Motorbike Towing Cradle




About: general bloke type of tinkering

Motorbike towing cradle using a car with existing towbar

Step 1: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, I Was All Alone, and Then It Went Quiet, Very Quiet...

well not exactly, but that's usually the way a good story starts.
Actually I got a call from my son in the day, "my bike just died and it won't start again", yes lad it's called "seized" and it does go kinda quiet, it's what happens when the Yamaha autolube feature packs up, and so was born the need for the "one man bike towing cradle".

Step 2: The Story Continues..

My first attempt involved bolting L brackets onto my existing towbar which had holes to take the bike's axle. It worked but wasn't an ideal solution, no restraining straps and no ramp meant a lot more effort involved, and I had to take off the bike wheel every time.
So after some chitchat with young Karl (a colleague) who described the contraption he used, I came up with the following

Step 3: Requirements

1. An existing towbar
2. a welder
3. angle grinder or cutoff saw,
4. 9 Metres of 1cm thick dropper bar (used in the building trade)
3m for the ramp
6m for the cradle
5. 1 Metre of steel tube, I used a 900mm rectangular 25mm X 40mm cos I had it.

Step 4: Making the Ramp

First the ramp, which hooks onto the cradle, so it's easily taken off, yet remains stable when on. I used 2m of bar to make the ramp, sides of 500mm long and ten sections of 100 mm as the cross pieces to join the sides, alas the ramp angle was too steep so I had to lengthen it to 800mm, (2.6m needed for the longer ramp), a 1m ramp was too long and interfered with the bikes back wheel.

Step 5: The Cradle

Next the cradle, I used about 6m of bar, main sides are 55cm long. I used a cad program to position a photo of the bike at a height above ground that seemed suitable, about 25cm, and then drew the cradle around the wheel.
Prior to welding, it's important to keep the angles as per DXF file, they affect the height of the final product when bolted on to the towbar.
The 2 sides of the cradle are joined with 12cm cross pieces due to the bolt spacing of 10cm on my towbar, pretty much the standard I think, which means the ramp width of 10cm will fit just fine inside the cradle.

Step 6: Tube End Detail for Tiedowns

The stabilizing bar for the tiedowns was then welded underneath the cradle, I used chain links welded to the bar ends for the straps to pass through.

Step 7: How Strong Is It?

The cradle will accept a 26 inch bicycle wheel no problem, and is a better solution than the wheel in a boot method or bike in a car style.
I've stood on the end of the cradle while attached to the towbar and it didn't exhibit any flex although the car did squat down another 10cm or so, but then again I spin the dial on a scale to 95, which aint exactly a high score, but not too shabby either.

Step 8: Tips

In use I find that ratcheting down the front suspension also serves to preload the rear of the bike so that it doesn't bounce around so much on the road.

Another thing to do is take off the chain if you're planning a longish ride, it cant be good leaving the gearbox in neutral, let alone the unnecessary wear, while towing.

It took about 10min to take off the tow hitch and put on the cradle, and that includes remembering to put the ramp in the boot, and about 10min fiddling with tiedown straps while holding the bike easy one man operation.
Admittedly this was with my son's 84kg 50cc it might be a bit harder with a bigger bike.

Step 9: The Disclaimer

So far I haven't had any problems with this setup, legal or otherwise, your mileage may vary.

Step 10: Reinforcing Update

While the cradle was strong enough for my sons 86kg 50cc Yamaha bike, it did sway and flex considerably with my 168kg 500cc Bullet.
So I have decided to reinforce the structure at the tie down arms, I did this using 1 piece of steel bar suitably bent so as to fit and weld in place.
The result is a lot more resistant to flex and I drive easier not having to worry about things coming undone.



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    12 Discussions

    i made one of these and had it knocking around my shed for ages. The one stormy dark cold wet night when i was on my own. the bike i was riding broke down. i phoned the wife told her where and what she needed. and was home and dry in less than an hour. just have to watch angles as mine scrapped on top of speed bumps. Thanks for a fantastic idea.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    yes you defiantly want to undue the chain. with the engine not running the oil in the transition doesn't circulate


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    If you drive fast enough on an icy road to make the rear of the towed bike slide out, chances are good you've lost control of the car too. In which case the bike is going to be the least of your worries I felt this way was the easiest 1 man job to do, but feel free to improvise. P.S. I've never driven in an icy enviroment in Cape Town in the last 45yrs chances are good I wont see one either

    transport bike.jpg

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I always wonder when I see one of these photos, if it's real, someone transporting a bike on top of a car, or just a gag. They just put it up there for a photo.


    Nice one, though my mates 125 honda CG can be put in to the boot of the puegot 406... It's not easy though, this looks alot less effort, uncluding building... the bike shown is very similar though, is that a 50cc though...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is an awsome design but the ramp looks like it might drag. but this is a nice design for a remake to fit a bike dolly to tow behind my truck.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Actually the ramp was designed to hook on and off, see pics in step 4, with little fingers at the top. I just toss it in the boot when done. The ramp is fine as is for a 50cc bike, +/- 80kg but will need to be beefed up for anything 160kg odd 500cc Enfield flattened it, but the cradle's plenty strong.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry I missed the part where the ramp detaches before. I think I may need to make an adjustment to you design to suit my needs but this is still a wonderfull design.


    12 years ago

    yup thats good to hear. Most of the time the engines dont become damaged. These bikes are nice for point a-b in town driving.


    12 years ago

    Nice. Stinks about the oil injection if thats whats wrong with it. My roomates Yamaha RD350 home made chopper had the system removed. The only draw back is having to pre mix gas but no worries about it stopping an sezing up.

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago

    Yep ... you hit the nail on the head, autolube blocked up and had a hot seize. no major repairs needed but it had to be towed some distance.