Guys that pull trailers with a bike.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by jules083, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    I've been really thinking about a trailer for a few years now, might be pulling the trigger soon. Main 'tow rig' will be a Road King. Depending on how it handles a trailer I might someday get a hitch for my Sportster and/or FJR, but I doubt it. I just don't know about it. Guys say they can't tell it's back there, and reviews say they like it, but I'm still nervous about hooking to a loaded trailer and heading out. Traveling with the girlfriend on the back would be way easier, as we nearly always camp and sometimes go on an actual vacation, meaning stay in the same spot for a few days. Vacation trips involve normal vacation packing. Clothes, hair drier, make-up, kitchen sink, etc.

    One of the biggest things that worries me is the trailer hitting a pothole with one tire and starting to sway, I'm not sure how a bike would react to that. I've felt sway with a truck, it's not fun at all. It was an extreme example of an overloaded truck and trailer, but it almost put me on the roof. Truck was sliding sideways and all I could do was hang on. Smaller examples have happened to me, notable the trailer hitting a bump and starting to bounce while hooked to a smaller tow rig. My dually doesn't care what's back there, but I've towed with my Lincoln town car and it's pretty noticeable. Heavy car, soft suspension. I'd imagine tuning the trailer suspension to a specific load would help, maybe with some added shocks or something.

    I'd be looking to loosely follow this build:

    http://www.gadgetjq.com/trailer.htm

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    In before Dakez's "folly" comments.
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  3. Montague

    Montague UDF Adventurer

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    I did quite a few trips towing a pop up tent trailer with my K100, it was never really an issue on the road. Adjust for braking distance, lower fuel economy, length of rig around obstacles, etc.

    Only incident was stopping on a steep hill and not getting on the brakes hard enough or soon enough.......
    #3
  4. crampfan

    crampfan Banned

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    I've had a Bushtec for 20 years. I've pulled several different trailers before I made the decision to by the bushtec. at the time it was the safest motorcycle trailer made. I love mine.
    #4
  5. bwalsh

    bwalsh UUU, UUU!!!

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    :rofl

    I know a inmate who tows behind his Wee strom. Trailer? Wee strom? That should "really" fire Dakez up. :lol3
    I like his setup so much I've been thinking of duplicating it. I'll see if I can get him over here to comment.
    #5
  6. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    Hmm.... A tent trailer is likely heavier than what I would pull, and a K100 is maybe 150-250 pounds lighter than my Road King. No dirt or gravel roads for me with a trailer, but I'd assume that twisty 2 lanes aren't a problem, just go slower? I've also heard that a bike with trailer handles better than an overloaded bike. I know there's a huge handling difference in the Road King when I have all of our crap strapped on.



    What made the others not good? Or did you just want a Bushtec? I can't spend a whole bunch of money here, that's why I was looking at the Harbor Freight frame and work on it from there.

    :ear
    #6
  7. crampfan

    crampfan Banned

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    The biggest thing was scaring myself with a friends set up. I was not paying proper attn. and hit a pot hole with his trailer, the trailer about flipped and with a ball hitch, It almost put me down. I was talking to a CHP friend of mine about the ordeal, and he told me about the bushtec. Hands down the best / safest set up, although not cheap now.
    #7
  8. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    :lol3

    It is not a single tire hitting a pot-hole that brings the worst of it. It is a momentary loss of traction or slipping of the rear tire on some sort of road contaminant that will potentially get you killed.

    It takes a few moments to gather the bike... Those moments can put you head on into oncoming traffic.

    Pulling a trailer with a motorcycle IS a FOOLS game. :D
    #8
  9. crampfan

    crampfan Banned

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    #9
  10. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    I've also towed trailers with my bikes.

    It's noisy. Largely from the noise reflected back at you from the trailer. But also the engine pulls harder, and the trailer makes noise itself.

    Make sure your hitch on the bike is solid. I've made several over the years. Very solid ones work fine, wiggly ones give you nightmares.

    Most motorcycle trailers are overbuilt and excessively heavy. I had one for years that weighed 40 lbs. The whole trailer. That pulled nicely.

    Bigger wheels spin slower and easier than tiny wheels. Matters a whole lot on the interstate.

    It's not the potholes that get you, it's the barriers around gas pumps and such. When you forget there's a trailer back there.

    Always think through the turn around. Backing with a trailer on a bike is not fun.
    #10
  11. ph0rk

    ph0rk Doesn't Care

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    I wouldn't do it, but I'll certainly respect you more than someone who has a bike on a trailer instead of in front of it.
    #11
  12. Spirit_Rider

    Spirit_Rider Been here awhile

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    360 degree hitches are available if you want the safety without the extreme price of the Bushtec trailer.

    I have one on a homemade HF type trailer. Now I just need the hitch for my bike.
    #12
  13. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    Nice trailers for sure, but $2000 for their cheapest model is a bit out of range right now. :cry

    I've seen different ideas for the swivel hitch, but I don't know that it's really needed. For every guy that says you need one there's 3 or 4 more guys that don't have one.


    I was thinking that if I go with the Harbor Freight trailer I'd probably dump the 8" tires for some skinny 12" ones, and do as much as possible to keep everything light.

    According to the ad it weighs 130lbs, I'm thinking I can easily keep it under 150 with the box mounted and bigger tires. Maybe under 140. The bushtec trailers range from 125 to 140, so I'm in the ballpark. I might even be able to come in under the advertised weight, since I'll be removing one leaf spring per side and possibly shortening the trailer or changing fenders.
    #13
  14. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    Of the two HF mini trailers, I'd get the 90153, not the 42708. Look at the tire differences and the speed ratings. You'll spend your savings trying to upgrade the lesser.

    Both are absurdly heavy duty for behind a motorcycle, but they are cheap. Put a box on either and you'll rapidly find yourself closing in on 200 lbs, not 150 lbs. Boxes weigh a lot more than you're given them credit for.

    The spring is already a single leaf. Adjust air pressure in the tire for ride quality. Most folk run it way too high, making them bounce madly.

    Don't discount a used trailer found on ebay or craigslist. They are there.
    #14
  15. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    The smaller trailer is 20lbs lighter, that's one reason I was looking at it. I'd end up paying more in the end with bigger tires though. I'm going to ride up there and look, I may very well buy the heavier one. I have some ideas to get it lighter, but I need to see it in person first. Like you said it's 'absurdly heavy duty', so that tells me I might be able to lighten it.

    I have a box in mind to mount on it, it's under 10lbs. Haven't picked it up empty in a few years but it should be about the right size and plenty strong. It't heavy gauge plastic, I wouldn't want anything else I don't think.


    I'm leaving now to ride up HF and look around. Don't know if I'm buying now or not, but figured I'd ride up and see what I might be dealing with. If I do get it and it doesn't work out I still have a cheap trailer that I can use around the house. If nothing else it'll double the firewood capacity of my Gator. 10 cords a year is a lot of trips to the woods. I'll have my phone on me to check here for any more replies.
    #15
  16. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    I wonder if I should stop now and start planning a single wheel build? It would be smaller but then I could pull it easier. I could get away with the fjr and maybe klr then.

    All typos and misspellings blamed on my phone.
    #16
  17. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    Oh, building your own changes things! Got a pair of motorcycle wheels and the ability to bend and weld conduit? You can build a heck of a nice light weight trailer with that. I've seen it done with bicycle wheels also, but the tires aren't DOT legal. Skip the springs, letting the sidewalls of the tire do the flexing, and you cut down a whole lot of weight and complexity. Look at the kiddie trailers for bicycles for inspiration.

    High hitch a single wheel trailer and it stays far more stable than the low hitched types.
    #17
  18. Bar None

    Bar None Candy Ass

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    Get this one and be done with it. It's a small investment for the trailer to see if it is your cup of tea. Use a 20% coupon to decrease the price even more.
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/kQ5cNqBBQymFihu0vNZhrdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fR4ZgHiVyEY/URzsIQnZVyI/AAAAAAAAFD0/pKptPbN76p4/s800/HARBOR%2520freight%2520trailer.jpg" height="800" width="800" /></a>

    http://www.harborfreight.com/600-lb-capacity-78-inch-tag-along-trailer-66771.html

    Read the reviews.
    #18
  19. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    Well I got it, its the flatbed one with the 12" wheels. I thought about the other 2, both the lighter flatbed and the carrier that's already done. The little tires just seemed like a bad idea to me. They probably would have been fine, it just looked like they would be even more bouncy. I'd imagine there's a reason the expensive trailers use bigger wheels.

    I'm putting it together now. Going to follow the build from the link I posted. The first step for me is to get the thing together and see how it pulls. I'm going to put some weight on it and hook it to the truck just to see if its going to be bouncy or sway. If so its a firewood trailer.

    Question, do you guys think I really need to deck it in? The car top carriers generally support themselves on 2 bars, so I don't think it would need a floor. Maybe just a couple of light cross braces to keep the frame from twisting?

    Also, most guys seem to extend the hitch between 8" and 20", and some narrow the trailer. Any opinions there? I can go either way, but most of the guys that narrow it only go 4" or so. Seems like that little bit wouldn't make much difference.

    All typos and misspellings blamed on my phone.
    #19
  20. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    I wouldn't deck it. Not unless you're planning to toss logs and such in it.

    Keep the tire pressure low, or else it will bounce. An empty little trailer doesn't need much air in the tires at all. That's why empty car dollies bounce so madly.
    #20