LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer. - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 4:12 am Thread Starter
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LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Sometimes it may be necessary to put your bike on a trailer. For many this is a regular thing but for many it is a daunting prospect. The LT is not a small bike, nope, it is actually a huge bike and it weighs in just short of half a ton.

People have varied ideas of how to load and tie a bike down and one of the more common ideas is that that you need to compress the shocks. This has never made sense to me and although I have not towed too many bikes in my life I have been in the boating business for a long time and have a damn good idea of how trailers work and behave, empty and under load. By compressing the shocks you remove most if not all of the bike's ability to cope with trailer behavior. If the trailer hits a bad bump in the road there is no bike suspension left so the shocks are transmitted into that fully loaded suspension of the bike and in many cases can over stress the components.

When the day came that my LT had to be trailered I was a bit apprehensive. Now before there are imaginative reasons for WHY ... let me say why ... I live in the Lowveld and the local dealer is just not geared for working on the LT. Denver from Auto Alpina comes to Sabie regularly and is providing a service deal that includes collecting and delivering the bikes. I was fortunate to watch how the professionals do it and took some shots ...


Having the right trailer makes a big difference and loading the LT is a ONE MAN job
with this trailer.






The front wheel is grabbed by the "chock" and the bike is secure once the "bucket"
flips over.



Secured ... note that only 4 straps were used.


If your trailer does not have that fancy gadget that grabs the front wheel it will mean that you will need more hands when loading the bike. First task then will be to tie the front wheel down to the trailer securely. If you do not have a channel for the rear wheel you need to tie that wheel down to the trailer to. The objective is to make sure that the wheels are fixed in ONE position and can go nowhere.

Once you are happy that your wheels are "glued" down to the trailer you need only 4 straps to finish the job. On the front you tie the bike down either by the axle or as close to the axle as possible.

On the rear find some sub-frame as close to the axle level as possible and tie the bike down. On some DS bikes and sport bikes you have to grab the frame or sub frame in the tail section which is usually above the rear wheel height. Not a problem.

A few DON'T DO IT pointers ...

1. Never tie down the bike by anchoring the HANDLE BARS.
2. Never fasten straps that cross your saddle.
3. Be very careful of heavy duty straps that includes ratchets. You can buckle your frame very easily with these things.
4. Do not load your bike in REVERS on a trailer. If you hit bad weather or dust everything is blown into the bike from the wrong side.
5. If you will trailer on dirt roads stick a rag down your exhaust pipe to protect it from dust.

Ratchets on straps are usually very dangerous because if you have medium or heavy duty straps you have the power in those ratchets to destroy your bike. The 25mm straps with friction buckles are the best because your weight is the most force you can exert on the straps and that will not damage the bike very easily.

Once your bike is loaded you should be able to sit on it and the suspension should be able to cope with your weight without the straps getting slack.

With your bike loaded properly you should be able to travel at 120kmh without problems and handle bumps and dips in the road at that speed. The bikes ability to utilize it's own suspension makes a big difference in the security of the bike on the trailer.

Here is a good example of a badly loaded bike ...


A = Here you can see that there is no lateral support for the bike on the front end and all sideways movements must be contained by the "chock" on the front rim. The chances of damaging the rim and even the whole front suspension, including the neck is very big here. Maybe he survives visible neck or rim damage but the sheer forces on that neck is not good for the bike.

B = Here is a big NO NO ... the strap will destroy that saddle because all lateral movement of the bike will be resisted by the friction over the saddle.

C = Crossing straps like this is bad news. The softest one will be worn through by the hardest one.

D = Anchoring the bike on the footpeg is not good because footpegs do have a tendency to be intolerant of sideways forces.

The loading of this LT is most probably the best example of how not to do it that I have ever seen All it needed is a strap from the handlebar to make it an perfect example.

Here is a shot of the LT and a GSA on the same trailer after a 400km trip ... for reason unimportant here the trip included some really hard driving and both bikes were loaded according to the guidelines set out above.


Hope this will be of value to somebody.

A bad day on the bike beats a good day in the office.
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post #2 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 5:17 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Well, I'm sorry (or not) to say that when I went to pick up my LT I did have a strap across the pillion seat and run through the saddlebag handles (to give it a little extra stability from tipping)
One thing that I did and others can do..If you don't have the chocks & channel for the bike and you have a mesh deck trailer..make them out of pieces of 2x4's in edge with 6" carrage bolts down through them to secure them to the deck. This worked great for me and really helped hold the bike upright while I tied it down.. Yes I idd it the recommended way, except for the added strap across the seat.
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post #3 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 5:30 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Tying the LT down by using the pannier handles is not really a good plan. If things go wrong and that specific straps is called on it will most probably just rip the plastic apart without saving the bike. Hooking the rear subframe under the panniers is much better.

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post #4 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 5:44 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Colyn it is difficult for me to see but how do you have the front straps attached? I always use the fork tubes and pay close attention not to pinch the brake line. By the way great advice.
Thanks

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post #5 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 5:53 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Here is closer look at the front wheel ... the straps basically goes around the axle.


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post #6 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:06 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Thanks for the close up. I attach the strap around the top tube and then compress the front shock a bit.

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post #7 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:21 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colyn
Tying the LT down by using the pannier handles is not really a good plan. If things go wrong and that specific straps is called on it will most probably just rip the plastic apart without saving the bike. Hooking the rear subframe under the panniers is much better.
Not tied down by the handles (I'm not too stoopid) just ran it through there to go across the seat.
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post #8 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:30 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

When fastening like I have showed ... you just pull the rear suspension down a bit but nothing on the forks.

When driving you can clearly see how the bike's suspension is working with the movements of the trailer. I am not very fond of compressing the suspension much. I am also careful of the combined effects of fastening points and motion ... you can very easily construct a leverage system that can damage your bike.

If you are sure the wheels are "glued" then the way I do it makes it highly unlikely that the bike will tip over, unless a strap breaks.

Fastening to the fork tubes generates a pulling force on the whole shock between it two end mounts and I am not comfortable with that ... I think the sideways stress and pressure on the shock seals is not good. This is only me ... I suffer from Extreme Analyzing Syndrome and whenever I see fastening of things I try and calculate the forces involved. Many times one correctly and cleverly placed fastener can work better than a dozen incorrectly placed fasteners. Learned that in the construction game.

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post #9 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:32 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morley
Not tied down by the handles (I'm not too stoopid) just ran it through there to go across the seat.
I really don't mean to be nasty or spoiling for an argument but I need to ask ...

Why ?

The risk of abrasion damage to the saddle as well as the panniers are way to great and for no structural reason.

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post #10 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:41 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colyn
When fastening like I have showed ... you just pull the rear suspension down a bit but nothing on the forks.

When driving you can clearly see how the bike's suspension is working with the movements of the trailer. I am not very fond of compressing the suspension much. I am also careful of the combined effects of fastening points and motion ... you can very easily construct a leverage system that can damage your bike.

If you are sure the wheels are "glued" then the way I do it makes it highly unlikely that the bike will tip over, unless a strap breaks.

Fastening to the fork tubes generates a pulling force on the whole shock between it two end mounts and I am not comfortable with that ... I think the sideways stress and pressure on the shock seals is not good. This is only me ... I suffer from Extreme Analyzing Syndrome and whenever I see fastening of things I try and calculate the forces involved. Many times one correctly and cleverly placed fastener can work better than a dozen incorrectly placed fasteners. Learned that in the construction game.
"EAS" I have heard of that. Thanks for the insight. I do have to catch myself that I do not compress the front shock to much. Guy mentality if a little is good more must be better.

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post #11 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:45 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colyn
I really don't mean to be nasty or spoiling for an argument but I need to ask ...

Why ?

The risk of abrasion damage to the saddle as well as the panniers are way to great and for no structural reason.
Towel on the seat (no abrasion) and I had no real side to side stability (didn't like the way the top semed to wag back and forth) Was tied to the rear frame rails to the floor of the trailer, then from the front bottom of the forks (as shown on this site) then front wheel to front of the trailer. I only added the one strap across the seat and it stopped the wiggle.
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post #12 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:52 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

We had the LT and GSA on one trailer and there were some concern that the two might get into some "kissing" ... what we saw on the road was that they were actually dancing ... keeping their distance.

The way I do it leaves the suspension almost completely free and I feel more relaxed because no jars and jolts from the road can be transmitted into the bike ... first the trailer suspension absorbs and what gets past that is soaked up by the bike's suspension.

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post #13 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 8:51 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

As always, very classy job and pics, Colyn! Thanks for going over this...

I "agree" that totally "compressing" the suspension is NOT "ideal". The reason we did it was simply because we rarely "trailered" our bikes so, that was a "secondary" thought.

Since we usually only had "pickup trucks" for carrying bikes, we adapted. By compressing the suspension, we had "maximum" traction on the tires and removed most of the stretch in the straps. That "limited" the chance for the tires to kick out if corners were taken too fast. Also, once the bike started to "lean", if the front wheel turned, the bike would more easily slip.

So, using the justification "if one is "good", ten must be better", we usually tightened the be-jeezuz out of the straps and tied the wheels. If the load can't move, it can't fall.... usually.

One approach was to nail boards to trailer wooden decks and ride the bike between the boards.. that at least kept the tires in place and was/is better than nothing.

My "solution" is similar.... but definitely "levee rat" style.

Since I do not want to nail boards to my trailer or have a dedicated trailer, using "soft ties" and ratchet straps, I will :
- ride the bike up and tie the front wheel to the metal bar sides.
- soft tie wheels by circling the wheel and rim once and attach straps pulling from left and right
- soft tie as high as possible to the frame, after removing the license plate in the rear
- soft tie the front forks above the "tree" then being careful to stay at least a half inch away from paint/fairing/vitals, strap to the sides.

Using this process, the straps around the wheels keep the front and rear centered. I affix the wheel straps aligned with the axle so the wheel is not turned forward, aft or side ways... (2 straps help in keeping forces balanced).

It drives my family nuts to watch me tie things down. To them, ropes, straps, etc, are "one use" items.... they use "knife knots" and are of the impression that the tie-down is mere annoyance.... and usually gripe about the results.

...............
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Dcn Channing

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post #14 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 9:18 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

My son and I had a discussion after he read my post ... he regularly loads off-road bikes on the back of pickups. They also tie the bikes down and compress the forks as much as possible. He however agrees that if the wheels can be "glued" then that is not needed. The problem on the pickups is that as you also stated, if the wheel slips then things goes South quite rapidly.

It must also be remembered that a proper chock on the front wheel makes a big difference.

I did this article not for those that load bikes regularly but more for those that do once in a while ... to the novice the prospect of tying a bike to a trailer can be a daunting task and if he does not clearly understand the mechanics can easily do more damage than good by throwing every piece of rope, strap and silk stocking in the yard at it.

PS ... I also can get really tense with "knife" knots.

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post #15 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 1:19 pm
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Dang, that's a nice trailer!

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post #16 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 2:12 pm
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Great post and pic's, Colyn. That trailer is perfect for a large bike.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Some really OLD friggin' White dude who couldn't have possibly known what he was talking about!) WARNING: Official HATE speech!
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post #17 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 2:22 pm
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Colyn

Can we go back to the closeup picture of the front wheel. In this setup, I don't believe that you need the front wheel ties to the axle at all, its superfluous....the back portion of the chock holds it tight in...thats the purpose of the chock. If you want added security for fore/aft chock failure, then the much superior tie-off is to tie the front of the wheel to the front of the trailer/chock. With no chock, this tie is actually the most important tie in the whole process as it locks, indisputably, the bike to the trailer like nothing else but a chock can. If you have a chock, then such a tie is the most effective double security.

With the bike locked to the trailer, then there are two forces you need to contend with....
1. The back of the bike swinging left and right (pivoting around the steering head).
2. The top of the bike falling left/right (the tie off to the front being too low to stop this completely, though a good chock would probably be enough).
...and another force if you have no chock....the tendency of the wheels themsleves to pivot around the front tie off and slide left/right.

The effectiveness of the solutions to all these though are governed by the quality of that front tie-off/chock. I just wanted to emphasise that the most important of all the tie-downs is the one that locks the bike to the trailer, everything else is secondary. I know from direct experience that without this "lock" in the end most tie downs will fail somewhere on the road.

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but I left my biking heart along the Scenic Byways of America.....

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Today of past regrets and future fears." ....Omar Khayyam
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post #18 of 20 Old Jun 21st, 2008, 6:00 pm Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Yep you are right ... the chock on this trailer is very well made and effective and manages the biggest part of the whole trailering process.

The tiedowns at the front does two things ...

1. They keep the bike down in the chock.
2. They give some lateral support to ease the force on the front mag.

At the rear the channel on the deck prevents the rear wheel from shifting in the horizontal plain and the two tiedowns give lateral support.

The tiedowns, chock and channel all work together to make this trailer a very good option for a big bike.

The trailer deck also tilts and together with the full width ramp it makes it easy to load the bike. Loading the LT was literally a one man job.

The black trailer with the LT and GSA on is a bit more primitive and the chock is not as strong and sturdy as on the yellow trailer. After the trip with the LT my friend who owns the GSA and the trailer realised that he will have to make some modifications to make the trailer more LT friendly

"Gluing" the wheels down is the most important part and if your trailer does not have the rear channel and you have a mesh deck then it is a good idea to roped the wheel down onto the mesh with some 10mm ski rope. Same goes for the front if you do not have a chock. On the front we rope the wheel down on the deck and onto the front face end of the trailer.

If it is a solid bed trailer without a channel and a chock you have a problem

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post #19 of 20 Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:45 am
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

Chocks do a good job of holding the front wheel and stabilizing the bike, but they do not generally log. Bauxley chocks additionally squeeze the tire but again, do not lock. The weight of the bike holds it in place.

If you not tie it down, and stabilize the front end, when the trailer tilts or hits a bump in transit, the weight factor goes away. The front tire could back over the small bump made by the pivot of the chock, or hop out vertically.

I really believe that the BMW procedure, which is on this site is the best way to do it and the rear end of bike picture above is done that way:

There is also the video. But its not LT specific.

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post #20 of 20 Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 1:42 am Thread Starter
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Re: LT goes for a ride ... on a trailer.

I just want to add ... maybe a bit late ... the guy loading the bike on the yellow trailer is the Dealer Principal of Auto Alpina Motorrad and he is also their #1 rider for their racing team ... he uses that trailer basically every weekend and they trailer their racing bikes all over the country. I have to accept that he knows what he is doing and if something should go wrong in the way he loads the bikes it will be his loss because they advertise the Fetch and Deliver service for the Lowveld.

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