Spring, Torsion, and Air.
Good, Better, and Best.
Cheap, Affordable, and “Money does not concern me.”
That’s how it goes though, right? Usually, the best quality comes with the highest price tag. In the case of motorcycle cargo trailers, I’ve built several with the first two options; Spring and Torsion. The third solution, however, I have not experimented with very much. To help with this, the video below from Bushtec provides a short summary of what to expect from an air ride suspension. That’s a no-bounce solution if I have ever seen one.
Let’s get into it:
The Independent Torsion Suspension setup is my ideal choice. For the price, it is the most durable and versatile solution. Not only is it easy and fast to install, torsion bars are maintenance free, noise free, and durable.
The 2 types.
Independent torsion suspensions (or axles) are separate and are mounted directly to the frame, individually. They need to be squared and aligned with the tongue for a straight pulling ride without swaying at higher speeds.
Full length torsion bars connect from end-to-end and can be purchased at predetermined lengths. They are easier to install but can limit the amount of storage capacity between the tires.
Let’s take a look at Air Ride Suspensions:
Air ride suspensions are very smooth, bounce-free, and relatively lightweight . The cost, setup, and maintenance are a little above average, just not preferred by me when building a trailer from scratch. However, if I were to buy a trailer from a manufacturer, I would prefer an air ride suspension. I’ve spoke with several trailer-ing enthusiasts that “love” their air ride trailer and the way it pulls.
“Sometimes I forget that it is behind me.” -Long-time-biker-and-trailer-hauler (Disclaimer: Do not ever forget that your trailer is behind you.)
Here is a short video from Bushtec on the benefits of an air ride trailer suspension.
This is a great demonstration of the major difference between an air ride suspension to a leaf spring suspension. Installing a swivel in the tongue or in the hitch attached to the bike is also a very good idea from the last 20 secs of the video.
Leaf springs come in last place. (the black trailer in the video has leaf springs)
Leaf springs are the “classic” trailer suspensions. For a long time they were the only way to have a suspension on a trailer frame. Nowadays, modern technology has brought us a little past flexing metal plates that bounce over and over again at every pothole.
I have built a few trailers with leaf springs, because they came in with a relatively low cost frame kit. You can check out some of these here. Simple plan ideas.
Because leaf springs mount underneath the frame, they also raise the center of gravity above the center line of the wheels. For motorcycles, this is a concern. A low center of gravity with an ideal wheel span preforms better at high speeds and sharp cornering. I’ve also had the pleasure of riding next to a “sqeeky trailer.” Once, and only once.
What about you? What’s your preferred method for stopping your trailer from bouncing down the road?
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