Trailer and Bike Wiring Compatability

You can connect any trailer to your trike as long as you understand how BOTH are wired.

Q: I am in the market for a good used Escapade in the 1990s and up.

I purchased a 2004 Goldwing Trike last year and am considering now in looking for a trailer although my possibilities of locating one are slim to none because I’ve been searching the web for a year now and still can’t find a good used Escapade for sale.

I was told by the company I bought my trike from to make very sure what kind of motorcycle cargo trailer I ever purchased because all trailer hookups are not the same. For example, if I purchased an Escapade BE SURE the wiring on the trike is for an Escapade; otherwise, it will fry the trike’s wiring.

Can you confirm for me if this is true? Also, are all Escapade models wired the same. Example, I don’t want to have the trike wired for an Escapade LE model only to find out that I found a good deal on an Escapade SE model; however, the wiring is different.

Thanks for your input on both of these questions.

A: Good questions. There is a lot of confusion about bike-trailer wiring, because every company that makes trailers tends to do something different. There are quasi-standards, but no one is bound to follow them. Every maker uses a different style of plug. There are four-wire and five-wire trailers. Four-wire trailers can have five wires, five wire trailers can have six. If you aren’t familiar with them all, it’s hard to sort things out.

First, let me assure you that you can attach any trailer you like to your trike. The key is to understand how the trailer is wired so that you are matching the trike’s wiring to the trailer. This is where some folks get into trouble by matching wire colors, thinking that they should connect “white to white” or “black to black”. That is probably what led to some of those fried wiring harnesses your dealer was talking about.

If you know what light function corresponds to which color wire on your trike, you can match that up with the same light function on your trailer, whatever color it happens to be. If you need to change plugs and slightly rewire the trailer, it’s really no big deal, as long as you know what color corresponds to which light function.

For trailers like Escapade, the company is still in business (and making great trailers), so you can get a wiring diagram with color codes that will tell you what color on the trailer wiring corresponds to the ground wire, brake, turns, and running lights. (While we’re on the subject of Escapade, the wiring for the Escapade LE is the same as the Escapade SE, as the Escapade Elite, etc.)

If you’re buying a used trailer of ANY brand, Escapade, Time Out, ANY trailer, I always recommend that you map which color wire activates which specific light. I’ve seen some that have been rewired over time, and done differently than what came from the factory. I once saw one where it had been completely rewired with ALL RED wire because that’s what they guy had on hand. He made little tick marks on the end to distinguish one red wire from another.

The best way to do this is to simply hook up a 12 volt source to the wires on the trailer and power them up one at a time to see what color wire turns on which light.

If you find your trailer is a four-wire (brake lights operate on the turn signals), you may need to install a 5 to 4 converter so your trike’s brake lights will show up properly on the trailer.

Plugs don’t matter. You can change plugs on the trike or trailer. All you need to insure is that the connection between trike and trailer have enough pins for your wires and stay securely plugged together.

In all cases, I prefer to use an isolating trailer wiring harness for trikes because this powers the trailer lights off of the trike battery instead of adding them to the trike’s signal circuits. If something does happen and a short develops, it will not “fry” the trike’s wiring harness. It will simply take out a fuse on the wiring kit. A fuse that can be easily replaced once the problem is found and fixed.

Good luck in your search – used Escapades are hard to find. When one rider is ready to sell his, he usually has two or three friends in line to buy it. Of course if you decide to go the new Escapade route, feel free to contact me!