Not to be confused with trailers used to transport motorcycles, trailers for motorcycles are hauled by the motorcycle itself. Usually used by touring bikes such as Honda Goldwings, motorcycle trailers are regulated by the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. (See Resource section.) Generally, the requirements are the same as for car trailers.
Tags, Registration and License Plate
As with any road-going vehicle, DMVs in almost all states require registration of motorcycle trailers. Most states require tags, registration and a license plate. Your license plate must be affixed securely and conspicuously to the trailer. You must display current tags. You must have your registration for the trailer with you while you're operating the motorcycle and trailer. Failure to do so may result in the towing of your trailer.
Insurance requirements also vary from state to state. Look at your policies and ask your agent. Your homeowner's insurance may cover trailers in some circumstances, your car insurance in others. You need to clarify with your state and your insurance agent.
Motorcycle trailers use a few types of couplings that are different from those used with cars and trucks. In addition to a ball and socket connection, motorcycle trailers may use universal joints or a pin and swivel coupling. Regardless of the type, the coupling must be safe. It must be unobstructed from movement, allowing for normal cornering. (On a motorcycle, that means leaning as well as turning.) It must also have a safety apparatus such as a pin in case the coupling fails.
Every trailer has a maximum load capacity, and motorcycles do as well. You must not exceed it. Also, you cannot stack or carry cargo in such a haphazard manner that it may fall out of or off the trailer. You cannot stack cargo so high that it might tip over. Again, the specific language in the rules varies from state to state. However, if you appear to be hauling a dangerous trailer, you will get pulled over and probably cited. Worse, you may have an accident and injure yourself or someone else.
Trailer tire safety is even more important on motorcycle trailers than oncar or truck trailers. If you are traveling with an under-inflated or a bald tire on your trailer, it is far more likely to cause an accident with your motorcycle than with your car. Regulations in all states require all road-going tires to be in safe condition and properly inflated. You are even more likely to get pulled over and cited if you fail to follow these regulations with your motorcycle trailer.