The commonly accepted understanding of the term “motorcycle trailer” is a trailer used to safely transport the two-wheel motor vehicles from one location to another when riding them is not a viable option. However, motorcycle trailers can also refer to small, lightweight trailers that can be attached to motorcycles for transportation of certain cargo.
Motorcycle Trailer for Cars
Unlike other types of trailers, a trailer for motorcycle transportation has more tie-down points and tracks that keep the motorcycle in a vertical and fixed position. They can be enclosed or open, most of the latter also being able to fold to reduce storage space.
Enclosed Motorcycle Trailer
Enclosed trailers for motorcycles offer more protection from weather damage and theft, which is why they are considered more secure. They can also be used as a storage facility or garage for motorcycles.
However, towing an enclosed motorcycle trailer is heavier and creates significantly more wind resistance while being towed, which decreases fuel efficiency. Manufacturers are realizing this and try to create lower trailers, but the drag is still more powerful than in the case of open motorcycle trailers.
Folding Motorcycle Trailer
Folding trailers for motorcycles are a type of open motorcycle trailers that need little storage space, some even fitting in a typical car’s trunk. Just like enclosed models, open motorcycle trailers are rampfree which make them easy to load and unload.
Loading a Motorcycle Trailer
Most motorcycle trailers made use of a ramp when loading and unloading up until a few decades ago when smarter designs deemed them obsolete. Today, enclosed and open trailers use bed tilting or bed dropping to take the motorcycle in.
Tilt-bed motorcycle trailers use a teetering platform to bring the back end of the trailer on the ground. Some designs feature a system that tilts the platform back horizontally when the motorcycle goes past the axle. This type of trailer requires more effort to load since the motorcycle needs to be pushed or ridden up the inclined platform.
Drop-bed motorcycle trailers involve lowering the whole platform at ground level. They require significantly less effort since the motorcycle needs to be lifted between 1 and 4 inches off the ground to get past the platform’s edge, which can be easily achieved by riding the motorcycle up its trailer. Some designs feature a thinner loading end to increase ease of use.
Hitching a Motorcycle Trailer
Motorcycle trailers usually need a class I, II, or III hitch to be attached to a car. Federal regulations impose fully-operable visual signals no matter the weight or dimensions of the trailer and a braking system for loads heavier than 1,500 lbs., but this can vary from state to state.
You can find more information on how to attach a trailer and how to safely tow it on public roads in our step-by-step guide to hitching and towing a trailer.
Which One to Choose?
Both models feature advantages and disadvantages which can make them a good or a bad choice for your particular situation.
If you are looking for a motorcycle trailer for sale or rental, enclosed ones will offer more protection and some extra storage space which can be very practical when moving – but they will be pricier. If you want to reduce costs, open or folding motorcycle trailer rental is what you need – especially if you only plan on moving the motorcycle from point A to B without storing it overnight.
Motorcycle trailer rental companies charge by day, week, or month depending on your needs and their policies. Even though a convenient short-term solution, rental will be a substantial expense if you plan on using the trailer for more than a few months. If this is your case, looking into used or new motorcycle trailers for sale will be more agreeable for your budget.
Pull Behind Motorcycle Trailer
Small and light trailers can be towed by motorcycles to carry extra cargo that cannot fit in the motorcycle’s trunk. Because they shift the vehicle’s center of gravity which results in different maneuverability, they are recommended to experienced riders.
There are three main types of pull behind motorcycle trailers. Here’s what they have in common:
- Made from lightweight materials like fiberglass or aluminum.
- Have a single axle.
- Usually have 2 wheels.
Motorcycle Cargo Trailer
Cargo trailers for motorcycles offer storage space which can be useful when moving or traveling. They are usually small and do not obstruct visibility, but still need extra care when being towed on the road.
Open or Utility Trailers for Motorcycles
These trailers have an uncovered flatbed and is used to transport different types and sizes of baggage. Unlike closed cargo trailers, they offer versatility when it comes to the cargo they can transport and can even be used as ATV trailers.
However, loading them brim over will block visibility which can be hazardous to you and other drivers. Before loading an open trailer, you need to look into federal and local regulations to make sure the width and length do not exceed imposed limitations.
Motorcycle Camping Trailers
Camping trailers are mainly used as a shelter when sleeping outdoors, but can also carry small baggage. There are two main types of camping trailers for motorcycles: clamshells and platform campers.
Clamshell trailers have an impermeable fabric attached to its platform and roof which unfolds when the trailer is opened up. They are smaller than platform campers and usually accommodate a person.
Platform campers, on the other hand, have a pre-installed tent that pitches up when the trailer is opened. Because they do not have a solid roof that would increase the total weight, platform campers can be larger and accommodate 2 or 3 people.
How to Get One?
Pull behind motorcycle trailer rental is not very popular since most owners choose to customize their trailers to match the design and coloring of the motorcycle itself. Camping trailers are more common among rental accessories for motorcycles.
A company that offers a pull behind motorcycle trailer for sale often provides customization services, as well.
Coupling a Pull Behind Motorcycle Trailer
There are three ways you can attach a trailer to your motorcycle, depending on its motorcycle trailer hitch.
- Ball and socket mechanism: The trailer’s coupler slides over the vehicle’s ball hitch and is secured with a toggle or a lever. Limited lateral movement and tilting is normal and required for safely towing the trailer on the road.
- Swivel coupler or hitch: An adapter connects the trailer’s tongue with the motorcycle’s hitch or coupler. Because of its ability to rotate, this mechanism allows riders to lean when turning at higher speeds without tipping the trailer.
- Pivot ball hitch and coupler: Also known as anti-binding assembly, this method decreases the trailer’s tilting while being towed. The pivot ball hitch’s base is secured to the motorcycle’s ball mount and its other end, the coupler, is attached to the trailer.
Safety Tips for Towing a Pull Behind Motorcycle Trailer
It’s important to know that manufacturers do not encourage the use of pull behind motorcycle trailers because of safety concerns. As stated before, riding a motorcycle with a trailer is very different from riding one by itself, so only do so if you are experienced and responsible.
- Grease up the ball hitch to eliminate friction while cornering.
- Evenly distribute the weight.
- Wear protection equipment.
- Keep the trailer’s size in mind at all times and increase the buffer distance.
- Avoid speeding on bumpy roads. This can unbalance the trailer, which also endangers you since the motorcycle and trailer are connected.
A motorcycle trailer can be useful, but can also be hazardous to drivers and riders if not used correctly. If you plan on renting or buying or motorcycle trailer, do not take safety regulations lightly and double check legislation and the manufacturer’s manual before loading, attaching, and towing it.