Whatta I Do? I Can’t Find a Hitch For My Bike!

If you’ve looked and looked and can’t find a hitch for your bike, don’t take it personally.  Hitch manufacturing is a tiny business in the overall powersports market.  It’s easy to find a hitch for popular towing bikes like Gold Wings and Harley dressers. But if you have a less common trailering bike or an older bike, don’t be surprised if there’s no hitch made for your bike.

Fear not. You can get a hitch made for your bike if none is available, it will just take a little extra effort on your part. A welding shop or machine shop can often fabricate something for you that will work just fine. You can make the process easier by researching the available hitches and determining what style of hitch might work best for your bike.

If you own a cruiser style bike, a fender style design may work best for you. A fender mount hitch will only work, however, if the fender bolts to the frame.  Cruisers designed to handle optional saddlebags will have the necessary support. Even if your bike wasn’t explicitly designed with a saddlebag option, your bike may still have the necessary support if it is a related model.

If you own a sport bike, dual-sport, or bike that doesn’t have much in the way of rear fender, a towbar design is a better bet. For a towbar style, you want a miminum of four attachment points to create a sturdy hitch. You’ll want one attachment point on each side at the approximate level of the trailer tongue. From the rear of the towbar, you need one attachment point on each side to support the tongue weight of the bike and to keep the towbar level when braking.

Take your research and your bike to a couple of fabricators. If you aren’t sure who to approach, start with a local custom bike shops or independent service shop. Show them pictures of similar bikes with hitches and discuss what you’d like for your bike. Any fabricator you choose will need to have your bike, or a model just like it, on hand so they can make measurements and check for clearances.

Your hitch should be sturdy with no flexibility, and adequate clearance of any moving parts, like your rear tire. The best hitches are made with ¼” steel, then powdercoated or chromed to resist rust.  You can find powdercoaters in just about every area of the country. To have a hitch chromed, you’ll probably have to send your hitch out. Chroming is an environmentally dirty process, so it requires a lot of specialized equipment. A popular company that does chrome for motorcycles is http://www.classiccomponents.com/.  A Google search may turn up someone closer to you.

Is Trailering Safe?

When I talk to a rider who has never pulled a trailer before, I often hear something that starts like this…

“I know this guy who knows a guy who heard that a guy was towing a trailer and it caught the edge of a bridge abutment and yanked his bike so hard it threw him over the bridge onto the Interstate and a truck runned over him.

“I heard about this guy that had a pop-up camper and it popped open whilst he was a running down the Interstate and caught like a parachute and throwed him off.”

“I heard about this guy who…”

Once you’ve heard a few of those stories, you probably start thinking, “Jeez, is towing a trailer safe?”

I understand what people mean when they ask this question, but it’s the wrong question. After all, is riding a motorcycle safe? Motorcycling is an activity that entails risk. Those who ride have judged that they are willing to accept the risks in order to enjoy the reward of riding. Smart riders do things to reduce their risks.

Similarly, towing a trailer with a motorcycle can add some risk to the act of riding. Sometimes people forget they are pulling a trailer or ride too aggressively, and when the trailer hits an unexpected bump or falls off the shoulder of the road, it can momentarily upset a bike’s handling. If you’re caught completely off guard, it might lead you to over correct and crash. On the other hand, if you’re a smart rider, you choose the right trailer, and you learn good habits, your actions can offset those risks. One of the primary aims of this site is to help you make good decisions and learn good habits.

Inspiration, ideas and how-to's for motorcycle travelers.