How Motorcycle Towing Trailers Work

Motorcycle Towing Cradles

motorcycle towing cradle
Motorcycle towing cradles, such as the Ansell Tow Dolly, allow you to tow your bike without a trailer.
Photo courtesy James Ansell

If you're just looking to bring one motorcycle along for a ride behind your vehicle, you might not want to invest in a trailer and all the maintenance that goes with its multiple wheels. Luckily, there are other towing options for motorcycle owners who don't want to burn quite that much rubber on the highway.

Motorcycle towing cradles (also known as motorcycle trailer hitch dollies and receiver hitch motorcycle caddies) allow you to hook the front wheel of your bike to the vehicle and let the back wheel roll freely behind. These cradles consist of a wheel cradle or chock that locks directly into the towing vehicle's hitch tube. All you have to do is lock the front wheel into this contraption and, in some cases, further secure the bike with towing straps.


If you're driving an RV cross-country, you might want to keep a bike around. After all, what if the cannibalistic mutants from "The Hills Have Eyes" attack you and your family? How many terrible horror films might we have been spared if someone had thought to strap a dirt bike to the back of that camper? RV motorcycle lifts attach to the trailer hitch and add just enough of a ledge against the rear of the vehicle to accommodate one or two horizontally mounted bikes. The motorcycles typically lock into place with the aid of straps, wheel chocks, cradles or rails.

Swivel wheel or fifth wheel motorcycle trailers take this same principle and extend the ledge out even farther -- so far, in fact, that a single, swiveling wheel mount is required to support the trailer's weight. This ledge allows RV owners to mount one or more bikes vertically behind the vehicle. Unlike traditional trailers, you don't hav­e to worry about jackknifing since the trailer is essentially an extension of the vehicle.

In the end, you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to haul your bike around. Motorcycle trailers are an excellent way to get out on the highway, without actually getting your bike's motor running.

Explore the links below to learn even more about motorcycles and towing.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Towing Your Trailer Safely." 2007. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • Fast Master Products. Oct. 17, 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • Hayes Trailer Sales. 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • "The Little Known Pitfalls Of A Motorcycle Tow." Custom Choppers Guide. 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • Rocket Motorcycle Trailers. 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • Sports Utility Trailers. 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • "Stinger Motorcycle Trailer." 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)
  • "Towing Guide." Sports Utility Trailers. 2008. (Oct. 22, 2008)