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Billmc
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Towing
04/19/17 at 16:23:18
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Has anyone ever towed their bike using a hitch mounted tow device like the Slick Wheelie?
I know I should be riding it everywhere I go BUT when the boss wants to go out of town for a few days to visit friends, family and do some shopping, its impractical for me to ride while she drives.
Thus my question:
Has anybody ever used one of those trailer hitch mounted tow devices that captures the front wheel, lifts it off the ground and leaves the rear on the pavement?
This seems like such a cleaver way to NOT have to pull a trailer around and the recurring problem of where to put it once arrived.

We have a small SUV and although it's capable of pulling the bike and trailer I may not have a place to unhitch and park it wherever we're going. Good ones also cost more than what I paid for the bike.

I'm wondering about the freewheeling driveshaft and stress on other parts like frame, transmission, hub, tires, triple tree, etc.
What are some thoughts from this esteemed brain trust?

  

1987 R65 Silver
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Tony Smith
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Re: Towing
Reply #1 - 04/19/17 at 16:53:15
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Billmc wrote on 04/19/17 at 16:23:18:
I'm wondering about the freewheeling driveshaft and stress on other parts like frame, transmission, hub, tires, triple tree, etc.
What are some thoughts from this esteemed brain trust?



I have no experience with the product you named but 40 years ago I have a bracket ( piece of "U"Channel) that i strapped the front wheel into that bolted to the tow hitch on my car.

The bike in question was an XL350 Honda.

It towed really well for the 40 odd miles it took for the normally pressure fed bearing in the gearbox to seize, after that no so much.

I had simply copied what a friend had made for the their 2-stroke trail bike which didn't have any pressure fed bearings int he gearbox.

After I fixed my gearbox I persevered with it but took the chain off prior to towing from then on, an annoying little job but as you rightly said, it beat the hell out of taking a full trailer.

In relation to doing this to a BMW airhead.

The "physics" of the towing will not hurt anything as the loads are going through the same components that they normally would, except that your weight will not be on the bike. The elevation of the front wheel isn't going to significantly change either the value of the forces involved or their direction.

There is one thing I don't know and will leave you to find out, which I'll get to shortly.

The final drive will be fine as it will be operating in its "normal" direction and oil will be distributed appropriately.

I am not so sure about the gearbox. Some of the gears fling oil up to the "roof" of the gearbox where some of it then collected in a piece of metal channel and then flow into oiling points for a number of the bearings (it is this bit of channel that drops and causes all the trouble if you foolishly undo that tempting screw you see when you remove the airbox). I am unsure that the bearings at the front of the gearbox would receive their ration of oil with the front wheel essentially elevated into a "wheel stand" position long term - oil like water will not flow uphill.

BUT, plenty of gearbox rebuilders have taken to rebuilding using sealed bearings (they are much easier to obtain in some sizes) and the world is not littered with failed airhead gearboxes as a result. Note that "sealed" does not mean hermetically sealed, oil still gets into them, just vastly less that in an open bearing, this tells me that the oil quantity requirements for the bearings are far, far less than the flood they receive from the piece of channel.

The next part of the equation is to determine which shafts are actually turning when the gearbox is in neutral but driven from the output shaft at road speed. I confess I have never turned my mind to working that out, you probably should as it will tell you which (if any) bearings are at risk from long term "free wheeling". I suspect that the requirements for lubrication of an unladen ball bearing are very slight and whilst my Honda XL350 experience haunts me, that was the failure of a pressure fed bearing, I should also say that 40 odd years ago when I was repairing my Honda gearbox at least one mechanic was adamant that the failure had nothing to do with being towed and that it would have happened anyway if I'd been riding the bike.

I confess I was less into contemplative analysis then than I am now, then I had a broken bike I needed running, so I just got on and fixed it, the fine grained detail of why it broke didn't really concern me too much.
  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Billmc
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Still Crazy After All
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Location: Corpus Christi TX
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Re: Towing
Reply #2 - 04/20/17 at 10:21:15
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Outstanding response Tony, thanks, just what I was hoping for!
I will research the shaft situation and if anything turns up negative I will let you know.

If I decide to go this route I will try to give an evaluation of the pros and cons of using this kind of device, otherwise U-Haul Here We Come!!!
  

1987 R65 Silver
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Billmc
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Still Crazy After All
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Re: Towing
Reply #3 - 09/28/17 at 11:27:22
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Ok going on 6 months later and I am finally giving a report. Sometimes life gets in the way of riding and having fun, dang it!

So I purchased the Slick Wheelie after renting a U-Haul for the weekend back in May and towing that beast all over Gods Creation. Too heavy, too big, too cumbersome and in the long run too expensive.

1. The Slick Wheelie performs as advertised with no appreciable wear and tear on Emmie Lou other than normally done by riding the distance.(rear tire)
2. I do zip-tie the clutch lever to the grip just in case a bump knocks her out of neutral. (I think that also takes care of the lubricating the gears issue mentioned by Tony)
3.Backing up takes some practice as it is not articulated like a trailer and it is unnerving to see the bike lean in the opposite direction.
4. It puts no strain on the tow vehicle and is easy to tow with a front wheel drive SUV, and I don't even notice a change with my pickup.
5. At $140 with free shipping it is 1/10 the cost of a descent motorcycle trailer.
6. With practice, It's a one man job to load and unload the motorcycle.
7. None of the Transmission, engine, reardrive cases have gotten as hot as while riding the same distance.
8. After unhooking, I can store it in the back seat of my cab.
9. It takes less than 15 minutes to hook-up the hitch, load, raise and secure the bike then check and adjust the stabilizing straps.
10. Gets me to more interesting and fun places to ride than where I live.

Overall I give it a 4+ out of 5.
The screw thread could be a little larger in dia. and there could be Teflon bushings to aid in the ease of turning the screw. The supplied ratcheting strap mechanism could be of better quality but I have already replaced that.

Its been a joy to be able to take the old girl with me when I am traveling and the hitch works as it should.  Cool
  

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1987 R65 Silver
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