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Old 08-14-2014, 10:02 AM   #1
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A Trailer, a pickup, and a Motorcycle; impossible?

My wife and I retired last winter and spent the season living in a small Class C motorhome (Winnebago Rialta). The living was great, but the Volkswagen portion of the camper was troublesome (nobody likes to work on VWs, including VW dealers). So, we're looking for a small trailer that we'll pull with a small pickup (probably a Ford Ranger with a 4L 6 cylinder and manual transmission). The saving grace of our first trip was my dual purpose motorcycle, which we pulled behind the RV on a small trailer.

So, we're looking for a small camper trailer, probably the Forest River 19FD or RB, which we will pull with the pickup. The problem is getting the motorcycle into that mix. If you are doing something like this and have a suggestion, I'm all ears, eyes, and ready to learn.

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:16 AM   #2
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Well... put the bike in the pickup bed! lol
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:16 AM   #3
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Can you tell us how much your Ranger will tow? Any idea of the weight of the motorcycle?

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Old 08-14-2014, 10:18 AM   #4
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Sorta obvious

That would be the plan. However, I get conflicting opinions about the whole plan, so I was hoping to hear from someone who is already doing it or who tried it and had about as much "fun" as I did last winter with problems.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:20 AM   #5
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The Ranger's tow capacity is 6,000 pounds and the bike weights about 275.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:48 AM   #6
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I've seen some *really* small toy hauler travel trailers. Just put the motorcycle in the garage.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2wheelgeezer View Post
The Ranger's tow capacity is 6,000 pounds and the bike weights about 275.
Not sure what year your Ranger is, but I pulled a 2800 lb popup with a Ranger - 4.0L V-6 and a manual transmission. Had plenty of pulling power, but the manual transmission reduced the tow rating from 5,000 with an automatic to 2,000 with the 5 speed.

So, I figured "what does Ford know anyway." And a popup has very little wind resistance compared to a full height trailer. After I put a new tranny in it because the gears blew apart in it, I went and got a new vehicle with an automatic and higher tow capacity.

Between the bike and tongue weight of the trailer, you are probably going to exceed the payload capacity of the truck as well.

If you want to stay with a small truck, the Durango is about the only option out there that's really got some decent towing capacity. I loved my Ranger - kept it 15 years, but its really not a great tow vehicle for a travel trailer.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:59 AM   #8
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My first pop up was towed with a Ranger V6 4.0Land a manual transmission. It can be done, but I wouldn't suggest it. After the second trip, DW was talking about upgrading the TV.

And that was with pop up, i wouldn't even consider it with a Travel Trailer
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:59 AM   #9
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We don't have a compact RV / TV, but we are about to be addressing the issue of a TV / RV and motorcycles. And the RV is not a toyhauler.

I will be building a small MC trailer (from Harbor Freight) and the truck, 5er, MC trailer should be right at (or just under) 65'. The trailer and bikes will be light enough to pretty easily unhitch and move around by hand.

I know that Palomino (we have a Columbus 365RL) does not support or recommend installing a hitch and / or double towing. BUT... our warranty expires in a month, the optional fold down back rack (we don't have this) is rated at 400 lbs. The motorcycle trailer I will be building AND both motorcycles will weight about 800lb (total) and have a tongue weight of about 60 - 80 lbs. The hitch will be attached well up into the frame rails (about 24" or so) and be more than adequately braced.

The bikes are a 2013 Yamaha TW200 (just bought it last week) and TBD model for the wife. Her's will be a 250 - 300 lbs (200cc - 250cc) model too.

As implied above, we don't have the MC trailer yet, but have the TW. AND... we are currently 600 miles from home, RV'ing in El Paso. So I am going to have to remove the front wheel and handlebars, and secure it sideways at the front of the bed, to get it home.



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Old 08-14-2014, 11:48 AM   #10
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Since you don't have the trailer or the truck yet, you've got lots of options.

My recommendation would be to look at some of the smaller toy haulers. You can get some still in that 18-19 range you're looking at. Once the bike's out of the garage and the benches/table/bed or whatever is in the garage is down it should have all the amenities of the rigs you're looking at.

Next, get the right truck to haul the trailer you pick. You may have to go bigger than a ranger, but shouldn't have to go all the way up to 3/4 ton. Also take a look at the SUV market. There's lots of options there with decent towing and payload capacity that could be better than a ranger, but still be not as large as the 1/2 tons.



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Old 08-14-2014, 12:10 PM   #11
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Sorry. I miss read your post to mean that you had the Ranger to tow with.

As was said, your in a good position. Look at the various campers out there which include space for your bike and then pick a tow vehicle that can handle it.

You could always just get a F150 type and put the bike in the bed if you do not like how Toy haulers are.

The world is your oyster.

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Old 08-14-2014, 12:31 PM   #12
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Maybe a Flagstaff T12SDTH A-frame or HW31SCTH PUp.

Getting a bike up that narrow ramp onto a truck bed gives me the willies. Nearly has a garden tractor flip over on top of me once that way.
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:26 PM   #13
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Maybe a Flagstaff T12SDTH A-frame or HW31SCTH PUp.

Getting a bike up that narrow ramp onto a truck bed gives me the willies. Nearly has a garden tractor flip over on top of me once that way.
If the ramp scares you, you could always do it like this...

Motorcycle onto a Pickup Truck Bed - YouTube
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:00 PM   #14
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My first pop up was towed with a Ranger V6 4.0Land a manual transmission. It can be done, but I wouldn't suggest it. After the second trip, DW was talking about upgrading the TV.

And that was with pop up, i wouldn't even consider it with a Travel Trailer
Well nuts. I feel a lot like my son-in-law who is always shopping doctors to get one to agree with his hypochondriac self-diagnosis. Our problem is two part: 1) my wife will not drive a large pickup and 2) I hate driving anything with 4 wheels. If we can find a compromise vehicle and trailer, we'll try another winter season of camping. If I'm stuck with an automatic transmission because the manufacturers either want to discourage manual transmission buyers or they are cheaping out on the manual designs, I'll probably pass. I had about all I want of automatic transmission problems with my VW powertrain and my car experiences.

So the Ranger is not up to the task even with the 4L and a 3,000 pound camper? A mechanic I spent a lot of time with in New Mexico last winter seemed to think that drive train was about the most reliable on the market. We talked to dozens of big truck owners who were on their 3-5th transmission (all automatics) in less than 100k miles. A guy who camped next to us for several weeks had owned a truck fleet business for decades and had no use for anybody's automatic or diesel engine. All of this seems to be making the Rialta look at least more acceptable, if less than ideal.

Well nuts.

thanks,
Tom
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Old 08-27-2014, 03:39 PM   #15
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Look into the 21ssl or 19L. They have a deck on the front just perfect for hauling motorcycles/ATV, etc.

Tim
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Old 08-27-2014, 05:19 PM   #16
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If you cheap out on the tow vehicle and/or the tow setup, sooner or later you will get to have one of those "white knuckle" moments. If your guardian angels are on the job, you merely have to find a washing machine afterwards. If your guardian angels were snoozing..... Don't ask me how I know this.

Automatic transmissions are a whole lot more reliable for towing (and just driving)than they were in the '90s. The standard replace an automatic xmission at 75K to 100K miles has gone by the wayside. Meanwhile, there has been no effort at improving manual transmissions and clutches for tow vehicles. Most vehicles have lower tow limits with a manual for a reason. Again, don't ask me how I know this.

You can pick the camper you want, and get a suitable tow vehicle. Or you can get the chosen tow vehicle, and buy a camper well within its tow limits. Either way will save you from extra cleaning or doctor bills.

Sounds like you want a toy hauler to put the bike on/in. But that's a personal choice.

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Old 08-27-2014, 06:46 PM   #17
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I spent a winter wrestling with a modern automatic transmission on my Winnebago Rialta. It seems that no one knows how to repair the damn things, including VW. I really hate driving an automatic, too: the lack of response, the compromised gear choice, and need for extra cooling. The fact that I camped next to a couple of people who ran fleets, mostly diesel trucks, and the only thing they said failed on those trucks (Ford, Dodge, and GM) were the transmissions and they failed 3-4X during the life of the engine sort of confirmed my own opinion. In my experience, there hasn't been much need to improve manual transmissions because they work pretty well as designed a couple of decades ago. Automatics, on the other hand, have a lot of room for improvement, but too much of that is being done with mediocre electronics. (You can ask me how I know.)

The toy hauler would be perfect for me, but a 17-21' toy hauler would be too much toy and too little living space for my wife. The 19L looks perfect. I' hadn't seen that camper, somehow, and it ought to do the job for us. I am sliding toward an F150 over the Ranger, but we'll have to see if my wife will drive it. If not, we'll either live with a slower pace and the Ranger/Toyota/Nissan mid-sized pickup, or I'll go back to tent camping and living with a wife who is stuck at home.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:16 AM   #18
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We are talking 2 different animals. Transmissions for diesel and even full-size trucks are a whole different animal than transmissions for 4 and 6 cylinder cars and SUVs.

Every version of the VW bus/van/camper that I know of has had its share of problems. I've almost bought one several times - I'm very glad I backed out at the last minute. Most that I have read or heard of have been engine or engine-cooling issues.

In the smaller vehicles I've owned over the years, manual transmissions have had as many problems as automatics. Towing boats (or towing RVs off-road), you are setting a clutch up for early failure when that day inevitably comes when you have to slip the clutch extensively to get yourself out of a jam. The small vehicles just don't have the stump-pulling low and reverse gear necessary to save the clutch.

The latest smaller vehicles I have driven do not have replaceable throw-out bearings. The installed bearings are good for 2 clutches, then the whole thing gets replaced.

The other early failure point on smaller manual transmissions I have seen (twice now) is the tail drive shaft bearing. I suspect the loads of towing (these were RWD) caused some slight frame flexing and unusual side loads on the bearing.

On the other hand, the automatics in FWD SUVs and minivans have really improved in the past 20 years. I can remember when a minivan almost always had to have a transmission rebuild or replacement at 70K - 100K miles. I remember the Ford EOD transmission - despite its pitiful and often service-bulletined electronics - as being the first transmission to normally hold up over 100K miles (debut around 1991-92?). I had one in a 92 Ford Explorer that blew the front seal towing because the electronics wouldn't shift it correctly. But after the seal replacement, same tranny went for 200K miles (always shifted manually when towing after that experience).

OTOH, a Suburban 350 gas/1500/4WD just laughed at towing my 6000lb 25ft sailboat and trailer. This was after white knuckles towing the boat with a Ford LTD station wagon.

My advice (learned the hard way) 1) Buy a camper that fits within the capability of your existing tow vehicle. 2) Buy a tow vehicle suited for the camper of your choice. Path 1 is invariably cheaper.

Fred W
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:22 PM   #19
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Good info, Fred. Thanks. I'm not looking at a small car, SUV, or minivan, but I am looking at a Ranger/Tacoma/Frontier. The difference in price between automatic transmission repairs and manual transmissions/clutches is pretty huge. Since we won't be buying new, I'm fully expecting to have to install a clutch in the first year of ownership. When I do, I'll throw the kitchen sink at the repairs and replace lots of the hardware with heavier duty hardware, even if it's an F150.

You were smart to avoid the VW experience. I wish I could say the same. We got out of it intact, financially, but pretty beat up emotionally. Our planned 13,000 mile first winter retired trip turned into a stranded in southern New Mexico hoping to figure out the RV's problems with some help from a wonderful local (non-VW) mechanic frustration. It did highlight how much I dislike driving an automatic, too. Might as well have an autopilot while you're at it.

We're going for the lightest, smallest camper we can stand living in; something like the 19L. Then, I'd like at least a 25% safety margin with the vehicle towing capacity. Nissan, for example, does not rate their automatic and manual transmissions with a different towing capacity. I'm starting to slant toward a Frontier, based on a lot of what you've said and I've read from other small camper owners.

Since I don't have either a camper or the pickup, it's a bit of a race condition. If the right pickup comes along before we find a camper, I'll pick #1. Otherwise, it's #2. This all helps. Thanks.

Tom
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:53 AM   #20
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have a f150 with eight foot bed. bike goes in first, camper hooked up and away we go.
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