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Towing a motorcycle, will it kill my forks?

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by Crashtastic, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. Hey guys,

    I'm probably being a bit OCD here, but I had a question about the forks on a bike with regards to towing. I'm looking at buying a new road bike from Melbourne and putting it behind the cage to get it home (300 highway Ks on a brand new motor = nono, plus not all that confident in the city).

    The trailer I have doesn't have a tyre rail, just a checkerplate floor. So in order to stop the thing from sliding out, a reasonable amount of tension on the front and back suspension (not bottomed out obviously) would be the go to (It's what I've always done on the dirt bikes). However, I was silly enough to do some Googling, and people seem convinced that it will blow out your fork seals.

    I have a pretty good understanding of how shocks work, and the people claiming that by keeping the suspension loaded will blow the seals due to the "increased pressure within the shock" either 1) have NFI, or 2) know something about road bike suspension that I don't.

    However (my OCD kicking in now), I did think that perhaps the added weight of the trailer (that the bike is now basically attached to) may mean that the suspension is now being forced to travel much faster then it's designed to (which could damage things). My engineering brain seems to think that it shouldn't be a problem. The trailer should be acting the same as the road, as it's only directly coupled to the unsprung mass anyhow, but I figured the only silly question is one that isn't asked.

    TL;DR Will putting a sport bike on a trailer stuff the shocks?
  2. No, once the bike is pulled down it is unlikely to move more on its suspension. The trailer suspension will take most of the movement. I have trailered race bikes and road bikes over long distances and never had a problem.

    If it really worries you then there are versions that tie down the wheels. You don't get as good a stability so if you use those then it is worth adding ones from the bars not pulled down as hard to assist it in not falling over.
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  3. Also make sure that the bike is in neutral, never put a motorcycle in gear when you are towing, all the little back and forward movement is very hard on gearboxes.
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  4. Cheers guys, good to hear from others that the drivel about blowing fork seals is just that. Drivel.

    Don't know why I trusted google in the first place to be honest.
  5. There is less force put through your forks when towing than when you ride the bike on their ad and hit a bump. Oil flows from one area to another through valves which regulate speeds of compression and rebound. Once tied down the fork oil will reach its happy point ie balanced between the valving and not much else happens. The damage and blown fork seals is a fallacy. Damage to fork seals usually occurs because rocks dust and debris cause either damage by scarring the fork leg nicking the seal and or dirt enters the seal causing damage. Someone ties their bike down and notices a leak they automatically attribute it to blown fork seals because of pressured from tying down rather than worn seals.

    To reiterate pressure is not exerted on the seal and any that is is far less than actually riding the bike
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  6. I often transport my M109r in the back of our Basestation, I just tape the front brake lever to stop the bike moving as there is nothing to stop the 368 kg bike going forward, then tie the front down with soft tie downs and use a ratchet tie down strap on the rear.
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  7. Pulled apart a few shocks in my time, so I realise that compressing the shocks putting any kind of pressure on the seals is a fallacy. They just don't work like that. I guess I was trying to figure out if all the people on the googles were just assuming that the shock is a sealed, fluid filled tube that uses fluid as some kind of spring (you'd be surprised how many people think this is the case), or if there was something I hadn't considered.

    Mate, I love it. Classic example of if it looks stupid, but it works, it ain't stupid.
  8. No it doesnt
  9. Put the front tire into the corner, rather than having the bike in straight, it will help to lock it in and not move about.
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  10. #10 RRdevil, Aug 21, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
    Perhaps I should elaborate. When tied down in gear your front wheel is tied pretty firm. When in gear your bikes rear cush drive rubbers and commonly spring cush drive in the clutch basket will deal with the very minimal (if at all) rolling movement. This is the same cush drives that allow you to go from a mild throttle mid corner to wide open on exit