Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trailering A Bonneville

It was time to haul the Bonneville to Pure Triumph in Fort Lauderdale for the major service that is due every 12,000 miles for the Bonneville. The motorbike is actually at 26,000 miles which is due to the fact that after the break-in period it got it's first proper service at 2,000 miles, so I am pretty much on top of the appropriate service intervals. This one was a doozy involving replacement of fluids filters and a top to bottom check. Cable lubrication, fuel hose replacement, you name it, they did it and the bill reflected their involvement. $1080 later, I have my Bonneville back and I am confident it is in tip top shape, or will be after I fork over another $300 for a new front brake rotor which is scheduled for replacement in early June. I used a non-Triumph brake pad which was hard enough to dig grooves in the disc. I am sticking with Triumph parts from here on, live and learn:At least the rotor replacement job will be a matter of an hour so I will be able to ride the motorcycle up to Fort Lauderdale which I will enjoy a good deal more than driving the trailer.I noticed a couple of expensive Harleys on a trailer being towed instead of ridden. I noticed them because they were trundling down Highway One on their side stands which I learned a few years ago is the worst way to trailer a motorcycle.
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I first got into trailering when my Indian-built Stella 150cc kept breaking down, and I'd borrow a friend's trailer to take it up to AA Moped in Miami. Not knowing any better I stood it on it's stand and tied a spider's web of lines to keep it in place:It swayed horribly over every bump but it survived the journeys. One thing I learned from Vespa Fort Lauderdale was how to trailer my GTS, because when I first went to pick it up (in my own trailer) they sold me a rig to trailer it properly, balanced on it's front wheel and steadied from the handlebars:

It was a good thing I learned because the GTS kept crapping out on me and had to be towed back and forth so often I got a letter from the Sunpass people asking me if i wanted an upgrade for a trailer pass on the turnpike (no joke). Happily the Bonneville is proving to be more resilient but when it goes for a service it does have to suffer the trailering indignity. At least now I know how to do it right. The handbar strap I got for the GTS from the Vespa dealer still works on the Bonneville:The loops go over the ends of the bars and extra loops stick out to which you attach the straps:The straps compress the forks and press the front wheel hard against the front of the trailer holding the entire bike balanced and in compression:Somehow this balancing act works perfectly if the bike is lined up properly and you tighten the straps evenly. The magazines assure us the forks suffer no damage from being compressed thusly. Using tis extremely simple system I can squeeze the 500 pound Triumph into my four foot by six foot utility trailer which was a perfect fit for the Vespa 250.The trick to loading the Triumph is to get everything prepared ahead of time. I lay out my straps and rags, which I use to cushion the straps against the sharp edges of the trailer. I usually put the machine into first gear and roll it up the ramp as fast as I can.I laid down the plywood floor to give better support to the motorbike, but also to the side stand which I pull out once the Bonneville is in the trailer and blocked by first gear:
Then I start attaching the straps, which can be annoying as they can drop out of their anchor points if there isn't tension on the strap so I devised yet another use for bungee cords, to secure the hooks while I line up the straps:
Then it's a matter of applying tension evenly to the straps and as they take up the motorcycle I lift the side stand and-look ma! No hands!
Then I use the right hand strap to tighten the front brake for added security and the bungees come back into their own to stop the straps vibrating in harmony with the wind:
On arrival Lucho, Pure Triumph's mechanic takes my Bonneville into his care:And just to prove to Jack riepe that my motorcycle and I aren't one and the same here I am waiting urgently for the doors to open so I could use the facilities:For my money it looks fine on it's own:And indeed I do prefer riding to trailering, but self sufficiency is a great thing.