Not As Easy As It Looks

JRP Reflecting

Reflection – written May 27, 2002

I have been looking for a long time to find a motorcycle trailor that is really easy to use. On occasion it would be really nice to be able to tow a motorcycle somewhere and then ride it back home or visa versa or to tow it to a destination and then take a local motorcycle trip. I have a flat trailor made by Haulin which I bought at Home Depot. It was inexpensive and seemed like just the right thing. I made sides for the trailor from 2 x 6 planks with the idea that one of them would then serve as a ramp to drive a motorcycle onto the trailor. I found a bracket somewhere on the Web that mounted to the trailor bed which was designed to hold the front wheel of the bike in place. The final step in preparing this home made bike trailor was to have tie-down rings welded to the sides of the trailor. All set — ready to use. What a disaster!
The part of the plan that I did not anticipate was the weight of the motorcycle. The Harley-Davidson Sportster weights about 600 pounds. The larger sized bikes weigh 700-900 pounds. My first attempt was with the Sporster. The eight foot ramp makes a non-trivial angle from the ground to the trailor bed. The bike is much too heavy to push up the ramp. That means you have to ride it up the ramp. If you go fast enough to make it up the ramp and you miscalculate you are in for an accident. If you go slow you lose your balance and once on the ramp there is no place to rest your feet to get balance. I loaded, transported and unloaded the Sporster two or three times but that was enough. Last time was a near disaster. Fortunately, my wife was nearby and helped me regain my balance after coming within inches of dumping the bike on its side. In short, unless you are Evil Knievel, then forget about it. I now use the Haulin trailor for transporting firewood. The quest for a more suitable trailor was underway.
During a visit to my local Harley dealer, I saw a really slick looking trailor made by Kendon. I was very tempted. Not only is it slick looking but it also has a slick design that enables it to be stored in your garage in a standing up postion, thereby taking minimal space. There is only one catch — it uses a ramp to get the bike onto the trailor. The dealer assured me that it was easy but after looking at it closely and thinking about it a lot, I concluded it would involve  the same peril as my modified Haulin trailor.
After a lot of time searching the Web I found the Razor trailor. It has a very unique design that allows you to lower the bed of the trailor to the ground and then just drive on. You then crank it back up and in the process it lowers the trailor hitch to your car or truck. Extremely clever. The Razor is made — one at a time — by an expert welder inDahlonega, Georgia. I bought the Razor from John Revelle in Simsbury, Connecticut. I stopped by to see it on a Sunday afternoon and John was nice enough to deliver it to me later that same day. One alternative to the Razor is the Easy Hauler. It is a similar idea but when you add the features to make it comparable to the Razor it is quite a bit more expensive. John Revelle easily convinced me that the Razor was a better choice.
Today (05-27-02) was  my first attempt at using the Razor and it worked out fine — although there were tense moments. The goal was to bring the Ultra Classic Electra Glide back from a trip to Pennsylvania. I lowered the trailor bed to the ground, rode the bike very slowly onto it, and then put down the kickstand. The nice thing about the Razor is that it has a wide bed and it is made of a solid sheet of steel. Not sure of the gauge of the steel but it is very solid. It was a bit tricky riding the bike to exactly the center of the galvanized channel that is attached to the bed. On the “dresser” it is impossible to actually see your front tire. I am sure it will be fine as I get some practice. One lesson learned is to make sure you have flat ground under where you lower the Razor. This wasn’t the case for me as you can see from the picture. Uneven ground makes it harder to tell if you have the bike tied down level and generally increases nervousness — at least for me.
The major difficulty was finding the optimum place for the tie-downs and operating the ratchets. Ratchet tie-downs are very reliable once you get them in place but operating the ratchet mechanism requires a degree in mechanical engineering to operate. There has to be a better way. If you have ever tried them you know what I mean — they can be a mess. The front tie-downs worked best by putting the straps on the handlebars — being careful not to pinch wires. The service manager at Baer’s told me to compress the front forks about two inches and that rear tie-downs should not be necessary unless you want a security blanket. I did so I tried various places to apply the tie-downs. At one point I sprung one of the hard bags out of place. Fortunately, it went right back into the right position when I relieved the ratchet. Still not sure where best place is but I did finally get the bike firmly in place. I won’t go into further details. Hopefully, practice will make near perfect. The bike was ready to roll and the 150 mile trip was uneventful.
I was nervous about how the unloading would go. Turned out to be a piece of cake. Very simple and straightforward. I would highly recommend a Razor to anyone with a reason to tow their bike from time to time.