How to Rope Tow a Motorcycle

Updated July 19, 2017

Towing a motorcycle with a rope should only be done in extreme emergencies, because of the potential for a crash. With care, a very skilled rider teamed with an experienced tow-vehicle driver can do it. Short distances at very slow speeds is the rule here. Plan ahead and avoid routes with many turns or bumpy stretches as both of these conditions increase the danger of crashing when rope towing a motorcycle.

Open the driver's window and keep it open. The driver needs to hear any instructions the motorcycle rider may need to yell to him. A face shield on your motorcycle helmet will muffle the sound of your voice, so leave it open while towing.

Tie the tow rope to the trailer hitch of the tow vehicle.

Wrap the tow rope three turns around one of the motorcycle forks in the area between the bumper and the headlight, leaving enough extra rope at the end to reach the hand grip on the same side.

Hold the rope firmly against the hand grip with your gloved hand. Do not tie it to the motorcycle in any way. This is your safety release and the rope must be able to unwind from the fork as soon as you loosen your grip.

Instruct your tow driver to start out slowly. Make certain you are aware of what he needs to do in reaction to traffic conditions. Use the motorcycle brake as needed to keep the rope taut. Too much slack in the rope could cause you to be yanked out of control.




Rope towing is very dangerous and possibly illegal; check your state and local laws before attempting this. Use a rope free of knots, as a knot could catch on the motorcycle and prevent releasing the tow rope.

Things You'll Need

  • Car or truck with a skilled driver
  • Tow rope
  • Gloves
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About the Author

K.K. Lowell is a freelance writer who has been writing professionally since June 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. A mechanic and truck driver for more than 40 years, Lowell is able to write knowledgeably on many automotive and mechanical subjects. He is currently pursuing a degree in English.