Ten Essential Accessories for Your Towing Kit

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Ten Essential Accessories for Your Towing Kit

Big Daddy Ratchet Tie Downs
Big Daddy Ratchet Tie Downs

Big Daddy Ratchet Tie Downs – $36.00/pair

Ditch the bungie cords. Get rid of the chains. Move on up to a serious ratchet strap like Pingel’s Big Daddy Ratchet, with 2″ wide webbing and a 2″ wide ratchet. The Big Daddy comes with a coated snap hook on one end, and a regular hook on the other end, connected by six feet of 7,400-lb test nylon webbing. This is one tie down that will never let you down, and the ratchet mechanism assures that your bike will be snug and secure.

Soft Straps
Soft Straps

Soft Straps – $6.75/pair

This 22″ extension loop strap is essential equipment. Loop a soft strap around a frame rail, and you’ve got a perfect, secure way to attach your ratchet straps to your bike, without the risk of paint damage from the tie down hooks. Once you’ve discovered how useful soft straps can be in tying down a bike or cargo, you’ll make them a permanent addition to your tow kit.

Tongue Weight Scale
Tongue Weight Scale

Tongue Weight Scale – $211.83

If you’ve got a multi-bike trailer or a toy hauler, you really do need to know what kind of tongue weight you’re dealing with before you hook up to your pickup or SUV. Every vehicle and hitch combination has a maximum tongue weight capacity. It is almost impossible to guess or calculate tongue weight – you have to actually weigh your trailer in the real world, complete with a load. Luckily, a quality tongue weight scale is not an exotic piece of equipment. There are plenty of examples available from multiple vendors. Don’t skip this step, and avoid the work-arounds that would have you using a bathroom scale and a set of pulleys. Bite the bullet, and make the one time investment in a proper tongue weight scale.

Trailer Sway Control
Trailer Sway Control

Trailer Sway Control – $45.99

Have you ever seen a trailer go out of control during a haul? It’s no fun. An out of control trailer, even a light weight single bike unit, can set up a resonance at speed that may even cause the tow vehicle to jackknife or flip. If your tow vehicle isn’t equipped with electronic trailer sway control, it’s smart to invest in a little mechanical help. A simple attachment like the Ultra Sway Control can help to reduce the trailer’s tendency to sway in the first place, resulting in much safer travel.

Flip Down Step
Flip Down Step

Flip Down Step – $81.99

Even if you’re an enthusiast, you’re not always going to be using your trailer hitch to pull a trailer. One good way to put it to good use is by adding a flip down step. This simple device adds functionality to your hitch between tows. You can use it to get into the truck bed without putting down the tailgate; to load your bicycle or kayak on the roof of your SUV; or simply as a comfortable, temporary seat. Unlike many other hitch accessories, the flip down step doesn’t interfere with use of the ball mount, so you don’t have to remove it when it’s time to tow a trailer – just flip it up, and you’re ready to tow.

What towing accessories are essentials in your kit?

  • RyanO

    Instead of the cycle jaws wheel chock how about the pitbull trailer restraint system? Lower profile, no tie downs needed, and since the largest part of the restraint system stays on the bike you don’t lose room on the trailer when the bike isn’t there. Same price too.

    http://www.pit-bull.com/trailer-restraint.shtml

    • AlexKnolly

      Can’t recommend Pit Bull TRS enough. It’s life changing. No tie-downs or anything. I use it on my tiny open trailer and it’s great: http://i.imgur.com/dWTZV7D.jpg

      Note, the front wheel chock isn’t necessary with the Pit Bull system, I just have it there so I can pull it off at the track.

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        That’s a nicely thought out set up, right there.

        • AlexKnolly

          Thanks, it’s something I’m constantly working on improving. That’s an older photo, right now it has a non-folding solid ramp the bolts with quick releases under the bike, just behind the rear tire. I also put four lengths of e-track on the rear half so I can strap things down like my cooler and generator.

          Just trying to get as much functionality out of it while not making it too heavy for my lil’ car, haha. The only thing I want to do for next season is figure out the best way to carry my spare wheels with my rain tires, but I have a few pretty good ideas.

          • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

            I might nerd out a bit about preparation, layout, and tools. My WRX is many things, but a stout tow vehicle is none of them. I definitely see you are using better use of space on your set up, so I might borrow some ideas.

            • AlexKnolly

              I absolutely get it. I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about the best way to attach and load various things. The other part of the madness is that its a Harbor Freight fold-up trailer, so everything has to be easily removable so it can still fold up nearly flush. Luckily I now rent a garage specifically for the trailer so I can keep it loaded and ready to go all of the time, but I want to always keep the option there for the future. Some people claim its because I’m an engineer, but I think it’s because I just like really slick solutions to problems, haha.
              And hey, a WRX is an awesome tow vehicle compared to my Ford Fiesta.

              • Thomas Whitener

                I think you may be an engineer because you like slick solutions to problems, and not the other way around, lol. Excellent setup, thanks for sharing.

      • RyanO

        Damnit Knolly, stick to the 675.net forum where you belong!!! :D
        Another necesseity with towing is to check your lugs to make sure they are tight before setting off!
        My father and I were hauling our atvs when one of the wheels starting shaking everything violently. Turns out the lugs were loose, and after checking they were loose on another tire as well! It was a dual axle trailer so we just pulled that wheel off (hub and all since it was completely destroyed) and managed to get it home.
        -Firedude

        • AlexKnolly

          Haha, I have a 250 now, gimme a break!

    • Justin McClintock

      What’s holding the front of the bike down? As best I can tell, if you hit a bump, the only thing holding the front end down (if that system is all you use like they claim), would be your tranmission/engine assuming you keep the bike in gear. And nothing if you don’t. Front end could bounce all over the place.

      • AlexKnolly

        Yeah, front end can bounce and the bars can move side-to-side, but since the rear is secured, the bike isn’t going anywhere. I have a chock now but used it without the chock for quite a while and had zero issues.

        It’ll bounce around a little but the way I see it, aside from rolling your trailer or something, you’re not gonna do anything to the bike that is anywhere near as close to what happens when you ride it.

    • Dave Mason

      +1 for Pitbull TRS. It is so superior to any other method I refuse to trailer anything bigger than a smallish dirtbike with anything else.

  • Justin McClintock

    Some of this stuff is great, but admittedly some of it is only useful if you’re pulling big stuff with big stuff. I pull a Harbor Freight folding trailer behind our 3 or our CX-5. I don’t need a tongue weight scale for that…..if I can pick it up, it’s not too heavy. If I can’t, it is. As for the camera….many newer vehicles (like our CX-5) come with a rearview camera that can see the hitch really well. Then again, I don’t even have a tongue jack. Lightweight trailer…simply pick it up and set it down over the jack. Not for everybody obviously, but it fits the bill for those of us who are big oafs and still cheap.

    And for the love of God, make sure you’re pressures are good on your trailer tires AND THE SPARE!!!

    • Jason Fogelson

      Great advice, Justin. I probably should have included a quality tire gauge in this list, too. Essential equipment for every motorcyclist and every car driver, too.

  • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

    Regarding hitches in general: Check your local laws about hitches. Some states get kind of cranky about naked hitches protruding past the rear bumper, when not actually towing something. Depending on state, it’s just one more thing for a LEO on a bad day to hassle you about on a day when you aren’t on the bike.

  • Piglet2010

    I have been towing without a single one of these items – oh no!

  • Brian

    No offense to the Pingel, but my Baxley Sport Chock works aweesomely for less $$$ and is easily removable to use as a static bike stand at the track or in the garage.

  • NYRider

    I will never again buy or use a strap unless it’s a retractable strap. It makes life so much easier, especially if you are the guy who owns a trailer and everyone and their brother calls you to tow their bikes. First there is no sitting there for 10 minutes trying to untangle them, then there is no tying them off so they don’t flap in the wind, then there is no pulling over to tie them back up because they got loose and are flapping in the wind, then there is no wrapping them up in a nice bundle for 10 minutes so you can put them away nice and neat. Hook one end, pull other end and hook on, ratchet a couple times and you’re done. Afterwards press a button, have them retract and toss em in your tow bagbox.

  • Davidabl2

    For offroad (or very remote paved roads) you could use the “towing kit” that our ancestors used ; a tow rope to bring a crippled bike back to civilization.
    One loop (or two half hitches:see knots article) around the risers, handheld so the towee can uncouple at will from the towing bike..