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How to build a cheap motorcycle trailer

Travelling on a motorcycle is one way to get where you are going, but there are times you need the motorcycle to travel with you, without actually riding it to your destination. In this case, you need a trailer to pull your motorcycle behind a vehicle. Building your own motorcycle trailer can save you some money when compared to purchasing a new trailer. The project requires a bit of mechanical know-how and some physical labour, but not a lot of cash.

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  1. Purchase an old pop up trailer or utility trailer. Look for one that the axle and frame are in good condition. The top part of the trailer is irrelevant, you will be removing most of it. If you have more than one bike to transport look for a wider trailer like the utility style. Best bet is to find a trailer that is cheap, maybe not in great shape, but that has a sound axle or set of axles and metal frame that you can get for a great deal. A junk yard may be a good place to look, or ask at an RV sales lot for junk pop up trailers that are no longer serviceable.

  2. Strip the trailer of anything but the metal frame, axles and wheels, and the flat bed if it is sound. If you purchased an old pop up, this job may be time consuming as you have to remove wiring, walls, etc. Take the trailer down to the basic shape of a flat bed with wheels. Use the reciprocating saw to cut through any materials that need removed. Take care to leave the electrical system to the brake lights intact. Always wear safety goggles when doing this kind of work.

  3. Grind away any rust on the metal frame that you see. Spray the trailer frame with rust inhibiting paint to seal the metal and keep it protected. Allow it to dry.

  4. Measure the width of your frame and calculate the number of boards you will need to build a flat bed to hold the bike or bikes if the trailer needs a new bed. Measure the length of the boards you need and cut them to size. Note the location of where the old decking was mounted, and measure these locations on your boards. Do a dry fit and lay the new decking boards out to make sure they fit evenly and tightly, and mark the spots the hardware will be placed.

  5. Drill holes for the lag bolts to mount the boards to the frame. Attach the bolts and use locking nuts to secure them. Adding thread locking material such as Loctite is a good idea for this step so during transport your decking does not come loose.

  6. Attach your tie down system. There are two types of system that can be used, metal channels that screw down to the deck and the bike wheels sit in the channel then it is tied down. The second is a wheel chock that the front wheel is situated into, then the bike tied down to the bed of the trailer. Either way you choose, the position of the front wheel of the bike needs to be marked on the trailer bed. Lift the bike or bikes onto the trailer and determine the mounting configuration. Mark the exact location of each front tire.

  7. Remove the bikes from the trailer and mount the wheel chock or chocks, or the metal channel tracks the bike or bikes will be situated in. Hardware to mount these are supplied with the kit. Reload the bike once this hardware is mounted.

  8. Sit the bike in its loaded position. Using a piece of scrap lumber or any straight edge, configure a 45 degree angle from the bike to the floor of the trailer, on both sides at both the front and back of the bike. Use the point you will attach your tie down straps to the bike frame as your top reference point, then mark the spot on the trailer bed where the straps will need to be attached.

  9. Drill pilot holes for the eye bolts, then install them on the trailer bed in the location you marked. Use locking nuts and Loctite to secure the bolts to the trailer bed.

  10. Test fit the trailer and bike by loading the motorcycle or motorcycles onto the trailer, either in the metal channels or wheel chocks. Attach the ratchet tie down straps to the motorcycle frame at the rear first then the front. Be sure everything has good clearance and is well secured. You can do a test run down the driveway or neighbourhood street to test everything and make sure there are no problems before embarking on a longer road trip.

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Things You'll Need

  • Used pop up or utility trailer
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Metal grinder
  • Rust inhibiting paint
  • Table or hand saw
  • Treated decking lumber in 5 by 15 cm (2-by-6 boards): optional
  • Drill
  • Lag bolts and nuts
  • Thread locking fluid
  • Metal channel tracks
  • Screw gun
  • Wheel chock kit
  • Eye bolts with 5 cm (2 inch) diameter opening
  • Ratchet tie down straps

About the Author

Caprice Castano recently left the field of construction management to operate her own contracting business and spend time developing her writing career. Current projects include freelance writing for Internet publications and working on novel-length fiction.

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