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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)