Category Archives: How-To

Chrome Hitch Installation for Harley Electra Glide 2009-2013

This video demonstrates the installation of a chrome receiver hitch on a 2012 Harley Ultra. This model fits Electra Glides from 2009 to present that have the standard rear fender. Models are available for CVO and other special builds as well as Road Kings, Road Glides, Street Glides, Softails and more. For more information or to order, visit www.OpenRoadOutfitters.com or contact dale@openroadoutfitters.com.

Time Out Deluxe Motorcycle Camper Setup

The Time Out Deluxe is a roomy lightweight trailer that can be pulled by a full-size motorcycle, trike, or any car, crossover, SUV.

In this video, I’m demonstrating how the camper arrives at your house, how to unpack it, and how to assemble it.

If you like this video, consider subscribing to my Open Road Outfitters YouTube channel. You’ll be notified when I post new videos about motorcycle trailers, campers and motorcycle travel-related topics.

—– Video transcript ——

Well it doesn’t look much like spring yet but the arrival of my Time Out Deluxe motorcycle camper must mean that spring is just around the corner, and I thought you might like to take a look at how these are assembled.

After I get it off the truck, I like to go around and take a look at the carton to check for any potential damage. I’ve got a hole here, but this looks like it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong here. So I’m going to go ahead and pop these metal straps off and put this together.

The first thing I’m going to do here is pull out the aerodynamic cooler out of its box and check that to make sure that’s okay. That looks like that’s fine.

So now I’ll lift the top off and I’ll use that to hold all the stuff I’m going to get rid of. These are wrapped up pretty well so I’ll take this off and just take a look at the exterior to make sure it’s okay. I’m sure it is.

All right, the next thing I’m going to do is pop the latches on either side of the lid and I’m going to open this up. I’m going to prop the top and the bed area together and that will hold it open and let me unload it.

Let’s see, so what have we got here? Well, we have the Add-A-Room. We’ll take a look in another video about how to set that up. We also have the l-shaped awning. We have the air conditioning stand. We’ve got some poles that you can use to support the tent if it’s wet outside. I have ten poles associated with the Add-A-Room. These can also be used for the l-shaped awning.

Let’s see what else do we have here? Well, we have a bag of cat crap…(record scratch noise)…wait a minute. A bag of cat crap. She kind of snuck that in there. I guess I’ll deal with that later.

This is a tripod in case I want to use the table outside of the camper. I’ve got a chair. And these are the standard wheels that come with it. 12″ white steel wheels. I might change those later. I’ve got a queen-sized air mattress, a cover for everything.

The I’ve got some instructions, license plate frame, wiring harness, brake controller, center caps, a coupler for the tongue, some safety chains and some hardware. So let’s take a look at how all this goes together.

The first thing I’ll do here is remove the tongue. As you can see, that has the VIN on it. If you’re looking for the sticker, that’s on the tongue. Now, I’m going to take the screws out of the jackstands in the front of the camper so that I can use this flat jack to jack it up. And that will make it real easy to put the wheels on.

Center cap goes on and then I will slide a wheel in place. I’m going to tighten these down just enough to move the camper. Before I take it out for the first time, I’ll tighten those down to about 50 to 60 foot pounds of torque.

Now I’m going to pull out the wiring harness so I can run that through the tongue. I got the lighted cooler package and the wiring harness is prewired here so I have a pair of leads for the cooler package. On the front I’ve got a five pin flat plug for the lights and a two pin plug for the brakes. You can always change that. I might change that later to something smaller but for now I’ll leave it as it is.

So after I run the wiring harness through the tongue, I’m then going to run the tongue back through those two brackets on the front of the camper and I’m going to use the Grade 8 hardened bolts that come with it to lock that into place. This comes with nylock nuts so you don’t need to use washers with it.

And now, looking under the camper, I’ve got a nice solid powdercoated steel frame, an independent rubber torsion suspension. I’ve got a spot in the back where I can mount a spare tire underneath. It’s just a nice, clean, sturdy setup. This camper will last for a long time.

Now, I’ve run the two bolts through the coupler and I’m ready to pull this off the pallet. I would recommend that you either put a set of runners or something under the tires to run it off the pallet. Or, since I’m not going to keep the pallet, I’m going to cut it up. Because if you try to run it off the pallet, the wheels will drop down into the center section and you’ll be stuck.

Well, this is just the start of the snow we’re supposed to get this spring, so I’ll put this camper away for now. If you’d like to learn more about the Time Out camper, visit my site here at OpenRoadOutfitters.com. Feel free to drop me an e-mail.

So until next time, this is Dale Coyner for Open Road Outfitters, wishing you many happy journeys.

Motorcycle Trailer Wiring Harness for Honda Gold Wing

You just bought a motorcycle camper or cargo trailer and now you need to wire up your Wing. What’s the best way to do it? This video demonstrates how to install the Gold Wing Trailer Wiring Harness on a GL-1800 Gold Wing. This particular kit fits the 2001-2010 model years. The kit for the 2012 installs similarly, but the wiring sub-harness (the first piece you install) connects to different points on the bike.

Harley-Davidson Road King (FLHR) Motorcycle Hitch Fitment Guide

Road King with hitchThe Harley-Davidson Road King has existed in one form or another for decades. Not that it was called that. You can trace its mechanical and visual origins back to the introduction of the big-framed Knucklehead and the first FL designation in 1941.

The contemporary Road King (FLHR) was introduced in 1994 and received its first major upgrade in 1999 when the Twin Cam 88 was stuffed into its frame. As far as Harley hitches for the Road King are concerned, this is where the story begins.
Because the Road King is a close stable mate of the Electra Glide (FLHT), hitch design is similar. The key difference is that most Road Kings do not have a rubber bumper under the rear fender. Hitch design between the FLHT and FLHR varies because of this.

Of course, there are exceptions. It’s entirely possible to put the rubber FLHT bumper on a Road King. And some bikes like the Road King Custom sport a chrome v-rail under the rear fender that takes up the same space that the rubber bumper would. In that case, the Electra Glide hitch is prescribed.

The Road King remained largely the same from 1999 to 2008. A slight frame lengthening in 2008 changed the bike a bit but did not change hitch fitment.
The Road King got the same chassis redesign in 2009 as other members of the full dresser family, which means hitch designs changed as well. Many Road Kings also feature a removable TourPak for those who prefer a more classic, less dresser look. While that feature doesn’t directly affect hitch design, it does require different hardware for some hitches.

So, given that, here’s the line-up of hitches for the Road King.

Hitches for Harley Road King – 1999 to 2008

The Road King hitch we offer for bikes from ’99 to ’08 is available in either a vertical receiver or horizontal. The biggest distinctions between the two are the orientation of the receiver, the amount of hitch that’s visible, and the price.

The vertical receiver Road King hitch design fits entirely behind the rear fender and is the least visible. When the towbar and ball are removed, there is very little to see of this hitch. This design is made by Hitch Doc, who mostly makes chrome hitches. Some might classify this as a “chrome hitch” but I hesitate to call it that. The only part that is chrome are two side straps that bear the tongue weight of a trailer.

The black powdercoat hitch for the Road King is almost identical in design to the Electra Glide hitch. The only difference is that it’s designed a little shorter to account for the fact that the Road King doesn’t have the rubber bumper.

If you have a Road King Custom or any version with a bumper or chrome rail under the fender, then you want to consider the Electra Glide hitch selection for your model year.

Hitches for Harley Road King – 2009 to present

From 2009 to present, the Road King has enjoyed a lot of tweaks in addition to its chassis, an improved transmission, bigger power plant, and more cosmetic and accessory changes. Changes that affect hitch design have been minimal.

This time, I can safely say there is a true chrome hitch option for the Road King. The Hitch Doc hitch for the Road King is beautifully made; a heavily chromed vertical receiver hitch. The standard chrome Road King hitch is designed for a bike with no bumper and a fixed TourPak. If you have a removable TourPak, you want to specify the added hardware kit option (see the bottom of the order page).

The black powdercoat hitch for the 2009+ Road King is of the same design as the black Electra Glide hitch. It is slightly shorter to provide a close fit to the rear fender without a bumper. If your Road King has a bumper and you want the black hitch, choose the Electra Glide model. No additional hardware is required for this hitch to be compatible with the removable TourPak.

This is the fourth article in a series about Harley hitches. The first article discusses in general the Harley hitches we sell. The second article discussed Electra Glide hitch options. The third article covered Street Glide hitch options.

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!

BMW CAN-BUS and Trailer Wiring

Question: I’d like to add a trailer to my BMW. I have a 2007 R1200RT. I’m having trouble finding someone who will wire it up. In fact, no one wants to touch it! They say that anything I add to the wiring will cause it to fault and they don’t want to be responsible, etc., etc. Do you have any thoughts or ideas?

Answer: BMW makes a great bike, but in this situation, the wiring system they use for their bikes is a little too smart for its own good. However, it is possible to add trailer wiring to your recent model Beemer. And, as other manufacturers adopt smarter wiring systems, this situation is going to occur with greater frequency.

Most bike signal circuits are wired the way they have been for decades. 12 volt power runs throughout the system and it is applied/removed from lights and turn signals based on the position of various switches, e.g. the ignition switch, kickstand, and kill switch. For the most part, the bike doesn’t monitor the power drain on the system in any way. It either works, or it doesn’t.

BMW began adopting the Controller Area Network BUS (CAN-BUS) for their motorcycles somewhere around the mid 2000’s. It makes sense, and it’s a move that other motorcycle makers will eventually adopt. CAN-BUS is essentially a “smart” wiring harness. It simplifies wiring, which reduces production costs and improves reliability. On the other hand, it makes it difficult to bolt-on goodies that have to interface with the bike in any way beyond tapping the battery. For example, adding a harness to drive the lights on a trailer.

The problem is most apparent when you try to figure out how to make your CAN-BUS bike drive the brake and tail lights of a trailer.

In the department of brake and tail lights, most bikes use a bulb with two filaments, one that operates the tail light and one that operates the brake light. Extending these functions to the trailer is easy. Tap the wiring harness for each light separately and run them to the trailer. Do the same for each turn signal and you’re done.

When you pull off the tail light module of some CAN-BUS Beemers, the first thing you’ll notice is the brake/tail lights use bulbs with just one filament. And just two wires, a hot wire and a ground. How do you get tail lights and brake lights out of a bulb with one filament and just one hot wire? The CAN-BUS system. This intelligent wiring system runs the bulb at a low 5 volts of power, enough to make it glow as a tail light. When you apply the brake, CAN-BUS bumps up the voltage which brightens the bulbs. Voila! Brake light!

This presents two problems for the would-be trailer puller. To begin with, a trailer has separate circuits for brake and running light. Second, CAN-BUS systems are very sensitive to the amount of load on the circuit. Extending the circuit by adding lights can make the bike’s computer think there is a problem, shutting down the circuit. Like I said, a little too smart for its own good, in this situation.

The good news is, there is a simple fix. First, make sure your trailer’s light are drawing the smallest amount of power possible. If your trailer is equipped with incandescent bulbs, replace them with LEDs. Plug-in equivalents that fit standard light sockets are inexpensive. LED lights draw a fraction of the power that incandescents require, which will prevent the bike’s computer from detecting a fault.

Now, since the bike is driving the lights at low voltage, then high, your trailer’s LED lights will mimic the action of the bike. All you need to do is hook up the trailer’s running light circuit to the bike’s combined running light/brake circuit. When first turned on, all your running lights will operate at low brightness, just like they should. And when you grab the brake, your running lights will brighten, just like brakes.

Another option is to use a wiring harness that has been designed for this specific application. I have a BMW CAN-BUS adaptor for single-wire systems that is designed to split out these functions onto two separate light circuits, so you can wire your trailer normally.

CAN-BUS is now appearing on many other bikes, including the most recent Harleys. Soon, it’ll be on just about everything that’s made. But you’ll still be able to wire it for a trailer.

Protection From Bugs in Campers

Question:I saw one of you Mini Mates last year at the BMWMOA national rally in TN. I didn’t notice then, but in watching your video I saw you don’t have insect netting backing up the entry way. How do people deal with insect invasion while camping?

Answer:You know, when I first started handling Mini Mates as a dealer I had the same question. I’ve taken them out on many occasions though and I’ve never had a problem. When the entryway is zipped up, it fits pretty snugly against the door and I’ve never had a bug issue. All of the campers have some type of gap somewhere.

The Time Out, for example, uses snaps around the base of the tent canvas and there are places where there are definite gaps between the canvas and the tent shell. I had one of those at Forked Run State Park in southeastern Ohio last year where the mosquitos were thick enough to swim in and I never had a bug problem inside the tent with anything that crawls or flies.

I think the combination of tight-fitting fabric and the fact that the campers are off the ground make a big difference. Of all the campers, the Mini Mate actually probably offers the most protection because excepting that doorway area, the rest of the canvas is fully attached to the camper body all the way around. If you were really intent on blocking anything from coming in, I suppose you could attach a strip of Velcro to the top of the door and an opposing piece to the inside of the canvas where the two meet. You would all but completely seal the unit then.

Rampage in Toy Hauler

Question HI. Found the video of loading your bike interesting using the Rampage system. My question. I have a Raptor Toyhauler with a 10′ garage and of course with a ramp. The ramp is about 90 in long and the bed in the garage has a slight angle to it at the beginning. I don’t see how this system will work for me. Do you have a diagram or any information that shows one of these units installed in a toyhauler? Thanks.

Answer (from Rampage):Toy Haulers — there are two types we know of:

Drop down door – Depending on the door height, when the door is down, the standard Rampage is likely to drop down onto the back side of the door when its fully extended. The rider may have to ride up a little to get the front wheel against the cradle. Then they’d have to leave the bike in gear temporarily as they set up the ties to the cradle. Kick stand distance to the ground may require they carry a small block for that. Depends on how far up they have to ride to reach the cradle. Alternately we could make a longer Rampage unit. The standard 99-1/2″, or a custom length (+ $ 400 MSRP).

Roll up or hinged door – A standard installation, but… the distance from the inside of the door to the edge of the deck may be too much to clear safely, and we’d have to either A. block up the Rampage (photos attached) to clear the edge of the deck, or B. install Rampage roller supports (photos attached – Sprinter Van), and move the unit back and forth approx 7″. Both work fine. I like the roller supports better, since it only raises the unit 1″-2″.

Bottom line, we should be able to do Toy Haulers. I say “should” since there are so many different ones now we need to know a little about each one before committing. The drop down door could be a little tricky for the rider, depending on how close the bottom end of the Ramp ends up to the ground, which depends on the door length (height when closed), but I think they would be OK in most cases.







Rampage Installation

Question:I am considering replacing my car with a pickup truck, and am interested in the Rampage lift that you sell, but have a few questions about it. You say that it can be installed so that it is easy to disconnect the bolts from the
bed, which is great. But how heavy is the unit then? Is it a one man lift, a two man lift, or do you need to get three or four people to move it around?

Also, what size truck bed is needed for the installation? And have you encountered any other reasons that it couldn’t be installed?

Answer:These are great questions.

The Rampage can be removed by one person if you take the sliding ramp out of the base. The ramp is manageable but the base is still pretty heavy. It’s 1/4 and 3/8 steel, so it’s just a heavily-built base. One person who is fairly well fit can handle it, but it’s much easier if it’s a two person job. Some people have built workarounds to make it easier for one person to handle it, but I think it’s easier and less expensive to spring for a couple of six packs and get a buddy to help when needed.

The unit will work in pretty much any size bed. 5′ 4″ is the minimum. Standard bed length is 6′ to 6.5′ and of course the max is an 8′ bed. If you go with an 8′ bed, the benefit is you can mount the unit so that you can put the tail gate on after you load the bike. You could also leave the unit in the bed and have it fully covered, so it wouldn’t be as necessary to remove/reinstall it.

The downside to an 8′ bed is that you have to be more exacting about putting it in. It’s important to place it so the ramp clears the lip of the bed in the back when it’s tilted down, but is in far enough that you can put the tail gate back on.

Sometimes this means that the Rampage mounting holes are over top of the stringers that run under the bed and connect the bed to the frame. That’s a problem when using the rivet nuts that are used for installation. The advantage of rivet nuts is that they stay in the bed so you can easily bolt/unbolt the unit. However, those have to be located on a flat surface. Hitting the flange on one of those stringers when you are drilling the holes for the rivet nuts is an “Oh shit” moment.

If you have a standard size bed, you can move the unit forward or backward a little bit to miss the stringers that run underneath which eliminates this issue. That’s because the rear of the unit is going to hang off the bed anyway, so you’re not trying to meet two placement objectives at the same time. Of course, this means that the rear of the unit will be exposed, even if your tonneau cover is fully deployed, so you’re more likely to want to take the unit out if you do not plan to use it for a period of time.

Although it sounds tricky, installation is actually pretty simple. You’re drilling four holes, installing four rivet nuts and running a power cable. I did it by following the printed directions and did not have a problem. The keys to a successful installation are:

1) Get the right size drill bit that is recommended for the rivet nuts
2) Pay attention to where the stringers run under the bed so you don’t hit them when drilling
3) Make sure the ramp can properly clear the lip of the tail gate
4) Avoid overdrilling the holes for the rivet nuts