Does a trailer bed have to be level? - - The Ultimate Ducati Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 5:23 pm Thread Starter
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Does a trailer bed have to be level?

I did a quick tape measurement of the bottom of the hitch ball compared to the bottom of the coupler of the trailer. I haven't hooked it up yet but it looks like once hooked up the trailer will be 17 inches high on the front and 21 inches high on the rear. It is 8' long so it has a 4 inch tilt basically. The hitch ball thingy already has somewhat of a rise. Looks like 3-4 inches. Should I got back and ask for maybe a 6 inch lift or is the 4 inch tilt of the trailer nothing to worry about. I would think it would put more weight on the hitch that way. Also not sure when hooked up what it will be. It may end up being only 2-3 inches as my car wasn't level.


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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 5:54 pm
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The short answer: Always best to get the trailer to ride level, but because your trailer and bike are relatively light and the angle is not severe, you should be OK. And remember - you read that on the internet.

The long answer: It's not the angle so much as how much weight the trailer puts on the tail of the car. Even though the gross weight of the trailer can be well within your car's limits, too much weight on the hitch may cause the front end of the car to lift and that will negatively influence handling.

You need to do two things - check the tongue weight of the loaded trailer and compare that to your car's specs, if you can find them.

Park your car on level ground. Attach the the trailer to the car then measure the height of the LOADED trailer at the hitch point. Remove the trailer from the car and using a bathroom cobble up some blocks of wood to place the trailer hitch on the scale at exactly the same height it was when it was connected to the car. That's your tongue weight.

Where the weight (your bike) sits on the trailer makes a big diff. If the bike is centered over the trailer's axle, there won't be much weight on the hitch regardless of the angle. You may be able to move the bike rearward to balance the weight. Even thought the angle when attached will be the same and the gross weight will be the same, this can reduce the tongue weight.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 6:00 pm
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 6:19 pm
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If you do not have enough weight on the hitch, the trailer will weave around on the highway. It can be very dangerous at high speeds. You can lose control-- esp if you have a light tow vehicle. Do a search on Google on "trailer sway".

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 7:52 pm Thread Starter
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So from what I'm hearing as long as I'm within my tongue weight (it's 200 pounds for the hitch; car doesn't have specs for tonque weight) it may even be better to have more weight on the rear of the car.

So the next question then when deciding where to mount my Condor wheel chock I ordered from Motowheels is where to put it? Do I just put half the bike in front of the axle and half behind it?

The one thing I can see is this might making loading a bit more challenging as the height of the trailer will be higher in the rear and once you get on the trailer it'll be going downhill a bit.


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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 8:00 pm
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If you have a receiver type hitch, you can always get one that raises the ball.

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2006, 11:51 pm
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Re: does trailer bed have to be level

I had the same issue with my hitch on the GTI. The trailer sits lower in front than in the back when attached to the hitch. I have towed this way and have had no trouble in my particular set up. This forward tilt does pose a problem loading and unloading, however, so I purchased an adapter that I insert into the 1&1/4 inch receiver that converts it into a 2 inch receiver, as I couldn't find any tall 1&1/4 arms . Attached to this adaptor I have a much taller arm ( which can be found in the larger receiver size) and connected attachment ball which allows the front of the trailer to be higher and securely attached to the hitch FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING THE BIKE ONLY. Once I have the bike loaded I lift the trailer off this converter and put the shorter (lower) arm that came with the hitch
back in the receiver and reattach the trailer. I have found this easier than trying to back the bike "up" the trailer to get it off, and it makes the incline less acute when pushing the bike onto the trailer.
I do not leave this adaptor on when actually towing because the longer arm would exert greater torque on the receiver hitch during acceleration and deceleration. Something I don't want to test.
In terms of where to put the bike on the trailer I am not sure, but my thought would be to place the bike so that it is exerting some tongue weight (ie: not completely balanced on the axle but somewhat forward of it). The weight of the load will help to keep the trailer attached to the ball. The trailer I use comes with a preplaced chock and rail for the bike. In this configuration my bike does sit forward of the trailer's single axle when loaded so that more of the weight is in front of than behind the axle. I suppose you could overdo this: if you had a very heavy tongue weight and a very light vehicle you might take too much weight off the front wheels of the car by the downward force in the rear. When in doubt call the manufacturer, that's what they do for a living and should be able to give you a straight answer.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2006, 6:51 am Thread Starter
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You mean the manufacturer of my car? The one that says I shouldn't be towing with my vehicle at all?

Unless the hitch maker can provide some advise.


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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2006, 7:51 am
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As a rule of thumb..

When your trailer is loaded, you should be able to lift the trailer-coupling of the hitch using one arm only, maybe helping a little with your other arm.

We´ve had three bikes on one trailer and had absolutly no problems with this easy way of checking how much weight is taken up by the cars hitch.

And that you also read on the internet.


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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2006, 9:09 am
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I agree with Amullo, easy test is the arm lift for small trailers. (bikes,small boats,utility,etc.) You'll most definitely want it level or you will have issues loading/unloading your motorcycle. You should be able to find adaptors to readily accomodate your needs.
Another thought on the subject:
Nothing frustrates me more than waiting for a "wingnut" who doesn't have a clue how to back up a trailer, especially at boat launch ramps. So to any trailer owners out there if you can't back it up please sell it.

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