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Old 08-22-2008, 01:29 PM   #1
DirtyDog OP
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Motorcycle Tow Dolly / Caddy / Hitch-towing Gadget

I'm moving soon and I was in the market for a trailer to haul my KLR behind my 4-cyl Honda Accord and decided that this was a nice alternative. A compact, user-friendly apparatus, in my opinion.

I purchased this one for $118 shipped ($89.99 + $29 s&h). LINK

Images from site:




It looks pretty chincy in the images. I'll reinforce if / as necessary. The KLR is hardly a heavy bike in comparison to the spectrum of current models, so I'm not too concerned with disastrous results.

A more expensive, slightly more robust version can be found HERE. I opted for the cheap one- imagine that.

I have a 1.25" hitch on my Accord. It's rated for 200# tongue weight. I will weigh the front wheel of the KLR over the weekend (sans fuel) and see how close I'm coming to this limit (fingers crossed). Gotta burn my fuel first...

The tow dolly is meant for 2" receiver hitches, therefore I will be making a slight modification to connect to my hitch. Adapters are commercially available, but generally not recommended for towing. I may simply weld on a 1.25" piece to bridge the connection. This will be determined later, as I may need to simultaneously adjust ride-height (8-10" suggested).

Yes, I'll be removing the drive chain when towing.
__________________________________________________ _______

I will review the motorcycle tow dolly here, as I was unable to find such a review on ADV.

1. PURCHASE- Purchased the tow dolly in the morning and received UPS shipping confirmation and a tracking number a few hours later. Package is 37 lbs. Will arrive on the 28th. Company seems reputable so far.
2. ASSEMBLY- Box contents were orderly. Construction looks quality. Steel is heavy gage and welds all look nice. Box contents look like this-


Notice- no washers. Wtf? Not necessary, I guess.
Assembly instructions are a terribly photocopied one-sheet. Doesn't take a genius to figure it out though. Hope you have SAE wrenches.

Comes with one strap.


OK, now my initial gripes-
Th top crossbar is attached to the main body with a thru-bolt. Problem is, there is way too much play between the insert and the sleeve. This is a major source for instability. See images below.

You can see the gap from above.


Closer view. Thinking of shimming the gaps with aluminum.


No way to actually tighten the bolt enough to close those gaps (sleeve material is too rigid). Check out the wobble-






Stay tuned...
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If anyone has experience with this type of caddy (i.e. with one bike wheel on the ground), please contribute your comments.

There are plenty of reviews for the other types of hitch haulers on this site (i.e. non-rolling type), so please withhold such comments unless they are based on direct comparison of these two types. Thanks
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Old 08-23-2008, 07:33 AM   #2
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyDog
I have a 1.25" hitch on my Accord.

The tow dolly is meant for 2" receiver hitches,
__________________________________________________ _______

I will review the motorcycle tow dolly here, as I was unable to find such a review on ADV.
Will arrive on the 28th.
Stay tuned..
__________________________________________________ _______
If anyone has experience with this type of caddy (i.e. with one bike wheel on the ground), please contribute your comments.
I saw that a few weeks ago myself, and was impressed enough to try it, as my car isn't really strong at 62hp. I've been afraid to pull an actual trailer, but i know it will pull the bike only.

I have a Class II 1 1/4 inch hitch setup on my car, not the Class III 2".

After numerous calls to the StateHighwayPatrol, and the local Police, plus the Sheriff's office, they all said the same thing.

'No, it's not illegal. And if it isn't 'fishtailing', we won't even look twice..'

So, i decided to try to build one, as the total price plus shipping gave me room to work with..

I found some square steel stock 1 1/4 inch and had it welded up..

Instead of the eyelagscrews for your tiedown straps, i just drilled 7/16" holes in the rear for the strap 'hooks'..you can see them in the picture, if you enlarge it.

this is my result..click them for larger images



It hasn't been painted yet..it's raining(finally)

Now I'm getting three ratcheting clamps from the hardware, plus two normal motorcycle tiedowns for the handlebars, for a total of five straps..maybe two more, just for overkill (7)

I spent today boring the holes with a drill press for the hitch pin, and the 'hooks' on the tiedowns..

It's raining cats and dogs..but when it stops, i'm going to hook my NX to it, and drag it around town for research..

If i like it, I might take it on longer trips..
no actual experience here yet,as per your request, but i'm close..

I might be able to film a shot of me towing with it, but first i gotta get a 'dry run' down to make sure it doesn't whip wildly behind me...
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:15 PM   #4
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Excellent job, VC. Looking forward to the review. So, including the materials (steel, straps, paint, labor, etc.) you think it was still economical compared to the commercially made alternative?

Several pluses with your design-
1) crossbar is welded in place. Commercially made one is bolted (so they can ship it easier).
2) material is for 1.25" hitch. The 2" material is likely overkill for this usage and only adds weight.

I'll still have to buy straps for mine (and possibly an adaptor- we'll see), so I'll provide a final cost eventually.

What kind of car are you using to tow?

______________________________________________

I do have a few thoughts that may be of issue with this type of carrier-
I'm imagining that with the front wheel strapped in, there are basically two articulation points on the bike: front axle and steering stem. The bike is gonna move no matter what you do. Bumps in the road, turns, and entering / exiting roadways will make the bike articulate. Why, then, is the strap attachment point where it is?? Having the bike strapped in a traditional, handlebar-forward manner is great for hauling on a trailer, but for this setup it seems more logical to anchor the bike at an axis of articulation, namely the front axle...

let me explain- When strapping the handlebars to this rack while parked, you are assuming that the appropriate tension will stay that way. In fact, every peak or valley in the roadway will be adding slack and tension to those straps on a frequent basis- possibly with enough snap force to damage the straps. That is assuming that when faced with slack conditions, the strap hooks remain in an appropriate position on the bike (may need to consider that). What if you combine a turn with an abrupt incline (like a driveway)?? You'd then have an unnatural high-side leaning bike and slacked straps... I'm thinking that would be a bad combo.

If the fixed anchor on the caddy was in the same axis as the front axle, no matter how much the bike bounced along the roadway, the tension would be constant (as long as the forks are compressed).

Does this make sense?

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I'm gonna be towing this thing from Mesa, AZ to Tulsa, OK (1,100 miles).
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:10 PM   #5
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DD, I believe the answer to your query is in the first picture you posted, the one of the blue Concours. Note that there are 5 straps, 2 blue ones from the handlebars and 2 orange ones from the tripletree. Looks like overkill but I think that this would keep the front end pretty staight in the hauler.

To answer your other question, I had one of these for a while. I purchased the bike caddy that has a lift on the wheel chock. It also had a pivot just upstream of the chock that would allow the chock to rotate left/right or it could be pinned in the straight position. Used the caddy 3 times before I sold it. The caddy worked fine but my problem was that the thing weighted about 80 pounds and it was a PITA to get it on and off the truck and it was too big to leave it there. I decided that I liked my back more than I liked the caddy.
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:05 PM   #6
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I have used that to bring my 74 cb550 home 200+ miles...no problems.

I put my zrx1200 on it and there were some issues...the bike leans in tight turns.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:00 PM   #7
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I would suggest you take the chain off a bike before using one of these. Many bikes lube their gear box via the oil pump which is engaged only while the bikes engine is on. Short trips wouldn't be a huge deal I suppose, but on many bikes you are basically running the counter without proper lubrication.
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Old 08-28-2008, 01:56 PM   #8
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What happens when you try to back up with bike attached? Does it want to jack-knife?
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
What happens when you try to back up with bike attached? Does it want to jack-knife?
Probably similar to pulling a short trailer... do it with care?

Maybe VC can enlighten us... is the research and development complete? Inquiring minds want to know? We were promised pics and video

My caddy is supposed to arrive today. UPS says it's in transit.

I still haven't rolled the front wheel on a scale. Seems nobody has these contraptions anymore. Maybe I need more neurotic friends.

EDIT: Arrived and assembled. See above.
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:09 PM   #10
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It quit raining today, but i didn't get any time to mess with it.

The ratchet straps i bought were of such laughable quality, i had to return them. I nearly ripped them with my bare hands, before i decided that succeeding there might impede me returning them.

I'm going to Northern or HarborFreight to source a quality set, as i too intend to drag motorcycle for hundreds of miles at a time.

So I'm 3 ratchet straps from actually being able to try it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtydog
what kind of car are you using
'90 VW Jetta 1.6l Diesel 62 hp 75 lb/ft tq

I'm looking foward to messing with it when i get some good ratcheting straps..I already have the tiedowns..

too bad the nearest HF is 75 miles away..
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ValveCrusher
...I'm going to Northern or HarborFreight to source a quality set...


There is nothing quality at HF, IMHO. Yes, I shop there, but not for quality supplies. Bite the bullet and spend $15-30 on a good set of four ratcheting straps. They will last a while and are unlikely to fail you. Believe it or not- I've found decent straps at Walmart. An auto parts store is a good source as well.

Also, you inspired me to get the specs on my Accord. I didn't know it was such a muscle car- 150 HP @ 5,700 rpm; 152 ft lb , 206 Nm @ 4,900 rpm
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:17 PM   #12
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any updates or use reports here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyDog
Excellent job, VC. Looking forward to the review. .......
gonna be towing ...(1,100 miles).

Looking for something for short trips, and I've found this http://motoporter.com/vs2/ that comes in between the two other options mentioned here pricewise. VC what was the update on cost of homebuilt? I've got the welder, and the trailer wheel and frame store is close at hand. I can do without the powdercoat I have plenty of semi gloss black spray from other projects.
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Old 11-04-2008, 05:33 PM   #13
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Just remember you are wearing out your rear tire, chain and sprockets everywhere you tow. There are some really inexpensive fold up trailers out there. Would pay for itself easily saving the wear and tear on the bike. Plus if you got a really fat girl friend one of these days that wouldn't fit in that little car you would have a place for her to ride.
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2.0 dogs
Just remember you are wearing out your rear tire, chain and sprockets everywhere you tow. There are some really inexpensive fold up trailers out there. Would pay for itself easily saving the wear and tear on the bike. Plus if you got a really fat girl friend one of these days that wouldn't fit in that little car you would have a place for her to ride.
Let me start by agreeing that a trailer that gets the motorcycle completely off the ground is better for the motorcycle.

However, it seems many people overlook the fact that there will be very little tire, chain, or sprocket wear because hardly any torque is applied. Braking and accelerating are what wear these components down quickly. The amount of friction these components experience is directly related to the forces applied. The more legitimate concern is with the transmission counter shaft and associated parts not being lubricated by the oil pump on many motorcycles when the engine is off. But again, no torque is being applied to the counter shaft except the torque necessary to overcome its rotational inertia during speed changes. I would love to see a component wear study using a new bike driven for 5000 miles and another new bike dragged for 5000 miles.

The chain, drive shaft, or belt could be disconnected for longer trips. If you were worried about it and could not disconnect the transmission from the wheel, the motorcycle engine could be left idling to provide oil pressure during a shorter distance trip. If the bike did not run, it could be dragged a short distance in 6th gear with the throttle open every so often during longer trips to re-lubricate the transmission. What would be cool is an electric oil pump that connects to the oil filter and drain plug, but disconnecting the drive mechanism is probably much easier and cheaper.

Anyway, I just finished building one of these things two days ago. I'll try to do some more testing and post some more photos of the finished product and sharp 90 degree turns. Here is my write-up and design:
Motorcycle Tow Bar

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one crazy enough to try building and using one of these things. I would love to hear and see more about Dirty Dog's and ValveCrusher's experiences towing their motorcycles.

hildstrom screwed with this post 05-29-2009 at 06:39 AM
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Old 11-14-2008, 02:10 PM   #15
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Circumstances with my cross-country move caused me to throw the bike inside the moving truck, therefore, I have yet to use my tow dolly.

The more I think about it though, the tie-down location for the handlebars needs to be in line with the front axle for proper stability and free pivot. I may modify mine if I can get around to it.

Don't know what happened to VC's project.
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