Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Western Washington Woods
Re: How to calculate Tongue Weight of Trailer
Trailers! Do I know about pulling a trailer?!? Trust me on this, you do not want to buy an enclosed 10 ft trailer to tow behind a RAV4 on mountain roads or super highways. First of all that trailer is going to be heavy. Second thing is that trailer is big; bigger than what you need. It will act as a giant sail both to side winds and as a drag behind your car. Also, you will need brakes on the trailer, by law, if I remember correctly or for safety sake in any case.
What you may find more economical and simpler is to rent a M/C trailer from U-Haul. For a round trip rental they are cheap.
Or, if you feel the need to own the trailer because it's more convenient, whatever, you can get a simple class I flat bed or utility trailer. They will have a 7/8 inch ball mount, do not require brakes and have a gross weight, I think, of 2,000 pounds. I'm on my third trailer of this type. The first was a 4' x 8' utility trailer with 2' side rails and a bed made of 2 by 8's. That lasted about a decade until I replaced the wiring, replaced the wood in the bed and sold it. The replacement for that one was a similar trailer only the new one was a 5' x 10' utility trailer. Both had drop down loading gate and were constructed of welded angle iron with leaf spring suspensions. I sold that one, too. Since I no longer need to haul bikes and ATVs around my latest is a Harbor Freight 4' x 8' flat trailer that I put together. Cheap is a good way to describe it. I put on a pressure treated 3/4" plywood bed and I built some simple 36" plywood side walls for it. I could as easily have built 48" sides, too. It does not come with a ramp, but I may build one later if I need it. It also came with low speed tires only good up to 45mph. If I need to go faster with the trailer some time in the future I'll upgrade the tires, too. If I need to haul a bike I'll add another sheet of plywood to the bed to give it about 1-1/2".
When I haul bikes or ATVs in these trailers I load them with an eye to stability and tongue weight. When in place in the front wheel chock and tied down I cover the bike in movers blankets and bungee them in place. Then I put a tarp over the whole trailer. The tarp keeps road dirt, wheel spray and rain water off of the bike. The movers blankets keep dust off of the bike and prevent the tarp from rubbing on the bike.
Which ever trailer you get remember the warnings about trailer sway! If your trailer starts to sway you should stop immediately! It's an emergency; stop immediately! Do not go driving down the road trying to figure if you can make the next rest area. If you don't stop you could lose your trailer, the contents of the trailer and your car!
Lastly, be very careful with loading ramps. That ramp may look fine, but your bike may high center at the end where it meets the trailer. Also, avoid narrow ramps and make sure that they have a surface with some traction. A wet, slippery ramp is an accident waiting to happen.
Gordon, USN (Retired)
2008 Suzuki Burgman AN400 w/body deflectors, rear rack & bungee hooks; Givi Airflow, Stebel horn,
Utopia backrest, SpeedoHealer & turn signal buzzer; LED tail/brake/turn signal lamps & license plate bolts and retroreflective tape!