Toting your Motorcycle around by Trailer
"When I first started moving our motorbike
around on a trailer I thought nothing of it. Many
trips later I have learnt that there are some
pitfalls that can lead to disaster for the unsuspecting.
|Your first problem
with moving your motorbike by trailer is the accusation that you are not a real
biker, only a poser! "Real bikers ride their bikes, no matter what the road, distance
or weather". This may be so but I happen to like my car as well! Driving a long
and uninteresting road chatting to Carole and listening to good music is also
a darn fine way to start a tour!! . . . . . . .You will need to make up your own
mind on this one!
The next issue is whether your trailer has the load bearing capacity for your
bike(s). This is easily worked out as the trailer will have a sticker attached
to it with this information (the Tare and the GVM) The smaller of these two numbers
is the maximum permissible mass for the bike(s) you intend to load. This number
is determined by the strength of the axle fitted to the trailer. The larger number
is the maximum mass of the trailer itself with its load in place. The mass of
your bike is found in its technical documentation but remember that this is its
factory ’dry weight’ - no fluids whatsoever and without the extras you may have
added later. Should you find that your trailer tends wallow and sway a bit too
much you can have stiffer springs fitted for about R500-00. (this modification
will not however increase the maximum permissible mass of the trailer)
The front of your motorcycle is surprisingly delicate. The part most at risk are
the two telescopic tubes or stanchions that make up the front suspension. The
bright silver tube has to remain clean and completely i.e. totally, smooth. Any
dings to this area will tear the rubber seal in the lower stanchion and cause
the telescopic oil inside the suspension to leak. What has this to do with trailers?
Well a trailer should offer some protection for the bike (and the stanchions)
as the rear wheels of the car kick up dust and stones which can easily damage
these delicate areas. Obviously poor dirt roads are more likely to cause problems
that highway travelling. If the trailer offers no protection (as is the case with
many so called ’bike’ trailers) then you should make some effort to protect the
smaller stanchions before heading off.
For some strange reason the wheels of trailers are prone to coming off i.e. the
nuts work themselves loose!! My first hand experience had the loose nuts popping
off within two kilometres of me driving off. The message here is simple - check
the wheel nuts every time you load your pride and joy onto the trailer. This is
even more critical if the wheel nuts where loosened recently.
Trailers do not enjoy the best seat in the house. Many are left for long periods
in the driveway, under a tree or in the garden. This encourages rust but more
importantly is bad news for the wheel bearings. If your trailer is abused in this
way have the bearings serviced every year or two. At the same time get the tyres
checked and the small rubber tube that houses the tyre valve replaced. My last
set of trailer tyres still had a lot of tread left but the rubber was badly perished
when I replaced them. Finally check the reflectors (red for the back, yellow for
the sides and white for the front). They are prone to falling off as many are
only attached with double sided tape.
There are a number of solutions to lashing your motorcycle in place with fancy
tie downs, web strapping and ratchets being quite common these days. One things
is for sure. Your tie down must not touch anything on its way from attachment
point to attachment point. Not even the smoothest, painted steel surface. A few
hundred kilometres of vibrations in the 100km gale behind your car and the smoothest
contact point will make a weak point in your tie down. If a contact point is unavoidable
due to the design of your trailer than you need to put some protection around
the tie down in the area in question e.g. old winter socks with the toe cut off
and slipped over the tie down work well.
webbing sustained damage touching the smooth paint of the side of a trailer over
a four hour trip at 120kph
|There is a simple
trick to lashing your motorbike in place once it is on the trailer i.e. get someone
to sit on the bike. Get them to lean forward and torque the front tie downs up
and then repeat for the back. This compresses the bikes suspension. This is necessary
as the suspension continues to work on your bike even although it is on the back
of a trailer. This means that when you hit a bump the suspension will compress
which will allow the tie down to become momentarily slack. Do not get over zealous
however! A tie down that is much too tight will pop the rubber seals in your suspension
and leave marks at the attachment points. One can now buy a special attachment
to protect your suspension but still allow the tie downs to be very tight.
The steel hooks on the end of many tie down also leave marks, on the handle bars
in particular. Most hooks have a protective coating which unfortunately lasts
one trip before wearing through and allowing steel on steel (this is especially
true if you make your tie downs too tight).
Finally a word on track days and motorcycle courses that last the whole day or
weekend. Tote your bike there on a trailer! These courses will drain you physically
and then a long trip home is not a good idea.