Motorcycles - Ernie Dube
Tech Tip: Trailering

For general non-specific make questions

Ernie's Bike and Trailer


When I have my trailer behind my bike I constantly get asked what it’s like to pull a trailer with a motorcycle. I say “it’s like pulling nothing at all”.

If you have the right size bike and a trailer that is capable of highway speeds you should have no problem. Let’s talk about hitches for one quick second; first and foremost, there is no motorcycle manufacturer that makes trailer hitches for their bikes.

I believe some manufactures will void a warranty if the issue is related to the hitch. I have a standard 1-1/4 receiver hitch (custom made of course) that has a 2” ball on it. It does not swivel nor does the tongue of the trailer.

My bike has laid over to the floorboards with the trailer on and both trailer tires have stayed on the ground. This is very important to make sure that you have complete uninterrupted leaning of the motorcycle.

Having all the extra storage doesn’t do anything if you can’t lean into the turns.

The second thing to take into consideration is the chains. Make sure that you use the ones that come with it.

I know someone that has replaced the steel ones with those decorative plastic ones.

He feels that if the trailer should come off, he wants it away from the bike. Not me. I want to know where it is rather than have it crash into me broadside.

If the chains are too long remove one or two links from them.

ALWAYS cross them under the tongue.

The purpose of this is to catch the tongue in the event of a mishap, as not to contact the road surface witch would cause a very bad day.Another consideration is the electrical. You might want to install an isolator device.

This draws power for the lights directly from the battery instead of the bike’s electric. The reason for this is that the wiring to the taillights is sized only for the stock lights.

If you add more load to the circuit, you could cause the wires to overheat and melt the insulation and cause a bad day.

Weight distribution is important too. You want to make sure that the tongue weight is limited to only 25 pounds. This keeps the weight in the trailer where it belongs and really don’t change the handling characteristics from what you’re used too.

BE CAREFUL stopping and highway off ramps. The trailer will be pushing you as you try to stop. Take it easy at first and always remember that it’s behind you. ALWAYS use an escape route plan in case of an emergency stop.


The Author - Roger Chartier