While a motorcycle is arguably one of the best ways to experience the country, when you’ve got to transport one from place to place without riding it, things get more complicated. Towing a motorcycle is no small endeavor, but it can be made much easier by using a proper motorcycle trailer.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a motorcycle trailer is how you’ll be using it. Are you buying a trailer for a one-time trip? Are you a competitive motocrosser frequently headed to the track? Do you have a heavy cruiser or a lightweight 125cc city bike that can fit on a hitch-mount rack? Carefully consider how often you plan to tow, your type of motorcycle, and your objectives with a trailer before purchasing one.
- Picking the Perfect Trailer
- Top 10 Best Motorcycle Trailers 2020
- 1. Best Overall Motorcycle Trailer: Kendon Go! Series Single Rail Ride-Up Folding Motorcycle Trailer
- 2. Easiest Motorcycle Trailer to Use: Goplus 600 Pound Motorcycle Carrier with Loading Ramp
- 3. Best Budget Motorcycle Trailer: Yescom 800 lbs Motorcycle Trailer Hitch Hauler
- 4. Best Premium Motorcycle Trailer: Trinity MT3 Three Rail Motorcycle Trailer
- 5. Cotric 600 lbs Black Steel Motorcycle Carrier Mount Dirt Bike Rack
- 6. Black Widow MCC-600 Steel Motorcycle Carrier
- 7. Best Rack for Dirt Bikes: Black Widow Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Motorcycle Carrier
- 8. Best for Trikes: Carry-On 5x8 Open Mesh Floor Utility Trailer
- 9. Best Enclosed Motorcycle Trailer: Proline 6x10 Enclosed Trailer
- 10. Motogroup Aluminum Double Motorcycle Carrier
- Guide to Buying the Best Motorcycle Trailers for 2020
Picking the Perfect Trailer
Even before starting to shop around for your first trailer, there are some vital things you’ve got to take into account related to your towing vehicle and motorcycle. Knowing the following stats will make it a lot easier to narrow down your options:
- Motorcycle Weight: You’re not going to fit your half-ton Harley Super Glide onto a hitch-mounted rack, and you don’t need an enclosed trailer for a 125cc dirtbike from 1997. Remember: pick the right tool for the job
- Motorcycle Dimensions: Rear racks typically have a maximum wheelbase of around 80 inches, and tow-behind trailers are no longer than they have to be. If you’ve got a trike or a chopper, be aware that you have different length requirements than other motorcyclists.
- Towing Capacity: As a general rule, towing capacity is overstated by manufacturers, and make sure you’re adding in the weight of the vehicle itself along with its passengers and cargo. This means that while a crossover might claim 1500 pounds of towing capacity, once fully loaded up, actual towing capacity could be a lot closer to 500 pounds.
- Type of Hitch: Most tow-behind trailers in this category (trailers for consumer vehicles) are designed around a two-inch ball hitch. Hitch mount racks are typically designed for class three receivers, with some class two and class four designs.
Features to Consider in a Motorcycle Trailer
The options for a motorcycle trailer are almost as broad as the options for a motorcycle itself. Whether you’re looking for something simple for one-time use on a cross-country move, or you need something to haul your dirt bikes to races every weekend, there are a wide variety of options that can work for you.
Motorcycle trailers come in many different shapes and sizes for different needs, price points, and vehicles. The following types of trailers and racks are the most common types of motorcycle trailers available.
Fully Enclosed Trailers
For those inclined to treat their two-wheeled friend like the family, the best option is a fully covered trailer. While larger, heavier, and more expensive than other options, fully-enclosed trailers are much more protective than other options and can resist the rain, snow, dirt, and wind. Another benefit is their storage capacity: with enclosed trailers, there’s plenty of space to put accessories, luggage, panniers, toolboxes, and anything else you need to haul
Some lightweight motorcycles can be lifted onto a hitch-mounted trailer which slides directly into a trailer hitch. There are a couple of downsides, though, including the fact that they only support a limited amount of weight. These trailers forgo wheels entirely, suspending motorcycles up above the road.
Front Wheel Toe Brackets
Front-wheel toe brackets hook to just the front wheel of a motorcycle, virtually converting the motorcycle itself into a trailer. While they’re inexpensive, they leave the motorcycle exposed to the elements and put a significant amount of weight on the rear tire, causing a lot of wear.
Folding trailers are designed to be folded up and tucked out of the way. By adding the proper hardware, these trailers can be set up to haul motorcycles long distances. They’re both lightweight and reliable, but a bit more expensive.
A classic flat-bed style trailer isn’t only versatile in the way that it carries multiple types of cargo, it’s also versatile in that it can be formatted to carry either one or multiple motorcycles. They’re slightly more protective than folding trailers because a solid floor can block rocks from getting kicked up and scratching your motorcycle, but they still don’t protect from the weather.
While the typical motorcycle trailer only holds one bike, other motorcycle trailer formats can carry two. Larger, fully-enclosed trailers (and sometimes folding trailers) can hold up to four motorcycles, although that’s rare and requires a truck meant for towing bigger loads.
Pay special attention to a trailer’s weight limit depending on what kind of motorcycle you ride. Although some trailers (especially hitch-mounted options) can only hold a few hundred pounds, others can carry multiples of the biggest bikes: even a few Harley Super Sports won’t be an issue for the biggest flatbed or enclosed trailers.
With all of that in mind, let’s get in to our picks for the best trailers available today, whether you’re planning on daily transportation, a one-time cross country trip, or anything in between.
Top 10 Best Motorcycle Trailers 2020
1. Best Overall Motorcycle Trailer: Kendon Go! Series Single Rail Ride-Up Folding Motorcycle Trailer
At a Glance:
- Format: Folding Trailer
- Capacity: One
- Weight Limit: 1,000 lbs
In a world of motorcycle trailers meant for lightweight bikes or requiring modification, this trailer from manufacturer Kendon takes care of everything for you, admittedly at a premium price. However, for those with standard-sized motorcycles that are willing to pay for the best, this trailer is a phenomenal option.
A full 1,000 pound capacity will take care of just about every stock motorcycle on the road (even a Honda Goldwing weighs in at under 1,000 pounds) except for trikes, which won’t fit on this format of trailer anyways due to their ultra-wide rear ends—something like the Carry-On 5×8 Open Mesh Floor Utility Trailer would be better there.
It supports all of this weight on a 360-pound platform, lightweight and maneuverable enough to be hauled even by smaller SUVs and minivans (car models like the Toyota Rav4 and Honda CRV have towing capacities of about 1,500 lbs).
You’ll still want to use some tie-downs to secure the motorcycle in place, but it’s one of the most secure options on the market, and that’s by design. With lots of less-than-stellar options out there, most motorcycle owners with beloved bikes will be more than willing to splurge an extra few hundred dollars to make sure their motorcycle stays perfectly in place.
What really pushes this trailer to the top of our list is the ease of loading: not only does it fold up after use for easy and compact stowing away, it’s also specially designed to be easy to load. A wide ramp enables you to drive your motorcycle directly up onto the trailer into the chock that holds your bike upright. The ramp is longer, yielding a lower load angle that enables this. Especially with heavier bikes, this feature is incredibly convenient.
- Fantastic ease of loading
- Trailer folds up for compact storage
- Holds motorcycle upright in place
- Full 1000 pound capacity holds even the biggest motorcycles
- Trikes won’t fit on this trailer due to their wide rear axles
- Still requires use of tie-downs
2. Easiest Motorcycle Trailer to Use: Goplus 600 Pound Motorcycle Carrier with Loading Ramp
At a Glance:
- Format: Hitch Mount
- Capacity: One
- Weight Limit: 600 lbs
While most hitch racks only support a few hundred pounds of weight, this model from Goplus is a monster among hitch-mounted trailers, holding up to 600 pounds of brawny bike, beating out even some tow-behind flatbed trailers. While the weight limit is impressive, make sure to use a tie-down strap in addition to the two included quick releases, and to keep your speed under the manufacturer-suggested maximum 55 miles per hour.
The rack mounts directly into a 2” receiver (no ball mount required as with other trailers), suspended about a foot over the surface of the road. It’s 79 inches long, which will accommodate even the longest wheelbase motorcycles. There’s a vehicle chock welded in the rack tray to help support the bike vertically.
There’s one drawback, though: the weight limit isn’t a true 600 pounds. As far as holding weight while standing still, this bike can hold up a brawny liter bike all day. However, Goplus (the manufacturer) only provides a static weight limit, meaning when driving down the highway, heading over rough terrain, or accelerating, the weight limit is probably somewhat lower. If you want to be cautious, keep your loads under 450 pounds or upgrade to something with a truer limit like the Yescom 800 lbs Motorcycle Trailer Hitch Hauler.
Of all the hitch-mount options on our list, this trailer is probably the easiest to load thanks to a wide, stable loading ramp. Sure, you’re still pushing 550 pounds of metal up a relatively steep incline if you’ve got a big bike like a Harley Sportster, but at least a wide track makes the rolling relatively stable. If you’re loading a motorcycle over 300 pounds, it’s probably best to make sure you’ve got a spotter in the immediate area.
- Incredibly stable to load thanks to a wide loading ramp
- 79-inch tray size accommodates long-wheelbase motorcycles
- Vehicle chock welded in rack tray for support
- 2-inch receiver doesn’t use a ball mount
- Weight limit isn’t truly 600 pounds
- 55 MPH maximum speed limit
- Requires spotter for loading
3. Best Budget Motorcycle Trailer: Yescom 800 lbs Motorcycle Trailer Hitch Hauler
At a Glance:
- Format: Front Wheel Toe Bracket
- Capacity: One
- Weight Limit: 800 lbs
This motorcycle trailer is completely different from anything else on the market with a unique design that lifts the front wheel of the motorcycle onto the back of your car, securely towing your bike without any extra wheels or axles. It’s the lightest and most minimal option out there, threading into a two inch hitch receiver and weighing in at just over 30 pounds.
If you’re planning on using this with a moped, though, you’re out of luck. Since it relies on the rear wheel to roll freely along the road, you need a neutral gear, which mopeds simply don’t have. In that same vein, make sure you put your motorcycle in neutral before using this rack. If not, you could completely burn out your tire.
Even if you use it properly, you’ll cause undue wear on your tire as it directly comes in contact with the road during trips both short and long. You also leave your motorcycle directly in contact with the elements when using this rack, as you can’t fit a moving motorcycle with a cover and there’s no flatbed trailer below to protect the bikes undercarriage from flying debris. Fortunately, motorcycles are made to hold up to weather and debris, and thousands of miles of use—just make sure you lube your chain afterwards if you happen to hit a rain shower.
While this rack is based on an incredibly clever idea, there are some problems that come with loading and transporting. Unlike motorcycle trailers with ramp-based loading systems, this rack requires the front end of the bike to be physically lifted onto the trailer, something that is difficult with heavier bikes (think about purchasing a motorcycle scissor lift to help out).
Another issue that comes with the territory is maximum tire size; this rack doesn’t fit anything bigger than 4 ⅞ inches, different from the owner’s manual which states it holds tires up to 5 ⅞ inches. If your bike has larger tires, check out something like the Black Widow Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Motorcycle Carrier instead, which accommodates a much wider variety of sizes.
- Proprietary, clever design turns your motorcycle into a trailer
- Entire setup only weighs about 30 lbs
- Impressive 800 lbs weight limit
- Doesn’t hold tires larger than 4 ⅞ inches
- Can’t protect your bike from the elements or from road debris
- Requires the bike to be physically lifted up to mount
At a Glance:
- Format: Flatbed Trailer
- Capacity: 3
- Weight Limit: 2,000 lbs
While a hitch-based rack mount is convenient for even mid-weight motorcycles, it has a distinct disadvantage: they can only hold a single motorcycle. This flatbed addresses that issue, providing a fantastic capacity in a sub-500 pound format, hauling 3 separate motorcycles staggered on the single flatbed trailer.
While most other conventional flatbed trailers require you to install motorcycle mounting chocks yourself, this trailer comes delivered to your door completely ready to go. A 2000-pound weight limit is more than adequate for nearly every combination of motorcycles (unless you’re towing 3 Harley Road Glides), and many drivers will find themselves restricted by the towing capacity over their vehicle over the weight capacity of the trailer itself.
There are some flaws, however. The bearings, axles, and dust caps come installed but really need some level of service, lubrication, and thread lock (like LocTite) before taking on a long voyage. We wish the manufacturer would take care of the details before delivery, but once it’s good to go, it’s a solid trailer for many thousands of miles. One last note: due to state trailer licensing requirements, be advised that this trailer isn’t available for purchase in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, ID, ME, MT, ND, NH, NV, OR, SD, UT, VT, WA, and WY.
This trailer is surprisingly compact (and lightweight) for being a 3-motorcycle trailer, and although it’s particularly easy to maneuver, especially for beginners, it has the unfortunate side effect of being difficult to load. Space is simply at a premium in this trailer format, and 5 by 7 feet of space isn’t much. Obviously smaller displacement bikes are easier to load, but bigger bikes are more limited by space than by the trailer’s high weight limit. It’ll do the job, but if you regularly transport multiple bikes you might find the Carry-On 5×8 Open Mesh Floor Utility Trailer easier to use.
- Compact and lightweight three-motorcycle trailer
- Easy to tow for beginners
- High weight capacity will hold all but the heaviest bikes
- Trailer is delivered completely ready to go
- Isn’t available for purchase or delivery in several states
- Bearings and axles need some love before heading out on long trips
- Difficult to load multiple motorcycles
At a Glance:
- Format: Hitch-Mounted Trailer
- Capacity: 1
- Weight Limit: 600 lbs
One of our biggest issues with hitch-mounted trailers? Durability. All the weight relies on a single point to stay upright, not like with axle-based trailers that have wheels to support their weight. But this steel, powder-coated hitch-mounted is one of the most solid hitch-based options, made of a solid steel track coated with an anti-rust paint.
A 79-inch rail is long enough for even the longest of cruisers, and an adjustable wheel chock means that even shorter and smaller motorcycles can be adequately supported. Your motorcycle is locked in via several quick-release locks that thread through your motorcycle’s wheels and frame, although we’d still recommend a tie-down strap or two just as a fail-safe in case the quick releases wear out or fail.
Watch out for the fact that the rack is delivered inside of two separate packages that may not arrive at the same time, so if you end up with just half of a rack, wait a few days before panicking. And should you need any help, have confidence that a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee covers any issue you might have, from order placement through installation.
Although this rack’s loading ramp isn’t as wide or as easy to use as the Goplus 600 Pound Motorcycle Carrier’s loading ramp, it’s still relatively user friendly, especially when compared to trailers that aren’t motorcycle specific and require modification or the extensive use of tie-down straps. All in all, it’s one of the easiest trailers to load, especially with lightweight motorcycles.
- Adjustable wheel chock and strong rail helps support all types of motorcycles
- 79-inch rail is long enough for even long-wheelbase motorcycles
- One of the easiest trailers to load
- 100% customer satisfaction guarantee
- Still requires a tie-down for security
- Loading ramp isn’t particularly wide or easy-to-use
- Delivered in two separate packages
At a Glance:
- Format: Hitch Mount
- Capacity: 1
- Weight Limit: 600 lbs
This ramp-loading hitch-mount rack from Black Widow is one of the most expensive hitch-mount options, with a price justified by a high weight limit and a sturdy build quality. The metal tray fits large bikes with wheels up to 8 inches wide and up to 600 pounds. It’s designed to fit Class Three or 2-inch hitch receivers.
And while it’s a pretty solid motorcycle hauler, it falls to the same drawbacks as all hitch-mounted racks: namely, a difficult loading process, a less-than-stellar weight limit, and no auxiliary storage. And while it’s rated to 600 pounds, we’d be a bit more cautious: lean light, especially if you’ve got accessories and a full tank of gas.
Our recommendation would be to keep your total load under 500 pounds if you can, with a bit of wiggle room. That’s not to say that this rack will drop your bike as you roll down the highway, just that the more weight you have, the more likely it is that you’ll break the smaller accessory pieces (hooks, ratchets, and screws).
So while those looking for something to bring their dirt bike to the motocross track might see a perfect candidate in this rack, Harley riders with big cruisers might think about something a bit more brawny: a flatbed like the Kendon Go! Series Trailer simply suits bigger bikes better.
Loading bikes, especially hitch-mount variations, is always a bit inconvenient. A small trailer format without a rear axle simply doesn’t lend itself to convenient loading, even if it does have a ramp that allows you to roll the motorcycle directly onto the travel tray. Heavier bikes are more likely to scratch the tray paint and be harder on hardware, so the anti-rust coating and metal hardware is particularly welcome in this case.
- Durable and solid tray holds heavyweight bikes with just a hitch
- Loads with a convenient fold-down ramp
- Metal hardware and anti-rust coating helps protect the tray
- Fits Class Three and 2-inch receivers
- Flatbed ramps are easier to use for loading
- Smaller accessory pieces are slightly more likely to break under a large load
- No auxiliary storage for saddlebags, equipment, or tools
7. Best Rack for Dirt Bikes: Black Widow Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Motorcycle Carrier
At a Glance:
- Format: Hitch Mount
- Capacity: One
- Weight Limit: 400 pounds
This hitch mount trailer is an absolute featherweight at well under 40 pounds with a full aluminum construction, although that means it does sacrifice a bit in terms of weight capacity: the rack tops out at carrying just about 400 pounds. But while other racks claim high capacities and really need a lighter-weight motorcycle to work properly, this rack’s 400 pound limit is totally accurate.
The welded aluminum rack simply feels solid, mounting into Class Three or Class Four hitch receivers. It’s great for dirt bikes as it accommodates tires up to 5 ½ inches wide, which are typically seen on motorcycles meant for motocross. The loading ramp is wide for easy storage and loading, but has punched holes in the metal, yielding significant weight savings.
The trailer also comes with an adapter that can hold smaller 50cc to 80cc motorcycles that are commonly meant for children to ride and learn on. It’s a nice feature, especially considering the fact that most trailers have trouble accommodating these ultra-small motorcycles.
A quite-small 400-pound weight limit yields a rack that feels rather flimsy, but the included ramp is easy to use, especially with lightweight bikes, feeling just as solid, if not more solid than the rack itself. A word of caution, though, that this isn’t compatible with class two hitches, the type of hitch that’s most common for crossovers and lighter vehicles.
- Lightweight hitch mount rack is under 40 pounds installed
- Loading ramp is wide and sturdy for easy loading
- Accommodates larger format tires of up to 5.5 inches
- Includes an adapter for smaller motorcycles
- Not compatible with class two hitches
- Tops out at a 400-pound weight capacity
8. Best for Trikes: Carry-On 5x8 Open Mesh Floor Utility Trailer
At a Glance:
- Format: Flatbed Trailer
- Capacity: Three
- Weight Limit: 1600 lbs
As a trailer designed to haul farm equipment, UTVs, and ATVs, this trailer isn’t immediately ready for motorcycle use like more expensive trailers such as the Trinity MT3 Three Rail Motorcycle Trailer. But for a couple thousand dollars less, there are plenty of mechanically savvy motorcycle owners that are probably willing to do the job.
There are a few different approaches to loading this with motorcycles: the most simple, impermanent, and least secure option is using multiple inexpensive tie-downs to both prop the motorcycle up and hold it in place. We wouldn’t recommend this method for use during high speed, long-distance trips, and although it’s cheap, a more permanent option is prudent if you’ll be using this trailer specifically to haul motorcycles.
While cinching the motorcycle down is still prudent, screw in a permanent wheel chock (this option includes tie-downs) that will maintain your front wheel tightly in place. It’s not only more secure, but it’s safer and more convenient as well. This trailer ends up being a phenomenal option for trikes as well, as the wide trailer fits wide rear axles, and a high weight limit can handle even the brawniest of ¾-ton Harley three-wheelers.
With a back liftgate that also functions as a roll-up ramp, this is one of the simplest-to-load trailers on our list. There are two things to be aware of, though: firstly, while the frame supports about 1,600 pounds, the metal floor mesh used in this trailer is a little less durable than we’d like. When loading, you should be careful to make sure most of the motorcycle’s weight stays over the frame itself. Secondly, mind the slight gap between the loading ramp and the bed of the trailer itself—the space there is large enough for a thinner tire to get stuck, which can ruin your day (or wheel).
- Customizable flatbed trailer is great for tinkerers
- Mesh floor is lightweight, durable, and easy to work on
- Roll-up ramp means bikes are easy to load
- High weight limit can handle bigger Harleys and trikes
- Watch for the slight gap between the loading ramp and the bed of the trailer
- Mesh floor doesn’t support weight as well as the frame itself
9. Best Enclosed Motorcycle Trailer: Proline 6x10 Enclosed Trailer
At a Glance:
- Format: Fully Enclosed Trailer
- Capacity: 2
- Weight Limit: 3,500 lbs
The first thing to know about this trailer is the fact that it’s not a motorcycle-specific trailer. But in some ways, that’s what makes it great. The benefit of this bare-bones platform is the fact that you can set it up to your exact specifications, whether you want just one large, solid berth for a trike or several smaller ones for lightweight, nimble dirt bikes.
In fact, it’s one of the most adaptable trailers out there, with hardware meant to be customized with different tie-down locations and with a ¾ inch plywood floor that’s practically designed for the easy installation of accessories. Even motorcycle riders that head to the mechanic for an oil change will find trailer modification easy enough to tackle themselves.
An impressive near-two-ton load limit inspires complete confidence in the platform, while the single-axle design comes complete with 15-inch radial tires that are more than equipped to handle those kinds of loads. It has a lit interior that connects through the vehicle end trailer port, there are also bright brake lights and running lights. A 32-inch side door is convenient for quick access, and there’s plenty of space for storing motorcycle bags, panniers, accessories, and tool boxes.
With a drop-down ramp, motorcycles can be simply rolled up into the trailer, although the fact that the product doesn’t come specifically equipped with motorcycle-specific brackets means you’ll have to invest some time and effort upfront to make it work for your needs. The ramp is shallow enough that you can ride bikes straight into the trailer, although watch out for the small gap between the loading ramp and the floor of the trailer itself.
- Adaptable trailer is sturdy and easy to load
- Designed for installation and customization
- Drop down ramp allows trailers to be easily loaded
- Bare bones platform lowers price but makes it easy to add your own touches
- Need to add your own motorcycle-specific brackets for compatibility
- Gap between loading ramp and the trailer floor is difficult to navigate
At a Glance:
- Format: Hitch Mount
- Capacity: Two
- Weight Limit: 600 lbs
This rack is cool, the only hitch mount solution on the market that can hold more than two motorcycles. Although the weight capacity isn’t stellar, it’s great for someone who’s hauling small bikes around, or even kids bikes around. It could work for mopeds as well, so if you’re a multi-moped owner, this rack could work well.
Along with a 600-pound weight limit, watch out for the rack length, which is quite a bit smaller than typical at 75 inches. While this isn’t a problem for dirt bikes, some smaller capacity cruiser-style motorcycles can measure a bit longer, meaning they won’t be compatible with this rack. Check your bikes’ spec sheets before buying.
However, that isn’t our biggest issue with this rack. Our problem, frankly, is the fact that the use case with this towing solution is so specific you might as well just get a real wheeled trailer with a bigger weight limit and much better capacity. Unless every motorcycle you plan to own is under 300 pounds, a better option might be a trailer like the Proline 6×10 Enclosed Trailer.
Loading multiple bikes, even lightweight ones, is downright tricky no matter how much experience you have or how solid your stand is. And frankly, this stand is not the most sturdy in our lineup with aluminum construction. Both sides of the rack rely on the same ramp, a 45-inch skid that yields a relatively steep load angle. Good thing you can only get light bikes up there, because pushing bikes close to the weight limit up onto the rack is a chore.
- Perfect rack for bringing lightweight bikes around
- Only hitch-mount rack that holds multiple bikes
- A good option for hauling mopeds
- Loading with the steep ramp is a chore
- Use case for the trailer is really specific
- Short rack tray might not work with some lightweight bikes
Guide to Buying the Best Motorcycle Trailers for 2020
Purchasing a motorcycle trailer is a big decision, as you’re trusting it to keep one of your most important and expensive possessions safe as you drive down the road. Just as you wouldn’t cut corners on motorcycle parts, accessories, or services, don’t cut corners on your motorcycle trailer either.
It’s important to educate yourself on how to use a motorcycle trailer. The safest and most secure motorcycle hauler isn’t adequate when in the wrong hands. Familiarize yourself with all of the safety features and fail-safes of your trailer before use, or you could end up in a dangerous (and expensive) situation.
Towing a big load is both more dangerous and more difficult than driving your car without a trailer. With added weight and length, your car handles differently, your braking distance increases, and you have to work to predict traffic and think ahead as you drive down the road. Follow these tips to stay safe while driving.
Properly Connected Tail Lights
Almost any motorcycle trailer completely obscures the tail lights on your vehicle, meaning you’ll need a set of lights on the trailer itself to stay both legal and safe. Make a habit to plug your lights into the power outlet next to your trailer hitch every time you hook your trailer up, it’s also a good practice to make sure you regularly check that your trailer brake lights are working properly.
All trailers are subject to federal safety requirements, key among them legislation to ensure every trailer has a functioning breakaway trailer function. When hooking up your trailer, make sure to attach your emergency breakaway brake wire to the car itself, which will automatically stop the car from moving in case of a catastrophic trailer hitch or trailer failure.
As far as checks, lube, tire pressure, and other routine checks, the more, the better, but it’s easy to get carried away. Although you should definitely check tire pressure, breakaway chains, lights, safety chains, and your hitch every time you drive, follow this maintenance calendar for the best guidance on more long-term routine maintenance.
While a properly-maintained ball hitch combined with a breakaway emergency brake can prevent about 99% of trailer-related accidents, it’s important to have another layer of security just in case. Make sure your trailer has well-maintained runaway chains that connect to your hauling vehicle at least a quarter-inch thick. Also ensure that your chains are short enough so that they drag on the road below, as chains can wear through even during drives of 30 minutes or less when dragging on the ground below.
Setting Up a Trailer
Most flatbed, folding, and framed trailers don’t come set up by themselves for motorcycle hauling, although they’re designed and formatted to be compatible with the accessories needed to safely tow motorcycles like chocks, mounts, and tie downs. Take the following steps to set up a flatbed, folding, or framed trailer.
Install a Chock: While you can get away without a chock for slow, short distance trips, if you’re going to head out on a longer trip, you need something to hold your motorcycle upright. If it doesn’t come included, buy a chock.
Install Anchor Points: Tie-downs need solid points to attach to or they’re worthless. If your trailer doesn’t have specific anchor points meant for tie downs, make sure to install the proper brackets or hooks so your straps can be properly attached.
Safety Checks: Axles, hitches, and wheels are the most common points of failure on a motorcycle trailer. When your trailer is delivered, make sure to perform a basic service on these trailer parts, also make sure you perform periodic services on these key parts so that your equipment is always in good working order. Your owner manual can help you determine the frequency of these check-up services.
Tire Balancing: New trailer checks are much less rigorous than new vehicle checks, meaning that your trailer might not arrive in the ideal condition to head out on the highway. Most commonly the source of instability at speed is an important step that some manufacturers skip: tire balancing. Tire balancing is inexpensive, usually under $20 per tire, and will provide an immediate impact to how your trailer maneuvers, especially when driving at higher highway speeds.
Protecting Your Motorcycle
Unless you have a completely covered trailer, your motorcycles are left exposed to the elements whenever they’re being towed. Take the following steps to make sure your motorcycle arrives at the final destination in perfect condition.
Use a Cover: A cover is the simplest and least expensive way to protect your motorcycle when hauling it on a trailer over long distances. Make sure that it’s cinched down as tight as possible for maximum fuel efficiency. Alternatively, choose a covered trailer like the Proline 6×10 Enclosed Trailer.
Drive Slow: Not only are trailers easier to control when driven at slower speeds, they’re also less likely to kick up the gravel and dirt that can damage your motorcycle.
Check Tie Downs Periodically: Even if you have a direct bracket to mount your motorcycle, you’ll probably still be using at least one tie-down to double-check security. Every couple hours of driving, check your tie-down to make sure it hasn’t loosened.
What You Need With Your Motorcycle Trailer
To maximize what you can do with your motorcycle trailer, you need a lot more than just a ball hitch. To protect and care for your bikes on longer trips, consider purchasing the following auxiliary products/accessories to provide proper care and security to your bikes.
While it’s a great practice to get in the habit of using a motorcycle lock every time you pull in the driveway, it’s even more important when traveling. Opportunistic thieves can accomplish rollaway thefts in under one minute, quick enough to nab your expensive bike when you’re in the bathroom at a gas station. Even if you’re using a locked, enclosed trailer, it’s not a bad idea to add an auxiliary lock. You can take a look at a list of our favorite motorcycle locks here.
Predicting weather during interstate travel is notoriously hard to do. If you don’t have an enclosed trailer, your motorcycle ends up enduring whatever conditions you end up driving through. Even in the best weather, your motorcycle is susceptible to damage from rocks and dust kicked up by other vehicles and flying debris. It’s a great idea to place an inexpensive motorcycle cover over your bike to protect your prized possession, so check out this list of motorcycle covers if you’re in the market for one.
Tie-downs are one of the most important aspects of motorcycle hauling, securing your motorcycle in place onto the trailer. A catastrophic tie-down failure can mean disaster for your motorcycle and other road users, so make sure you’re purchasing a tie-down rated for the proper weight limit and verified by a trustworthy cargo certification body like the AAR (American Association of Railroads).
Especially if you’re not using a cover, your motorcycle lube, grease, and wax will gradually get stripped off over long drives in inclement weather. After every trailer trip, check that your bike is adequately lubed and greased. You can see some of our favorite motorcycle lubes here.
No matter what type of trailer you’re using, a motorcycle lift will make loading much easier. From small format portable scissors jacks that will make loading hitch mount trailers (like this one from Goplus) ridiculously easy, to larger pneumatic lifts that you can store in an enclosed trailer, a motorcycle lift simply makes life easier for motorcycle owners. Check out our article on these ultra-convenient garage lifts.
Towing a motorcycle is serious business: when you’re hauling you have to take care not only of your prized bike, but also make sure to protect yourself other road users in the process.
No matter how big your motorcycle is or how far you’re towing, there’s a trailer out there for you. While it might require some modification to become the motorcycle-hauler of your dreams, there are plenty of safe and convenient options to get your two-wheeled friend from point to point.