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Thread: Trailering and vehicle power required

  1. #1
    KevinRT
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    Trailering and vehicle power required

    Trailering as in towing my bike, not my bike towing a trailer.

    Retirement for me can be measured in months though they still add up to years; but I am planning already. My goal is to travel in North America for a couple of months or more at a time. While I have lots of experience living off the bike on my two or three week vacations, doing so for longer seems like a bit of a chore. My intent is to tow my bike (presently an R1200RT but I may downsize in the near future) in an enclosed trailer, hopefully wedging a bicycle and a small, portable gas bbq in there too. My plan is to trailer to a spot, camp, explore the area via motorcycle for a few days, pack it all back into the trailer, move on, and repeat. I figure weight of trailer and contents no more than 1500 lbs. I see lots of vehicles capable of towing that weight but I don't want to be a slug out on the highway. Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Outback or Forester are the types of vehicles I have been considering but their horsepower figures vs weight of the vehicle themselves puts me at a power to weight ratio disadvantage to those of my present vehicle, a 2005 Acura RSX (155 hp). I'd like to avoid going to a much larger vehicle as I have never liked large vehicles and I don't want to suffer the mileage penalty a larger vehicle would entail. What power of engine do those of you with trailering experience use? Some of my travels would be in the Rockies if that is relevant.

    Thanks for any input offered.
    KevinRT
    Ottawa, Canada

  2. #2
    Registered User story's Avatar
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    Unfortunately you have a lot more to consider then just horsepower.
    The vehicles you listed are going to have a class 1 hitch which is rated to no more then 2000lbs or LESS.
    I have a CRV with a hitch and it's only rated to 1000lbs. or less. I pull a Bunkhouse tent trailer with it and it does OK but it only weights 400lbs.
    You will need a class 2 hitch (good to 3500lbs.) Which means a full size SUV, Van, or mid sized PU. You might find something smaller that will handle it but then were back to horsepower and transmission options. In order to not have Semi's passing you in the hills you'll need at least 200hp. and a transmission that you can lock out the overdrive. My CRV has a overdrive lock out and I use it when we hit the hills.
    Another thing to consider is trailer brakes. Most single axle trailers don't have them. I would hate to see you coming down a steep curvy hill in a small car with no brakes.
    I like your idea and have considered doing something similar in a couple years when I pull the plug.
    I would lean towards a van, something I could sleep in if the weather got nasty.

    Happy trails and keep us posted.
    Enjoying life in the beautiful state of Jefferson
    2013 K1600GTL : 2004 VTX1800c

  3. #3
    KevinRT
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    [QUOTE=story;970798]Unfortunately you have a lot more to consider then just horsepower.
    The vehicles you listed are going to have a class 1 hitch which is rated to no more then 2000lbs or LESS.
    I have a CRV with a hitch and it's only rated to 1000lbs. or less. I pull a Bunkhouse tent trailer with it and it does OK but it only weights 400lbs.
    You will need a class 2 hitch (good to 3500lbs.) QUOTE]


    I'm not understanding that. My total weight is going to be 1500 lbs max which is comfortably in the class 1 category. Why would I need a class 2 hitch? I was figuring on 200 hp or more to do the trick and that fits your estimate.
    KevinRT
    Ottawa, Canada

  4. #4
    neanderssance man sedanman's Avatar
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    Equally important as weight is total frontal area of the trailer. Most enclosed trailers and even landscape style open trailers with large drop down gates are like towing parachutes. My 2009 Chevy Cobalt gets 36 mpg on the highway, towing my trailer I get 24! Mileage drops from 19 to 16 when I use my truck.
    Paul
    Stop wrestling with your motorcycle, dance with it.
    2011 R1200RT Traded
    2014 R1200RT fully optioned

  5. #5
    jdubeemer jdubick's Avatar
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    Sedanman is correct in explaining the drag factor. I have a F-150 pickup with a 5.4 V8 and a 12 ft single axle enclosed trailer and must select the overdrive off while towing with my R1200RT in the trailer.

    I also have a 23 ft class C RV that I tow the trailer with bike and sometimes two bikes and riding gear and coolers and etc (her stuff) inside. It does not suffer as great a loss in gas mileage because the RV blocks the wind so the mileage just drops two mpg.

    I have towed the trailer behind the RV from coast to coast for BMW rallys and vacations. I can only tell you that that little RV that I bought used has paid for its self many times over. It is cheap to stay in campgrounds with it and cooking your own meals and sleeping comfortable for weeks on the road will save your marriage at least. Tent camping gets old in a hurry on long trips and there is not much difference between renting a camping space for a tent or a RV.
    Jim Dubick
    Boaz, Alabama
    R1200RT,R1100GS,KLX250
    BMW MOA, BMW MOALABAMA

  6. #6
    Kawa Afterthought weschmann's Avatar
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    Take a look at the new Jeep Cherokee! With the correct package, it's rated up to 4500 lbs with 28 mpg listed. Probably won't get that while pulling your trailer, but not bad without. I've got a Jeep Liberty with just under 300,000 miles on her now (291,000) and plan on upgrading to the Cherokee sometime this spring, once I break the 300,000 mark. Figure I've got my money's worth out of her now and will donate her to charity once past my goal.....

  7. #7
    Registered User
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    pulling power

    Take a look at the Rav4 with front wheel drive and the 269hp V-6. Rav4's can be a little expensive, but hold up well. That will pull any trailer you pick.
    My 97 (gen1 with AWD) has 183,000 miles and still is quiet and reliable.

  8. #8
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Smile

    Just bought a brand new Ford Escape. Nice vehicle and plenty of power for towing your needs.

    Give a look see.
    Kevin Greenwald - MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.) / IBA Member #34281
    Motorcycle & High Performance Driving Instructor - ROAD AMERICA Race Track

  9. #9
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Here's another thread about pulling an enclosed trailer with a small vehicle.
    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread....ailer-is/page2
    Lee 2011 K1300S
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  10. #10
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    Here's another thread about pulling an enclosed trailer with a small vehicle.
    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread....ailer-is/page2
    Good remembering Lee. It's a 2 pager with good/important/relevant info.
    OM
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
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  11. #11
    The Big Red One sgtbill's Avatar
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    Airstream BaseCamp

    We bought an Airstream Basecamp trailer last spring. They only made 200 of them so they are hard to find. We looked for two years. A regular motorcycle rolls right into the middle of the trailer and locks down in a Condor chock mount I have attached to the floor. When I arrive at the campground I roll the bike out and remove the chock. The benches fold down for relaxing and create a full-sized bed when its time to sleep. A small A/C and a portable fridge makes the trip much easier on nerves and marriage.

    We bought the trailer in expectation of retirement and doing just what you describe. Going to an area and staying for a couple of weeks and exploring on the bikes. We pull the 16 foot Airstream with a Toyota Highlander that has +100K miles on it. Mileage sucks (even with the Hybrid system) but once we drop the trailer we have both a SUV and the bikes.

    Do a YouTube search for "Airstream Basecamp BMW R90S" and you'll see the original owner in a couple of short videos he made to demo the camper. I bought the trailer. Couldn't afford the bikes...
    sgtbill
    Duty First!
    86 K100RS EML & 79 R100S
    2007 F800ST & 2014 F800GS & 2014 F700GS

  12. #12
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgtbill View Post
    We bought an Airstream Basecamp trailer last spring. They only made 200 of them so they are hard to find.
    We saw one of those several years ago at a bike show. Really neat little trailer

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Airs...34%3B320%3B240





    Lee 2011 K1300S
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  13. #13
    R100GS, '89 Guenther's Avatar
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    I have an Outback (3.6R, 6 cyl., 250 hp). Came with a factory installed hitch and a rated towing capacity of 3,000 lbs. And with a covered motorcycle trailer that is V-shaped at the front that should do it easily.

    U-haul has small covered utility trailers. You may rent one just to get a feel for it. And the U-haul ones are pretty square at the front. So any V-shaped trailer would do better on the highway.

    /Guenther

  14. #14
    172526
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    I towed my bikes (F800 and F650GS) out to Wyoming a couple years ago. I had an open 5x10 trailer and towed them with my Chev Silverado 1/2 ton with a 4.8l V8. Gas mileage suffered and on the hills or in windy days the trans was constantly shifting down to keep up to speed

    Towing is all about power and weight of the towing vehicle to the weight of the load. To pull an enclosed trailer through the plains winds or through the mountains you need a vehicle that is heavier than the gross weight capacity of your trailer and at least a V6 but preferably a V8

  15. #15
    neanderssance man sedanman's Avatar
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    To pull an enclosed trailer through the plains winds or through the mountains you need a vehicle that is heavier than the gross weight capacity of your trailer and at least a V6 but preferably a V8
    Not sure I agree completely. My truck weighs 6,200 lbs and is rated to tow 14,000lbs.
    Paul
    Stop wrestling with your motorcycle, dance with it.
    2011 R1200RT Traded
    2014 R1200RT fully optioned

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