Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tow your car & motorcycle together + tow ratings!

I've done the research and I'm happy to share it! I currently tow a 2006 Hyundai Tiburon and a Yamaha FZ-6 on a tow dolly behind my gas propelled 1999 Winnebago Adventurer.

I have two mantras for you:

1. Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework!

2. Don't guess, don't guess, don't guess!

Here's what you need to know:

1. Do your math. Figure out what your rig is rated to travel fully loaded (GCWR) and how much it's rated to tow. You do this by looking at your weight ratings usually posted inside a cabinet door. My rig can tow up to 5,000 lbs and it says so on the sticker on the tow bar. Never tow more than the bar is rated for. If you do and you have an accident, guess what..(?)..your insurance will most likely not pay the losses!

You add the total weight of everything together! For instance, on my rig my GCWR is 21,000 lbs. When I'm towing my dolly, bike and car I cannot exceed 21,000 lbs total. My bike is 450 lbs, my car is 3,700 lbs, my dolly is 600 lbs, for a total of 4,700 lbs which is within the hitch rating. My coach can only weigh 16,300 lbs loaded with clothing, food, fuel, stuff in under storage, etc. (16,300 + 4700 = 21,000 total GCWR.)

To find out how much your rig weighs, take it to a certified scale at a truck stop and weigh it when it's full and then remove items you can do without so you can safely tow your dolly, bike and car within the tow rating.

Tow hitch ratings:

Class 1 style hitches have a 2000 lbs. gross towing weight and 200 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.

Class 2 style hitches have a 3500 lbs. gross towing weight and 350 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.

Class 3 style hitches have a 5000 lbs. gross towing weight and 500 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.

Class 4 style hitches have a 7500 lbs. gross towing weight and 1000 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.

Class 5 style hitches have a 10000 lbs. gross towing weight and 1200 lbs. tongue weight unless noted otherwise.

Info source: Hitches Online

2. Motorcycle lifts: Before installing a motorcycle lift to the chassis of your coach or trailer, call the manufacturer. Many will not honor the chassis warranty if you go welding a lift to it! Winnebago will not honor a chassis warranty on any chassis that has been "modified". Do your homework on the manufacturer and ask! While you have them on the phone, ask them what they recommend when towing with their product.

3. Tow dollies: Why buy a tow dolly? Yes, they are a hassle. However, this is the best way to go if you want to take your bike and car with you when you travel.

All tow dollies are not created equal! There are many brands out there from which to choose, but not all are made sturdy enough to tow a car and a bike. Definitely shop around and compare quality, price, warranty and features.

I don't recommend a bolted together tow dolly for this particular application...too many screws to vibrate apart! Buy something that is welded together and built like a tank. You'll be towing two vehicles. Don't take any chances! I bought and recommend the Landgrebe TD 40 101 with Extended Tongue and Motorcycle Carrier (click the underlined text for link), hand made craftsmanship...expensive, but IMHO the best money can buy for the sake of quality and piece of mind.

4. Electric brakes or surge (hydraulic) brakes? I recommend electric brakes with an in cab brake controller. Surge brakes are illegal in some states. Also, when coming down a steep incline, you can heat up surge brakes to the point where they will literally melt. Electric brakes offer electronic and manual control. Do not use electric brakes on boat trailers for obvious reasons (h2o and electricity don't mix).

5. Do you need a license tag (hard plate) for your dolly? In some states you do and in some you don't. I'm a FL resident. FL does not require you to tag your dolly. Contact your state DMV to find out for sure.

6. Insurance: I recommend you call your insurance carrier to check on coverage for your dolly. ALWAYS lock your dolly when not in use and store it in a safe place. Dollies can be easily stolen!




Have fun with your toys and keep the rubber side down!



Odette said...

Well said.

John said...

hi. I thankyou for your advise regarding the tow dolly and your reference to its builders specs. I ride a full dress bagger and it is over the specified weight allowed.
still looking for a good tow trailer at bareasonable price and capability. Once again-Thank you.