Bringing your motorcycle along with you – Can it be done? Tips, tricks and options for bringing a motorcycle and car with you while on the road
Long before we decided to ditch the stick house and move on to the mobile lifestyle, both my wife and I were avid motorcyclists. I began riding motorcycles at the age of 6 and the rest is history. I caught the bug hard and found myself on all manner of motorcycle from cruisers to sport bikes and adventure tourers. In 2014, my father and I decided to take two weeks off and travel from coast to coast on motorcycles, staying in tents under the stars for most of the journey. When I returned, I knew two things to be true; I wanted to make travel a much bigger part of my life going forward and I needed to find a way to bring a motorcycle along for the adventure.
Fast forward over five years full-time in our diesel pusher and we are happy to report that our decision to bring our 8000lb+ BMW R1200GS Adventure Motorcycle was one of the best decisions we ever made. We did our research and chose the right solutions for our particular needs and managed to steer clear of major incident. Here are our tips for bringing your motorcycle along for your RV adventure.
Defining Your Requirements – Before you begin your search it is important to define your requirements as each option has benefits and costs depending on your unique situation. Are you in a fifth wheel, gas coach, diesel pusher? What are the towing weight limitations for your particular situation and of course what about budget? All these and more things will need to be considered and it is important that you make a solid list of requirements before you begin your search. For us we developed the following requirement.
- Compatible with our Motorhome – A solution compatible with our Entegra Aspire Class A diesel pusher motorhome.
- Tow Vehicle Support– A solution compatible with flat towing our Jeep Wrangler & Full-Size Motorcycle behind our diesel pusher.
- High Capacity– BMW GS Motorcycle isn’t light, we needed at least 900lb of lift capacity after fuel & luggage considerations.
- Serviceability –Ability to field service on the road, a preference towards minimal custom or complex parts
- Removability– Ability to easily move from one RV to another or remove completely without additional welding
- Safety – A solution with a proven track record and satisfied customer’s that could share their experiences over a minimum of 100,000 miles of combined use.
- Value– The sky is the limit with custom RV accessories, we prefer to stay away from that upper limit if possible, with safety being more important than saving money in the short run
Because of our requirements, certain solutions like a motorcycle trailer were not an option for us as we would have had to leave our car behind. The idea of having both a motorcycle and car not only meant we could use our car in inclement weather, but it also meant that my wife and I had independent modes of transportation during our travels which was a huge plus. This left our search to motorcycle lift companies designed for Class A motorhomes or heavier 5th wheels with frames capable of supporting the added weight of a lift & motorcycle.
Our Solution: For our needs we considered a number of very qualified companies that specialized in motorcycle transportation solutions for the RV industry. We narrowed our search down to two companies, Hydralift and Cruiserlift. The Hydralift was hands down the highest-end solution utilizing hydraulic systems to easily lift the motorcycle up and out of the way so we could attach our tow vehicle. The Cruiserlift on the other hand utilized a winch system similar to a winch used on an ATV. Both products were solid choices and we know many folks with both who are happy. In the end we went with the Cruiserlift product because it was a bit more economical, could be removed and was more easily serviceable without a working knowledge of hydraulics.
Installation & Removal Process: With any of the motorcycle lift options currently available minor modifications are generally required. Our Entegra Aspire had a 10,000-pound tow hitch which needed to be removed and replaced with a 3-point hitch system that had a much larger tongue weight and towing capacity rating. The lift manufacturer recommended a welding shop that could perform the modifications and they had our lift shipped to that shop, so we only had to stop at a single location. The installation was about a 6-hour job to remove and re-weld and paint the new receiver then to install the lift itself. This expense is above and beyond the cost of the lift. The process does not generally require any body modifications to the RV, just the receiver hitch pre-installed on the motorhome. We recommend budgeting between $1000 and $1500 for installation which is about the average. Before making a final decision take special care to understand the lift removal process as thi may affect resale value. In our case the upgraded 3-point hitch must remain on the motorhome however the strength & flexibility of stronger hitch system is welcomed by most second hand buyers.
Drive Characteristics: For the most part we do not notice the motorcycle is mounted on our motorhome. It drives largely the same as before we had the hitch installed. That said, you are adding quite a bit of weight far back from the rear wheels, so a tag-axle motorhome configuration is certainly preferred but not required. Always check with the lift manufacturers to ensure compatibility you’re your specific configuration. About the only time we notice it is when we hit dips or large bumps at highways speeds where some bouncing can occur. This corrects itself quickly and has not been an issue. Watching your motorcycle in your rear-view camera for the first time can be a bit unnerving but rest assure if you purchased a good set of tie-down straps and check on things during your regular pit stops everything will be fine. Consult your lift manufacturer for strap recommendations.
Will You Void Your Warranty? We get asked this question all the time and the simplest answer is to check with your manufacturer as each has a different warranty process. In our experience we had no issues related to warranty claims even when we had to have our radiator replaced multiple times due to a manufacturer defect known to our model year. Both Entegra and Spartan never mentioned the lift as being an issue and were happy to service our motorhome without issue multiple times under warranty.
Length Considerations: Adding a motorcycle lift to a class A motorhome typically will add approximately 5 feet to your overall length. It is important to take this into consideration when selecting a motorhome, tow-vehicle and lift manufacturer as there are total length restrictions on U.S roads and interstates.
What if I don’t have a diesel pusher? Lift manufacturers are releasing new and exciting solutions for gas coaches, fifth wheels and diesel coaches without air suspension systems every day. Many systems incorporate a 3rd wheel that takes pressure off the hitch which can allow smaller motorhomes to carry larger loads. Consult your lift manufacture for the best options for your particular needs.