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