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Home Ren's Biking Blog

Towing With A Motorcycle

Blog Date - 18 December 2017

Over on another page Rob has brought up the subject of motorcycle trailers. I have been looking at setting up a trailer for quite some time and I think this subject is worthy of some further exploration.

A suzuki 250 with a trailer on a tow bar
This is Rod's rig. The 250 'Zuma manages the trailer fine.

First off - is it even legal? Apparently so here in the UK at the time of writing. Please see the link below
https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-motorcycle 

It seems I cannot tow with my CBF125. This is slightly disappointing but I do understand why. If nothing else it makes the learner laws less complicated (you cannot ride anything above 125cc as a learner therefore a learner cannot tow a trailer). You could argue that 125cc motorcycles are too small to tow a trailer but then if the trailer is very small....?

I need to ensure the kerbside weight of the motorcycle is clearly and indelibly marked and the same applies to the trailer. There are guidelines as to how the kerbside weight is calculated on the page but it does raise a question. My CB500X has a given kerbside weight of 196kg. However if *my* motorcycle has a towbar fitted that adds say 10kg to the mass of the bike is this counted? I suspect it probably is but I am not a lawyer so don't take my word for it. 

At 196kg I can tow 2/3rds of this weight or 150kg, whichever is lighter. 196kg dived by 3 gives...where is my calculator...65.33333kg. Times this by 2 gives 130.66666kg. I can tow 130kg using my 500 (being cautious and not taking into account any additional weight from the towbar).

So - how much does a small "off the shelf" trailer weigh? Halfords have a small Erde trailer that weighs in at 55kg. This would give me a potential legal load of 75kg. Blimey! I could carry Sharon AND 25kg of luggage. Please note it is illegal for anyone to ride in a trailer I am just making an observation. I would also need to check the width of this trailer as motorcycles cannot pull any trailer over 1 metre wide.

A small metal open trailer from Halfords
Halfords Erde Trailer.

Searching for motorcycle trailers is quite hard - because of course this brings up plenty of trailers to put your motorcycle(s) on to and only a few little trailers for your motorcycle to pull. 

I'm still at the thinking phase. I have concerns regarding handling. I am wondering if it's worth the effort. Would it not be better just to take less crap with me rather than get a trailer and take more? Do I make my own trailer? One wheel, two wheel? Mounting methods? Wiring? 

I am open to suggestions.

2 fibreglass trailers designed for being towed with a motorcycle


Are you in the motorcycle trailer business? We'd love to try out your product and write a review here on Bikes And Travels. Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

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Reader's Comments

Bob said :-
I once bought a ZZR600 rat that had a trailer made from the front forks from a scooter. The forks provided suspension and the trailer was coupled to the bike with a universal joint from a truck prop-shaft - complete genius, the UJ allowed the trailer to pitch and turn but eliminated yaw so the that it was always aligned with the bike and the whole combination had the same single track footprint as a solo motorcycle.
19/12/2017 09:40:52 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Are you going enough to remember the rd350lc sidewinder.

That acted as a side car. Big enough for a hobbit perhaps.


19/12/2017 10:56:47 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Bob - I have seen several single wheeled trailers with a universal joint as the coupling and it does make sense. The only problem is slow uncoupling but that too has it's pros and cons. I don't suppose you've any images of the old rig?

Pocketpete - I remember the sidewinders. They weren't specific to any bike. The old licence laws allowed you to ride any size motorcycle on "L" plates as long as it had a sidecar. The sidewinder allowed learners to ride Z1000s on "L"s with this weird little thing stuck out at one side that was supposed to lean with the bike.

Don't fancy one meself - I could go for a Neval or Dnepr combo though. Blooming expensive these days and not so hot on fuel consumption.
19/12/2017 13:28:07 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
It wouldn't have to be slow to uncouple - if you got one from a prop shaft with a sliding spline then you could weld the outer spline to your towbar arrangement and drill through the splines then fit a pin and R clip to hold them together (or even a padlock if you wanted it to be secure).

WRT combinations - my first "proper" bike after the Francis Barnett I started with was a Norton 500 16H with a rather elegant Watsonian Avon sidecar as I'd neglected to pass a test. Sidecar outfits can be great fun after you learn that you have to steer them not lean.......


19/12/2017 14:16:45 UTC
 

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