Can Motorcycles Really Pull Trailers Behind Them Safely?
Karl S
Karl S

Can Motorcycles Really Pull Trailers Behind Them Safely?

We’re sure you know that many motorcyclists with hitch-mounts tow trailers when they travel. For one, it gives bikers the storage space they crave. Motorcycles aren’t originally designed to pull heavy loads, but tow-trailers allow you to that benefit.

This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a motorcycle pull behind trailer along with how safe or unsafe it is.

How do you know if your bike can pull a trailer?

You can’t be sure unless it comes with a preinstalled hitch, or it is rated by the manufacturer (in very few cases). Without these, your motorcycle is not designed to haul heavy loads, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.

What can you do?

Calculate the Total Capacity of your Motorcycle then carry a trailer that weighs lower than that.

To calculate the Total Capacity of your bike, use this simple equation:

Total Capacity of Motorcycle = Maximum Weight Permitted by Manufacturer – Curb Weight of Motorcycle

Here, the maximum weight permitted by the manufacturer is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR. Find the GVWR on the manuals (service and owner’s) or the marking on the motorcycle’s surface.

A Simple Guide to Pulling a Trailer with your Motorcycle

What is a Motorcycle Pull-Behind Trailer?

Simply put, a “pull behind trailer” is an aerodynamic trailer, specially designed to be fastened behind and towed by a motorcycle. Not very different than a trailer pulled by a camper, a motorcycle trailer differs only in size.

How Large is a Motorcycle Pull Behind Trailer?

The dimensions of a motorcycle pull behind trailer are generally not wider than the motorcycle itself. As for the purpose, it is exactly the same; for storage.

How do you pull a trailer behind your motorcycle?

Pulling a trailer behind your motorcycle changes the handling of the bike completely. Although it is easy to learn how to pull a motorcycle pull behind trailer, just follow these simple guidelines:

  • Newly licensed drivers are advised first to get acquainted with riding their motorcycle. Only after acquiring a certain level of expertise in riding bikes should one worry about pulling behind a trailer.
  • Practice in your neighborhood, or somewhere off the beaten track rather than directly hitting the road with a trailer attached to the back. You’ll be able to adapt to the new attachment this way, without posing a threat to others.
Group of Motorcycle Riders pulling Bushtec Motorcycle Trailers with accessories and upgrades

Why Pull a Trailer Behind Your Motorcycle?

Unfortunately, motorcycles do not offer much in terms of space; therefore many riders modify their rides with a motorcycle pull behind trailer for long trips. It allows them to bring along a wide range of items without worrying about space.

Even in bike larger models, the storage compartments are useless as they can’t hold anything bigger than a flashlight or a bottle of water. For extended distances, this is very problematic as riders have practically no space to store their gear and equipment. And let’s be honest, saddlebags aren’t enough no matter how big they are.

So, a pull behind trailer allows bikers that extra space they crave for on long distance trips. It saves them the cost of new equipment and effort of finding stores at the last minute.

How will the trailer affect the overall look of your motorcycle?

Many riders worry that the trailer will mess with the look of their ride. They’re right.

The hitch behind your motorcycle will be attached to the tongue of the trailer. So, it will follow your bike wherever and whenever you want.

But that’s not a bad thing, as the trailers are often styled to match the look of the motorcycle; from lights to the fender shape (Yes, you can get a chrome trailer too!).

Not only this, you can also choose from a wide variety of pull behind trailers, some of which are mentioned below.

Types of Motorcycle Pull Behind Trailers

Different types of pull behind motorcycle trailers from Bushtec

Cargo Trailers

These two wheeled trailers are a boon to motorcyclists whose bikes have very little storage.  Ranging from Aluminum to fiberglass, you can select the look of the cargo trailer to go with your bike.

So, if you’re looking for extra space a cargo trailer is what you need.

Dog Trailers

Travel in style with both your babies (bike and dog). It often becomes difficult for motorcyclists to leave behind their pets because they have no safe mode for their little buddies to sit on the bike.

With dog trailers, take your pet with you wherever you like. These trailers are designed to transport animals with safety and comfort. Three major qualities of dog trailers are;

  • Fully Enclosed
  • Well Ventilated
  • Great Suspension

Motorcycle Camping Trailers

Further categorized into two types; clamshell and platform camper trailers, these camping trailers are ideal for camping trips.

In a clamshell trailer, the fabric is attached to the top and bottom; when the trailer is opened the tent is created.

A platform trailer, on the other hand, is more traditional; you must pitch your tent on it.

Open/Utility Trailer

Ideal for transporting large and bulky objects, utility trailers offer a flatbed without any protection from the weather. If the weather permits, you can carry many items with your bike.

We’re talking about trailers pulled by motorcycles, so obviously, these utility trailers will be much smaller than the standard open trailers.

What is the Best Motorcycle Pull Behind Trailer?

There is no single answer to this question; it changes for different motorcycle models. Based on the strength and ability of the bike, you can decide between the various types of aforementioned trailers. We tend to be a little baised – but with good reason!

Based on rules, there’s one simple rule that you must consider before buying a motorcycle trailer (irrespective of the build, model, or brand)

Never buy a trailer that you wont feel great pulling with your motorcycle.

For motorcycles with a heavier build, you can go for the bigger models. As for motorcycles that don’t offer a lot of power, lightweight trailers are recommended. If it doesn’t feel good and look great behind your ride, then why bother?

Is it Safe to Pull a Trailer Behind Your Motorcycle?

A general rule with motorcycle trailers is that you shouldn’t load the trailer with a total weight that is greater than 1/2 of your motorcycles weight. It makes it hard to ride safely; the trailer is imbalanced and messes with the handling of the motorcycle to a great extent.

It becomes tricky to ride a bike with a pull behind trailer attached, but with experience, you can enjoy the ride without any pressure. Implementing caution is necessary, like in any case, to stay safe on the road.

Some Rules to Abide By ––

  • The distance between the bike and trailer (any kind) must not be more than 2.5 meters.
  • The weight of the trailer must not be more than half the total weight of the motorcycle (Roughly 150 pounds).
  • Different states imply different speed limits, make sure you know the basics before you go on the trip.
  • Drive at a constant speed to prevent the trailer from wiggling.
  • Check the motorcycle’s tires before going on a trip with your trailer attached.
  • Check the lights of the trailer, if they don’t work, get them repaired first.

Summary

A pull behind trailer makes things a lot easier for motorcyclists, especially for long distance trips. Although the usage of these trailers must be limited to experienced riders that can manage the weight of the bike as well as the trailer simultaneously.

Practicing before going on the actual journey will be useful and is suggested to people new to trailering. Know that the handling of the bike will transform substantially so if you think you’re not ready for that yet, you probably aren’t.

Go through the rules and regulations of different states that you’ll be crossing in your trip to ensure you aren’t going against the law at any point. The towing rules differ from state to state for motorcycles.

Don’t get a trailer suggested by a friend or relative because it’s working for them. Different models of motorcycles have different needs, therefore choose wisely. The trailers may be popular, but it is not necessary that they’ll be what your bike needs.

So, at the time of choosing a trailer for your motorcycle, make sure you make the right choice. The trailer along with the motorcycle must operate well together, if not the next road trip you take may end up being a disaster.

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