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Living Off the Slab Blog
Towing My Bike vs. Riding | End of the Season Camping Trip
11/21/2021

In my previous video, I talked about the different options I was considering for traveling in 2022. I am now retired and thus have more time that can be allocated toward being on the road, but there are some other considerations to think about, like being on a fixed budget and how to incorporate solo and two-up travel into the same trip.

The Options I Have Been Considering

1. Buying a pull behind trailer for my bike.
2. Using my Kendon trailer to transport the bike from place to place.
3. Buying a small toy-hauler RV.

At the tail end of October, my friends and I decided to head down for an end of the season camping trip and I thought it would be a good opportunity to test out one of those options by loading up my bike and pulling it down to central Connecticut for a long weekend. This would allow me to play with the extra space provided by my Toyota Tacoma, or the Taco as many Tacoma owners refer to them.

Carrying More and Larger Stuff

Of course that is the first major difference between traveling on the motorcycle, you can carry not only more stuff, but larger stuff. Here is an example of what I mean.

Normally, my bike camping stove consists of these items, an MSR Pocket Rocket 2 and fuel canister. However, given the extra capacity of the truck, I can take my full size, two burner camp stove. In addition, I can carry larger pots for cooking.

Another item that got larger is my camp chair. Normally I am limited to this more compact version from REI, but with the Taco, I can take a full size chair, which is much more comfortable and easier to get in and out of for we old guys.

The extra space also allowed me to take a cooler and food. This is something that on the bike we usually have to think about after setting up camp and emptying the panniers, before a store run.

An extra indulgence item was a Keurig Mini coffee maker. I have used small presses and drip percolators, but having an electric coffee maker was awesome!

Setting Up and Tearing Down

As far as the setup and take down process goes, I am not sure having a truck and trailer simplifies that in any way. You still have to set up the tent and blow up mattresses etc. Getting the bike on and off the trailer can also be a bit of work. We will talk more about that later.

One thing that having the vehicle is nice for is getting firewood. Most campgrounds now require you to buy wood within the park, so having the truck to make a wood run was very helpful.

I Would Still Rather Be on the Bike

Even with the space advantage, I would still rather be riding the bike. The trip to the campground was nice, I got to relax and listen to music, but still I prefer the feeling of riding on two wheels. Maybe my feelings would change on a longer trip, but for this three day excursion, I think I would rather the simplicity of camping off the bike.

We will have to try a longer trip in the spring to see if my thoughts change.

Getting the Bike On and Off the Trailer

While I have used the trailer to take my bikes to and from the dealer for service and have hauled some friends' broken down steeds, this was the first time I used the trailer to take the BMW on a "trip." In the past, I have always pushed the bike on the trailer and off again while making sure I always have a spot or two, but this time I decided to try it by myself. I figured that I was going to have to learn if I was planning to take this setup on the road.

The Kendon trailer comes with a “ride up” ramp and I was easily able to get the bike loaded and tied down at home. I figured, I would just take it slow and reverse the process to unload. Well...that did not work out so well as while unloading, my left foot came down on the edge of the ramp and immediately fell to the side, taking the rest of my body and the bike along with me

Fortunately, all that was hurt was my pride, however the bike did sustain some cosmetic damage in the form of scratches and a couple of broken pieces of plastic. Of course, given that it is a BMW, these plastic pieces are rather expensive, so I submitted an insurance claim to see what they will pay for. Anything will help to soften the blow.

When I got home, the first thing I did was to make a temporary ramp extension so that I could easily walk the bike off the trailer. I am also looking for a wider ramp to replace or augment the one that came with the Kendon trailer.

Hey, you live and learn. I will not make that mistake again. So, go ahead, tell me how stupid I was. There is nothing you can say that I have not already thought to myself...

Ride Safe My Friends!
--Craig Ripley

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