Motorcyclists love traveling on the open road and motorcycle camping. Many continue the adventure by camping rather than staying overnight in a hotel or bed-and-breakfast. With the popularity of motorcycle campers, they can do just that, bringing their lodging facilities along with them. Let’s take a look.
What Is a Motorcycle Camper?
A motorcycle camper is any small trailer camper pulled by a motorcycle. It usually includes a bed inside a tent and sometimes a stand-up area, along with some storage. These campers are lightweight enough that almost any motorcycle that has a hitch can pull them.
The most popular campers weigh between 210 and 920 pounds and carry price tags from $2,700 to almost $15,000. At the top end of the price spectrum, you’ll find a few hardshell teardrop campers, but most other models are fold-out tent varieties that you can set up in minutes.
Is It Safe To Tow a Camper Behind Your Motorcycle?
With all campers, there is a safe and unsafe way to tow. A lot of it comes down to matching the size of your camper with the size and capabilities of your motorcycle.
Motorcycles typically aren’t designed for towing, so may have an impact on the mechanics of your bike. Therefore, pulling a camper trailer should be something that is worked up to with care instead of diving in. Acceleration and braking are both affected by the extra weight and should be considered.
Safe Motorcycle Camper Sizing
Motorcycle campers should typically only be used by motorcycles with engine sizes of 1000cc or more. You want to tow a camper that weighs less than 20% of the total weight of the motorcycle, including the bike, riders, and gear.
To help calculate this safe weight, use the equation: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – Curb Weight of motorcycle = Total Motorcycle Capacity.
The width of your trailer is also important to know, as well as the length from the back of the bike to the rear of the camper. This length should be less than 8 feet, otherwise towing can be difficult and dangerous.
How Fast Can You Pull A Motorcycle Camper Trailer?
You should always obey posted speed limits. When towing a camper behind your motorcycle, you also fall into a “towing” category, which some states regulate specifically. California, for instance, has a 55mph speed limit for vehicles towing trailers. Since you are technically towing, you need to follow this special limit.
Aside from limits, you should slow down from your normal pace in general while towing a camper. The added weight not only works your engine harder but also makes braking slower.
By slowing down you reduce wear and tear on your bike, as well as give yourself more braking room if you need to stop suddenly. The latter could avoid a serious accident.
Who Makes Motorcycle Campers?
Several camper manufacturers have created motorcycle campers, seeing sizable growth in their popularity. Solace manufactures a 72 square foot tent model with a port for an air conditioner and easy access to a cooler. This lets you bring all the comforts of home while on the road. It also includes a queen-size air mattress and fold-out table. Setup takes about five minutes.
For a hard-sided option, Slipstream offers a clamshell camper with a cushioned bed that pops open. A tent snaps onto the top and bottom halves, creating a protected sleeping area of about 38 cubic feet. You can purchase an optional add-a-room to provide additional tent space.
Most motorcycle camper tent models have a fold-out bed, much like pop-up campers in the RV world. Several include built-in coolers and air mattresses, but all provide strictly minimal facilities for overnight camping.
If your running a trike Little Guy Trailers makes a fiberglass camper, the MyPod, that’s popular for both RV lovers and motorcyclists. It’s top-of-the-line, with a full-size foam mattress, a three-speed Fan-Tastic Fan, a stereo system, a television, and even an air conditioner — all run by 12V/110 power. The MyPod would make motorcycle camping feel like an overnight stay at a luxury resort in comparison to most tent model campers. Keep in mind that this trailer is around 600lbs dry and most run a trike to safely pull it.
Pro Tip: Want to try out RVing, but not ready to commit to fully purchasing a trailer? Try renting! This is How Much It Costs To Rent an RV for a Week.
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The Benefits of Motorcycle Camping
Most motorcyclists would agree that camping while on a road trip is their preferred type of lodging. Here’s why.
Bring More Gear With You
Sometimes it can be difficult to bring along much gear for camping, cooking, and recreating while on a motorcycle. When you bring along a motorcycle camper, you can store your gear in the trailer.
This means that you can cover longer distances more comfortably. You also get to enjoy more outdoor recreation by bringing the necessary equipment with you, such as fishing and other outdoor sports gear.
Just be careful not to overload the capacity of your bike.
Lightweight & Maneuverable
A lightweight motorcycle camper fits into smaller campsites that big rigs can. Often, bikers can get to cool and exclusive spots with their maneuverability.
It’s also easy to maneuver the camper after you detach it. This comes in handy both at the campsite as well as at home when storing it in a garage or shed.
Pro Tip: Want to stick with something small for your next adventure? Check out these 6 Best Micro Campers Designed for Big Adventures.
Campers Work for Most Motorcycles
With most motorcycle campers offering generic features like a tent enclosure with a bed, they work with just about every bike out there. The only variable is how much weight each bike can tow.
Cheaper Than Hotels
Campsite fees are usually less expensive than motels, hotels, or bed-and-breakfast rooms. And many times, motorcyclists can find free campsites on public lands, such as within National Forests and on Bureau of Land Management parcels.
The Downsides of Motorcycle Camping
Sometimes camping behind a bike with a motorcycle camper might not be the best option. Here are a couple of reasons why.
Affects the Handling of Your Bike
Pulling a trailer behind your motorcycle changes how you maneuver on the road and through other areas. Larger bikes can handle this extra weight and driving dynamic better than smaller bikes, so match your bike and camper to fit the style of camping and riding you’re planning.
Lacks Amenities of a Traditional RV
Most motorcycle campers offer just the minimum in comfort and amenities, with shelter and a bed. Many do have additional “rooms” or awnings available, but these campers are only meant to provide a protected place to rest overnight.
Only Works for One to Two People
Because motorcycling is a one- or two-person adventure, the campers built can only accommodate one or two people. And even two could be a bit of a squeeze. This means your motorcycle camper isn’t going to shelter a family or several close friends.
Fortunately, you’re typically only carrying one or two riders. So if you have company, they will just have to bring their own camping gear.
Motorcycle Campers Can Give You the Freedom to Explore
If you find yourself wandering the countryside by motorcycle, chances are you have an adventurous spirit and enjoy exploring off the beaten path. In that case, a motorcycle camper trailer you pull behind your bike might provide you the opportunity to extend your excursion. Sleep close to your route and experience more of the sights and sounds of your trip, then head back onto the blacktop to continue your journey.
Have you ever tried motorcycle camping? Drop a comment below!
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Saturday 18th of December 2021
Very nice article highlighting the key elements of MC trailers.
These are from my experience towing:
I’m unsure of the 20% weight formula and that may be dated a bit as modern bikes are much sturdier and have more torque for towing heavier payloads.
My gross weight is 1,200lbs X .20 = 240lb trailer total maximum weight. My TimeOut Deluxe trailer shipped weight was 385lbs.
With added brakes, running lights, upgraded wheels and cooler package it was 550lbs. With my solar system and gear it is 900lbs and equal to the MC weight or 75% of the gross vehicle weight.
I have been living full time in this rig for 17 months and towed it 40,000 miles so far and only had to reinforce the trailer hitch.
The 8’ rig length rule may be off too. I have seen a formula based on tongue-to-axle ratio based on wheel width but I don’t have it with me now.
The more critical aspect to prevent the dreaded death wobble and possible crash is the weight balance left to right and more importantly front to rear with the bulk of the weight centered over the trailer wheels.
The proper tongue weight should be around 10-15% of the trailers gross weight.
IMHO Electric Brakes should be mandatory for the heavier modern trailers.
I am also a firm believer in the 360 degree swivels that bolt onto the tongue as well. These devices smooth out turning and allow the trailer to flip over without impacting the MC.
Pop ups have no insulation but a small propane heater will keep you warm above 32F.
Saturday 6th of November 2021
My wife and I traveled for 12years with a Bunkhouse MC camper. First four years with the daughter in a side car. Last 8 pulling the camper with a trike. We have moved up to a 40ft fifth wheel and a ton dually. Living in the camper full time.