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QuiQue 7 Jun 2012 03:45

Pulling Trailer with 82 Gold Wing GL1100 in South America
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I've been looking around on HU for information on pulling trailers with motorcycles and have found very little information. I have to admit that I am a new member and am still finding my way around. I do have lots of questions, but I'm going to start by simply asking what you seasoned adventure motorcyclists have to say about two concepts.

1. Why not pull a trailer on a trip throughout South America? Seems all I see are bikes loaded to the gill which make them top heavy. Wouldn't distributing the weight by pulling a trailer make maneuvering better?

2. I am considering driving my current Honda Goldwing GL1100i and pulling a trailer throughout South America. The bike is in excellent condition with a little over 40,000 miles on it. I've had it a couple of years and have updated timing belts, tires, windshield, starter, and a few other things. I'm the third owner and as you can see from the photo, the bike is in good shape. I hear that you can get over 150,000 miles on these Gold Wings without any major work being done to them.

My plan is to mainly stay on tarmacs wherever possible, but I realize that some of the roads in SA are not quite what we think as being paved. My trip will be slow and thorough with lots of stops to document the people and scenery of South America. I hope to create documentaries on creative people along the way and carrying cameras, lighting, tripods and camping gear is the main reason for pulling a trailer.

Big question is, am I going to regret taking an older heavier (730 lb.) motorcycle with a trailer on this treck?

markharf 7 Jun 2012 04:55

If I was bringing that much crap with me, I'd drive a car instead: far better security, and easier to park too.

I suggest you load up your GL and trailer (realistically, with as much as you're thinking of bringing along), then find some nice potholed back roads, construction zones, dirt forest roads during rainstorms, nameless tracks across expanses of desert, and other such. See if you can simulate sixteen thousand giant speed bumps while you're at it. Now ride around all day. Don't cheat. At the end of the day, park it in a bad neighborhood and try to figure out how you're going to find a hotel without turning your back on it. Think carefully about whether you'll be able to ride it up the steps to park it in the lobby when that's your only option.

How's that feel? If you like it, by all means go ahead--people ride all kinds of stuff to South America. They just make it work, and some of them seem to be having a good time doing it. Maybe you'll join them.

On the other hand, there's probably a reason virtually all of us decided not to do what you're thinking of doing. You can probably best understand the reasoning behind this if you repeat your experiment on a 650 single. Its advantages will be apparent right around the time you go vaulting gleefully through the first set of potholes, a big smile on your face--the very same potholes which wheel-trapped your GL or its trailer.

Or maybe you'll find you prefer the GL. More power to you.


John Downs 7 Jun 2012 06:39

I agree with Mark. A 4x4 SUV or Toyota pickup with shell would seem more useful. Air conditioned, easier to park, capable of carrying loads of expensive camera equipment, able to sleep in the back in a pinch.

I saw one Goldwing on my way to Panama and back. No trailer though. I imagine your bike and trailer would make it. It would take a beating and you would have to slow down and take the hundreds of topes (curb-like traffic calming speed bumps) with care.

Will you regret taking a Goldwing and trailer? Quite possibly. It makes me cringe just imagining what a thumping that bike and trailer would take. Or imagining myself towing that thing through rush hour traffic in the third world and how sad I would be not being able to split lanes and thread through traffic with the pizza delivery bikes. Or stuck behind a belching bus on a curvy mountain road in the rain. Or taking a wrong turn up a steep narrow cobblestone street in a village only to reach a dead end. I think I would be cursing a lot.

Kindest regards,
John Downs

QuiQue 7 Jun 2012 06:47

It's that bad, eh? So the same would not be said if the trip was here in the U.S.? I do have to say that I've pulled this trailer down dirt roads, back woods roads for camping, and throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway here in North Carolina with no problems. In fact, it handled better then when I packed everything on the bike. Only thing I've noticed is in breaking power. It takes a bit longer to come to a stand still. No problem there. I compensate when following vehicles. I also don't have to worry about my stuff getting stolen because it is all under lock and key. Nothing packed on the outside where it can be easily stolen.

I just didn't know that the roads and hospitality of South America was so bad...

Thanks for the insight Mark.

Threewheelbonnie 7 Jun 2012 06:55

While I think the "get a 4x4" thing is probbably posted by guys who've never towed with a bike (It's still a bike, 12 hour days and dirt and just the same except it uses more petrol) I'd have to agree with the idea of reducing the load. OK, with two dogs, the wife, BBQ, three days food to avoid wasteing time shopping etc. the outfit and trailer are a great way to see the UK. There is however no way to do this when riding a continent. You'll have to buy food and clothes at some point so why not start on day 1?. Places are cheap compared with the cost of getting there, so forget the huge tent and stove, stay in hotels.

The hassle as the guys above have guessed comes in the form of security (trailers are very much lusted after in poorer countries and impossible to secure) but also with the law. I don't know about South America, but even Spain and Italy have restrictions aimed at 50cc ice cream stands that will have uniformed thugs reaching for the rule book. Will the customs want the trailer to be registered?

Do your research and make sure there isn't a 50 kph speed limit and bans on the major highways.

Good Luck and Enjoy it.


markharf 7 Jun 2012 07:40


Originally Posted by QuiQue (Post 381763)
It's that bad, eh? So the same would not be said if the trip was here in the U.S.? I do have to say that I've pulled this trailer down dirt roads, back woods roads for camping, and throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway here in North Carolina with no problems. In fact, it handled better then when I packed everything on the bike. Only thing I've noticed is in breaking power. It takes a bit longer to come to a stand still. No problem there. I compensate when following vehicles. I also don't have to worry about my stuff getting stolen because it is all under lock and key. Nothing packed on the outside where it can be easily stolen.

I just didn't know that the roads and hospitality of South America was so bad...

Thanks for the insight Mark.

It's not that it's so bad all the time: it's that so much of the good stuff is so far from the easy riding. You want 100% pavement? You can find it. You just won't see much.

I'll suggest again that you spend a day duplicating riding in difficult conditions. Maybe you've already done this (I don't think so, but maybe); it's different from taking a forest road for a bit in search of a camping spot. Really. Load that trailer and see what it's like.

What you say about security is evidence you're not really grasping the concept. That's ok. Read some blogs and trip reports and see what you think. Search out the ones written by people who traveled with Wings or HD's or other such. If they inspire you, hitch the trailer and hit the road.


PS: what threewheelbonnie says might be crucial: you can't normally temporarily import two vehicles into, for example, Mexico--subject to some obscure exclusions. That trailer might be considered a vehicle. Look into it.

QuiQue 7 Jun 2012 16:14

Thanks Andy for considering my questions and for stating the obvious about the "get a 4x4" response. The reason I posted here is because my research into taking a trailer/bike combo on a tour of South America has turned up very little. I would love to follow/read about other bikers doing similar trips, but I just haven't found any. Maybe I need to post this in the South America forum and see what kind of response I get.

Mark, I would love to read the reports from Goldwingers! I just can't find any. Maybe you could direct me? I'm also a bit curious what experience you've had in South America. What ride did you take and when did you do this?

On another note. I'm not planning on taking the kitchen sink! My consideration is distributing the weight from the rear end of the bike which makes it less maneuverable, to the stability of a trailer. Yes, the trailer has two wheels but is not much wider then many of the bikes with panniers I see bikers using on these trips.

I also wonder what the percentage is of "off road" traveling will be on a SA tour? I don't plan on being 100 percent of the time on pavement. And I've read many posts indicating that the dual purpose bikes used on these continental trips don't actually see off road excursions as much as on tarmacs. Which makes me question the actual comfort of riding those 12 hour days on a dirt bike. Just wondering...

BTW, speaking of gas mileage. I get 42 mpg without the trailer and 40 mpg with the trailer attached and loaded.

Another BTW... I've got about $4,000 into the current setup which includes the bike and trailer. Buying a new adventure bike is going to cost me at least twice that amount. Is it worth it and will I be more comfortable at the end of long day riding? I'd love to hear back from people who have experienced both types of long distance riding.

Again, thanks for the feedback and have a great 2 wheel ride! Nothing like the open air ride on 2 wheels...

markharf 7 Jun 2012 16:56

I took a quick look and didn't find trip reports by wingers in S.A. I've read at least one account and know of a book, but I'm not willing to put the energy into finding either. I've also read a few accounts of Harley riders in S.A.--they're easier to find, and approximately comparable in certain ways, not in others. I've never seen or heard of anyone with a trailer, but who knows?

The main point I'm trying to make is that you should find a way to check out the riding experience personally before committing too much. If you don't want to do that, don't. If you've already done it, fine. But there are limits to what you can learn by asking here, then telling responders why you don't think what they say applies.

I 've spent about 16 months riding in Central and South America--all countries, most more than once. YMMV.


QuiQue 7 Jun 2012 19:20

I appreciate you taking the time to respond Mark. I hope we haven't gotten off to a rough start. I think your 16 month experience riding in Central and SA is very positive and informative. I am not saying that your responses do not apply. However, starting the responses by telling me to go with a four wheel vehicle is not very productive.

I did find that Emilio Scotto used the same Goldwing albiet 2 years older to set a world travel record. This brings some hope. As to pulling trailers, I've found a couple with a newer GW traveling throughout SA with a much larger trailer then the one I have. They have a YouTube video showing their trip.

I guess as this forum states, there is no specific motorcycle configuration to travel with. Thanks for your input and I apologize if I made you feel your responses do not apply.

John Downs 7 Jun 2012 21:42

Took the time to read your blog and see that you plan to head south and maybe move to Cuenca. It sounds like you have already committed to riding your Goldwing and are wondering about the trailer.

There is absolutely no reason you can't make it to Ecuador with that set up. I did a check and it is possible to transit with a trailer and have it attached to your temporary vehicle import permit. So no problem getting through borders.

Here's the thing. Because of steep import duties most Latin Americans ride 125cc with 250cc bikes being considered large and anything bigger being gawked at. You will stick out like a rich gringo. This may not bother you if you don't mind distancing yourself from the local peeps. But it sounds like you have an interest in filming documentaries of local artisans along the way. Cruising into a small village in the mountains with a Goldwing pulling a trailer will garner the same attention as a Lamborghini Countache in North Carolina.

People will assume you are rich and you will be charged accordingly. Many will want to know how much your bike cost and how fast it will go. You will not likely be waved through the many military roadblocks. Instead being pulled over and questioned out of curiosity.

I am just telling you this from my experiences back when I rode big expensive bikes in Latin America. These things may not bother you.

People think I'm nuts for riding a 250 dirt bike south. I ignore them. I suggest you do the same if you have your heart set on taking your bike and trailer to Ecuador. If it made sense where would the fun be?

John Downs

QuiQue 8 Jun 2012 19:29

I spent the morning reading your great adventure throughout Central America this morning by following your sig. I can see now the benefit of riding a smaller bike. The thing I cringe at as you stated in your report is "riding a stock seat on a 250 thumper will give you an iron butt if you don't already have one". I have to say that I have a tiny flat butt with little meat and muscle on it so thinking of riding for months on end is something I really don't want to consider. I also like wearing a half helmet so I can hear my surroundings and I wonder what the constant loud noise from these small engines would be like. Please don't think I am negating your advice. I honestly believe that taking the trip on a smaller bike most definitely has its benefits.

I'll be 60 in October and have been diligently upgrading my house of 30+years to sell this summer so I can start on my second half of life adventure. If all goes well, I will be moving to SA before years end. I do love my old Goldwing and have a great desire to take it with me. That is why I am posting and researching here and on advrider. I see that you are planning a trip to South America this fall and hope that we can meet along the way. Please do stay in touch and I wish you the best on your journey throughout SA.

BTW, if all goes as planned, I'll have room for your tent in my trailer... ;-)

John Downs 8 Jun 2012 20:25

You'll have room for my bike in your trailer! And with your fabricating and artistic skills I can see a chaise attached to the top of the trailer so I can lounge and sip drinks while you tow me to Ecuador.

Or am I being too forward?

In all seriousness, although we are the same age, your needs are much different than mine. There is no perfect bike. I look forward to meeting you down the road. Best luck selling your house.

Kindest regards,
John Downs

QuiQue 8 Jun 2012 20:46

No John, you are not being too forward. I can visualize you on top of the trailer with a sun roof laid back taking sips from a margarita with an orange slice on a skewer...

I've been around the block a few times. I don't think we are that much different. I'm not a carpenter but being a blacksmith for 25+ years has given me some mechanical skills, and a thick skin. Maybe not on my arse, but on my hands and figuring out how to tinker with stuff has been useful. I think we are both looking for the same things. Mostly enjoying the true beauty of what life has to offer...

to down the road my friend,
enrique vega

xfiltrate 10 Jun 2012 18:48

Winging it in South America
QuiQue, thanks for your Mayan calendar 2012 comments.

I can only speak from the experiences of riding a Honda NX400 Falcon (GREAT)

and an older Harley Sportster, in South America, I would not suggest

the Harley for South America - I would stick with a real overland tourer or a

duel purpose motorcycle.

1. The NX400 was larger than most of the locals bikes I encountered, but still blended in well and did not draw undue and unwanted attention. This might be your biggest headache - especially towing a trailer.

It is very comforting to know that South American Honda dealers stock all NX400 replacement parts on hand or have them available within a day or two. I doubt this would be true for Gold Wing parts.

2. If you want to do the high Andes and ride the route I recommended to you on the 2012 Mayan calendar thread - it would be my advice not to do it on the Honda Gold Wing towing a trailer. Even on our smaller NX400s we were often pressed up against cliff faces - facing oncoming traffic -while , horses, burros, mico buses and even small trucks occupied the width of the grave/dirt road.

3.A Canadian couple just rode from Canada to Buenos Aires, on their 2005 Gold Wing - 2 up without trailer and reported to me they had a great trip.

I do not know exactly what their route was, but if you PM me I will send you their e-mail address and you can query them directly - about your concerns. They are going to continue their journey later this year - all the way to Ushuaia.

4. I have often thought that motorcycles are worn - like clothing - and every rider feels more or less comfortable, depending on individual tastes - a Gold Wing can make it throughout South America (as proven by my parking clients) - it just depends on the route, your interest in traveling, and more importantly who you are and what you are about. My Spanish lady, started our South American journey on a Honda XR250 Tornado - but quickly traded up to a new NX400 Falcon. Keep in mind trading foreign registered motorcycles up or down is very tricky, if not impossible in South America.

5. I have watched in amazement as men and women fly into B A buy new Honda 125 cc motorcycles, tour Argentina ( and even beyond) for a month or two - sell, and then fly home with a pocket full of cash, completely satisfied with their tour. I guess it really isn't the size that counts.

Ride Hard, Ride Free

but more importantly be true to yourself.


QuiQue 13 Jun 2012 21:33

xfiltrate, I sent you a private message a couple of days ago and haven't heard back from you. If you didn't get it, let me know so I can figure out a way to send it again.

Thanks for your feedback. Brings hope that I may be okay driving my old Goldwing to South America. Maybe even pull the trailer. We will see...

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