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How-To Guide

How to Tow a Motorcycle

 Posted on: October 13th, 2023

How to Tow a Motorcycle

Need to transport a motorcycle without riding it all the way there? There are several methods to choose from, and it’s important that no matter which method you choose you understand how to accomplish it safely.

Here’s a quick look at several common methods for motorcycle towing and what you should know.

Using a trailer

You can use a simple towing trailer to move a motorcycle. Ideally you will purchase a trailer that specifically accommodates the type of bike you own.

Black Widow Aluminum Non-Folding Arched 3-Piece Motorcycle Ramp
7' Black Widow Aluminum Non-Folding Arched 3-Piece Motorcycle Ramp

When using a trailer, you will need a proper ramp to load the bike. The ramp should provide plenty of distance to avoid needing too high of an angle, and should also have enough weight capacity to handle the load of a motorcycle driving on top of it. Our Motorcycle Ramp Calculator makes it unbelievably simple to quickly determine the minimum ramp length you need, or read more about how to choose an appropriate motorcycle ramp for your situation.

Black Widow Adjustable Width Motorcycle Wheel Chock
Black Widow Adjustable Width Motorcycle Wheel Chock

Once the motorcycle is in the trailer, it must be chocked in both the back and front to help keep it stable during transportation. You will also need to secure the motorcycle to the trailer bed. This means using the proper straps. Begin by attaching the straps at the front and back of the bike, and attach the straps in the back rearward. This helps create some tension to keep the bike in its position.

Before driving away, double check to make sure the bike’s suspension is compressed—if it’s not, the straps could give away, which could cause the bike to become unstable and take damage during transportation. For additional information, read How to Tow a Motorcycle Trailer.

Using a motorcycle carrier

Black Widow Steel Motorcycle Carrier – 600 lb. Capacity
Black Widow Steel Motorcycle Carrier – 600 lb. Capacitydoing what it does best!

Although motorcycle carriers attach to the hitch of a truck or SUV just like a trailer, it's important to note that they are technically not being towed, but rather hauled. They're a more affordable option than a trailer, and will save you time and space if transporting dirt bikes or small-to-medium weight motorcycles up to about 600 lbs. total (depending on the carrier capacity).

Perhaps the biggest benefit of using this method is that it avoids you having to hook up a separate trailer connection to your vehicle. You can transport the motorcycle without adding much in the way of additional square footage off the back of your vehicle.

The carrier linked above features anti-tilting mechanisms that keep the motorcycle steady while it’s being towed, as well as an adjustable wheel chock for added security. The maximum load for the carrier is about 600 pounds, which should allow it to carry most motorcycles.

As always, be sure to use straps to tie down the bike and keep it stable during transportation.

Tow dollies

The tow dolly is not used as frequently as motorcycle carriers or trailers, but is still an effective method of transporting a motorcycle from place to place.

With a tow dolly, you hook the front tire to the dolly and keep the back tire on the road. Place the motorcycle in neutral so its back tire will turn as you pull it, which will prevent any damage from occurring to the tire or the motorcycle itself.

The benefit of using a tow dolly is that you can efficiently and securely tow the motorcycle while freeing up some space in and on the back of a vehicle. The dolly itself has a relatively small profile and light weight, so it is easy to take off and store away when not pulling a motorcycle. Despite that small profile, tow dollies frequently have significant carrying capacities. Most can carry motorcycles of up to 800 pounds, aided by the fact that part of the bike is actually on the road, which eliminates some of the load.

Another benefit is that the dolly does not require you to wire blinkers or brake lights, as you would need to do with a trailer.

Consider these various towing options and which is the best fit for you so you are properly outfitted for the next time you need to transport your bike.