Load your motorcycle on trailer

Whether on a regular basis to take your bike on circuit or on cross field, or only once in the year to go on vacation, or to take the bike to the garage, bring a non-motorcycle or motorcycle collection of an event … it is rare that a motorcycle does not have to ride on a trailer at least once in his life. A maneuver that is not obvious and may cause some concern. Tips for everything going well


That said, a good part of these “facts” filmed show bikes that we try to load on the rear shelf of “pick ups”, a type of vehicle very common in the United States, much less in Europe where the immense Most bikers use a trailer hitched behind their car. And because of their high axle height, pick-ups and other “trucks” are tricky: the access ramp is often very steep and the angle between the plateau and the ramp is very pronounced. , which puts in difficulty the motorcycles with low ground clearance.
A low trailer is always easier to load.

And of course, the lower it is, the more specifically it is designed to transport motorcycles … and the easier!
I am not going to talk here about the super equipped trailers, with winch and / or platform that drops to the ground level, tilting floor, stabilizing device of the motorcycle, etc.
These systems that cost several thousand euros make the task much easier, limit the risk to nothing (or almost), whether to load / unload the bike or during transport on the road.
If you have to carry your motorbike often, if your machine is very heavy, if you have a reduced physical condition … buying a well equipped trailer is really worth it.

This article is intended for those who load their motorbikes on trailers episodically or who can not afford to invest in a sophisticated trailer.

However in many cases, this trailer will often be an assembly of sheets, generally unsprung assembly and placed on small diameter wheels, themselves shod with poor quality tires.

First point, the car and the trailer

According  to article R221-4 of the Highway Code , the license of category B (car) authorizes the driving of:

  • an automobile with a trailer  whose GVW does not exceed 750 kg (trailer + motorbike above);
  • a loaded car + trailer combination (for a total of more than 750 kg) which must not exceed 3.5 tonnes and where  the weight of the loaded trailer must not exceed the empty weight of the vehicle.

The permissible gross weight (GTW), now called PTC, is the maximum weight that a vehicle or trailer can reach with its load.
This weight appears on the registration card and on the manufacturer’s license plate.

If these PTC are exceeded, it is necessary to obtain an E / B license, replaced since January 2013 by the training called “B96”, which allows to tow up to 4,250 kilos (cumulative PTC towing vehicle and trailer) .
The B96 is a simple training and not a full license (like the BE): there is no exam, no code, no medical examination and it takes place on one day.

In the case of a single bike on a trailer with one or two rails, no problem, we stay below 750 kg of PTC.
On the other hand, with two motorcycles or with one very heavy bike on a trailer equipped and according to the car, that can exceed! Do your calculations well!

If the trailer weighs less than 500 kg in load, it will have a registration identical to the vehicle that tows it.
More cumbersome, it will have to have its registration, with a registration which will be own to him.

The trailer must have two identification plates easily decipherable by the police

  • one mentioning the manufacturer’s details and the characteristics of the trailer,
  • the other the measurements and the PTC of the trailer.

All trailers must have, at the rear, two position lights, two reflecting triangles (retro reflectors) and a number plate light.
As well as stop and flashing lights, if those of the car are not visible.
This is particularly important if you have to do all or part of the journey at night or in rainy / foggy weather …

This obviously assumes that the hitch system of your car has an electrical outlet.
If your vehicle is not originally equipped with a drop Drop hitch for lifted trucks system, you can purchase an adaptable one, for sale on specialized sites like Rameder .

Before any trip with a trailer, it is vital to check the tire pressure of the trailer!

Low-end trailers have small wheels (10 inches).
More serious models have 13- or 14-inch wheels that are more stable and less likely to be fitted with low-end Chinese tires.
Their resistance to overheating is better and the risk of tire explosion during long distances on the highway is lower.
If you make a long journey with 10-inch wheels, do not hesitate to over-inflate them (from 0.1 to 0.3 bar) and check their pressure several times during the course.

In case of prolonged use, do not leave the trailer on its tires and use a jack to lift it.
Clean and grease both the hitch ball and the trailer hitch as well as the bearings.
Check the axial play of the wheel hub bearing.

Avoid any modification, welding, drilling of one of the axle bodies, which would simply lose the approval of the trailer. Repair of an axle must be done by the manufacturer.

And insurance?

From the moment a motorcycle trailer does not require registration (less than 500 kg load), the insurance of your bike is enough to cover the costs.

  • If it is a motorcycle insurance “third party”: the damage to others will be supported, but you will have to assume alone the amount of repairs of your motorcycle.
  • If it is a motorcycle insurance “all risks”, the insurance will cover all the damage suffered by the motorcycle, the trailer and / or the car.

In all cases, notify your insurance company of the vehicle transported on trailer .
Prevention is better than cure and you may need to purchase additional insurance before departure to better cover you.

Similarly, if you rented a car to go on vacation by towing the trailer that carries the motorcycle, and even if you have an all-risk lease, the latter can exclude damage caused by a trailer and / or or the damage to the objects it carries. It will be prudent to check with the insurer before you start.

In case of disaster on the way, several cases.

1. Motorcycle carried on a trailer behind a car:

  •  You tow your own trailer with your car, the hitch is hit and the motorcycle is destroyed. In this case, if you are not involved, the insurance of the responsible third party covers, under its Civil Liability Guarantee, all damages caused including those of the trailer and what it carries.
  • If you are insured in Damage all accidents for the car and motorcycle, it is your own insurer who will advance the amount of repairs and will then appeal to the insurer of the offender.
  • In the event of an accident where it is your responsibility that is totally restrained and in the absence of a Damage Damage Benefit, you will not be compensated for the damage suffered by the car and the motorcycle.
  • If only your motorcycle is guaranteed in Damage all accidents, the damage of it will be compensated by your insurer.
  • Your motorcycle falls on the roadway because it is badly secured or because the bindings have failed.
    In the event that it is covered by a Damage All Accident Benefit, you will also be compensated for any damage. But without this guarantee, there will be no support. Only damage caused to a third party, under your Civil Liability Coverage related to the car, is covered.

2. Motorcycle on the platform of a camper:

  • You transport your motorcycle in the back of a motorhome and it is crushed against a truck following a bad maneuver of the camper, for example.
  • Here again, the motorcycle transported will not be covered by the insurance of the rental vehicle, but by its own guarantees. The insurance of the rented vehicle will take care of the damages caused to the third party.

3. In case of theft:

  • If the motorcycle is warranted against theft, stolen from the trailer, stolen with the trailer or with the trailer and the car, the insurance company will reimburse the motorcycle, but if and only if it were protected as contract stipulates it (mandatory theft prevention recommended by the insurance company, for example).
  • Beware, some contracts for off-road motorcycles cover the motorcycle against theft only when it is stored in a private garage and locked.

 * * *

Second point, the bike

Preferably and whenever possible, remove anything that can be, remove or protect anything that can bend or break.
It is necessary to lighten the bike as much as possible. So we turn all the luggage that is removable, at least. Or we empty the fixed luggage.

As a precaution, empty the fuel tank or at least avoid charging the motorcycle with the gasoline …

It is very important to protect the painted parts (fairing) from any friction, especially on the lashing straps.
For this, plan the dose of rags to slip between a strap and a fairing.

Once the bike is loaded, chock the engine on the first gear to make sure the machine will not move.
The easiest way to do this is to start the engine in neutral, pass the first, foot or hand, then pull out the side stand (or release the clutch with the front brake held tight).
Then let go of the clutch lever and try to move the bike back and forth to make sure the first one is engaged. A game about 10-15 cm from the rear wheel is normal.

That said, some advise not to put gear engaged to avoid the constraints on the driveshafts.
Those often prefer to attach a rubber band to the right handlebar handle to pull and lock the front brake lever.
Another big topic of debate!

Warning ! On certain motorcycles, stalling at a standstill can cause a big jerk.
In this case, two solutions:

  1. start the engine in neutral, switch first and switch off the ignition at the emergency circuit breaker (do not forget to reactivate it later) or switch off the ignition;
  2. it is better to pass the first with the engine cut, foot or hand. To make it easier, it can be useful to move the bike slightly back and forth for 10-20 cm.

In any case, be sure to:

  • switch off the ignition (it would be stupid to empty the battery leaving the lights on),
  • do not leave the key on the switch (if only to avoid the risk of you stealing it during a stop),
  • return the gearbox to neutral to unload the motorcycle.

 * * *

Third point, yourself

Whether you ride on the bike or not, loading a motorcycle on a trailer is ALWAYS a delicate moment, which can slip, even if you have already done it ten times.
It can be very painful when falling off a trailer or ramp, especially if the bike falls on you.
There have been cases (rare) of bikers seriously injured, or even dead, being crushed by their machine from 350 to 450 kg …

We do not load a bike in shorts and flip-flops!
At a minimum, wear long, solid pants, sturdy shoes and gloves.
If you ride on the bike, put on your helmet and close the chinstrap.

It is ALWAYS better to be two to load the bike on the trailer.
Especially if you are not used to it yet. And even more if it’s raining or you’re on wet grass or other slippery surface.

* * *

Fourth point, the material

Basics: a trailer, straps and an access rail.

A good trailer should be generous in hooks and tie-downs.
Four is a bare minimum, six is ​​better.
A “hoof” to block the front wheel is even better.

An essential point: do not skimp on the quality of the straps!
You need ratchet straps and preferably equipped with hooks at the ends: those retained by ergot systems are less effective because they are more inclined to relax.
Small models with self-locking buckle are to be reserved for attachments.
By buying the straps, check for what weight they are provided, with a margin of 100 kg compared to the weight of your bike.

Important: it takes at least three, rather than four main straps.
Again, the sting is bad counselor. No need to put ten straps by motorcycle, but to be satisfied with two straps could cost you much more …

In case it is not obvious enough, the access rail must be solid and secure!
We saw many improvised rails bend, break, slide, fall …

If the trailer is a little high and / or small, it is better to have a second rail (strong enough to support your weight) that will allow you to put your feet and climb on the trailer without playing the tightrope.
If you absolutely want to sit on the bike, plan a wide rail (or at least boards) to put your feet on each side of the bike while they leave the ground until you can land on the floor of the trailer. This is the critical phase, even if it lasts only a short time.

Ideally, the access rail has edges on the sides and can be accommodated on the trailer, obviously fixed

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