Pull Behind Motorcycle Trailer Brakes. Do not use them.

What are electric brakes?

Electric brakes can assist stopping your motorcycle and trailer combination in the case of an emergency or an extreme case of motorcycle braking failure. The setup for a brake system on a pull behind motorcycle trailer would be very similar to that of a truck and trailer in heavy duty applications. For the basics of how to setup a trailer brake system, check out some of these articles:

These cover the basics of Trailer Braking and will give you everything that you need to know about how to do it yourself. The purpose of this article is to discuss braking a trailer that is being pulled by a motorcycle.

Pulling a trailer with a motorcycle can be considered “risky and dangerous” and the “I heard of this guys once” stories can be exaggerated from time to time. Everyone knows a guy that totaled his bike and lost 5 limbs because he was riding too fast, too hard, or too careless. These stories exist in the motorcycle world and are built on and added to every time they exchange paths. The dangers and risks of pulling a trailer can also be lumped into a good portion of these stories.

So let’s talk about why you would consider using brakes in your trailer, then I will explain my point of view and decision not to.

Why would you need Motorcycle Trailer Brakes:

  • The trailer you are pulling is heavy, by heavy I mean close to half of the weight of the motorcycle and rider combined.
  • You ride in steep terrain, up and down the mountains, or through the Tail of the Dragon.
  • Someone told you that you need them….


These are only a few of the reasons that you might choose to use brakes on your trailer. It is your trailer after-all, and your ultimate decision, relative to your risk tolerance.

And that is where I think that my decision not to use them is, within my own risk tolerance. The risk of failure within the braking mechanisms outweighs the benefits of having them installed in the first place.

Any malfunction may cause only one side of the two-wheel trailer to engage and  “pull” the tongue to one side.

Potential Trailer Brake Failure Points:

Electrical– Voltage Leak between motorcycle main power, brake controller, breakaway engager, and individual brakes.

Mechanical – Drum Brakes, Springs, pins, wire connections, magnets.

Any potential failure point will outweigh the pros of having brakes in my perspective. Yours may be different or you might have a different experience altogether. If that is the case, I would love to hear about. Visit the About Us page and get a hold of me or go leave a comment on Facebook about your experience with using brakes on a pull behind motorcycle trailer.

Ride Safe,

Karl S


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