Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

U-Haul's Motorcycle Trailer Is Really Good But You Can't Ever Own One

Illustration for article titled U-Hauls Motorcycle Trailer Is Really Good But You Cant Ever Own One
Photo: Bradley C. Brownell

On Sunday evening I walked into the U-haul location a few blocks away and dropped a whopping $15 to rent one of the company’s exquisite motorcycle haulers, and an additional $8 for the bonus insurance. Baller, I know. After hauling it empty for 250 miles and then loaded down with a big Ducati for 250 miles, I’m a big fan.

Advertisement

(Full Disclosure: I asked Ducati if I could borrow something big and comfortable for an upcoming 5,000 mile journey on two wheels. I was given clearance to pick up a new Diavel 1260S from the company’s North American headquarters in the California Bay Area. I arranged my own rental of the trailer and paid for the fuel to go pick it up.) 

We recently covered how prices of the company’s products are skyrocketing in certain markets due to demand, but because U-haul motorcycle trailers are only available for “in-town” towing they must be returned to the same location they are picked up from, so they aren’t susceptible to the same demand and price surge. That’s why it was so cheap, which is a huge part of the appeal.

Advertisement

These compact aluminum trailers are so incredibly easy to use. I pulled in and had the trailer on my car in two shakes. The company employees can easily move them around the lot by hand because they are so lightweight, and they have U-haul’s unique “handwheel” hitch lock coupler, which is quick and simple to lock the trailer onto your car’s 2" ball. In and out in minutes.

Illustration for article titled U-Hauls Motorcycle Trailer Is Really Good But You Cant Ever Own One
Photo: Bradley C. Brownell

Because of the trailer’s lightweight characteristic, it not only pulls like a dream at slow highway speeds (never exceed 55 mph, according to U-haul, and of course I never would violate such an agreement), but it hardly affects fuel economy. Hooked up to our 2018 Buick Regal TourX I achieved nearly 30 miles per gallon with the trailer empty. That’s doubly astonishing, considering the trailer’s ramp is stored vertical and you would think it would have devastating aerodynamic effect.

Advertisement

Loading a motorcycle into this thing is an absolute breeze. Not only does the tailgate ramp unhook and lower with two super simple solid pins, but it’s low enough to the ground that bikes with very little ground clearance, like a 2021 Ducati Diavel 1260S for example, don’t even scrape the peak of the transition. Once on the trailer, there are D-ring tie down mounts in all four corners, plus sturdy railing around three sides of the trailer that are perfect for ratchet strap anchoring.

Advertisement

Getting this bike locked into place took four separate ratchet straps and a handlebar-tie-down device called Cycle Cynch. I brought some of my own tie-downs, but the Ducati folks threw the Cycle Cynch and a pair of amazing Erickson self-contained ratchet straps into my kit to keep their bike safe and sound. These things are a game changer, as you just pull the strap to the desired length, push the button to retract it taut, and ratchet tight. The best part is that these straps don’t have any tail to tie off. Next level shit, right here. I need to buy about a half dozen of these suckers for my own garage.

Illustration for article titled U-Hauls Motorcycle Trailer Is Really Good But You Cant Ever Own One
Photo: Bradley C. Brownell
Advertisement

I’m no expert at hauling motorcycles, but I ran the handlebar straps to each front corner D-ring, pulling the wheel into the trailer’s awesome built-in wheel chock. Then I wrapped a strap through one of the spokes of the rear wheel, pulling the bike tight to each of the rear corner D-rings. This should prevent the bike from moving fore and aft. The handlebar straps should help prevent the bike from tipping over, so long as they are cinched tight enough to prevent the suspension from compressing over highway bumps. Then, for good measure, I put a big 10,000 pound strap through the bike’s frame underneath the seat to keep the rear suspension from bouncing at all.

Are there better ways to manage a motorcycle on a trailer? Possibly, but this thing was rock solid all the way back to Reno.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled U-Hauls Motorcycle Trailer Is Really Good But You Cant Ever Own One
Photo: Bradley C. Brownell

Even with a fully-loaded trailer and much more uphill than down on the way back from the bay, I still managed mid-twenties MPG with this behemoth of a 540 pound motorcycle on the trailer. It towed like a dream, and that’s likely largely down to the awesome construction of the U-haul trailer.

Advertisement

I’d really love to own one of these trailers, but U-haul is adamant about never selling them to the public. While it will sell its box trucks and vans to the public all day long, the company’s proprietary trailer designs are never ever sold once they are phased out of the fleet. You can get a utility trailer or a tow-dolly through trucksales.uhaul.com, but apparently U-haul scraps all of its four-wheel car haulers and motorcycle trailers. The company has some kind of algorithm to determine when a trailer is costing too much in downtime and repairs annually to be financially viable, and they get scrapped at that point.

Once an older trailer crosses that threshold, it is taken out back and shot. Obviously by that I mean it is transferred to one of U-haul’s 175 maintenance facilities, cut up into tiny aluminum pieces, and the axle is sliced in half. If U-haul can’t have it, nobody can! Which is seriously a bummer, because this trailer rules.

Advertisement

Oh well, it’s a good thing it only costs $15 to borrow one, then. What’s the point in buying a couple thousand dollar trailer if you can just get one on-demand for chump change? I’m a big fan of that.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

mountainbikingandtrackdays
mountainbikingandtrackdays

I rent one of these every motorcycle track day I go to! I really like them and they’re super cheap to rent for 2-3 days. I’ve exceeded the recommended speed limit many times and nothing bad has happened. It’s super easy to load and unload with just me. Though it helps that my bike is 350 lbs wet.

The recommended ball height is 18 inches. My tow vehicle is a CX-5 turbo, so I had to get a 5 inch rise tow bar to level the trailer. I used a 1 inch rise the first time I rented one and the front of the trailer was waaaay too low, which made loading an unloading more challenging.

Some negatives though. It’s LONG. Like really long. But it’s probably safer that way for most vehicles I assume. It’s loud. With no load, that thing likes to bang around. With load, it’s not bad at all. No provisions for locks. I have to rent the trailer a day early which means parking it out in my apartment complex parking lot the night before and after the track day. I use a high end Pewag chain to secure the trailer to the hitch receiver platform. Unless you have a 4 foot bolt cutter or a loud ass grinder, that chain isn’t coming off.

Pro tip - U-Haul charges you the moment you pick the trailer up. Reserve it for pick up as late as you possibly can. So you pick it up at 4pm and return it before 4pm the next day, you’re charged for one day. Return it even a minute after 4pm the next day and you’re charged for an entire day. I mean, it’s 15 bucks a day, but you know, if you can plan to pick it up late in the day, you’ll have an entire day to return it as well.

I’d love to own one of these too. It’s really well made and well thought out. If U-Haul sold these, I would consider buying one in the future.