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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all!

Those of you who haul trailers behind your 1700's, how have you setup your suspension? Looking for a good baseline. Would love any advice on the matter. I generally ride with no air and rebound setting of two when solo.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There's still weight when moving though right? Won't that load down the rear end when accelerating? How does your bike handle with 50lbs of tongue weight? I'm only running 35lbs and have been trying to figure out how to shift loading around to get it closer to 20lbs.
 

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There's still weight when moving though right? Won't that load down the rear end when accelerating? How does your bike handle with 50lbs of tongue weight? I'm only running 35lbs and have been trying to figure out how to shift loading around to get it closer to 20lbs.
Tongue weight should be 10 to 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight. Less than that and the trailer will act like a dog's tail.

Zero air in the rear shock is for a 150 lb load on the bike. Loading the rear of the bike without leveling the bike will affect the handling.

I don't tow with the bike, but have extensive towing experience. Towing a trailer with the bike takes away the reason I ride. Have thought about a one wheel trailer, but haven't found the need yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've heard the 10% rule. But a lot of the motorcycle tent trailers, even some that are several hundred pounds, have a 20lb tongue weight. I know some motorcycle-minded trailer towers suggest around there. Though it tows good at the current tongue weight.

I know the book says 150lbs but I'm 200 and it feels really good without any air. 10lbs two up.
 

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BOTM Winner, April 2013
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Romans, you really should be targeting a % weight for the tongue, not just lbs. My Leesure Lite camper weighs about 500 lbs fully loaded, which is why I use 50 lbs tongue weight. You haven't said what trailer you have or what the loaded weight is, but IMO you really should use the 10% rule. Why risk disaster? The first time the trailer wags might be the time it causes you to lose control and crash. Those that say "if it starts to wag, just stop and redistribute the weight". Good theory most of the time, but what if that doesn't work out in time? It's your decision to make, but I just wonder why you're so concerned to not let the tongue weight to exceed 20 lbs?
 

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I pull an Aspen Classic camper and it never has under 35 lbs. tongue weight, and loaded fully it is 45-50. Never an issue. My cargo trailer on the other hand, tends to get squirrely at 20-25 over rough bumps, so I try to load it front-heavy. This IS for a Goldwing or Voyager,so YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Romans, you really should be targeting a % weight for the tongue, not just lbs. My Leesure Lite camper weighs about 500 lbs fully loaded, which is why I use 50 lbs tongue weight. You haven't said what trailer you have or what the loaded weight is, but IMO you really should use the 10% rule. Why risk disaster? The first time the trailer wags might be the time it causes you to lose control and crash. Those that say "if it starts to wag, just stop and redistribute the weight". Good theory most of the time, but what if that doesn't work out in time? It's your decision to make, but I just wonder why you're so concerned to not let the tongue weight to exceed 20 lbs?
I'm far from an expert!
@whiting57 tows the same trailer (well, one extremely similar) quite frequently and has said that a 20lb tongue weight is a good target for motorcycles. I've heard this rule elsewhere as well. The TimeOut camper trailer is 350lbs with a 20lb tongue weight and they explain (something to do with tongue length and wheel width; my trailer has a similar ratio with a long drawbar and narrow wheelbase), that it tracks fine but the lower tongue weight helps keep the bike stable (by not reducing traction from the front wheel).

What I DO know is that too much rear weight bias on a motorcycle can cause handling issues, including high speed wobble (wobble of death) as soon as something gets upset; like going over a bump. This happens in bikes with touring trunks that are overloaded; and even though 35lbs of tongue weight isn't a lot of weight; it's very far behind the axle giving it a lot of mechanical advantage. So that's my concern. Too much tongue weight could cause reduced front-end weight on the bike which, as you say, can cause something bad to happen at just the wrong time. With a 20lb tongue weight (before I added additional weight bringing the tongue weight up) it tracked super straight, but the bike also handled well.

I am asking these questions though because I don't know. I've been led to believe that the 10% rule is a little outdated and less than accurate for motorcycle trailers. If that's wrong; then I need to re-think things!

I have the tag-a-long trailer. It ships in a crate that weighs 147lbs. If it weighs more than that, it's violating the laws of physics. In theory, it'll weigh a few pounds less (sans packaging). Empty it's around 11lbs tongue weight. It actually tracked fine empty; but I didn't take it up to speed. I just pulled it around the block to make sure there wasn't any super obvious problems after assembly.

So let's assume 150lbs for the trailer. By my estimates I have 200lbs of weight in there. So 350lbs puts my 35lb tongue weight right at perfect assuming the 10% rule. I may buy a couple of bathroom scales to actually weigh the trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
That's what I use for tongue weight. A small digital fish scale. Rated for up to 110lbs accurate to 0.022lbs

But I figure a bathroom scale under each wheel, add them together, and you've got the weight of the trailer. Will also let me know the left/right weight bias.

Took the trailer out today. 35lbs tongue weight, 20psi in shocks, rebound II. Rode fine. Stopped fine. Tracked fine. Really barely knew it was behind me. Other than the occasional clank over a bump to remind me it was there (leaf spring suspension). Did some curvy roads, some interstate. Rode very well. Did not have any handlebar wobble but the bike did handle differently enough that it was apparent weight distribution had changed; but it's no more a difference in handling than when a passenger is on board.

One last question for you tstorey since you're knowledgeable about trailers.

I have three choices.

Receiver in the stock position, leaving the trailer draw bar slightly (1 or 2 degrees according to my level) down, reverse it, leaving it 1 or 2 degrees angled up, or add washers under the ball to make it level. It seems like the third option is the best but is it necessary? Could that cause other problems?

Tracks fine. And seems to ride fine whether I flip the receiver or not. I flipped it thinking up was better than down, figuring under hard braking the trailer would lift up on the rear some (the act of pushing the bike forward while slightly up angled, despite the tongue weight), keeping braking bias to the front. Down angle would push down on the rear. But I couldn't tell a difference either way.
 

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BOTM Winner, April 2013
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I'm with you on this, I think the closer to level the drawbar is, the better. That said, angled slightly down is better than slightly up. During braking, if the drawbar is angled slightly down, the trailer's weight will push downward and apply more grip to the rear wheel. If the drawbar is angled up, you'll get the opposite effect. I wish I knew the extent of difference this makes, but I can't claim to know that. But I do know that basic physics will add weight, thus traction, to the rear wheel if the angle is downward instead of upward.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That was my thinking. I think a handful of washers and it'll be good and level.
 

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I also know guys who will not exceed 60 mph when towing.

Also know guys who put a trike kit on when towing and then leave the trike kit with the camper at the campsite.

I also know a guy who couldn't make a curve because the trailer was pushing him and he ended up clipping a truck.

In this link they say that a longer tongue weight will allow you to reduce tongue weight from 15% to 10%. How much longer would a tongue need to be to drop the percentage to 5? Or can you even do that safely?What should you look for in a new or used trailer for sale?

The time out website is listing the empty tongue weight as 20 lbs. As soon as you fill the cooler and put your gear in there the tongue weight will come up to 10 %

Do what you decide to do, but please work into the loads and speeds slowly.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I also know guys who will not exceed 60 mph when towing.

Also know guys who put a trike kit on when towing and then leave the trike kit with the camper at the campsite.

I also know a guy who couldn't make a curve because the trailer was pushing him and he ended up clipping a truck.

In this link they say that a longer tongue weight will allow you to reduce tongue weight from 15% to 10%. How much longer would a tongue need to be to drop the percentage to 5? Or can you even do that safely?What should you look for in a new or used trailer for sale?

The time out website is listing the empty tongue weight as 20 lbs. As soon as you fill the cooler and put your gear in there the tongue weight will come up to 10 %

Do what you decide to do, but please work into the loads and speeds slowly.
It'll be 60-65 for me towing. I live near an interstate (about 2 miles), and this interstate takes people out to the various lakes and rivers Missouri offers. Springtime means shredded tire trailers, siezed bearings, and trailers tumbling down the interstate. I-44 is quite the minefield in the spring; often from guys pulling an un-maintained trailer (put away last year; yanked out this year. No concern for tire pressure, bearing condition, etc.) and running 85+ on the interstate. Then scratching their heads as to why their shiny boat whose tie-downs they didn't check harpooned a minivan.

That's why I'm asking these questions; looking for info. I have lots of knowledgeable people saying one thing; and lots of knowledgeable people saying another. Currently it's sitting at about 10%, with my estimate of 350lbs of trailer weight (total).

And yes, we all know folks who have gotten hurt doing all kinds of things. Trailer towing reduces performance and adds risk. So does riding a motorcycle over a car or choosing certain bikes over other bikes. The biggest reason I ride is to travel in a way one only can on two wheels. This really opens doors for us in terms of what we can haul; including a well equipped campsite!

I also know a guy, or rather... knew a guy. Who died in a car accident on his way home from selling his motorcycle (just a few miles away from the guy he sold the bike to; he delivered it himself as 'one last ride' with the girlfriend in the car behind him, then hopped behind the wheel and drove home) because his new girlfriend didn't want him riding one of those dangerous things. Sometimes we choose to do the things that we want to do; even if they are scary to other people.

I appreciate the info and the links.
 

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I can't find a single article that says lengthending the tongue allows you to reduce tongue weight and stay stable. Hope all goes well for you. Make sure you put air in the rear shocks to equalize the load and choose a hitch that provides the least moment arm on the rear axle.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I can't find a single article that says lengthending the tongue allows you to reduce tongue weight and stay stable. Hope all goes well for you. Make sure you put air in the rear shocks to equalize the load and choose a hitch that provides the least moment arm on the rear axle.
Yeah these responses are confusing me. Earlier I thought that's what you were advocating? Right now I'm running the stock drawbar length with 10% tongue weight; so what's the problem?
 

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I have towed trailers for a very long time. I never have adjusted rear shocks for a trailer, a lot of scoots there was no adjustment. Only have had 4 scoots that you could adjust the rear shocks...

A longer tounge does nothing for the load capacity, but it does make the trailer track a lot better and smoother, a lot less swaying on rough roads or windy days......

This is a Harbor Freight trailer I got in 1991. I do not remember how long the original tongue was. But I put a longer piece of channel iron on it and made it 44 inches from the edge of the frame to the center of the ball on the hitch. Not much longer but longer. This trailer has well over 350k miles on it. Has the 4th set of wheel bearings in it, and I think the 5th or 6th box. I took off the 8 inch wheels and put on 12 inch wheels about 9 years ago which greatly improved the stability and pull of the trailer. Not as hard to pull with larger diameter wheels. Like any trailer.

I pull it all the time...

DSCN1889.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thanks Bubba! I appreciate the info!

I'm not sure where the tongue length thing came from. Another poster mentioned it but I'm not sure what it has to do with anything. My trailer is 65" from coupler to axle, 75" from back of frame to coupler. Given the typical ratios this trailer is on the "long" end for drawbar.

I did my research before purchasing; and lots of folks got advice from well-meaning forumites who assumed what works for one trailer must work for all trailers; and were told to lengthen the drawbar. (Without anyone asking them how long the drawbar was. They just heard "Harbor Freight" and assumed). So they did, with very bad results. Far too long, difficult to control; but pulls great stock! This isn't a kit trailer shoe-horned into motorcycle duty with a car top carrier; it's actually a Motorcycle cargo trailer. It was designed with this in mind. It's essentially identical to the "Piggybacker XL" sans a few features. Dimensionally, it's identical. I think a lot of people hear "Harbor Freight" and assume that can only mean one thing (like they only sell one item). This is not the little utility trailer with a box slapped on top, this is the Haul Master Tag-a-Long motorcycle/small car cargo trailer that is sold at harbor freight as a kit. Folks who own them suggest, repeatedly, to leave them alone. Except for cleaning and re-packing the bearings, which I did. The only other "mods" was some heat-shrink tubing and wire loom to clean up the wiring and shortening the safety chains, as they were dragging the ground in their stock configuration.

I know a lot of people who pull the kit/car-top trailers well, too! But I liked the idea of something ready to go out of the box.

I did have some questions about tongue weight but got some confusing answers; including, again, seeming like folks didn't quite know what was going on. It's presently 10% and was concerned that was too much because of other things I read; but the answers in this thread were that I had too little tongue weight and should bring it up to 10% :eek: You can see my confusion.

I appreciate the comments regarding suspension! It definitely makes sense that suspension shouldn't need adjusting. But as I'm not an expert at trailer-towing, by any means, I wanted to make sure I had everything figured out! After doing some playing around, I have been adding a bit of air to the rear. It makes for a bit firmer ride which I prefer when towing. I run about the same amount of air as I normally would two-up or on a sportier/more aggressive ride. Otherwise, having a little less air on a lazy ride absorbs the potholes and rode imperfections better. I've never adjusted the rebound.

I had considered 12" wheels as well. But I'm not sure how that could be done on this trailer. The wheels sit under the cargo box (see pic), so I don't know how I could extend the axle out to make 12" wheels fit. It pulls fine at highway speeds with 8" wheels and others report similar with lots of miles. Regardless of wheel size, I don't intend to be pulling super fast. I've always been an advocate of slowing it down when towing (see too many bad results of trucks pulling boats at 85mph, while following closely!)

 

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Romans

I have put several of those together for riders... they are nice trailers. In fact I have two complete wheel bearing sets for those still. Out in Nevada those shells would only last about 5 years before they would start sun cracking and fading. Like any plastic box exposed to the sun all the time. Unless garage kept. Wood would not last long stacked in or out of the shade before major warpage (at less than 4 per4cent humidity)

Thats why I like my little cheap ass Harbor Freight trailer. Just replace the box when the old one start to crack.... not as pretty, but will last forever. I cut the frame to 4ft long and 34.5 inches wide. (taking 9 inches out of the width including axle) . I have pulled it over 350,000 miles and never had any problem...

I think my tongue is only like 4 inches longer than that one. I have also switched a couple from 8 inch wheel to 12 inch wheels. I would recommend it to yours... pulls better/smoother had to redesign the fender mounts some to raise them up a couple inches. Don't get me wrong, I have done a million miles with 8 inch tires. I had three different trailers I would pull behind the scoot at the same time. A small one for week trips, the one I still have. One with a two room camper built into it. and a larger box trailer for shopping. We had to travel 250 miles one way to go shopping for 33 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
That's awesome!

I do have the luxury of being able to keep mine in the garage. Though I don't think it would be difficult to replace the box on it.

The challenge would be to find a way to make 12" wheels work... I'd have to somehow extend the axle out which could adversely affect the way it handles.
 
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