Why is my trailer such an unpleasant thing?! - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 10 Old Nov 16th, 2005, 4:00 pm Thread Starter
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Location: Shepherdstown, WV, USA
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Unhappy Why is my trailer such an unpleasant thing?!

I'd like to hear others' experience with a trailer that tows well. I like the config of the Chariot.

I have the basic lawn service trailer -- 8'x5' with a full width wire mash ramp. The tongue to axle width ratio is correct.

I've gotten used to the thrill of loading and unloading the LT -- COMMIT and don't chicken out! What's absolutely horrible is towing it. I trailered my LT from Virginia to Denver for the '05 CCR. It felt like the trialer was fighting my car all the way -- jerking and swaying. It weights about 400# and is about at the max for my Subaru Outback to tow. I've had many trailers before an this is the worst experience that I've had. I've towed as much weight with a cheap Harbor Freight trailer and a smaller car.

I'm not going to get a Dodge RAM. I think the Subaru should do just fine. I can tolerate the few slow hill climbs, but not the constant tussle that the trailer sets up.

Paul Browne
Reston, VA

'06 BMW R1200RT
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post #2 of 10 Old Nov 16th, 2005, 5:10 pm
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Sounds like the front is too light after the bike is loaded. Probably would work better with the Subaru on the trailer & tow with the LT.
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post #3 of 10 Old Nov 16th, 2005, 6:51 pm
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By far The GREATESTproblem people have with pulling trailers is TONGUE WEIGHT!

Many people think that the trailer load should be close to balanced, and will move things around so that the tongue is easy to lift and place on the tow hitch. WRONG! If you do that, you have an almost uncontrollable, weaving trailer. Put as much weight on the tongue as you (or the car in this case) can handle, you may even need help to hook it up. Try moving the bike further forward, so that you have about 100 pounds on the trailer hitch. For smaller trailers you want AT LEAST 10% of the weight on the tounge. If you cannot move the load forward, you will have to re-position the axle further back on the trailer, if that can be done.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying.

David Shealey
Dandridge, TN
EX: '01 Black LT, BAT BYKE (Totaled at 110,000 miles)
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post #4 of 10 Old Nov 17th, 2005, 10:10 pm
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My son drove to Florida from North Carolina with a lawn style trailer pulling his bike and complained of the same jerking yanking wind drag daa-da-daa, ready to leave it in florida and sell the bike before returning home, I felt that the mesh tail gate was acting like a sail in the wind, so we cut the gate in half, went and bought 2 1x1 square tube legnths and welded the gate back in 2 pieces with 3 hinges allowing the gate to fold in half and still be used fully when down and he could not wait to call me when he got home to say it was like pulling a whole different trailer, hope this helps.

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post #5 of 10 Old Nov 17th, 2005, 10:41 pm
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trailer Troubles

In addition to the tongue weight (minimum of 10% as Dave pointed out) and the "tailgate" acting as a barn door I would suggest that you check the toe-in on the wheels. It is very important that the wheels of the trailer be pointed towards center so that the trailer does not wander. I built my own and put a 3/8 inch toe-in on the wheels, which is probably over-kill but I've taken it up to 110 mph (gps speed) and it pulled straight as an arrow. (no- I do not make a habit of trailering at that speed)
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post #6 of 10 Old Nov 18th, 2005, 3:44 pm
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Location: Hamilton, ONtario, Canada
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Smile General Trailering advice.

It sounds like there is a lot of knowledge about trailering the LT.
I have just recently purchased one and want to trailer it to North Carolina from Hamilton, Ontario ( just north of Buffalo) and then ride from there to Daytona in March.
I am considering renting either a cube truck and securing it inside or a 6 x 10 eoverd trailer ( kind of like a wells cargo) and towing that with a panel van ( GMC savannah.
What is the wisdom about either of these plans. And, of course, what is the best way to secure the bike?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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post #7 of 10 Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 9:00 pm
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Question Need specifics

Originally Posted by jorawro
I built my own and put a 3/8 inch toe-in on the wheels, which is probably over-kill ......
I'm planning to build a small trailer myself. I'm leaning towards the torsion suspension axles. Before I start welding, I have a couple of questions.

1) 3/8" toe-in total, or for each wheel?
2) What distance from axle center were these measurements made?

Too close to the axle would accelerate tire wear greatly wouldn't it? Be kinda pigeon-toed I think.
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post #8 of 10 Old Nov 22nd, 2005, 9:47 pm
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wind load...

If you have too much wind pressure on the LT, it could change the "tongue weight".

Here's how to check. Load bike then, some sand or concrete bags on the front center of the trailer.. only about 80# or so. Take it for a drive. Does that load change make a difference?

If "yes"? Then the wind could be rocking the bike rearward.

To "fix"? Move axle rearward and extend the tongue.

Dcn Channing

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post #9 of 10 Old Nov 23rd, 2005, 12:13 am
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Roger - I used 3/8 inch total and also used independent torsion (600 pound was the lightest I could find). I did my measurements from wheel center to wheel center at the back of the wheels and then at the front, with the front being a measurement of 3/8" less. If you are doing it this way it is important to build a very "square" frame and apply the same adjustments to each wheel - you don't want one toe'd in more than the other. Two other things that I found to be very important..... hitch length should be equal to at least 2 times the distance from wheel to wheel (axle length) and, as mentioned several times in this post, keep at least 10% of the weight of the trailer on the hitch - I carry a chicken scale to weigh the hitch weight each time I hook up and adjust the load accordingly. This may be overkill but I wouldn't want 300 pounds of "wonky" happening back there at highway sped.
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post #10 of 10 Old Nov 29th, 2005, 3:07 pm
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Thanks for the information. I have set up toe-in on several sidecar rigs and used a long straight edge set along the rear wheel and one along the sidecar wheel and measured the distance at the center of the sidecar wheel and the distance at a about the center of the front wheel and adjusted for about 1/2" toe-in. They have all tracked straight on the freeway crown roads...on most other highways the rig could be steered by shifting my body weight from one cheek to the other.
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