper scale.
- Make sure the final weight doesn’t exceed the total capacity of the motorcycle.
- Check the Tongue Weight. Do so by hooking up a scale to the tongue of the trailer. Lift it up slightly, this weight must not exceed 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total capacity.
- Make sure that you distribute weight in a way that heavy items are in the front and lowest areas of the trailer. Position lighter items at the higher in the compartment of the trailer, it improves handling.
Step 3: Attach the Trailer to the Motorcycle
- Place the ball joint onto the hitch pin on the motorcycle’s rear-end.
- Tightly secure the joint with a small locking cap.
- Finally, connect the electrical connector from the bike to the trailer
Step 4: Check All the Lights
- Start your motorcycle, ensure it’s not in gear or the emergency brake is applied.
- Walk around the trailer, check all the lights.
- If all lights are functioning properly, you’re done.
- If any light is not working, get it replaced or repaired.
After all the hard work, you’ve now successfully hitched the trailer to pull with your motorcycle.
Pulling a trailer with your motorcycle does not affect the thrill and excitement of riding a bike. You just get to enjoy a different perspective on the sport.
Always put safety first and take basic safety precautions. Check all the gear and equipment you need for the journey, and ensure you meet all guidelines of the states you’ll cross.
Richard F Rose
Am thinking on buying a trailer for my motorcycle,have a Honda goldwing aspencade 86 with only 40k miles on it love my bike,,,it’s a one owner bike actually am the second owner bought it used with only 35k from a state police officer in west Virginia,,,,,it’s been sitting in storage for about 3/4years now just got it to my place built a shed for it so I can work on it ,,few things need to know with the milage on my bike is it necessary to change out the clutch plates and clutch fiber disc ,have motor out of bike just replaced valve seals bike smokes at start up is that normal to do this,,,oh and put a new stator and regulator/rectifier in as well along with front front seals in the forks have new tires on it the Elite 3 ,,,is there anything else that I should be looking at while motor is out of my bike ,,,never pulled a trailer with my bike but I’d like to travel and your the country,,as well do a toys for tots ,,I pulled semi trailer for 25 years so how hard is it to pull a motorcycle trailer,,just a few things I like know read the articles about pulling it but would like a bit more information please,,,thank you sincerely,,,
when you said tongue weight to be set to “10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total capacity” I am sure you meant 15% of the trailer’s actual weight. I mean if my trailer weight capacity is 1000 lbs there is no way I am putting nearly 100 pounds in the tong weight, That’s a heavy tongue, I am sure it makes more sense if my trailer weights 500 pounds to put 50 in the tongue is fine… but don’t go by its capacity but by the actual weight. IMHO
I’m new to pulling a trailer with my bike. I do have over 50 years experience riding though. Anyway, I have done everything it says to do above, but I’m still getting into a tank slapper situation as soon as I go 65 plus mph. Can anyone please help with this? I only have 2 weeks left before my trip
Reginald K Smith
How much air do I need to put into the trailer? I currently have 50psi. I can’t find anything on how much air I should place into the frame in order to determine the correct tow in or tow out. Can someone please help?
Been pulling trailers behind my bike for year’s now, it is the best way to carry gear on a long trip, I made my own trailer hitch for my bike and wired up my own lights. I find trailers with a straight axle tend to bounce more than a trailer with independent suspension so keep that in mind.