How to Tow a Motorcycle.


Swivelwheel Trailer Review

When I decided to purchase a 30-foot Class A motorhome, I had to find a way to take my motorcycle with me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a toy hauler that fit my needs, or that I could afford, so towing the motorcycle was the best way to go.

There are many ways to tow a motorcycle behind a motorhome, but there was one method that really caught my eye and seemed like the perfect solution. The Swivelwheel Trailer by Cruiser Lift.

Within this article I call out Pro Tips and, I’ve provided solutions that hopefully will be of help to you.

Swivelwheel Trailer Description

The Swivel Wheel trailer is made by Fastmaster Products who also make the Cruiser Lift. It is a flatbed trailer that is designed to follow the path of your vehicle when you back up. Different from a ball and hitch trailer which moves in the opposite direction of the vehicle when you back up. The swivel wheel is incredibly easy to maneuver, no special trailer backing skills are necessary.

Instead of using a ball and hitch, the trailer connects directly and squarely into the hitch receiver. The trailer platform connects to the T-bar with two pins. The height is adjustable depending on the height of your tow vehicle. This forces the trailer to move exactly as the vehicle moves when backing up.

The trailer is supported underneath with a single or double swivel wheel, depending on the model you purchase. This wheel turns and moves just like a giant caster wheel. Turn your vehicle and the wheel will turn wherever it needs to go. Back up your vehicle and the swivel wheel will flip around and turn wherever it needs to go.

The wheel assembly includes a disk and adjustable brake pad and you’ll adjust the amount of friction placed on the disk. This prevents the wheel from shaking and jittering like the dreaded shopping cart wheel.

This Swivel Wheel Trailer is an excellent option for towing behind a fifth wheel, or for those who are trailer challenged (like me) who don’t want the hassle of learning to properly back a traditional trailer.  

It’s also a good solution for vehicles that don’t have the proper tongue weight to handle a hitch mount or hydraulic lift, such as a Cruiser Lift, for your motorcycle. In my case, my motorhome had only a 500 lb. tongue weight, however, my motorcycle is about 450lbs on its own, so a hitch mount was not an option. The swivel wheel trailer takes the weight of the load off the tongue and onto the trailer’s wheel.

How much does a Swivelwheel Trailer Cost?

The manufacture offers several different models with different load capacities. Here’s the price list from their website.

Pro Tip: If you plan on doing a significant amount of highway driving, I recommend purchasing the trailer model with the larger tire and purchase a spare. These tires are rated for highway speeds up to 65 mph.

How to Order the Swivelwheel Trailer.

When ordering, you will be speaking directly to the manufacturer, located in Texas. I recommend going on their web site and filling out the order estimate form. It will ask detailed questions about the vehicle you are towing with, its tow capacity and tongue weight, etc. The company will follow up with a phone call to place the order and take your payment. They are incredibly friendly and will answer any questions you may have about price, options, shipping costs, shipping methods, etc.  

After ordering, they will communicate with you through email giving you updates on when your trailer ships, all the shipping details, including freight company contact information so you can communicate directly with the freight company to arrange pick up. My trailer took about 4 days before they shipped it and another 5 days to ship. Of course, shipping times will vary depending on where you are located.

Shipping the Swivelwheel Trailer

The entire package or crate, weighs about 700 lbs. so it must be shipped using a freight company and the crate will not be delivered to your residence. You can arrange to pick up the crate at the loading dock directly, or, you can arrange to have the crate delivered directly to your home for an extra cost. That cost for me was about $325 just to deliver it another 15 miles to my house, so I elected to pick it up directly from the freight company.

The trailer will be delivered with the following pieces:

  • The trailer frame and plywood platform will come welded and assembled as one piece.
  • Swivel wheel assembly – weighing nearly 100 lbs.
  • Wheel – recommended that you purchase a spare wheel.
  • Assembly hardware such as pins, lug nuts, etc.
  • A box with two support posts.

All pieces will be stacked and protected with cardboard and shrink wrap.

Pro Tip:  Do not attempt to pick up the merchandise with a standard pick-up truck or one with a smaller bed. IT WILL NOT FIT!! I highly recommend renting or borrowing a flatbed pick-up truck similar to ones you can rent from Home Depot. A moving van would also be a good option. This will allow the freight company to load the crate onto your vehicle with a forklift.

Assembling the Swivelwheel Trailer

Once you get your trailer home, the fun of assembly begins. I highly recommend you do not attempt this assembly on your own. It is two, three or even four-person job depending on the tools you have at hand. I had the help of three friends, and it turned out to be so much easier and a lot of fun. Who doesn’t love a little wrench time with good friends?

There are assembly instructions included and they seem to be very accurate and the assembly is not too difficult other than dealing with the weight of the parts. Assembly will take a couple of hours at the most.

Here are a few tips for making the assembly process easier and successful.

  1. Repack the wheel bearings!! Use a good heat resistant grease made specifically for trailer wheels. Don’t skip this step, and always include this step a part of your regular trailer maintenance.
  2. The instructions say to place the platform on two sawhorses. If you don’t have sawhorses you can use four jack stands, one at each corner, to raise the platform. Note that you must be able to raise it at least 24” off the ground in order place the wheel assembly under the platform.
  3. The wheel assembly is heavy. If you find it to be too heavy to lift by hand, use a hydraulic jack to lift it in place.
  4. When attaching the wheel, you can use that same jack to lift the installed wheel assembly and trailer platform up a bit.
  5. Don’t skimp on using a torque wrench to tighten all the lug nuts to the recommended setting, 100 lbs. The last thing you want is your wheel falling apart on the highway.
  6. Trailer wiring: It is pre-wired so all you have to do is connect the plugs. However, the colors indicated in the instructions might not match your wires.

Pro Tip: Don’t finalize and wrap up your wiring until you’ve connected the trailer to your vehicle and tested all the lights. Once you know it’s correct, take the extra step to use heat shrink sleeves on the connections to give it a professional quality.

Now that your trailer is assembled, it’s time to hook it up to your vehicle. Follow the instructions and recommendations provided in the assembly instructions. If you fail to do so, you could really mess up your trailer and vehicle. Here’s why.

The trailer must be allowed to pivot up or down as the vehicle’s rear end rises or falls, i.e., over a speed bump, a driveway or any slight incline. So, be sure to install one pin at each hitch point. Don’t be confused because the bag of assembly hardware comes with 4 pins. I haven’t figured out what the other 2 pins are for. You only need 2.

Pro Tip: You may have to purchase an adapter for the trailer plug. The trailer wiring harness is a 4 pin connection, however, many motorhomes or fifth wheel trailers are equipped with a 7 pin, round plug. A simple adapter will do the trick.

Loading and Unloading Your Motorcycle

Once your trailer is properly hooked up to your vehicle, motorhome, or fifth wheel, with all the safety chains and properly plugged in, you’re ready to load your motorcycle on the trailer.

The manufacturer offers a number of options available to help you load your motorcycle onto the swivel wheel trailer. Those items include:

ItemCruiser Lift’s Price
Wheel Chock$189
Power Ramp Loader$795
3-Piece Aluminum Ramps$395

In my opinion, the triple ramp was a bit overpriced and would have added to the shipping weight and cost. That’s why I decided to buy a ramp elsewhere. They had a wide, folding, aluminum ramp like this one found on Bike Bandit. It has worked perfectly for me, so far.

Load your swivel wheel trailer from the side using your preferred method, just as you would loading your motorcycle onto a truck or traditional trailer. I choose to ride my motorcycle up the ramp. While this method takes some nerve the first few times, I prefer it over trying to walk the bike up, which is a bit heavy for my height and stature.

With the motorcycle loaded and the front wheel secure in the wheel chock, I noticed my trailer tends to tilt to one side due to the front weight of the motorcycle. I have the single hitch model, so I assume this would be a bit more stable on the dual hitch model. It hasn’t been an issue while driving. My Honda CB500X weighs about 450 lbs. so, if you have a heavier motorcycle, it’s recommended that you upgrade to the dual hitch model.

Unloading is pretty simple; you either back it down the ramp, or, you can simply place the ramp on the other side of the trailer and ride the motorcycle down. This is my preferred method.

Due to the lean mentioned earlier, I sometime have trouble lifting the front of the motorcycle out of the wheel chock. I have to rock it a few times and give it a good heave hoe. Again, that’s due to my height and stature and strength.

How to Secure Your Motorcycle to the Trailer.

To secure the motorcycle to the trailer use ratchet straps secured to the handlebars and the other end secured to the trailer frame. Here are some tips to securing your motorcycle to wht swivel wheel.

  • DO NOT rely on tie-down rings that you install directly to the plywood to hold the force of your motorcycle with compressed shocks during travel. The screws holding the plywood to the frame are not strong enough. On my trailer, a screw broke in two and the plywood was being pulled up from the frame. Always secure the motorcycle directly to the trailer frame.
  • Use carabiners. If you simply hook the end of the strap to the frame there is the possibility of your strap coming off during travel. When going over speed bumps or a driveway entrance, the trailer will tilt either foreword or backward. A sudden bounce can cause the bike’s front forks to compress just enough to release the strap. This happened to me twice, and if not for the wheel chock, my motorcycle would have ended on the pavement.
    The solution was to attach carabiners to the ends of the straps and secure it to the trailer frame. So, if the motorcycle bounces, causing slack in the strap, it will not come off.
  • These ratches straps by Klim would work great. The hooks won’t allow the strap to fall loose if a bump or curb causes slack to the line. Purchase them on Twisted Throttle.
The perfect ratchet straps for the Swivel Wheel Trailer.
  • Secure the rear wheel from both sides of the trailer. If you don’t, the rear wheel will slide around a bit. This may not be an issue if you have nothing else on the trailer. It was a problem for me because I also have my bicycle there. The motorcycle was sliding into the bicycle.

Here’s a picture of my set-up. The cover shown is a bit cheap, I’ve had it a long time and I’d love to get a better-quality cover. I cut slits for the straps so the motorcycle can remain covered during travel. My bicycle is mounted on a simple clamping fork mount and covered when traveling.

Everything is locked up with cable locks and secured to the frame of the trailer. I’d hate to lose one of my toys.

Summary

So far, and I’ve had this set-up for about 8 months, I had no issues driving or backing in anywhere. You only need to be aware of the extra length added to your vehicle.

Here are a few final reminders:

  1. Keep your speed under 65mph so you don’t overheat the trailer tires.
  2. Go slow, really slow, over speed bumps or driving in and out of driveways.
  3. Use Carabiners to secure the ratchet straps to the trailer frame.
  4. Don’t overload the trailer past its capacity.
  5. Lock up your toys.

The Swivel Wheel trailer has been the perfect solution for me. I can safely take my motorcycle with me wherever I take my motorhome. I hope you found this review helpful.

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