Towing a trailer for the first time might seem easy, but there are a few things you need to know before you make the journey hauling your stuff behind you.
By making careless mistakes you could break your trailer and risk ruining the stuff inside.
How To Keep Your Trailer Safe While Touring
It’s a great idea to take your trailer around town a few times before you bring it on tour. Take it to get the groceries or haul around the load you’ll be taking on your trip to get a feel for it.
If you don’t have a chance to test out your trailer before tour, these are my fail-proof tips for towing safely and easily.
1. Go Straight Over Potholes
It will be your first instinct to swerve around potholes on the road as you approach them. Not only will this cause your trailer to tip over or unhitch, it will also put the wheels of the trailer right into the pothole.
If your bike tires hit the pothole, your trailer tires will naturally go around it on either side. Try to aim your approach so that the pothole will go directly underneath your trailer, which in many cases means staying in a straight line.
Because you’ll want to protect your trailer from the impact, you’ll want to go around potholes, but remember that you’ll do exactly that by going straight.
2. Allow for Extra Time to Stop
Just as you would if you were towing a trailer behind your car, you will need extra time to make stops because of the added weight behind you.
When coming to a stop, give yourself at least three extra feet of stopping distance. This will come naturally after towing the trailer for a little while, but at first it might feel strange. Again, practicing on slow and empty streets will give you a chance to get the hang of it and it will make your ride on tour that much safer.
3. Pay Attention to the Weight Limit
When you’re making your final preparations before the tour begins, take the time to weigh your load with a luggage scale.
Estimating the weight is not a good idea. You could guess wrong and your trailer will be broken before you know it, leaving your stranded on the side of the road. A heavy load could also cause your trailer to unhitch, creating a very dangerous situation for you and the riders around you.
4. Bring an Extra Lock
Keeping your trailer safe off the road is as important as keeping it safe on the road. Don’t forget an extra lock for when you make stops. Locking your bike alone won’t prevent thieves from easily unhitching your load and taking it away.
Even just locking your trailer to your locked bike frame for added security during a stop will help if you can’t find a suitable pole or structure.
3. Install Lower Gears
You might love your lightweight single speed bike when you’re commuting, but you’ll want the option for lower gears when you add the weight of a trailer on tour.
If your bike doesn’t have a lot of gears, consider adding more before you make your trek. Hills will be extremely difficult with your trailer if you need to stay in in a high gear.
4. Always Check Your Trailer’s Tires
You know that maintaining a certain tire pressure is important on your bike tires, but its doubly so on your trailer tires.
The weight of the items you’re hauling will cause your tire pressure to decrease faster than that of the tires on your bike, so it’s a good idea to always check before you start moving.
A flat on your trailer is not only difficult to repair without removing all of the stuff, but also dangerous on a busy road.
5. Be Wary of Narrow Paths
Inevitably, your trailer will be wider than your bike. For that reason pay close attention to the width of any path you’re on.
This doesn’t just apply to thick brush or branches that could damage your trailer and the stuff inside—it’s vital that you are aware when the side of your trailer could be hanging over the bike path and sticking out into traffic. You’ll need to proceed with extra caution in that case and hug the curb to avoid being hit.
6. Put a Mirror on Your Handlebars
When you pull a trailer behind your bike for the first time, you’ll have the urge to constantly look back and make sure everything is in place. To avoid taking your eyes off the road ahead of you over and over again, attach a small mirror to your handlebars that reflects the image of the trailer behind you.
Not only will you be able to keep your vision focused on what’s ahead more easily, but you’ll also be able to quickly determine whether or not there’s an issue with your haul.
Sure, it might seem easy to toss a bunch of stuff in a trailer and hit the road with gusto, but there are certainly problems that could ruin your entire trip if you’re not careful.
Keeping these eight easy tips in mind will help you prevent any problems and will allow you to focus on what’s ahead of you rather than what’s what behind.