Trailer tongue length?


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Great_adVENTURE
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Trailer tongue length?

Post by Great_adVENTURE »



So I own a kompact kamp mini mate. The factory tongue measures 52.5” and almost half of that is mounted under the trailer itself. I have tried rearranging my load weight front to back, back to front, side to side, and centered and still get the “dog tail wagging” effect starting at 60 mph. I picked up an 8’ length of 2”x2” square stock to replace the stock tongue with something longer. Has anyone had this experience and have you done the same thing?


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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by C-dub »

From this forum I've learned that the length of the arm of a trailer must be at least 1.5x the length of the axle of the trailer. What I don't know, however, is if that is from the attachment point on the motorcycle to the front of the trailer or total length, which obviously goes underneath and further back than the front of the trailer. I think it might be the front of the trailer.
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by Great_adVENTURE »

C-dub wrote: Fri Jul 02, 2021 9:27 am From this forum I've learned that the length of the arm of a trailer must be at least 1.5x the length of the axle of the trailer. What I don't know, however, is if that is from the attachment point on the motorcycle to the front of the trailer or total length, which obviously goes underneath and further back than the front of the trailer. I think it might be the front of the trailer.
🤔...
The trailer axle (outer hub to outer hub) is roughly 40". So looks like the factory tongue is short based on that calculation. I was going to go 6' on the new tongue which would be +20" over factory. I believe that would be the longest I would want anyway.
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C-dub
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by C-dub »

Great_adVENTURE wrote: Fri Jul 02, 2021 9:34 am
C-dub wrote: Fri Jul 02, 2021 9:27 am From this forum I've learned that the length of the arm of a trailer must be at least 1.5x the length of the axle of the trailer. What I don't know, however, is if that is from the attachment point on the motorcycle to the front of the trailer or total length, which obviously goes underneath and further back than the front of the trailer. I think it might be the front of the trailer.
🤔...
The trailer axle (outer hub to outer hub) is roughly 40". So looks like the factory tongue is short based on that calculation. I was going to go 6' on the new tongue which would be +20" over factory. I believe that would be the longest I would want anyway.
That would be 72" and possibly 12" inches longer than necessary. That might give you more stability. I'm really not sure since I haven't pulled a trailer on my Wing yet.

Please hold on a bit until some of the experienced trailer pullers find this thread. In the mean time, there are several threads on this very topic. Search for "trailer wag length".
Last edited by C-dub on Fri Jul 02, 2021 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Andy Cote
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by Andy Cote »

I did own a Kompact Kamp but only towed behind the Wing after I modified it. I did tow it home when I bought it but that was with the RAM2500. Surprisingly didn't notice any wagging then. :D

Have you weighed it? I used the bathroom scale and checked each tire and the drawbar. I honestly don't remember the numbers. I remember the total was higher than the internet value for a Kompact Kamp but my wife always said that scale was obviously out of calibration. IMHO, a drawbar weight that is something you notice when you lift it. I don't get in to the specific percentage for this application. Just "it feels right" method.

Have you checked tires and bearings? Specifically the tire pressure, condition and age. On mine, I replaced the wheel bearings and hand packed the new ones with wheel bearing specific grease. I installed new tires. For the time I had it, I had the tires inflated a little too high at 55psig.

I thought about extending the drawbar but didn't. I did install a swivel hitch. That itself will add almost a foot to the drawbar length.

In the few trips I made with the Wing, it was always straight and uneventful. I had no extra weight inside nor loose things to change the balance. I did have a tool box on the drawbar that had the spare tire in it but nothing else to speak of.
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by Great_adVENTURE »

👍 appreciate the input.

I'm not in a hurry. Thought I would throw it out there while I researched it. Measure twice cut once.
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by Rambozo »

Most of the rules for trailer building are derived from the tow vehicle and assume 4 or more wheels. So that doesn't really work for bikes. What does work is that you need to have the right tongue weight, 10% to 15% of gross weight. While a longer tongue is more stable, it also lowers tongue weight. It all comes down to the load on the trailer and if it is something that changes. The tongue design also plays a role. Most bike trailers have a straight tongue and they are the most sensitive to flexing and loads. By and large the minimum distance of the ball from the axle should be 1.5 times the axle width. The maximum length is dependent on maintaining the proper tongue weight. Everything on bike towing is so light it gets down into the noise floor of the formulas. The good thing is that it's pretty easy to weigh everything. I just had to buy a new scale to weigh trailer tongues as I'm doing a new build for larger equipment and it maxes out our old scale. A bike trailer can just use a bathroom or fish scale to weigh the tongue. Making sure the trailer wheels are aligned and tires inflated to the right pressure for the load is the first step. I've seen a lot of light trailers with bent axles, and they never tow properly. I even made a special tool to bend them with a small hydraulic cylinder to get them right.
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by Great_adVENTURE »

Rambozo wrote: Fri Jul 02, 2021 11:09 am Most of the rules for trailer building are derived from the tow vehicle and assume 4 or more wheels. So that doesn't really work for bikes. What does work is that you need to have the right tongue weight, 10% to 15% of gross weight. While a longer tongue is more stable, it also lowers tongue weight. It all comes down to the load on the trailer and if it is something that changes. The tongue design also plays a role. Most bike trailers have a straight tongue and they are the most sensitive to flexing and loads. By and large the minimum distance of the ball from the axle should be 1.5 times the axle width. The maximum length is dependent on maintaining the proper tongue weight. Everything on bike towing is so light it gets down into the noise floor of the formulas. The good thing is that it's pretty easy to weigh everything. I just had to buy a new scale to weigh trailer tongues as I'm doing a new build for larger equipment and it maxes out our old scale. A bike trailer can just use a bathroom or fish scale to weigh the tongue. Making sure the trailer wheels are aligned and tires inflated to the right pressure for the load is the first step. I've seen a lot of light trailers with bent axles, and they never tow properly. I even made a special tool to bend them with a small hydraulic cylinder to get them right.
With all that taken into account. The addition of the tongue jack and going from 1/8 steel to 3/16 steel should make up the tongue weight I would loose by extending the 20". I could even go longer and trim as I go. But the one thing I'm sure on is the factory length falls short when using the formula calculation.
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by DenverWinger »

I just measured my TravLite Camper.

It is 42" outside of wheel to outside of wheel. Tongue length is 75" axle-to-hitch. It travels straight and true behind the bike... :)
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Re: Trailer tongue length?

Post by Great_adVENTURE »

DenverWinger wrote: Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:21 pm I just measured my TravLite Camper.

It is 42" outside of wheel to outside of wheel. Tongue length is 75" axle-to-hitch. It travels straight and true behind the bike... :)
That sounds like it sticks to the formula better.


If you never did you should. These things are fun. And fun is good. ~Dr.Seuss
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