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I need to haul a 425 lb KLR650 motorcycle from Hoboken NJ to Oakland CA. I'm on a budget so I'd like to do this as cheap as possible (under $200 is great, maybe $500 max).

I have a 1996 B4V VW TDI Passat Wagon and I already have a Class II 1-1/4" receiver hitch and wiring ready.

Option 1: buy a light duty trailer, trailer the bike, sell trailer at the other end. Harbor Freight has a couple of options between $250-$300.

  • Pros: it's the right way to do it.
  • Cons: trailer adds extra haul weight, limited to 55 MPH across the entire USA (trailering speed limit) adds drive time and hotel costs.

Option 2: Use a motorcycle caddy to tow bike, sell caddy in Oakland. http://goo.gl/GWnf3k

  • Pros: less total weight to haul, better handling.
  • Cons: 3,000 miles on my brand new rear tire, still technically limited to 55 MPH adds drive time and hotel cost.

Option 3: Use a motorcycle carrier to haul bike as cargo, sell carrier in Oakland. http://goo.gl/BBEPmj

  • Pros: no more 55 MPH speed limit! And less chance of theft, I think.
  • Cons: puts about 450-500 lbs over the rear bumper. Exceeds Class II weight limits! May have terrible handling?

Here's the idiotic part. I really want to do option 3 but the Class II hitch is rated for 300-350 lbs. That gives me a couple of thoughts about jury-rigging a solution:

  • I could buy a 1.25" receiver carrier and supplement it with cargo straps to the roof rack. If I transfer 100-200 lbs to the rack I ought to be golden. Note: the only 1.25" carrier I found is expensive and only rates for 250 lbs.
  • I could buy a 2" receiver carrier and a 1.25" to 2" receiver adapter. Still exceeds the Class II weight limit and I'd still need to transfer load to the roof rack.
  • I could bolt or weld a $30 Class III receiver to the steel bumper, and either cut an access hole in the plastics (plastics are already damaged) or drive with the rear bumper plastics off.

This still leaves me with unresolved questions about handling and safety.

Am I a total idiot? Any thoughts?

  • Is the 55 mph limit from the trailer maker or a limit from VW? – mikes Aug 16 '15 at 20:28
  • 55 MPH is the legal speed limit for cars with trailers in several US states. EDIT: It's fewer than I originally thought! drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/trailer-speed-limits – Slam Aug 16 '15 at 23:30
  • Are you wanting to use the bike on the way? If not then I suggest get a price to have it crated & freighted. Or another option... dismantle the bike and put it inside the van and/or on the roof. – Sir Swears-a-lot Aug 17 '15 at 7:49
  • Using the bike is a secondary concern only. But the cheapest freight rate was $900 to have it shipped. Out of my budget. If I can dismantle it and put it in the wagon I might take that option. – Slam Aug 18 '15 at 13:31
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    If you have the space, I would just dismantle it. You'd likely need to remove the wheels, gas tank (remember to close the petcock and do not lose the "hockey pucks"), and handlebars. It's not too terribly hard, you will just need a (Metric) socket wrench set, needle nose pliers, and a hex/allen key set. – Kevin Evans Aug 18 '15 at 16:53
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If it was me, I would buy the HF trailer with the 12" wheels, put a deck of 3/4 ply on it, bolt a front wheel chock to it, screw down some rear wheel blocks, strap it tight and pull the trailer. Total cost about $400 and you can sell the trailer for at least $300 at the other end.

I've done just that with my much heavier R1100GS and it did PA <-> FL a couple of times just fine and often at speeds much better than 55 MPH. A KLR won't weigh as much and you can easily pull both with a TDI. You could sell the trailer when you get there, but you won't want to. Buy an 8' 2x12 when you get the plywood to make an on-off ramp.

Just keep the tires pumped up to 45-50 psi and check the wheel bearing end play every day or two when traveling. Also add lots of extra bearing grease when assembling the trailer.

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    I went with the trailer options. The receiver hitch carrier idea didn't work; a 480 lb motorcycle is way to heavy to hang on the bumper of a passenger car. I did find a used trailer for a few hundred buck and it worked flawlessly. – Slam Dec 18 '15 at 0:15

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