How to tow a motorcycle behind a car

Written by thomas west
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How to tow a motorcycle behind a car
Transport your bike. (Kung_Mangkorn/iStock/Getty Images)

There are several ways to transport a motorcycle, but a lot of them involve pickup trucks and large trailers. However, if you own a car, do not despair. Here are two alternative methods of transport for your motorcycle. Both methods require that you have a hitch receiver installed on your car and that you securely tie down the motorcycle with heavy duty straps. If you're pretty handy you can install the hitch receiver yourself, or you can have it installed professionally. Before you have any hitch receiver installed or do any towing, check to make sure you will not be exceeding your car's towing capacity by checking your car's owner's manual.

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Things you need

  • Trailer
  • Tow bar

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  1. 1

    There are several types of small trailers available that your car should be able to tow. Some trailers have tailgates that act as a built-in ramp when lowered. If your car can handle the extra weight, an enclosed trailer may be just right for you. Some trailers are manufactured for the sole purpose of motorcycle hauling, but will cost a little more money. You can buy a suitable trailer more cheaply at your local home improvement or farm store which, with a few minor modifications (installation of tie down hooks and ramps), might just fit the bill.

  2. 2

    There are several advantages to using a trailer: Some trailers can carry multiple motorcycles. Just make sure you are not exceeding your vehicle's trailer-towing capacity. A closed trailer offers full protection of your motorcycle from the elements. You can rent a trailer from major rental centres at a reasonable cost.

  3. 3

    There are also several disadvantages to a trailer. Storage for a trailer can be a problem if you live in the city. The towing vehicle will experience lower fuel economy while towing a trailer, especially a closed trailer. In most states a trailer must be licensed and registered. Due to a motorcycle's natural instability when stationary, you will usually need a helper to load and unload the motorcycle.

  4. 4

    The other method you can use is a tow bar. A motorcycle tow bar is a device designed to carry the front wheel of the motorcycle off the ground, while the rear wheel has full contact with the ground. The tow bar slides into your car's hitch receiver. There are several manufacturers of tow bars, so when shopping for one make sure you are getting one that will support the weight of your motorcycle. Also make sure your car's tongue-weight capacity will not be exceeded by the combined weight of a tow bar and your motorcycle.

  5. 5

    Again, there are several advantages to this particular method. The initial cost of a tow bar can be less than buying a trailer. There are no extra licensing or insurance fees. There are no storage issues as there would be with a trailer; when it's not in use, simply remove the tow bar from your hitch receiver and place it in the boot of your car or in your garage or storage building. The motorcycle can usually be driven onto the tow bar without assistance, making it easy to load yourself.

  6. 6

    There are also some disadvantages. Most motorcycle manufacturers do not recommend towing motorcycles with the rear wheel on the ground because the motorcycle's transmission will not be getting the proper lubrication while in transit. For this reason you will have to disconnect your motorcycle's rear wheel drive system (whether it be belt, chain, or shaft). The use of a tow bar is not recommended for long distances. You may not be able to use a tow bar for your type of motorcycle. For instance, if you are towing a dirt bike with knobby tyres that have a soft rubber compound, this method will cause premature wearing of the rear tyre. Your motorcycle has to have fully functioning front and rear wheels in order for a tow bar to work.

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