How do I tow a motorcycle?

motorcycle after an accident

How do I tow a motorcycle?

Owning a motorcycle is the same but different than owning a car. It is a way of transportation and has responsibilities like a car, and the mechanics have the same general method. Yet, how you work on them and how you tow them are different. There are specific motorcycle towing services, or a towing company that is trained in how to tow a motorcycle. 

What’s the best way to tow a motorcycle?

If you have never towed a motorcycle and wondered how do they tow motorcycles, the first thing you need to know is that having the proper equipment and tools is necessary to do this safely. You want to make sure that the equipment and vehicle you’re going to use can bear the bike’s weight, aka the towing capacity. 

A hitch is an essential tool you’ll need for motorcycle towing service. This is a metal piece that will attach to the tow vehicle’s rear. You’ll need a quality tow rope as well. Last, but not least, use one of the simple motorcycle towing options as described here: 

Towing Trailer

A towing trailer is a safe motorcycle towing service method. The trailers are a good size, and this makes them visible to other traffic on the roadways. For proper motorcycle towing service with a towing trailer, you’ll need tie-down hooks and correctly positioned ramps.

After loading the bike, you should always check the blinkers and brake lights, making sure they are in proper working order with the tow vehicle. If you’re purchasing a towing trailer, be sure you have plenty of space for storage in a specified area. 

Towing Dolly

If your storage space is limited, a tow dolly is another option for motorcycle towing service. These typically weigh around 35 pounds and are smaller in overall dimension, making it easier to store when not towing. To use this method of motorcycle towing service, the front tire of the bike is attached to the tow dolly, never the back tire.

Motorcycle Carrier

A motorcycle carrier is another motorcycle towing service option. They are an easy and simply method but limited to approximately 500 pounds. The average motorcycle weighs around 400 pounds, making this method acceptable. However, for any bike larger than 400 pounds, choose one of the other motorcycle towing services we describe. 

Is it bad to lay a motorcycle down to transport it?

It isn’t good to lay a motorcycle on its side for motorcycle towing service or any reason. If you must lay it down, it should only be for a short amount of time. Here, we explain the reasons you shouldn’t lay your motorcycle on its side for storage, towing, or any reason: 

External Issues: 

The cosmetics are the first risk of laying a motorcycle on its side. With the average bike weighing around 400 pounds, the gas tank is made with a thin plastic or sheet metal. Laying the bike on the side will likely cause a crack or dent in the tank. 

Unless your motorcycle has a custom paint job on the tank, it can easily be fixed or replaced. Other issues that a motorcycle towing service that lays a bike down are damage to the brake handle, clutch handle, footpegs, handlebars, and throttle. The air intake is sometimes designed to stick out further than the gas tank, which provides a small protective safeguard. If the air intake is damaged, it is less expensive to replace than the gas tank.

Internal Issues

The damage internally is minimal for a motorcycle that has been towed on its side for a short time. However, if the motorcycle towing service has the bike on its side for a long period of time, the fluids inside the bike are going to be the biggest concern. 

  • The battery acid, gasoline, and oil will drain and leak into crevices and parts that should never have fluid in them. A common issue internally resulting from motorcycle towing on the side is hydro lock. The small cylindrical cavity inside the motorcycle, the combustion chamber, is where air and gas are pushed. They then explode so the bike can run.
  • As oil seeps past the piston rings, it settles inside the combustion chamber. When there is a substantial amount of oil inside the combustion chamber, the spark plug isn’t able to ignite the gas as it is squirted inside the chamber because of the lack of air. With too much gas inside the combustion chamber, it locks up the engine. 
  • The battery is another concern when motorcycle towing service is on the side. The battery is not sealed and has a port that allows air inside on the top that keeps it from getting pressurized. When a motorcycle is laid on the side, battery acid leaks from that port all over the place. Battery acid can cause severe cosmetic damage and create a serious safety risk too. 

How much does it cost to tow a motorcycle?

A motorcycle towing service charges an average $75 to $125 for up to 10 miles, then an additional rate of up to $4/per mile. The factors that are considered by the towing company are: 

  • The Distance: From the time a tow truck leaves the shop, it is costing them money in labor and gas. Thus the minimum charge or minimum mileage. 
  • The Vehicle Size: Price is often based on the size of the vehicle being towed. A 4-door sedan will cost less than a full-size pick-up and a motorcycle towing service will vary on the size of the bike and how it must be towed. 
  • Time of Day: This can be a crucial factor for a car or motorcycle towing service because of the hazards. Rush hour is a dangerous time of the day because of all the traffic. After hours, after 8 pm, is more hazardous than an earlier hour like 11 am because of the darkness and risks of towing at night. 

What is the cheapest way to transport a motorcycle?

When you find a motorcycle towing company and check the rates for a motorcycle towing service, you may want to shop it around. One way to tow your bike cheaper is to do it yourself. However, you’ll need to purchase motorcycle towing equipment or rent it, which can be an expense. Unless you plan to tow your bike frequently, it may not be worth the cost. 

Does AAA tow motorcycles?

Yes, with any of these membership levels, a customer can add the option of motorcycle coverage to their policy: 

  • Classic
  • Plus
  • Premier
  • Plus RV
  • Premier RV 
leather-clad biker on a motorcycle

Last Few Words

As you find a company, an individual, or doing it yourself, motorcycle towing service is a bit more detailed than towing a vehicle. Be sure it is done with the utmost care and safety for the person towing, those around them, and your bike.