Towing a broken bike on dirt trails

KTMphil

Senior member
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Location
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bikes
2007 KTM 990 Adventure Suzuki DRZ 400
Towing a broken bike on dirt trails

First time we'd had to tow a bike through dirt trails and this and it threw up some interesting lessons (photo here is at the end of about 8km of towing through rivers and muddy ruts).








1. Length of tow rope: We experimented with the tow rope at first being about 8 meters long, we quickly found out this was too long as you can't then tow around the corners. We shortened it to about 4 meters which seemed ideal.

2. Corners: The trickiest part towing in dirt trails, we found it best to get off and walk the towed bike around the corners.

3. Tow rope tension: You want to try and keep the tow rope under load all the time, if not the constant tugging is a night mare for the bike doing the towing pulling him off balance. Ride the front brake and it should keep the tow rope loaded.

4. Walking the bike towed: We walked the towed bike through most river crossings, it was quite amazing what could be achieved, i looked at some of the river banks and thought there was no way the bike could be towed out of the river and up the river bank and it wasn't a problem.

5. Speed - Try keep the speed constant and slow

6. Lots of the bike magazines recommend the the tow rope to go from the right foot peg on the bike doing the towing (to keep it away from the chain), to the left foot peg on the bike being towed. We tried this and it doesn't work on dirtbikes as the tow rope catches on the rear nobbly tire of the bike doing the towing.

7. We found the best towing configuration to be from the rack of the bike doing the towing, around both front forks of the towed bike. The bike being towed will lose a lot of steering capabilities with the load of the tow rope on the front forks.
 

Midnitemapper

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2011
Location
VIENTIANE, laos
Bikes
xt600, xr400 (4)
I watched Digby from Explore Indochina tow a 250 through incredible trails 125 ks! To Saravanh! He is a master, those minsks must break down all the time. He used the tow rope about the same length as yours Phill. However he used the "Viet Bungie" strips of innertube from the his rear rack and attached them 2 meters down the tow line. So when the rope went slack the blungies pulled the line taught. So it did not get in the wheels. Brilliant!
 

KTMphil

Senior member
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Location
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bikes
2007 KTM 990 Adventure Suzuki DRZ 400
From the towing experience we had a couple of days ago, i think the inner tube in the towing system makes a lot of sense to remove the shock loads of the tow rope tensioning up.
 

Erictheviking

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
I have always found that using a cargo strap (a flat strap instead of a rope) is easier.

We used to tie it in the rear rack of the towing bike and then wrap the other end one or two turns around the centre piece of the handle bars on the towed bike. The end of the strap slung over the wrap and out to the left handle.

When you grip the handle you also grip the strap, as it is wrapped one or two turns in the centre you don't need much strength to hold it from slipping but if things start to go wrong you simply release your grip a bit and the strap comes loose and you can stop without getting pulled over.

Also a flat strap is easier to carry with you as it takes up less space than a rope.
 
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