Rider Education By Marc Gibson

Oregon District Ride Educator 



Well, with Wing Ding at Billings behind us now I must admit that it's long over due for a state rider education article. We had a really great time while at Wing Ding saw some very awesome sights and rode some great roads. But during this period of time I kept on hearing of various accidents involving motorcycles. Now this is something that I certainly don't want to dwell on but in one area of our motorcycling that we do especially so during the summer months is pulling trailers. Another quick note that I would really like everyone to remember in the term we call SIPDE and that is the E portion of SIPDE that is called Execute.

Execute is the result of what you do after going through all of the other letters in SIPDE (Scan, Identify, Predict and Determine). What should also be added along with the definition of Execute is where are you going to go or planning to go once you Execute your plan of action as to where will that put you? You certainly don't want to be caught up in another bad situation, so think also as to where the outcome will be once you Execute your maneuver. An example would be while riding on a mountain road you see a deer, why because you were scanning ahead. You have also identified it as a hazard and now you are predicting and then determining, which is determining a course of action based on your observation and anticipation of what the hazard might do. Then executing your plan is just that, simply by carry out your plan. This is where we can also get into a bit more trouble is in the execution of that plan. Does your plan provide you with a safe execution not only either away from the hazard but also into a safe path to be able to continue on or come to a safe stop? A bad example would be to think the deer is staying on the road or moving to the right so you think to yourself I will push left, but did you think what's on your left in the form of another hazard. The next hazard if there is, one could be a steep drop off and you certainly would not want to go off the road either. Every situation has its own set of things that you must do so I suggest to everyone to think of the term SIPDE, follow it but also think as to where will my execution put me. 

As stated in the beginning I mentioned pulling a trailer. Pulling a trailer has become a really big part of many of our traveling with our Goldwing's. This year at Wing Ding I heard of several rear flat tires on the bikes while pulling a trailer. We have one member that I know of that went down due to the complications of his trailer swaying very hard from side to side. Well, while in Billings I looked up the different classes being offered and sense Pat and I pull a trailer so many times while traveling with our Wing I decided to take a class called Trailering by Ed Brennan. I must say that the class was very informative and I would recommend it to anyone who is going to or already is pulling a trailer to please take a Trailering class. With so many different trailers out there it makes for a mix type bag of all the different types and models that are being offered. I'm not going to go through the history of each but would like to hit on a couple of high point that are well worth remembering. This information is taken from the Rider Education manual from GWRRA. 

The Hitch Must fasten to the Primary Frame of your Motorcycle. It can pivot at 42 degrees. The receiver hitches must allow for the safety chains to be hooked up to the primary mounting hardware, not the ball. When loading your trailer, your trailer should never exceed the weight of your motorcycle, to even come close is asking for trouble. 

Tongue weight........ Tongue weight should be 7 to 12% of the trailer weight. The tongue length should be twice the width of the trailer axle. Measure your tongue weight with the tongue at the same inclination as it would be on the motorcycle. Improper tongue weight could cause poor performance and difficult handling. 

Safety chains.....Remember, you are responsible for your trailer even if it were to come loose from your bike while traveling. USE PROPER CHAINS, some states don't require them but most states do and do enforce the laws. 

The length of your chains...Chains should be crossed under the tongue and not so long as to drag or to short as to bind up in a hard or sharp turn. Crossing the chains will cradle the tongue if the hitch should ever become disconnected. 

The strength of your chains.....They should be such that if you place your foot inside the loop formed by the chains and let your weight be placed on that loop then the proper chains will hold your weight. 

Suspension...There are many types out there but the one thing you do not want is for your trailer suspension to be so stiff that it bounces on the road or skips as it bounces as this could be a hazard. 

Your tires.... on your trailer should be inflated to the TRAILER Manufactures recommended pressure. Check for wear before each trip and check that tire pressure as well. 

Bearings...Keep 'em greased with a proper axle bearing grease (heavy axle grease) and don't forget to grease both the inner and outer bearings, for those who have the bearing buddies remember that they only grease the outer bearing.

The Ball.... A dab of grease on the ball reduces friction. Check the tongue to it's being snug to the ball and adjust the nut underneath. 

Trailer Electric's.....Inspect for any wear especially where weather has taken its toll on the wiring harness. It's a good idea to inspect the electrical connector once in a while. I have seen where wires have become frayed, worn and even have broken inside the connector. This cannot only cause your trailer lights to not work but also can cause fuses to burn out. Depending on how you have them wired to the bike, the fuses to your bike could also burn out causing the lights to your bike to not work. It is always best to have your trailer wired on its own fuse block that is separate from the bikes fuse panel. The tail, stop and signal lights are required lights by law. Running lights, or side marker lights will add to you visibility. 

The plug...Several different types but the connector must be able to withstand the constant plugging in and unplugging. An occasional dab of dielectric grease helps protect the plug as well. 

So what happens when your riding down the road and you notice that your trailer is now starting to sway back and forth. It usually is a very good indication that you have a flat rear tire or one that is going flat. What do you do, well there again there are a lot of variables but the best solution of course is to get your bike and trailer to a safe stop? The best way to do this is NOT to apply any rear brake as that will cause the trailer to become very unstable and could cause you to loose control of your bike. It is best to apply light front brake only thus allowing yourself to come to a safe stop. If your trailer is bouncing from side to side, it can become very difficult to control the situation but again definitely do not apply any rear brake that could cause it to bind on the hitch then causing the bike to be pulled over with the trailer. 

Also another point to remember and that is to keep the center of gravity in your trailer low. Don't pile heavy objects on top of your trailer and distribute the weight in the trailer. Putting to much weight on the rear of your trailer can cause the trailer to fish tail as many call it or simply put the swaying of the trailer back and forth from the rear. Another point to remember and that is when going down a hill while pulling an improperly loaded trailer the trailer can cause excessive push or the trailer can again fish tail much more so than when traveling on a flat road. 

Well, there is a little bit of information on pulling a trailer or better known as Trailering. I hope everyone has a safe riding season this year. 

Remember To Stay Safe By riding Safe 


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