Dedicated to the women who RIDE THEIR OWN motorcycles  


by Billy, '96 Shadow 1100

Your trailer should be in good mechanical shape. Good tires, wheel bearings lubricated, proper air pressure in your tires, lighting, turn signals etc. Having a hitch lock is a good idea and one can be purchased at Wal-Mart at reasonable cost.

I use a loading ramp. Some folks don't have one so an alternative loading method would be to back the trailer into a roadside ditch and load from the opposite side of the ditch. My preference for a loading ramp is seven foot long but six foot will do also. The reason for a long ramp is that some motorcycles have an oil filter mounted on the underside of the rear of the motor and you want to avoid getting "high centered" and damaging the filter. A piece of 2x12 or 2x8 of sufficient length will serve the purpose.

A wheel chock should be used to hold the front wheel of the motorcycle straight. An option here would be to tie the front wheel to the front of the trailer so the wheel is unable to turn to either side. I have used a couple short pieces of 2x4 laid flat and attached to the floor to accomplish this and of course a couple 4x4 blocks would be even better. Still the best is a manufactured wheel chock.

When tying down the front end you should keep the strap anchor points "even" across from each other to prevent the wheel from trying to turn. Those anchor points should also be forward of where the straps are hooked to the bike so that the bike is pulled forward into the wheel chock or against the front wall of the trailer. I use soft straps when tying the bike down. These soft ties are strap material with a loop on each end. These are used to help keep from scratching your handlebars or triple tree. When tightening your tie down straps you should pull them tight enough to take up at least half the movement of the front forks. I don't pull them down all the way because I feel there should be a little slack because of road bumps but not so much that the ties could come loose. Some folks feel you should tighten them down completely. Also I have seen people use double straps everywhere. Personally, I think that's not necessary if you've done a good job of tying the bike down. The straps I recommend are the Ancra brand as I feel they are the best and their cost is about $22.00 a pair, two pair required. Avoid the cheap straps, they WILL slip and loosen while driving. Some folks believe the only straps to use are the ratchet type. Nothing wrong with that thinking just get the good ones. It's your multi thousand dollar bike at risk. In rereading this paragraph I might mention here that I tie down the front of my bike at the triple tree because I feel this is the strongest place but the handlebars do fine. Sometimes the windshield or fairing will be in the way and you wont have much choice about where to hook your tie-downs.

At this point you can haul your bike without further tie-downs and it will hold ok. I prefer to tie down the rear of the bike to prevent road bumps from bouncing the back end around. This can be done by attaching the straps directly to the bike on each side or by laying the strap across the seat with both ends of the strap tied down to the floor or trailer tie points. The object being to keep the bike from bouncing and having the rear end moving to one side or the other.

There are as many ways to tie down a motorcycle for trailering as there are people to make suggestions. Also there are many different kinds of trailer to use for this purpose. An example or two might be worth mentioning here. There is a basic bike trailer made up of little more than an axle with a length of channel iron to hold the bike and some points to tie the bike down. These can also have two rails or more to hold multiple bikes. Very basic stuff but they do get the job done.

Another type is the 4'x8' trailer used for hauling garden tractors and mowers. This type usually comes with a tailgate that is also a ramp and can be had for a reasonable price with a little shopping around. Both types mentioned here are single axle trailers usually rated at 1/2 ton load capacity. Remember motorcycles run from about 200lbs to 1000lbs. So if your considering hauling multiple motorcycle, take into account total load weight. Also, while we're discussing this you should have about 300lbs tongue weight on the hitch. When loading, put the motorcycle(s) a bit forward of center to make sure to keep the weight on the hitch. If you load too heavy on the rear it will be a bear to handle and could get to swaying out of control.

The dynamics of trailers and handling is beyond the scope of this article but I would mention that if your trailer is swaying from side to side while driving there is something wrong. It should trail reasonably straight behind the tow vehicle. An inordinate amount of side to side sway can not only cause an accident but in some cases may turn over the tow vehicle.

Security of the bike against theft is a tough subject. First of all and most important is to have good insurance for liability, collision, theft etc. On occasion you might be called on to haul someone else's bike and you want to cover yourself. You might keep in mind a professional thief can and will steal your bike if he wants. The best you can do is to slow him down during the theft by using fork locks, brake locks, chains and padlocks and don't forget a hitch lock. An alarm is almost a "must have". Two professional thieves with a tow truck (or similar) and a cutting torch can steal your bike and/or trailer in just a couple of minutes and be gone, your property never to be seen again.

I seems these days the most desired bikes to steal are the Harley-Davidsons and middle size dirt bikes. For some reason that I don't understand metric cruisers don't seem to be high on the theft list.

Another point. Have someone help you to load and unload the bike. It makes it easier and safer.

Lastly, common sense is the most important requirement. Think ahead of what you want to accomplish and keep safety in mind. Aside from your person wellbeing, that motorcycle is probably your pride and joy and if your like me having an accident happen to the bike would be disastrous.

Good luck and happy trailering.

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Billy started riding motorcycles in the 1950's. Presently retired, from cross country truck driving, spends his time helping others to learn to ride motorcycles as an aid in the local MSF classes. Both he and his wife ride bikes and for various reasons (read shopping) has frequent occasion to trailer their bikes.

Presently he rides a 96 Shadow 1100 and his wife Linda rides a 94 Sportster 1200. They have a family of motorcyclists extending to the kids and some of the grandkids. Billy has a home bike shop and helps his friends with repairs and modifications to their bikes as a hobby.

He is a longtime member of the AMA and A.B.A.T.E. of Kansas (21st years) and volunteers for local motorcycle related charity events along with participating in rides and runs for charitable causes.

Billy can usually be found on Delphi motorcycle forums as Billy1938 or Jhawker2000.

WHAT YOU NEED to Know! Cyclechex Motorcycle History Report.
Motorcycle History Report - What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Used Motorcycle.

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