To Chain or Not to Chain

Ride Safe, Ride Long

Safety Chains are elegantly named for exactly what they provide,   – SAFTEY  –   and I strongly recommend that you use them. Not only do they save you the time of checking which state laws require that you use them, they provide a comfort level that sometimes can be hard to come by when towing a trailer behind a motorcycle.  If you don’t have a set, you should.

Test your chains. The chains attachment and weight certification should hold true. A good time to test the functionality of your chains is sitting in the driveway at 0mph, not going through devils pass at 80mph.  Here is the 2 minute check.  Make sure that your bike is stable, hook up the chains, and drop the tongue of the cargo trailer from the highest point that you are able to lift it with the chains attached. Do this with your gear loaded to represent a good traveling tongue weight. What Happened? The tongue did not touch the ground and the chains did not break or detach right? Good; One less thing that could go wrong while getting away from it all.


  • Hook up the chains? Two chains crossed underneath the hitch meeting SAE Standard J684 (each chain must have a breaking strength higher than the GVWR of the trailer). California and all Canadian provinces require positive locking clasps, no ‘S’ hooks, no dog chains, plastic chains or wire clips. Chains should be as short as possible, only slack enough to allow trailer to be jack-knifed without binding up.
  •  Did the hitch come in contact with the ground? This is a problem and needs to be fixed. Shorten the chains to the proper length and run the test again.
  • Did you notice if the trailer moved forward could it smash the rear tire? One hard brake could send your expensive trailer into the backside of your expensive bike.

“Towing laws that apply to vehicles also apply to motorcycles, no exceptions. “

Hooking up a good, clean set of chains to the highest safety standards keeps me looking forward in confidence and enjoying the open road,  not looking back hoping the trailer I am pulling is still there for the next stop.


Karl S

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