How do you trailer a motorcycle: 3 Simple Steps

This article is for motorcycle owners who already own a trailer or are looking to buy one and want to know if they are easy to use. If you don’t have a trailer, or if you don’t plan to transport your motorcycle on a regular basis, a reliable shipping service may be more suitable.

In which case, a company like CitizenShipper can show you how to transport your motorcycle cross country safely and for the best price.

If you do own a trailer, or are certain the investment is right for your lifestyle, it’s vital you know how to use it. The worst nightmare of any motorcycle owner is to arrive at your destination and find your trailer has been empty for the last hundred miles. Or the bike stayed attached, but the imprecations of bumpy roads and bad equipment have damaged your pride and joy. It’s enough to make a Hell’s Angel cry.

So which way works?

How do you transport a motorbike on a trailer?

There’s a fair size difference between a Harley Davidson and an Underbone, so making sure your trailer is a suitable size for your ride is step one. If you haven’t yet bought a trailer, check how long and how heavy your motorcycle is before choosing one. And (obvious advice alert!) try to get one with a ramp.

Trailer a Motorcycle

Now you have a trailer, follow these three simple steps to transport your motorcycle safely and securely.

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1. Prepare

Plan your route. If possible, choose surfaced roads for the majority of the journey. Bumpy rural roads with sharp turns can put a strain on the equipment holding your motorbike in place, and loose chips and stones can fly up and damage the bike’s paintwork. The longer you spend on tarmac or concrete the better

Now make sure the motorcycle and the trailer are fit for travel. The tires of both should be pumped and the suspension on the trailer, if it has suspension, should be checked too. If you’re worried about damage to either, take a picture of them before you set off. Then you can know for sure if any damage at the other end (God forbid!) is a result of the journey, and you can take steps to prevent it next time.

Some moto experts recommend draining your bike’s fuel tank before setting off, reducing centripetal strain on the straps. This is up to you. If your motorcycle has a big tank and is full of fuel, you may want to syphon it and replace it later.

If both bike and trailer are in good condition, you’re ready to put them together.

2. Load

To get your motorcycle onto your trailer safely, motorcycle experts recommend two things: a flat surface and a willing friend.

First, position your trailer on a hard, even surface like a level road or driveway. This will lower the chances of your bike tipping midway through – especially at the top of the ramp, where it is harder for the person pushing the motorcycle to control it. An unbalanced ramp has been the downfall of many motorcycles – literally. Worse, it’s entirely preventable. So make sure your ramp, if you are using one, is flush against the ground before you start up it. 

For the actual loading, it’s wise to enlist a friend, neighbour or family member to assist you. One of you on either side of the motorcycle will keep it balanced as it reaches the trailer. Physically, this is the most difficult stage of the procedure. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! For this or for any other aspect of the trip.

If you are using a ramp, it must be secure. If it slips, your journey may be over before it starts! To secure your ride you’ll need ratchet straps; one of these can secure the ramp too. Loop one end around the top of the ramp and tie the other to a hook at the front of the trailer. This will stop the ramp from slipping. Tighten the ratchet and you’ll have nothing to fear as you load the motorcycle on board.

Then release the strap and stow the ramp. You’ll be needing those ratchet straps for the final stage.

3. Secure

Now your motorcycle is on your trailer, you’ll need to strap it down for the voyage. For this, you’ll need two ratchet straps, available from any major hardware store or repair shop, or you can order them online. These should include a soft loop along their length.

Stand your motorcycle up by its kickstand in the middle of the trailer. Now tie the end of each ratchet strap to the handlebars, one on the left and one on the right. Tie the other ends to hooks or D-rings on each side of the motorcycle. Crucially, they should be behind the handlebars, towards the back of the trailer. This should stop the handlebars from turning mid-transit. If you have wheel chocks, apply them now.

Pull and ratchet until taut and the handlebars cannot twist an inch. The straps should be diagonal. For best results the straps should be forty-five degrees from the motorcycle’s length when viewed from above.

Now for the soft loops. Run each one through a part near the rear of the motorcycle, e.g. the swing arm. Then tie the other end of each ratchet strap to a hook or D-ring towards the front of the trailer. The motorcycle should, when seen from above, appear in the centre of an ‘X’ of straps. Tighten those straps firmly.

To test if they are tight enough, kick up the kickstand. If the bike can now stand on its own, the motorcycle is secure.

Now you are ready to hit the open road.

If you want to know:

How do you haul a Harley on a trailer?

The process is identical. Only the tension in the straps may differ, as the bodywork may buckle at different strengths. To prevent scratching from the straps, place a cloth or rag between the strap and the Harley. This will not lessen the tension, and the bodywork is even less likely to be affected.

And that’s all you need to know!

It’s Go time

You’re ready to begin your trip, motorcycle secure and the promise of adventure ahead of you. Following these steps will ensure safe transport. With a little common sense, and by following your pre-planned route, you’ll arrive at your destination thinking ‘why was I worried?’

Happy trails!

Featured snippet image credit: www.trailertek.com

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