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Motorcycle trailer

The Curse of the trailer

(from our Travels with Guido series, MT #215, circa March 2009, uploaded May 2020)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

A bad idea and the root of many disappointments. That’s trailers

Trailers are like ladders – far more dangerous than motorcycles (check the figures), yet apparently simple, and deadly because of that. I joke to anyone who will listen that there are two things in my shed which scare me: Hannibal the 200-plus-horse Hayabusa and the angle grinder. In truth, the motorcycle trailer is far more likely to see Yours Etc shipped off to the funeral home.

Terribly useful things trailers are, and our aged example is popular on the “mate, can I borrow…” circuit. I can understand this when it comes to dirt bikes. Anyone can walk a Fandango Mudplugger Ace up a ramp and tie it down.

But a road bike? It’s like moving a piano, and how many piano trailers do you see out there?

Despite the bleeding obvious, there I was again, scuttling up and trying to shove the new 250kg (wet) CB1300 demo bike into its channel. Of course the back tyre caught on the lip of the dodgy timber ramp and stopped. Even with my considerable height and err…bulk…we reached the point of no progress. Mostly on, but with the back wheel stuck on the lip. Several attempts at sheer force failed to budge it.

So, delicately balancing the machine, I climbed up on to the frame of the trailer and, breathing a little heavily by now, we had a little rest. The thought of calling for help briefly sprung to mind, but the mobile was in a jean pocket and even determined searching failed to find a third hand.

Rightio then. Toughen-up, grab the pillion rail of the CB and lift, hoping desperately the boots wouldn’t slip. Over it came -- wonderful. Except the sheer force of the move set the trailer into a seriously weird side-to-side shake on its under-inflated tyres and worn suspension.

Picture holding a piano while surfing and you’ll start to get the idea. I was always crap at surfing. The harder I tried to stop it, the worse it got. Eventually, I relaxed (if you can call holding about 16-grand’s worth of Honda’s finest in a tsunami relaxing) and it stopped.

All I had to do then was keep hold of the bike, climb off, and attach the tie-downs. It was about then muggins wondered if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to wait until one of the youngest unmarrieds was home to help out. No matter, at least I now know that 250 kilos is my solo shove, lift, surf, hold and tie-down limit. I guess that rules out Goldwings. Ms M snr reckons I need more time in the gym, but do they have trailers?

Of course it wasn’t over. A change of plan meant I had to put the whole shebang, and the Kingswood it was attached to, away. Which meant backing down the driveway through an ever-tightening funnel of gates, the shed wall one side, plus assorted bikes the other, not to mention Dr Gange the sidecar sitting behind just waiting to be smacked in the snout.

Those of you familiar with Holden Kingswoods (the thinking man’s sports car, according to fellow Lemmings MC member Morley), will know a V-eight with fat tyres, the standard 33 turns lock-to-lock and no power steering is perhaps not the perfect towing companion when it comes to delicate maneuvering. With elephantine handling and dimensions reminiscent of the Titanic, it presents a few challenges for the inexperienced trailer-backer.

Through a combination of rat cunning and sheer cowardice, I’ve reduced my trailer-reversing experience to a grand total of maybe six attempts so far – most of them failures. But hope springs eternal.

While the whole concept of mirror-image driving usually escapes me (and how in the blazes does anyone reverse a B-double?), this day I got it right. And was disappointed.

To pull off such a move is a rite of passage to being a pukka shed owner, so I was expecting heraldic noises, angels, and some ethereal presence presenting me with a certificate. Nothing, curse them. All I ended up with was someone else’s motorcycle strapped to the tail of the Kingswood.

Next time, I’m calling a professional…


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