Tow the line: Load your bike safely
Load a bike on to a trailer and drive away without fear or fuss
1Check you are legal
Before you load up, hook up and drive off, it’s really important to know if you’re legally allowed to drive with a trailer. If you passed your driving test before January 1, 1997 then you automatically have the correct entitlement. After this date the rules changed, so check on www.gov.uk/towing-with-car. Speed limits are also different: 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
2Get strapped up safely
Make sure that the straps you are going to use are in good condition. The ratchet mechanism should work freely, and the straps themselves should have no fraying or signs of wear. Consider purchasing a handlebar strap, these make securing a bike to a trailer really simple. Never be tempted to buy budget or cheap straps: some of the worst are rubbish that stretch when tightened.
Before you load the trailer, identify the location of tie-down points and place the straps roughly in position. Aim to get a strap on the handlebars, one each side, and hook the other end of the straps to the widest point of the trailer, slightly pulling the bike forward at the same time. Make sure that the trailer is hitched securely to the towing vehicle with the handbrake is on.
Most bike-specific trailers have a slight recess for the front wheel to settle into. The recess should also have a stop at the front so the wheel cannot pop over the end of the trailer. Roll the bike up the trailer. If the bike is a heavyweight, you should ideally get some help. You’ll need some fancy footwork to negotiate the lattice framework.
6Don’t get the front in a flap
When it comes to securing the handlebars, you can strap from where the bars leave the top yoke or use a specific handlebar strap. If you’re not using a handlebar strap, you can loop a strap around the bottom yoke, or the handlebar itself if there is sufficient clearance between the strap and bodywork.
8Don’t rub your bike up the wrong way
Make sure there are no straps rubbing on panels. Any contact is likely to leave a mark and increase the risk of the strap failing, so reposition the strap if you can or protect the fairing beneath with a rag. Also, check that the bike is upright. Visually check from the rear and evenly re-tighten the straps front and rear to get it straight.
5Use the high and wide rule
When it comes to securing the bike to the trailer you should use at least four straps, and high and wide is the golden rule. Strap the bike in from the subframe area, or you could use the passenger footrest hangers. Ideally you need to have the straps pulling the bike down and forward to the widest part of the trailer. Partially tighten them at this point.
7Tight but just right
Tighten the straps in pairs – the front pair first. Do it evenly and, if you’re using ratchet straps don’t over tighten, as their power can bend metal parts. Tighten them enough to compress a third of the bike’s suspension travel. Tighten the rear straps evenly, a few clicks at a time, and make sure all straps are pulling the bike forward and down.
9Tidy the loose ends
Tie back the ends of the straps so they don’t whip around in the wind. For added security, hold the front brake lever on using a strap or cable tie. Make a final check around the bike, remove the ignition key, and make sure all the fairing panels are secure and not likely to blow off. Likewise, ensure panniers, fuel tank and topbox lids are locked.
Towing your bike on a trailer does not need to be stressful