Can I tow a trailer with my RT?

Yes, there are many RT riders who pull trailers with their RT's. Jerry  <equimedic@aol.com>  notes "The trailer will rob your bike of power and fuel mileage. The extra weight and wind drag, depending on the style of the trailer, will have an affect on your top end performance and fuel economy. I dropped about 2 mpg on mine. Due to the RT's dry clutch, which can burn if slipped too much, it can be difficult to get moving without killing the engine when stopped on a hill. On the plus side, the trailer will offer you the ability to take along items that you could not normally take, which can mean that you will ride your bike instead of taking that car. No matter how bad the fuel mileage and power loss on the RT, the car will always burn more gas and be less fun.

Just consider that you have changed the handling characteristics of you bike by moving the center of gravity towards the rear, thereby taking some traction away from the front tire. The hitch is behind the rear tire. Any weight on the hitch acts like a lever, pushing down on the bike behind the rear axle. Heavy braking and accelerating can magnify this. Your bike was designed to have all its weight between axles. The trailer can also sway from side to side, delivering some of this action to the bike, again, behind the rear axle. At low speeds, none of this will affect you. At highway speeds, it can affect the handling of the bike to the point of lost control. You can minimize handling problems by taking the time to properly load the trailer making sure only 10% of its total weight is on the tongue, plus by adding a swivel coupler to the tongue and checking the tires for proper inflation. Another danger to the trailer is that you may forget it's there and clip something which can cause you to lose control.

At this time, there are two hitch manufacturers for the RT:

Trailmaster: http://www.trailmasterinc.com/index.html 
Bushtec: http://www.bushtec.com

Alternatively, Jerry notes that "you may find a used Reynolds hitch. These aren't being made anymore, however, I see them advertised from time to time on the internet. The Reynolds hitch is a good quality hitch."

Regarding a trailer, Jerry says "For a good inexpensive trailer, try Cycle Mate: http://www.cycle-mate.com/products.htm .  I have a CM1000 and I'm happy with it. Another trailer to look at: http://www.bushtec.com . They also make hitches for the RT. I understand that these pull like a dream."

Another trailer vendor is now on the scene offering a unique single wheel design. Visit http://www.uni-go.com. These trailers are made in New Zealand, but they do have US distributors.

An Australian RT owner, John < jarseman@hotmail.com > says that he "bought a trailer about 9 months ago. I have absolutely no regrets. Before I settled on the one I eventually purchased, I tried out 4 different manufacturers types. The one I settled on is a combined steel chassis/aluminium box, with leaf springs. It weighs 60kg empty. The next lightest was 98 kg."

John has some rules for choosing and using a trailer:

  • Rule # 1: Aim for the lightest trailer you think you might need vs. capacity. The lighter the trailer, the less effect on performance.
  • Rule # 2: Avoid fibreglass boxes (at least in Australia). Every biker I know that has or does own one has problems with flex/cracking.
  • Rule # 3: Load the trailer so that you have a towball load of approx 20lb (a slightly forward C of G). This has the least effect on handling. I have towed this trailer in all types of weather including strong crosswinds and torrential rain. It has had a minimal effect on the bike's stability. Of course, braking distance increase.
  • Rule # 4: Aim to have the centre if the towball/hitch aligned as closely as possible to the centre of the rear axle with rider/passenger ON the bike.
  • Rule # 5: Sit back on your folding chair with a nice glass of red and laugh at your friends with their tiny 2 man tents :-))

"I can carry a full campsite for 4 people with food for 2 days. Without the panniers. (We can tow it behind the car,too!) In summary, if you're going to buy a trailer, try out a few as the dynamics and sure-footedness varies enormously. And make sure you put a load in them for the test-ride."

Paul <psaint@banet.net> adds that "Anyone contemplating pulling a trailer should pick up a copy of "Pulling Your Tail" by Bill Brobst. It's described as a "primer on the art of motorcycle trailering". The copy I have is a bit dated, copyright 1982, but was reprinted in 1995. It gives the pros and cons, the musts and must nots, some shoulds, and many "thumb" rules. If anyone thinks that one wheel trailers are new and unique, well there is a page or two devoted to them also."

Paul has "been pulling a Bunkhouse camper/trailer for several years, first with a Wing and now with the RT. The only difference I find is that the RT has a higher first gear, making it necessary to slip the clutch slightly when starting off. The trailer gives me a place to sleep, a large stand up dressing area and can carry up to 22 cubic feet of gear. Since my long distance riding almost always is done two up the trailer is invaluable. I've been to the Rockies with it and I've been to the Appalachians several times. Does it impair the handling of the bike? Of course, to some degree. Tight twisties are done much slower and consideration has to be given to braking distances. BUT, once set up I have a comfortable base camp, with the amenities we desire, and, unlike having a sidecar, the bike is back to normal in seconds."