Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

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Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby rebelrider.mike » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:05 pm

Hey folks,
I'm a total break noob planning a small trailer behind my motorcycle. Let me tell you what I think I know, and maybe you all can help me fill in the rest?
My tow vehicle will be a 2014 Ural M70 with 3 disk brakes. With me on it, it weighs between 1000 lbs, and 1200 lbs, depending on cargo.
I'm considering building on a 40"x48" trailer from Northern Tool http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200612543_200612543
I have no idea how much it will weigh when I'm done. I hope to keep it under 500 lbs, but that's a number I just pulled out of the air.

I've heard that a trailer that weighs more than half the tow vehicle should have breaks. Is this also true for motorcycles?
Can breaks be added to a trailer that doesn't originally have them? How does one do that?
I've heard of trailer break controllers that will work for motorcycles. I think they are activated by the break light?
I'm guessing electric breaks would be best for my application?

There's probably other questions I should ask, but I don't know enough to ask them. I know the majority here do not use motorcycles as tow vehicles, so a trailer this small probably wouldn't normally be considered to need breaks. I'm happy to read up on any threads that are already here. I'm also continuing to search elsewhere for info also. I appreciate any guidance you can give. Thanks!
Mike
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Re: Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby CamperDave » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:02 pm

Hey! I might actually be able to help... Check out my avitar :)

I do have a little bit of motorcycle towing experience. I think I loaded my little trailer to about 350 lbs, towed it with a Kawasaki Concours. Highways are fine, moves right along. On the back roads, I felt a little pushing in the corners. Most of the time you won't even feel like you're towing.

Braking is a whole different animal. You'll really feel it in a corner, big push. And forget any kind of quick stopping, the front brakes will plant the front end of your bike and the trailer will lift the back end, locking up the back brake becomes very easy (and very exciting!)

With a 500 lb trailer, I might consider getting some kind of trailer brakes. You might have to use a different axle, not sure if you can add hubs to the little HF trailer. It all depends on your imagination and mechanical abilities. Yes, brake controllers will work on motorcycle, activated by the brake light circuit. Some use inertia to apply more brakes, the less expensive ones just use a time delay.
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Re: Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby dancam » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:52 pm

You can get brake controllers for bikes but youll have to find out if you can get a braked axle for that trailer. If they are made it would be an easy swap.
But perhaps first you should add up the weights of what you want to put on the trailer. You may not need or want brakes on it if its under 300-400 pounds with that bike. With light trailers and trailer tires you cant apply much braking power and you have to really pay attention to how you set it with a light trailer. You dont want those brakes locking on you in the rain or whatever.

I have towed just over half the weight of a car and it braked fine still.
I would suggest find out first if you can get brakes for that trailer. Then if you can build your trailer. Then try it. If you feel you need brakes you can add them last. You will need different or bigger tires if you do, so be aware of that.

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Re: Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby alaska teardrop » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:37 am

Mike,
You can buy a #8 Dexter torsion axle with electric brakes that weighs 82#. It will accept the larger aluminum zero offset trailer wheels. Add car radial tires run at lower pressure for a smoother/safer ride.

Here is an idea for a light weight chassis: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12220
Northern Lite Traveler design: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=51991
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Re: Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby working on it » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:13 pm

time-delay controller for motorcycles.GIF
time-delay controller for motorcycles.GIF (24.09 KiB) Viewed 281 times
E-Trailer has and recommends this controller for motorcycles:https://www.etrailer.com/p-5504.html
  • 2013 HHRv,"squareback/simple" TTT, semi-offroad? 4x8, 2000+ lbs travel weight
  • featuring: 3500 lb Dexter axle w/brakes & HD leaf spring system > riding on General Grabber 27x8.5-14LT tires, LED lighting inside, A/C & heat, AGM battery 12vdc, 110vac from extended run generator onboard or park power, Coleman dual-fuel stove & Northstar lantern
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  • 148599125895148106
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Re: Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby rebelrider.mike » Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:49 am

Thanks everyone! I'm glad to know all this before I start my build. Sounds like I may not need breaks, but its still good to know this stuff just in case.
Mike
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Re: Towing with a Motorcycle: Trailer Breaks?

Postby CamperDave » Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:57 am

You don't "need" brakes... But with that much weight you must commit to being 125% focused on everything around you.
And that was tough for me on a motorcycle.
As I said, most of the time you might not even feel it back there. But I'll share a little story... :goodnight:

I was working for Thule (roof-top box people), so after I built my trailer I wanted to show it off at work. The trailer was empty, total weight probably 200 lbs. I was running along, didn't even feel like anything was back there and I noticed traffic backing up ahead. I knew I could take the road on the left to avoid the usual backup but it was coming up fast. I grabbed a handful of front brakes and just touched the back brake. I could feel the back end rise up and the back brake instantly locked up. Let off the back brake but I was already "jack-knifing". Luck for me the back end went right, pointing me towards the road I wanted to take. I was able to recover but it was an important lesson learned.
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