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Thread: Informal poll concerning motorcycles pulling trailers

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    Informal poll concerning motorcycles pulling trailers

    Please excuse my misspelling of "poll" in the above thread title.

    I have been a moderate enthusiast in pulling trailers by motorcycles (probably not as experienced I am sure as some of your are), and have never had any incidents to question doing so.

    However, there are some who are opposed to it for safety reasons. What I want to see if others who pull trailers have experienced any safety issues or concerns with safety.

    I just want your input based upon your experiences - and also your opinions - How do all of you feel about pulling trailers? Do you have any safety issues?

    For example, in discussing this with a friend, he said that he saw an incident where a trailer had a flat tire, and caused an accident.

    Thanks,
    jlc
    "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't change every time congress meets." - Will Rogers

  2. 12-06-2013, 01:24 PM

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    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Corrected thread title spelling for future searches.
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    General testimony from fans or haters of trailer towing isn't going to be very evidentiary. Looking at various statistical reports from MAIDs to Hurt you will find that the rider is a better predictor of an accident than any other factor including overloaded, speed, or equipment failure (though those become secondary factors). When people see or hear about something they have a tendency to over-emphasize the risk factors. Motorcycle trailer design has been fairly stagnant for about three decades so we have a mature technology to examine for engineering weaknesses. Most reports from law enforcement don't necessarily identify motorcycle trailer towing as a categorical item. That makes in depth analysis difficult.


    ETA: From the long distant archives of 20 years ago http://selil.com/archives/33
    I have given this subject literally hours of thought and (some) research. I suspect that other than educated "guesswork" by riders, it will be awful difficult to pin down any specifics as to safety issues with any certainty. That is one of the reasons I called it "informal."

    But, having said that, I think BMW owners and riders are the most intelligent and therefore can feed back the most thoughtful and reliable information. I figured I would get a better sampling and better ideas from all of you than my own personal experience (thousands of miles w/o a single incident) and the one of my friend's.

    I know there are some that don't like trailer towing, but I think it is much safer than some of the ways I have seen people travel on motorcycles!

    This input, I doubt, will change my opinion (I am FOR trailer towing) or anyone else's, but I want to have more things to "think" about than either what my experience is, or what my meager brain can think up!

    Thanks,
    jlc
    "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't change every time congress meets." - Will Rogers

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    Quote Originally Posted by 20774 View Post
    Corrected thread title spelling for future searches.
    Thank you. When I noticed, I couldn't go back and change it!
    "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't change every time congress meets." - Will Rogers

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    It would seem that dragging something behind a two wheeled vehicle, if in a straight line, wouldn't be much of a problem. However, motorcycles are rarely going in a straight line. And when other forces are applied, depending on the dynamics of physics involved, things can get squirrelly.

    Same could be deduced concerning bikes center of gravity and safety when mounting any weight on a bike. Notably a rear mounted rack, box or duffle over the rear tire. Gotta keep a bike in balance, and that means weight distribution as near as possible to an unloaded bike. And then there's the aero factor. A big thingee hanging out back disturbs the air flowing around the projectile, pull weight off the front tire, tank slapper just around the corner if there is anything wrong with forks/stem bearings. Two sense FWIW.

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    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    The scary thing is it apparently doesn't negatively affect your insurance to pull a trailer ... and I'm forced to be in that risk pool.
    Kent Christensen
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    The scary thing is it apparently doesn't negatively affect your insurance to pull a trailer ... and I'm forced to be in that risk pool.
    My question is this: If there are very few accidents that were either caused by a MC pulling a trailer or accidents that were made more serious by a MC pulling a trailer than how much of a "risk" could there be? If the percentage is so small to even count, the risk would be very little to the insurance company or to the individual riding a bike pulling a trailer.

    Let's face it, riding a MC, in and of itself, is a huge risk compared to other types of travel. So... the added risk of pulling a trailer may not be that much more! Right?

    I just am not sure how much risk there is. That is why I want more input from more people.

    I like opinions, but I want to hear from those who have experienced pulling trailers, or from some who have ridden with those who have pulled trailers.

    I can say this. That after pulling one last May on a single trip ranging from near below freezing, very high cold winds, back, two-lane roads, large cities, Interstates, both through cities and in the open, from slow speeds to 80 mph on the interstates, in light traffic and in heavy traffic, I had not have one incident or safety issue with the trailer. Other than feeling a little more "lag" when I accelerated on an on-ramp (after all, an old R100 doesn't have that much power!), once I got up to speed, I could not even feel the trailer on the back, including on curves and circle on/off ramps. I had to keep checking my mirrors to check to make sure the trailer was still there!

    I have also ridden a MC with a sidecar, and I can assure you, that the side car was far more problematic and prone to safety issues.

    How about the rest of you? Any input either agreeing or disagreeing?
    "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't change every time congress meets." - Will Rogers

  9. 12-06-2013, 10:10 PM

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    It is what it is. Bud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    That motorcycling is a "huge risk" is not a given. Unpack the concept some and you end up with some interesting data to play with. As an example the activity or riding a motorcycle attracts a similar demographic to other risk prone activities. Especially a demographic that has little in the way of reflective or self introspection. The activity of motorcycling has all of the stunt riders around the country categorized with all of the Harley weekend riders with all of the BMW touring riders. Age, skill, competence, risk aversion, and all are very different between the flip flop wearing stunter, lidless chrome drivers, and ATGATT tourers. Take out drugs, alcohol, high risk maneuvers, reckless driving, and add ATGATT and you can compare similar behavior road users very close in risk to other vehicle traffic.

    Unfortunately we still share the road with texting angst ridden teens in SUVs regardless of how well we behave.


    There are other factors at work with a trailer that are only lightly if ever touched upon. They create a better load triangle, they can positively effect straight line driving, they can increase conspicuity, and finally trailers can decrease rider fatigue (though we can debate that).

    I do know that an previous informal poll showed that tire size was a great indicator of whether a motorcycle trailer would be involved in an accident. Small tire, and you were over represented in accident statistics from a series of rallies. Big tire, and there were NO trailers involved in accidents. A count of trailers in a parking lot gave a sample size to back into. The analysis is two decades ago and involved Goldwings, but it would be interesting to track at a BMW rally someday.
    hijack on

    Not really.

    You are still not in an enclosed vehicle with airbags and seat belts.

    False sense of security to think otherwise. I ride like every other person is trying to kill me. Not on purpose, but the result is the same even if it is an accident.

    We do all we can no manage risk. Lights, visible clothing, loud horns, light colored helmets, etc....................

    Lowers the chances but still doesn't prevent a driver turning left in front of you.

    hijack off
    I used to post here, but now I don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    That motorcycling is a "huge risk" is not a given.
    I said that it is a "huge" risk compared to traveling in just about any 4 wheel vehicle. It seems to me that I could have exaggerated some, but not much. All of us are constantly vigilant for others as we are very aware of the dangers of being unprotected in case of an accident. These same dangers do not go along with riding in a decent car.

    However, your points are well taken about we BMW riders being grouped together (unfortunately) with all the other motorcyclists. I agree that the "risk" factor isn't as great for BMW owners as with all other brands. As a matter of my experience, I know of NO BMW rider who rides without a helmet, and the safety training in BMW circles is second to none. Further, the BMW "mentality" is almost completely different than I have seen in any other MC brand.

    Finally, your points favoring the trailering concept were very good and seem to match my experience. However, the one about being seen better is one safety benefit that I hadn't thought of.
    "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't change every time congress meets." - Will Rogers

  12. #10
    Plasterman tgf429's Avatar
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    I have pulled two trailers (Bushtec and Home made camper) with two different models of BMW bikes: One an LT and one an 1200RT. LT did not require any mods to the bike. RT required better real shock to handle the camper trailer. Never had any problems with the bikes and never had any accidents while pulling them. Tires do suffer significantly. Pulling a trailer does require you to alter your riding style and speed. It also requires an increase in your situational awareness. You must always remember that it's back there - you wont always be able to slow down or fit through spaces you are used to. 20-25% of the time I pull my trailers (with wife carrying regular sized suit case). Rest of the time solo without the trailer I often go many months in between there uses, requiring short learning curve before acclimating to the changes. Not really any different than going from summer to winter driving in Iowa. Common sense, caution, practice, skill, with the emphasis on the first two.

    I am not scared to pull a trailer and see no problem with it. It is a personal decision one must make on their own. Only way to find out if its for you is to try it. If you don't like it, sell the ****, and chaulk it up to experience.

    Cheers

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by TGF429 View Post
    I have pulled two trailers (Bushtec and Home made camper) with two different models of BMW bikes: One an LT and one an 1200RT. LT did not require any mods to the bike. RT required better real shock to handle the camper trailer.

    Cheers

    Tom
    If I may ask, why the need for a change in rear shock? Also, can you estimate what your tongue weight was? Just asking.

    Thanks,
    jlc
    "The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't change every time congress meets." - Will Rogers

  14. 12-07-2013, 10:40 PM
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    Post repeated below with changes.

  15. #12
    Plasterman tgf429's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmylee View Post
    If I may ask, why the need for a change in rear shock? Also, can you estimate what your tongue weight was? Just asking.

    Thanks,
    jlc
    Changed the shock because I had more sag than was good for the bike and its handling with the camper trailer. Loaded with wife and then tongue weight made her sit pretty low. I shoot for 10-15% tongue weight, can range from 25-60 lbs.

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