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A motorcyclist might need to haul their motorcycle a distance for many reasons. Whatever the reason, motorcyclists might be wary of towing their motorcycles long distances because of potential damage to their bikes.
It’s important to take the proper steps beforehand to secure the motorcycle in the first place and ensure it’s stability. It’s easy to protect your motorcycle’s cosmetic components.
How do you protect your motorcycle against damage from an open trailer or other vehicles? To keep a motorcycle protected on an open trailer, it’s important the motorcycle is securely fastened to the trailer with chocks and straps. Covers can be more damaging than they protect, so you should use them sparingly. Protect any motorcycle holes or intakes from water and moisture.
Although there are some easy ways to protect your bike when it’s being hauled on an open trailer there are many things you can do that could cause it to be damaged. I’ve trailered many motorcycles over long distances, and have learned how to keep them safe. This is what I’ve learned.
Protecting your Motorcycle on an Open Trailer
When you need to move a trailer behind a car, it can be quite stressful. It can be particularly nerve-racking when your motorcycle is attached to an open trailer.
Large items can be transported in open trailers. They’ve proven to be a safe and effective way to get something from point A to point B. Just make sure to take all the necessary steps to ensure your motorcycle is safe.
Once you get the motorcycle on the trailer, the very first thing you’ll need to do is strap it down tightly. Make sure you place the motorcycle in a spot on the trailer where the weight is distributed evenly, meaning it’s not parked too far forward or too far back. Always use at most four straps to attach a motorcycle or scooter to a trailer.
You should only attach the motorcycle’s straps to three parts when attaching it to a trailer. Always use the points on the frame, the front shocks and/or the handlebars. You should not attach the straps with wires, gas tanks, or foot pegs. You could easily pull it off with enough force.
The two front straps can be easily attached to either the base of handle bars or the front of the frame. Attach the tow straps to the frame at the closest distance possible. In other words, don’t tie the straps at the end of each handle bar. Attach the other end of your straps as low on the open trailer as you can.
These same rules also apply to the back of the motorcycle. The two straps at the back of my motorcycle are usually connected by me, usually near the seat. To create resistance in all directions, the straps should be pulled apart from one another to keep the bike from moving in any direction.
Do not compress the shocks or let the bottom out when tightening your straps. The rule of thumb is not to compress more that 50%. Tie down and secure any slack left in the straps so they don’t flail around and hit your motorcycle or other passing vehicles.
The best thing you can do for your motorcycle and the people around it is to properly strap it down to a trailer. Once you have that completed, you’ll then want to put some chalks down in front of the front tire and behind the back tire.
I don’t recommend using chocks that move as they can easily get bumped away and even fly off and hit another vehicle. Chockets that attach to the trailer are my preference. Click here for my recommendations on how to tow a bike.
If you know it’s going to be raining or snowing, or if you want to be extra cautious, Plug any holes in your motorcycles, such as the intake and exhaust. This is particularly important if your pod filters are used instead of an airbox.
Simple items, such as socks and washcloths, can be used. Just remember to remove them before you start the motorcycle. This will prevent water from getting in places it shouldn’t.
To prevent stones and other debris from hitting your motorcycle, you might consider covering the motorcycle. Covering your motorcycle during a speedy haul can do more harm than good. The wind will cause the cover to rub against all the parts of the bike. This can also be dangerous for cosmetics, as dirt may build up.
Covers that you intend to put on your motorcycle should be tightened so it doesn’t move in the wind. If done correctly, it can be a very safe and effective way of protecting your motorcycle. However, many people have been successful using a cover without any problems.
A saran wrap can also be used in place of a cover. You can also cover areas of the motorcycle that could easily be damaged, like rear view mirrors, gauges or seats. Saran wrap can also be used to completely wrap a motorcycle. It has been proven to work well. It’s a great way to protect your bike.
If you’re especially worried about the motorcycle tank getting scratched or dented, you can simply detach it from the motorcycle and put it in a cushioned place inside your car. You’ll need to make sure the gas is completely emptied beforehand.
The last thing I’ll mention is the usage of mud flaps on your vehicle. Most of the rocks and debris that flies up and hits a motorcycle comes from the vehicle that’s towing it. Mud flaps are a great way to reduce debris and protect your bike.
You’ll also want to make sure to stop every 50-75 miles to inspect the motorcycle and ensure the tow straps are doing their job. Make the proper adjustments as needed if you’ve noticed your motorcycle has moved at all since your last stop.
How to Choose the Right Trailer
Before placing a motorcycle on top of a trailer and hauling it away, you’ll need to make sure you have the right type of trailer to do the job safely. In particular, you’ll need to make sure the trailer has the right load capacity.
On average, most motorcycles weight about 400 pounds. You should be able to find the trailer’s load capacity somewhere on the frame. If the motorcycle can fit onto the trailer, it is likely that the trailer can tow it.
You must comply with all traffic laws. Also, ensure your trailer works properly. If it isn’t, it could cost you a hefty ticket down the road. Towing trailers in most states must have blinkers, brake lights and up-to date registration.
Protecting Your Motorcycle when You Stop for The Night
If you’re travelling a long distance that requires you to stop for the night, you may be wondering how to protect your motorcycle while it’s out in the open while you’re sleeping. I’ve run into this situation many times myself.
This situation is dangerous because someone could scratch or steal the bike. If you have to stop for the night, you’ll want to make sure there is a cover over it that’s tightly fastened. Though this isn’t 100% effective in repelling hooligans, it does a pretty good job at keeping it out of site for potential damage.
Motorcycles are more vulnerable to theft because they are smaller and easier to steal. You should always use a motorcycle alarm at night when you park it. Click here to view the recommended disc lock alarm for motorcycles in my list.
Damage Repair after Trailering
Don’t worry too much if you find yourself in the unfortunate event that you see damage on your bike once you get it home. There are many options available to fix most cosmetic problems.
The biggest cosmetic issue you’ll probably run into is scratches found on the tank. You should have no problem finding a good quality car scuff repair kit. If you find any new dents, it may be necessary to repaint your tank. For a tutorial on painting a motorcycle tank and the best paint, see my article here.
Are you able to transport two motorcycles in one vehicle? You can transport two motorcycles simultaneously. The trailer must be large enough. The motorcycles should be at least two feet from each other. Follow the four point system described above and make sure the straps do not interrupt the other motorcycle and it’s straps.
Is it possible to tow a motorcycle and a car together? A motorcycle can be towable with a vehicle. You’ll need to know your car’s towing capacity, install the appropriate hitch, use the right kind of trailer, and understand the local laws and use the proper safety precautions. To see the complete tutorial, click here.