One bike towing another is a rare sight, mostly because it’s tricky to do and riskier than using a van, ute or trailer.
If you’re towing or being towed on a bike, you’re going to attract attention and may well be stopped by police. There are strict regulations around towing a motorcycle:
- You can only be towed by another motorcycle, moped or scooter. It’s illegal and dangerous to be towed by any other vehicle. The maximum towing speed for a motorcycle is just 30 km/h. So, you are going to slow down a lot of other traffic
- By law, any towed bike that have broken down must be able to roll safely. It must also have functioning brakes, brake lights and indicators.
Don’t tow a bike with gearbox or drive shaft failure as it might easily seize and lock the rear wheel. Also, never tow any bike with a pressure lubricated gearbox more than a short distance as it too may seize.
View towing as a last resort. You can only be towed by another motorcycle and both riders must have a full licence. Maximum speed when towing is just 30km/h.
Getting your bike ready to be towed
- You’ll need a small diameter tow rope that gives about four metres clear distance between the bikes.
- Tie it to a strong point on the rear of the towing motorcycle. A grab rail, the rear of the subframe or a luggage fixing will do. Don’t tie it to the swingarm.
- Pass the other end over or under a substantial central part of the towed bike. Often, you can go under the front fork top yoke or the lower triple clamp.
- Loop it once around the left handlebar grip where the rider can hold it from slipping, yet let it go instantly. Never tie the tow rope to the towed bike as the rider must be able to let go immediately if needed.
- Make sure all slack in the towrope is taken up before starting to tow, and again after any stops. Jerking will snap it or pull the towed bike sideways.
- Ride slowly and smoothly to keep the towrope taut.
- Be sure to signal direction changes or when braking.
- If the rope goes slack, slow gently until it is taken up. Otherwise stop and start again.